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Vol. I issue 2

The Magazine of Mobile, Manufactured, and Modular Home Living

Custom Living atop Topanga Canyon An Artist’s Oasis in Desert Hot Springs Modular Cottages Go Green


Remodel, Redecorate or Recycle at the ReStore! The Habitat ReStore is a not-for-profit discount home improvement center where used, salvaged and surplus building materials are sold far below retail prices and the revenue from sales goes directly back to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to build more homes for low income families. 

• • • • •

New and nearly new Windows: Wood, Vinyl, Aluminum Interior/Exterior Doors, French Doors, Swing, Sliders Electrical Fixtures, Lights, Fans Tubs, Toilets, Sinks, Vanities, Faucets Kitchen Cabinets, Counter Tops and much more! Southern California Habitat for Humanity ReStores

Southern Santa Barbara County ReStore www.sbrestore.org 6725 Hollister Ave. Santa Barbara CA 93117 (805) 692-2226

Northern Santa Barbara County ReStore www.nsbhabitat.com 2053 Preisker Ln. Santa Maria CA 93456 (805) 928-5399

San Luis Obispo County ReStore www.hfhsloco.org 784 High St. San Luis Obispo CA 93405 (805) 546-8699

Ventura County ReStore www.habitatventura.org 167 Lambert St Oxnard CA 93036 (805) 485-6065

San Gabriel Valley ReStore www.sgvhabitat.org 770 N Fair Oaks Pasadena CA 91103 (626) 792-3838

Please call our office, or visit our website for ReStore hours, directions or with other questions.


CONTENTS

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ON THE COVER

Building Her Canyon Dream One Woman’s Vision Becomes a Custom-Manufactured Reality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

G o C r e a t i ve

Holly’s Oasis An Artist Styles Her Home in Desert Camouflage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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D E PAR T M E N T S UP FRONT Letter from the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 IN THE PARK A Case of the Yips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 IN THE MEDIA Books, TV shows, Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 ENTERTAINING An Alfresco Wedding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 FOR YOUR FILES Helpful Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 INTERIOR Designing Space and Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 PROFILE Two Brothers on the Move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 BUILDING BLOCKS Green Style from Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 RETRO The Fifties Rock at Blue Skies Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 OPEN ROAD Palm Springs Is a Mobile-Home Mecca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 IN THE YARD Down the (New) Garden Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 UPSCALE Build Your Own Mobile Home Right Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 OVER THE FENCE The Friendster Next Door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 TRAILER TALES Keeping an Eye on the Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 LAST LOOK Everything Old Is New Again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 U p w a r d l y

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P U B LI S H E R ’ S N O T E The Magazine Of Mobile, Manufactured, And Modular Home Living

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” —Helen Keller

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aunching a new magazine for mobile, manufactured, and modular home dwellers has been an exciting ride. I embarked on this venture later in life, with no experience in the field of publishing, when my daughter purchased a mobile home and ran into problems unique to that type of housing. I could not find a magazine that addressed her issues. I found trailer magazines and RV magazines but nothing on manufactured homes other than industry trade magazines. Then my 92-year-young uncle, who lives in a mobile home park, told me he “would not live anywhere else!” I began to realize that there might be special benefits to this kind of lifestyle. Next, a good friend said she was going to put a new manufactured home (MH) on her date palm ranch to replace the old homestead her aunt had built. After I toured the MH factory with her, we visited another rancher friend who already had installed one (See “Holly’s Adobe” in this issue.) It was thrilling to realize how much was happening in a housing genre that has been so often disparaged. Meanwhile, many of southern California’s ocean- and cliff-side “trailer parks” are disappearing and along with them the retro abodes that are such an integral part of the “California lifestyle.” I miss them. Here at Upwardly Mobile, we intend to celebrate the history of mobile homes but also to show you the incredibly dynamic future of this housing genre. Never has so much creativity been applied to developing innovative modular and manufactured solutions for today’s homebuyers. Welcome to the adventure!

Toni Gump Publisher 6

Publisher Toni Gump EDITOR ROBERTA GRANT Design & Production City Creative Group Contributors Arnie Cooper Leslie Dinaberg Betsy L. Edwards Andrea Estrada Audrey Moe Jean Picard Onnah Roll Sophia Yin Photography Rene Golan Brent Winebrenner art & illustration Patricia Chidlaw Mark Deamer Steve Kostenchko Marc Lumer Bob Mask Christina Rivera COPY EDITING Judy Flynn office manager Georgeanne stewart CIRCULATION T. Roll

Upwardly Mobile: The Magazine Of Mobile, Manufactured And Modular Home Living is published quarterly by Upwardly Mobile Home Magazine, and single copies are provided free of charge. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs, artwork, and designs printed in Upwardly Mobile are the sole property of Upwardly Mobile Home Magazine and may not be duplicated or reprinted without express written permission. Upwardly Mobile is not liable for typographical or production errors or the accuracy of information provided by advertisers or writers. Readers should verify advertised information with the advertisers. Upwardly Mobile reserves the right to refuse any advertising. Upwardly Mobile® is a registered trademark of Upwardly Mobile Home Magazine, Copyright © 2008. All inquiries may be sent to Upwardly Mobile, 1187 Coast Village Road, Ste. 1-394, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, or email info@umhmag.com. Visit our website at www.umhmag.com.

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UP FRONT Brave New World

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elcome to the second issue of Upwardly Mobile, a magazine uniquely devoted to mobile, manufactured, and modular home living. If you want to discover the hippest design or biggest bang for your housing buck; figure out how to leave a lighter, greener imprint on the planet; or find savvy ways to downsize or move up from your current home, Upwardly Mobile will provide both the inspiration and the fact-based research you’re looking for. If you already live in a mobile, manufactured, or modular home, we’ll give you expert advice on how to maintain it, update it, or expand it. We’re living a housing revolution. Manufactured homes now account for over 30 percent of new home construction nationwide. Architects reimagined the factorybuilt box and came up with bold plans for breaking the mold. New prefab designs are green, economical, and incredibly stylish, with plenty of custom options. The result: high quality, earth-friendly housing at a cost 30 to 40 percent lower than traditionally constructed homes. Our cover story, “Building Her Canyon Dream,” provides a breathtaking example of this new trend. Fashion executive Dawn Moore realized her conceptual vision with the aid of architectural designer Meredith Day and manufactured-home giant Silvercrest. Together, they produced a spectacular new home in a quirky mobile home park atop LA’s Topanga Canyon. Our second feature, “Holly’s Adobe,” presents a mobile home artfully camouflaged to blend in with its desert surroundings. Meanwhile, our Retro column visits Palm Springs to document the avant-garde ’50s designs of Bing Crosby’s Blue Skies Mobile Home Park. In every issue, For Your Files fills the information gap and Interiors provides solutions that maximize storage space while preserving clean, open lines. Building Blocks keeps tabs on what’s happening in the exploding field of modular home design. In the Yard is all about gardening and exterior design while In the Park tackles issues facing those who live in mobile home communities. In the Media offers timely infotainment resources and Trailer Tales pokes fictional fun at that old “trash” cliché. And there’s more, much more. So grab a beverage and settle in to explore the brave new world of manufactured and modular home solutions.

Roberta Grant Editor roberta@umhmag.com

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Dave Weinhold Senior Loan Consultant

1463 South Victoria Avenue Ventura, CA 93003

805.650.8855

Nancie Irvine Sales Manager

2615 S. Miller Street Santa Maria, CA 93455

805.934.4556 ofc 805.345.6534 cell upwardlymobile_fullpage.indd 1

8/22/2008 9:33:00 AM


I N T H E PAR K

A Case of the Yips By Sophia Yin, DVM

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og barking can be a problem in any neighborhood, but when the density of neighbors and dogs increases to that of the typical mobile home park, you’ve got trouble, my friend. One easy solution is keeping the dogs inside where they can’t be heard as easily and where they have less reason to bark. Even small dogs can make big noise. When my 14-pound Jack Russell terrier barks full blast, he nearly gives innocent bystanders a sound-induced concussion. And my parents’ Scottish terrier may be short and squat, but her head is as large as a boom box. When she barks in an uncarpeted room, it’s enough to cause prolonged ringing in your ears. So what can you do to make peace between you, your yippy pooch, and the neighbors? First, it’s essential to understand why dogs bark. In general, dogs perform behaviors over and over because these behaviors have been reinforced, either on purpose or accidentally. For instance, if your dog looks at you and barks until you pick him up, then he’s learning that barking is how he makes you pick him up. If he barks while you’re eating until you toss him a treat, then barking has earned him a treat. If you place him in another room or in his pooch palace or dog exercise pen 10

and he barks until you let him out, then he’s knows he should bark incessantly if he wants to come out. To retrain behavior in these situations, it’s vital to avoid rewarding the bark behavior. Don’t give him the treat or pick him up or let him out of his pen until he’s quiet. And be patient: he’s already been rewarded a million times for barking, so he’s not going to stop right away. Instead, he’ll go through what’s called an extinction burst, where he first tries harder and longer than before. During this time, if you can’t wait it out and you give in, you’ll train him to bark even louder and longer. To avoid this frustrating relearning process, teach him ahead of time that sitting quietly and patiently while looking at you for direction is the new way for him to get what he wants. In essence, you’ll be teaching him to say “please.” Start this just with treats or bits of his meal. Hold the treat and just wait for him to sit automatically. Then immediately reward him with the treat. Give several more while he’s still sitting so he learns to remain seated and quiet. Walk away several steps so that he follows you and then repeat. If you do this by doling out his entire meal as 100 or more rewards a day, within several days sitting quietly will be his new default behavior. Now apply

this same calm, quiet sit game to petting, picking him up, and letting him out of his pen. Reward frequently with food at first, in addition to petting and letting him out of his pen. Also reward him frequently for remaining in his pen at a distance from you for extended periods of time. Give him bones, long-lasting toys, and treats to keep him occupied and to help train him to be less anxious when you leave the room—and the house. Dogs also bark to drive objects and people away. When dogs bark at passersby and these people continue walking, the dog learns that his barking has worked to chase the people away. Even worse, a startling sound can put a dog on red alert. In these instances, the barking itself may be self-rewarding and waiting the barking out won’t remove the reward. Instead, create an alternative, more desirable behavior— such as a succession of sits—that your dog can perform for rewards. Or teach him to run to you when called and then focus on you until he remains calm. If you do this enough, he’ll learn to respond to the bark stimulus by staying in a calm state instead of getting hyper-aroused. If you can use these tips to retrain a dog that barks by getting him to focus on you and become calm fairly quickly, then you’ll have solved a vital problem for you—and for your neighbors. Upw a rdly

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Uncompromising Quality, Value and Design FEATURING

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The SilverShield 7 Years of Coverage on Over 40 Items see details at

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I N T H E M E DIA BOOKS Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling by Barry Bergdoll and Peter Christensen Prefabricated architecture has recently taken center stage as our need for sustainable ways of living grows ever more urgent and obvious. The mass-produced, factory-made home has a distinguished history, having served as a vital precept in the development of modern architecture. Today, with the digital revolution reorganizing the relationship between drafting board and factory, it continues to spur innovative manufacturing and design. Home Delivery traces the history of prefabrication from its early roots in colonial cottages though the work of such figures as Jean Prouve and Buckminster Fuller, and mass-produced variants such as the Lustron house, to a group of fullscale contemporary houses commissioned specifically for the recent MoMA exhibition that this book accompanied. In addition to an introductory essay by Barry Bergdoll, chief curator in the Museum’s Department of Architecture and Design, this volume contains essays on prefabricated housing in Japan and in Nordic countries by Ken Tadashi Oshima and Rasmus Waern, respectively. —Amazon.com The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, a novel by Martin Clark (Vintage, 2001). Imagine John Grisham crossed with Alice Hoffman and you might come closer to what’s going on in these highly entertaining pages. Interlocking story strands come together in the person of Evers Wheeling, a preternaturally young North Carolina judge who’s headed to the dogs with his eyes wide open, ‘waiting to hit bottom,’ as he puts it. But just before 12

he makes it there, into his life comes a blonde in trouble with an outrageous (and evermutating) tale of a brother who needs help avoiding a jail sentence. That this brother turns out not to resemble his sister in the slightest—he’s an African-American dwarf, and strong for his size—is just a small surprise in the overall scheme of things. —Penzler Pick on Amazon.com. The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office, by David Novak (Crown, 2007). Novak, the CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), breaks the mold of boring business books with this how-to-succeed memoir. After a chaotic mobilehome-park childhood, Novak learned to succeed through a series of tough life lessons. His book demonstrates how people from modest beginnings can produce great achievements.

VIDEO The Long, Long Trailer Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz bring their slapstick chemistry to the big screen, courtesy of a 28-foot monster of a trailer home. The Long, Long Trailer is one of those domestic nightmare movies, in which an ordinary couple has their existence upended by a new contraption: in this case, a lemon yellow motor home. They make the mistake of towing said behemoth to Colorado, a honeymoon journey fraught with tilted axles and Lucy’s ill-advised collection of large souvenir rocks. One disaster follows another, with the action rarely rising above the level of a sitcom (MGM’s top director of musicals, Vincente Minnelli, is overqualified here). One notable exception: the climactic sequence, a funny-nervous crawl up an 8,000-foot mountain pass. The film was a box-office hit, proving that moviegoers would go to theaters to see a TV star’s hair in its natural red color. —Robert Horton, Amazon.com It Happened at the Worlds Fair The novelty backdrop of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair lends wonderful space-age scenery to this Elvis vehicle. Elvis spends more time babysitting a little kid [who lives in a mobile home park] than panting after ostensible love interest Joan O’Brien. There’s more plot than usual for a Presley picture and songs include ‘One Broken Heart for Sale.’ —Robert Horton, Amazon.com

TELEVISION Mobile Home Disaster Each week, this compulsively watchable cable show takes one deserving family and makes their dreams come true. The team includes a contractor, a designer, and two carpenters who hit the road to turn one lucky family’s world upside down. Lead by comedic host John Caparulo, the Mobile Home Disaster team surprises a family, sends them on a journey, and in just four short days transforms their run-down mobile home into the crown jewel of the neighborhood. You can also view these at www.cmt.com. Upw a rdly

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our magazine is great! I love the look of it and it gives credence to the concept of the mobile home park as a community of accomplished people [rather than] parole violators. I’d like to subscribe. Good work! Martha Hassenplug Santa Barbara, CA

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y sister lives in a mobile home park in Riverside, CA, and my cousin has been into buying a mobile home. I gave them your magazine. I do not have a mobile home but I found your magazine most interesting and well done. Good articles!

Suzanne Schroeder Monrovia, CA

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y husband and I love your new magazine! It’s really well designed, with great graphics. Thanks for letting the world see that not all mobile home living is created equal. We have an awesome older coach in Carpinteria’s Sandpiper Village. We completely remodeled and are lucky enough to have a gorgeous garden, too. Before we bought here we spent time comparing condos and mobile homes to see how far our dollar would go. We chose mobile and every day we are thankful . We think Sandpiper Village is coastal resort living at its best! With a pool, two tennis courts, a huge new clubhouse, pool, spa, gym, billiards (four tables), views, and both beach and town within walking distance—what more do you need? Keep up the good work!

Kathren Wright Carpinteria, CA

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LETTERS

e really enjoyed your publication. We support your mission and will likewise support your advertisers. Nancy Morrow Ventura, CA

Corrections from our last issue: Page 12 Photo credit should read “Collin Neil.” Page 38 The pressure reading should be 1400, not 100. Page 44 Bob Hites, not Hite.

LET’S DESIGN YOUR DREAM HOME! Custom Floor Plans And Quality Finishes For Your Lifestyle and Preference Ask us about our Green and Solar Options ■ ■ ■ ■

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Free Consultation at your home or our office

HELPUBUILD-CA.COM

818-991-1660

Your Home, Your Way Enjoy the Process, Enjoy the Results! 28310 Roadside Drive #120 U p w a r d l y

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Agoura Hills, CA 91301 13


E N T E R T AI N I N G

Romancing the Park How-tos for a Home Wedding

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or Risa Parness Weddle of Malibu, there had never been any question about where to hold her daughter’s wedding. “Everyone who has ever lived in the Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park wants to come back to be married in the Field of Dreams,” she said, referring to the Cove’s popular special events spot, a grassy promontory overlooking the ocean. Weddle has lived in the park for 14 years and her husband, David, for 23. Her daughter lived with them for 10 years, from ages 17 to 27. They all agree it’s a wonderful way to live. “Living in an ordinary neighborhood can be isolating,” Risa explained, “but in a mobile home park, everyone joins in. I love the camaraderie.” Part of a strong community, the Weddles had a lot of help with the August wedding from friends in the park. One neighbor graciously insisted the bridal shower be held in her home. Another catered the rehearsal dinner—a Moroccan feast for 42—in her 3,200-square-foot ocean-view home that began life as a double-wide. A neighbor’s sister handled the wedding décor and catering. Even the officiant was a park resident! 14

The participation of her neighbors meant a great deal to Risa, and it was important to her to use only small, local businesses to “keep things in the community.” Close to 140 friends and relatives attended the early summer afternoon ceremony and tea reception complete with champagne. Most mobile home parks do not allow alcohol in their facilities, but some will if proof of insurance is provided. The majority of mobile home parks now require wedding or event liability insurance (“additional insured”) to protect both you and the location against liability for property damage or bodily injury. It is available with or without host liquor liability coverage. After the main event, out-of-town guests joined the family for dinner in the clubhouse. A “Fiesta” theme was enhanced by trees and bougainvilleas rented from the nursery across the street. Residents of Weddle’s park do not have to pay a fee to use the clubhouse or other park facilities, but many parks require a fee and a refundable cleaning deposit. When reserving the clubhouse, be sure to obtain a copy of the rules,

which typically include music and noise restrictions. As with any wedding venue, your final count must not exceed the maximum capacity or the fire department can shut down your event. Be sure to get very clear and detailed instructions regarding guest parking as well as vendor deliveries and pickups. This will spare guests and vendors any confusion and ensure that park residents will not be inconvenienced. In a gated community where visitors must prove they are expected, it’s a good idea to provide guests with a card to present on entry. This modern-day version of a church card might read, “Please present this card at the security gate on Saturday, the thirteenth of September” and would be enclosed with the invitation. “I really enjoyed planning this wedding,” said Weddle. “The whole community has been unbelievable, just amazing!” These are words not likely to be heard anywhere but in a mobile home park. Jean Picard writes frequently about weddings, etiquette, gardening, and cooking. Upw a rdly

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Photos Brent Winebrenner

By Jean Picard


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F O R Y O U R F IL E S

Know Your Homes Helpful Definitions Modular Homes

F

actory-built housing that is ordinarily 85 to 95 percent complete when the unit leaves the factory. Modular homes usually consist of two or three three-dimensional boxes that are shipped complete (or nearly complete) from the factory and are connected together on the site. Units may be single or double sections. These units are required to conform to state regulations and local building codes that are in effect where the unit will be located. The advantage of modular homes is reduced construction time on the site and lower costs than conventional homes.

Panelized Homes

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ousing that is composed of prefabricated panels built in a factory. The panels contain whole walls including interior wiring and exterior siding. State regulations and local building codes that are in effect where the unit will be located govern construction. The advantage of panelized homes is the quality control provided by factory assembly and faster completion time.

Manufactured Homes

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actory-built housing that is 98 percent complete when transported to the home site. Once installed, their wheels are removed. Housing units come as single or double sections. On average, it takes 108 hours to build a single manufactured home. Required to comply with the HUD Code, manufactured houses are preempted from following state regulations and local building codes because of the chassis substructure that enables transportation and allows interstate travel. In contrast to state regulations and local building codes, which typically prescribe material systems for certain construction types, the

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HUD Code is performance based and provides only standards for strength, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, and quality for conformance. No manufactured home may be shipped from the factory unless it complies with the HUD Code and is released for shipment by an independent third-party inspector certified by HUD. Manufactured housing makes up 66 percent of factory-built housing.

PreCut Homes

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ousing that is constructed on-site from materials cut to fit and finished in a factory. Kit, log, and dome homes are all precut homes. These units are required to conform to state regulations and local building codes. The advantage of the precut home is the quality control provided by factory assembly and faster completion time.

Mobile Homes

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anufactured housing units built before the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, also known as the HUD Code, went into effect in June 1976. People often confuse mobile homes with trailers, but trailers are intended for traveling while mobile homes, usually wider and longer, are built for installation at a permanent site.

HOUSE TRAILER

Trailers at least 8 feet wide with permanently attached wheels, pulled by car or truck and used as a temporary or vacation dwelling.

-- Manufactured Housing Institute

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Artist Patricia Chidlaw was born in San Francisco. She studied at UC Santa Barbara and currently lives in Santa Barbara. She is represented by Terrence Rogers Fine Art, 1231 Fifth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 394-4999, www.trogart.com U p w a r d l y

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I N T E RI O R S

Thinking inside the box ARTICLE AND SKETCHES By BETSY EDWARDS

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hat’s all the fuss about thinking outside the box? When given roughly 1,560 square feet—the equivalent of a double-wide’s dimensions of 28 by 60 feet--my thoughts turn to finding creative solutions within the box. In this and the next two issues, we offer an innovative new home design in three parts. This month’s column describes the entryway, laundry, and bath areas within the context of an open yet unified plan that maximizes storage areas while minimizing clutter. Being someone who appreciates a sense of entrance, I’m often disappointed by entry areas in mobile homes. Who wants to be greeted at the front door by a view of dishes in the sink, laundry spilling out of a hamper, or a desk full of clutter? Our design will allow you to use your space in new ways, to hide that clutter and create a more gracious and open sense of space. Notice how we’ve concealed the areas of defined function—the bath on one side, the laundry room on the other—to create a unified style and an appearance

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of simplicity. From the entry all the way through to the kitchen at the opposite end of the house, reiterated shapes and decorative millwork motifs unify the design of bookcases, fireplaces, and cabinetry in the living areas and continue through to the laundry, bedrooms, and baths.

Powder Room (#2) This provides the perfect last stop out the door or first stop in. Recycling a vintage chest for the vanity also provides extra storage. Consider mirroring the sink wall and using a sleek wood or glass sculpture sink for intrigue.

Entry (#1)

Laundry/Utility Room (#3)

Your home is a place of hospitality; you want to feel welcome upon entering. We’ve accomplished this with a smart paneled passage spilling into an inviting living room. Details: A wood-paneled wall design with “invisible,” or integrated, doors to the laundry and powder room sets the tone. The walls can be traditional or contemporary, stained or painted, and provide a nifty area for hanging art. Consider stone for the entry flooring continuing into the powder room. The laundry and utility area will benefit from a more durable material, while imaginative light fixtures in these areas and coordinated door and cabinetry hardware will add extra pizzazz.

Opposite the powder room you’ll find the brains of the house--HVAC, water heater, and wash-and-dry combo. You’ll be amazed at how you can simplify this area and save money at the same time. Energy saving appliances Check with your local utility companies if you are in the market for new appliances. A wide variety of plans for various income levels provide savings, tax breaks, incentives, and even free appliances. Look for the Energy Star rating, read online reviews, ask your neighbors, and kick the tires at your local appliance dealers. Tankless water heaters These are quickly replacing their energy-zapping ancestors. Upw a rdly

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With an average wall size of 24 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 8.5 inches deep and an average weight of 47 pounds, models come in electric or gas, but remember that gas requires exterior venting. Hot water is created on demand, after about 40 seconds of cold-water evacuation. Motion sensors can be installed to flip the heaters on for more-rapid hot water delivery. Six gallons per minute should meet your needs and keep your pocketbook happy. Washer and dryer Review your family’s needs. Whether a space-saving front loader or full size model, the key is building out the area to accommodate your requirements. Storage Take advantage of online research; many companies provide free design consultation and great photos. Home improvement and large retail stores also offer a myriad of useful and innovative solutions. Important features include folding, hanging, ironing, and storage capabilities. Take an inventory of your needs--coats, rain

and pet gear, even gardening tools. Then try roughing out a layout and graphing a plan and elevations. Customize your vision with etageres, modular wire systems, hampers, bookcases, tables, or hanging racks.

Entry to Living Room (#4) Entering the living area from the entryway, you’ll find a small console to the left for dropping keys and sunglasses. To the right are millwork bookcases to display art and to organize mail, homework, and briefcase within a stylish functional element. A small desk could be incorporated here as well. We suggest applying the instructions given earlier for creating the storage area. This area will make your comings and goings much more efficient. Unify and tailor the cabinetry to meet your particular style and needs. Betsy Edwards has designed interiors for homes, hotels, and clubs in Georgia, California and many places all over the world.

Web Resources Storage and Shelving: www.closetworld.com www.californiaclosets.com www.easyclosets.com www.closetmaid.com Appliances and Green Links: www.energystar.gov www.fypower.org www.tanklesswaterheaterguide.com www.lightinguniverse.com www.sinksgallery.com Small Spaces: www.apartmenttherapy.com www.cribcandy.com Disclaimer: These drawings are copyrighted and are for representational purposes only. As with any construction or remodeling project, professional plans and coordination with all local codes, ordinances and structural needs are required.

Create Your Little Piece of Heaven in...

OAK HAVEN A brand new luxury community only 22 home sites available Customize Your Home to Fit Your Lifestyle reserve yours now! A Manufactured Housing Community persons for 62 & over 1885 Maricopa Hwy. Ojai CA 93023 • (805) 646-5797 Oak Haven LLC has no affiliation with any manufactured home dealer and each lot is subject to the payment of a lot development fee.

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PR O F IL E

The Dickens Brothers One Finances, T the Other Remodels By Andrea Estrada Photos by BRENT WINEBRENNER

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ogether, the Dickens brothers, Clay and Bart, comprise a singular expertise in mobile and modular homes. Clay, a mortgage agent at Community West Bank and author of the bank’s mobile home lending program, has the inside scoop on financing. Bart, a building contractor, is the authority on design and remodeling. Mobile and modular homes were a big part of the brothers’ childhood first in Deerfield, Ill., where their father was a friend of architect Mies van der Rohe, and then in Montecito, CA. Van der Rohe helped the elder Dickens build a home in Illinois that boasted no paint and huge thermal windows from floor to ceiling. In 1980, the family moved to Montecito and, much to the neighbors’ chagrin, constructed the first large modular home in the area. Currently situated a few doors down from comedienne Carol Burnett’s place, it, too, features floor-toceiling thermal windows. In the years hence, both brothers have occupied their share of mobile homes. In fact, the first home Clay Dickens shared

with his wife, Sally, was manufactured and over the years he has helped his father remodel a couple of units. An affinity for manufactured homes seem to run in the family with several family members— including a sister and a variety of in-laws — having purchased their own. Bart Dickens moved to Santa Barbara from the Bay area where he was an established contractor. After helping Clay Dickens remodel his first unit, he caught mobile home fever and began flipping them. Recently he sold his remodeled unit in Carpinteria and began a new project in Goleta. Both Dickens brothers find the mobile home life easy and, perhaps more importantly, affordable. Traditional homeowners have watched the value of their real estate plummet over the last year or so, yet for mobile home owners, it’s barely a blip on the radar. “Mobile home mortgages haven’t been damaged by the subprime loan crisis the way conventional mortgages have,” said Clay Dickens, a mortgage agent at Upw a rdly

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Community West Bank and the author of the bank’s mobile home lending program. Community West makes loans for mobile home purchases throughout central California. “They’re still affordable and still valuable.” Calling mobile homes “the last bastion of affordable housing in this county,” Dickens noted that loans tend to range from $125,000 to $500,000, although some units can be purchased for as little as $40,000. One reason the mobile home sector has remained relatively unscathed is that loans for mobile homes differ significantly from those for traditional residences—they are considered personal property loans rather than real estate loans because no actual land is attached to the mobile home. In some cases, the mobile home owner may own a share of the corporation that owns the land, but he is not a landowner himself. “The main reason most banks don’t make loans for mobile homes is because there’s no absolute that the land will remain a park forever,” Dickens said. So what factors does a lender take into account when considering a mobile home loan? According to Dickens, the guidelines are the same as for a regular Fannie Mae loan. “We look at credit history, debt-toincome ratios, the amount of the down payment, and the location and condition of the park.” Although some finance companies will offer adjustable loans, most would-be buyers take out loans ranging from 10 to 30 years at a fixed interest rate, currently averaging 7.25 percent, Dickens said. “The biggest obstacle people face is the down payment,” he continued. “We require 20 percent and so does everyone else. We often meet with people before they have the down payment so they know what their price range should be.” For would-be homeowners, particularly those who have steady jobs and make a good living but can’t afford, as Dickens described, “four walls and a backyard,” mobile homes increasingly provide the best shot at The American Dream.

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ome people say mobile homes are junk,” says Clay’s brother, Bart Dickens, a building contractor who has bought, remodeled, and sold more than a few mobile units. “But if I have a 28-by-50-foot mobile home and a 1,500square-foot conventional home and I break each in half, load the pieces on a truck, and drive down the freeway, my mobile home won’t sustain any damage. But you can bet the stick home will.” Factory-made from kiln-dried lumber, U p w a r d l y

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mobile home components go together like pieces of a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Still, remodeling existing units is as easy as working on a traditional house. “I encourage people to go online and study the floor plans of newly manufactured units,” said Dickens. “There are some really good ideas out there that you can get free. Say you have an existing 48-by-50-squarefoot unit. You can see what’s current with

satisfied with the current window size, stick with it. Or perhaps go an inch smaller.” The process for replacing doors is similar to that of replacing windows. In general, front doors on a mobile home are a standard size, but side-access doors tend to be smaller. Of all the mobile homes sold today, Dickens said, roughly 90 percent are doublewide, and manufacturers offer literally

Top: A small bedroom in one mobile home becomes an airy office, after renovation by Bart Dickens, who also designed the furniture. those dimensions and come up with some great ideas for orienting the floor plan without reinventing the wheel.” Windows and doors provide the best place to begin a mobile remodel. In most older units, removing windows is as easy as turning a few screws. The Internet offers a seemingly endless list of suppliers of mobile home parts, Dickens said, and while specs for mobile home windows are not standardized to those in traditional homes, they are within the mobile manufacturing community. “You get the window and the gasket kit that comes with it and just screw the new one in.” Dickens has gone so far as to reframe the openings and install conventional windows rather than those made specifically for mobile homes. “But you want to make sure the new window is the same size or a little smaller,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to add lumber to the inside of the window opening than it is to make the opening bigger. If you’re

hundreds of floor plans. “For the most part, newer units have vaulted ceilings, particularly on doublewides,” continued Dickens. “This gives them much, much more volume. And because of the strength and general nature of the truss system used in all mobile homes, none of the interior walls have to be load bearing. So everything can be wide open from one side to the other. In older models, you needed a wall going down the center to support the weight.” Currently, Dickens is remodeling a unit built in 1973. He parked a Dumpster out front and got started on the demolition and deconstruction work. When he finished, the only thing left inside was the furnace. “I’m starting from scratch, putting up new walls,” he said. “I ran conventional plumbing and conventional electric. I approached the project with what I think is the best mentality. Whenever I buy one of these things to remodel, I make it as I’d want it to be.” 23


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Green Style from Details By Arnie Cooper

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ooking to be hip and modular but don’t want to live in a bare box or go broke in the process? Details, a Sacramento-based prefab manufacturer, has recently entered the market with a line of cottage-style homes that are small enough to be energy efficient yet don’t skimp on luxury features. Founded by Mark Wintz and Bruce Evans, Details is the duo’s response to what they saw as a decline in home craftsmanship during the past 25 years. Having built custom homes and developed small neighborhoods up and down the California coast, Wintz understands that part of the problem stems from a growing “separation between mass building production and custom construction,” which, he says, has led to “substandard” manufacturing. “The unique architectural elements characteristic of the 1920s and 1930s have been slowly pulled off our housing to make them simpler for production manufacturers to build,” he says. However, Wintz believes a new breed of discriminating, eco-conscious home buyers is driving the market in a different direction. What’s more, America’s changing demographics—smaller families 24

and more singles and couples purchasing homes—are pushing consumers to forgo square footage in place of good design and better-quality materials and finishes. “We see that as our niche: including things broadly recognized as architectural amenities that people love but that are very hard to re-create with our current construction methods. The front porch cottage with dormers is definitely an example of that.” Unlike other modular manufacturers who stress sharp angles and floor-to-ceiling glass, Wintz’s endeavor strives for houses that are “architecturally authentic.” Nothing reflects this better than Details’s five cottage models conceived by Ross Chapin Architects, nationally recognized for their highly functional and aesthetic designs built on a human scale. Whether it’s Lisette, a 665-square-foot granny flat, or the bigger P Plan, a 1,665square-foot two-bedroom unit, these homes all feature decks and porches and are appointed with Andersen windows, Kohler fixtures, and granite countertops— elements normally reserved for much grander homes. The next to largest, the 1,431-squarefoot Elderberry is a three-bedroom, threebath structure with an expansive front

porch accentuated with built-in planter boxes. Add to that the finely crafted, highly functional kitchen with built-in shelves and you can see why they named the company “Details.” Their first assembled home, an “Elderberry,” was recently erected in Santa Cruz for a family that lost its home during a wildfire. Which brings us to the process. Wintz says that although the company

“We see that as our niche: …architectural amenities that people love” can be contacted directly, Details doesn’t sell directly to customers. Instead, 25 to 30 Details authorized builders will take you through the process. (They do have a design center for those who want to see firsthand what they’re getting.) “It’s not that we don’t allow people to come see us—we do—but ultimately the person who’s gonna carry them through the local jurisdiction will be the local Upw a rdly

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Renderings courtesy Details

The Ashton, a luxury 1344-square-foot home from Details’ Vintage Collection.

The Pine Creek, a 2580-square-foot home from Details’ Timberline Collection.

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builder,” Wintz says. A big issue, of course, is conforming to the building codes for each particular locality. Fortunately, California established legislation back in 2003 standardizing a uniform building code that’s accepted anywhere in the state. In the company’s other shipping destinations—Oregon, Washington, and Nevada—similar legislation has been passed. So except for the occasional specific issue—for example, the required inclusion of sprinkler systems in Santa Barbara—Wintz says that 98 percent of the construction is covered. In any case, since all Details homes have already been approved and inspections are done at the factory, the “12 months of chaos of a custom-built home” can be exchanged for a relatively hassle-free building process that can be accomplished in as few as 3 or 4 months. Prices range from around $80 to 26

about $130 per square foot, depending upon the specification level and size of the home. The costs for delivery, site work (including a foundation), and the setting of the home will vary widely depending on the specific lot and location. Expect to pay $40 to $80 per square foot for that. The Elderberry house goes for $200 a square foot. “You might say that’s a lot, but the same house built on site would probably cost $350 a square foot,” Wintz says. Beyond the initial cost savings of going modular, lower utility costs will not only put money back in your pocket but also reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Experts agree that insulation is the most important factor in energy efficiency. Thanks to “structurally insulated panels” coupled with soy-based spray foam, Details homes provide an envelope that doesn’t leak air. A tankless water heater will save

you up to 30% on heating, and a specially configured plumbing system yields almost instantaneous hot water. In addition, if you install photovoltaic solar panels, you’ll be able to sell the excess electricity back to the grid. Indeed, Details plans to offer three levels of energy efficiency for the homebuyer to choose from: “Energy Star,” “Build it Green,” and the much sought after “LEED” certification. And like all modular homebuilders, Details builds off site—in this case a decommissioned aerospace facility—which in itself is inherently green. “The whole construction process has an efficiency that goes from the framers coming to work here every day, instead of driving around the state of California, to the fact that there’s almost no waste,” Wintz says. Your neighbors will thank you and so will the planet. Upw a rdly

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Renderings courtesy Details; photos by Ross Chapin Architects

Opposite: The Seaside, a 2174-square-foot home designed for a traditional 50 x 100 in-fill lot. This page (top): An interior photo of the Elderberry Cottage, a three-bedroom, two-bath home designed by Ross Chapin Architects for Details’ Cottage Collection. Bottom: The Egret, a 1200-square-foot cottage designed by Ross Chapin Architects for Details’ Cottage Collection

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ON THE COVER

Building a Dream at Top O’ Topanga 28

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By Betsy Edwards Photos by BRENT WINEBRENNER

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ON THE COVER

Clerestory windows align with stock French doors and custom windows to provide sweeping views. Top O’ Topanga resident Fred Beckmeier designed the deck, including the “rusted” hardware and a combination of redwood posts, rebar, and cable. Framing the fireplace, “Dutch Quality” faux stone achieves the look of a centuries-old weathered surface. 30

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ever in a million years!” That was Dawn Moore’s first reaction to the suggestion that she buy into a mobile home park. A successful retail manager for the Los Angeles region of Mikimoto America, the stylish brunette works from a Beverly Hills office where luxury and taste are the tools of her trade. Moore had recently sold her 2,800square-foot Encino home and was looking for something smaller. When her Realtor took her to Topanga Canyon, a rustic, 18-squaremile enclave north of LA and adjacent to the 11,000-acre Topanga State Park, her interest was piqued. But when the Realtor suggested visiting a gated mobile home community, Moore balked. Yet once she laid eyes on Top O’ Topanga, with its pool and fitness center, quirky clubhouse with a soaring 35-foot roof, and spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley, she was hooked. Developed in 1960, Top O’ Topanga is an eclectic enclave full of artists, architects, and musicians. In addition to older mobile homes, the 212 sites include manufactured dwellings—some bohemian, some state of the art. Potential buyers have the attractive option of purchasing the lot that their home sits on, then removing whatever structure is there and building a brand-new custom manufactured home. This was the option that stirred Moore. Something clicked the minute she entered a model manufactured home in the park. She saw how she could create a new customized abode for less money than she would spend on any existing traditionally built house she’d viewed. Immediately, she began doodling sketches and soon came up with a plan that really excited her. Moore worked with architectural designer Meredith Day of Model Home Center, Inc., to refine her vision. Day, in turn, liaised with Silvercrest, known for its custom modifications, on plans for the triplewide manufactured unit. Construction began when subcontractors arrived to install six continued

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continued

From top: Top O’ Topanga enjoys a lofty perch; bath details; owner Dawn Moore; the 3-section home was built on steel I-beams in the factory, then separated for transportation.

25-foot deep concrete caissons to anchor the home’s foundation. Today, Moore enjoys a million-dollar view through the floor-to-ceiling windows of her twobedroom, two-bath, 1,640-square-foot home. Warm ochre stonework adorns her fireplace, rich walnut wood defines the kitchen counter, graceful French doors extend out to a 280degree viewing deck, and skylights illuminate 10-foot ceilings. Moore characterizes her design as “MidCentury Case Study meets San Ysidro Ranch.” And, indeed, warm detailing, recalling Santa Barbara’s secluded resort, enriches the home’s spare modernist lines. Walk-in closets, luxurious baths, a library/office, and a two-car garage complete Moore’s dream. Moore chose to subcontract the fireplace’s masonry, Carrera marble and American Black Walnut countertops, vintage hexagonal bathroom tiles, dark chocolate wood floors, oil-rubbed bronze door hardware, and handselected lighting fixtures. All were installed once the home was delivered. Her selection of Ikea kitchen cabinetry exemplified the new partnership between Ikea and Silvercrest that will benefit future customers. Moore found the Silvercrest engineering team open and amenable to her custom requests. They even reengineered the roof to allow for her placement of skylights. In the kitchen, she declined the appliance and cabinetry options that Silvercrest normally installs in order to feature family heirlooms such as a 1947 O’Keefe & Merritt Town and Country oven and an antique pine hutch. She also requested special storage space for preserving mementos from her father Clayton Moore’s career as television’s Lone Ranger. Other custom requests meant more challenges for Silvercrest: finessing marriage lines, where the modules join together, for light switch and floor vent placement; making wall corners square rather than rounded; and engineering custom electrical and sound system plans. Silvercrest and other manufactured home builders note that such custom requests are a growing trend. They are exploring ways to adapt more efficiently to an increasingly demanding clientele. Moore’s specifications pushed back 32

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The open kitchen area features natural materials like marble and butcher-block mixed with Ikea cabinets, industrial stainless steel, and Moore’s 1947 O’Keefe and Merritt stove. Dual skylights reduce energy usage.

the delivery date by a few extra months, and total construction, including site prep, took exactly a year. For Moore, another advantage of manufactured construction was its ecofriendly aspect. Manufactured or factorymade construction reuses excess materials while traditional frame construction can waste up to 40 percent of materials. In addition, Moore went green with doubleglazed, dual-paned windows; a tankless water heater; and recycled deck material by Trex Deck. Landscaping by Ron Smith provided the property’s finishing touches. Dawn estimates her home’s finished construction (excluding land) at $195 per square foot. As with any creative venture, Moore found the process to be equal parts fascination, exhilaration, and frustration— but, ultimately, well worth it. Surveying her completed home, she feels an incredible thrill and quips, “I’m ready for the next one!” Then she adds with a wink, “As a consultant!” U p w a r d l y

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Resources Top O’ Topanga

Silvercrest

3360 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Topanga, CA 90290 Management Office 818.346.9252

www.silvercrest.com

Meredith Day Architectural Design Model Home Center, Inc. Lake Elsinore, CA 661.312.1557 www.modelhomecenterinc.com

299 N. Smith Ave. Corona, CA 92880 800.382.0709 109 Pioneer Ave. Woodland, CA 95776 530.662.9156

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G o C r e a t i ve

Mobile Mirage Holly Moe’s Desert Oasis

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By Andrea Estrada Photos by BRENT WINEBRENNER

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rchitecturally speaking, situating an adobe house in California’s Desert Hot Springs makes perfect sense. The mud-and-straw style perfectly suits that hot, arid environment. What comes as a surprise, however, is the fact that Holly Moe’s adobe abode on her family’s Bubbling Wells Ranch is actually a mobile home. With its established landscaping and weathered exterior, the dwelling looks as if it has anchored this spot for generations. In reality, Moe moved to the ranch from Bandera, Texas, to help her parents with some landscaping. For a while, she lived

faux finish. Next, she traded the regular doors for sliders, which extended the openings by four feet. She also added an optional fireplace and installed skylights to capture extra light. The view from Holly’s living room window includes two ponds that create an oasis in the desert. Ducks who came to visit this year met up with the regular population of turtles, egrets, and koi. Roadrunners and quail are also frequent guests. Agaves and other succulents native to the area complement the natural stone patios and covered porches at the structure’s front and back. This creates a pleasant location

Trees have grown up around the house and provide enough shade to minimize her use of air conditioning. Fans circulate the air, and strategically placed window coverings hamper the sun as it moves across the house. Inside, open space allows the rooms to flow easily from one to another. Bright red and blue furnishings accent the yellow floor. Original art, including collages on which Holly and her friend Barbara collaborate, hangs on the walls. Holly has studied with artist Laddie John Dill, a native California artist whose work focuses on the interaction between natural and man-made materials.

in a trailer on the property, but when she started talking about building a house, her mother suggested looking at the possibilities of a mobile home. Its inherent mobility was one benefit, and so were the thick walls and insulation that would protect Holly from the desert heat. Holly purchased her home from Champion/ Redman Homes, a manufacturer of mobile and pre-fabricated houses. and made it her own by incorporating particular design elements. For example, she decided to keep the look of the original pressed particleboard floor. Instead of laying down carpet or tile, she gave the bare floor a bright yellow

from which to enjoy the desert vistas while avoiding the sun’s hot rays. Everywhere, little pieces of art add to the color and texture of the landscape. A birdhouse sits atop a tree stump in one of the succulent gardens. Elsewhere, pottery and an eclectic collection of sculptures highlight neutral spaces. Holly resolved the height differential between the mobile home and the pad by building up the landscape around three sides and adding a stunning adobe wall and entry with a set of bright blue steps. (She used the same blue color for the entry door that opens to the kitchen.)

Thanks to Barbara’s talent for arranging, an eclectic mix of objets d’art creates an interesting juxtaposition between interior and exterior. These include a bluehaired mannequin clad in a white shirt and tie, a floor lamp sculpted in the tight shape of a woman who just happens to be holding a slice of watermelon and wearing the red lampshade as a hat, and a pair of hands reaching upward from a floor cabinet. “Doing a manufactured home is so much fun,” Holly exclaimed. “It’s like the Jetsons, Disneyland, and tree houses combined. You can do whatever you like with whatever you want to spend.”

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RETRO

Blue Skies Village A Walk through Fantasyland

By Audrey Moe

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hildren use their imagination to have fun building forts and tree houses, but when adults build a home it becomes serious business. An exception is Blue Skies Village, where fun and whimsy are the rule, where all of the streets are named after movie stars, and where mobile homes are given exotic designs varying from South Sea tiki huts to Oriental pavilions, Egyptian tombs, and a replica of Mount Vernon. When I drove up to the blue wroughtiron gate enhanced with a black silhouette of Bing Crosby’s profile, complete with familiar pipe and hat, I knew I was in for a treat. I pushed the number I’d been given to notify Sue Meyers, my guide. As the wide gate rolled open and I drove through, I was immediately transported back to the 1950s and the golden days of Hollywood. My guide met me with a charming smile and a wealth of knowledge gleaned 38

from her own experiences of living at Blue Skies as well as stories from her grandparents, Helen and Rex Thompson, original residents and partners with developer Bing Crosby. She explained how Blue Skies began as an investment opportunity spearheaded by Bing in 1953. A piece of desert land in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, was just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and thus an ideal getaway for Hollywood celebrities. Many already had vacation homes in Rancho Mirage, some at the nearby Thunderbird Country Club, but others liked the idea of a small, quiet location with minimal upkeep. The whimsical tone of the park was set by Crosby when he named it after the Irving Berlin song for which he was so well known: “Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see….” In the same fanciful spirit, he named all the streets after his movie star

buddies—George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Barbara Stanwyck, Claudette Colbert, Greer Garson, and Danny Kaye— and himself, of course. It was only natural that his pals would want to support and invest in his project.

Visiting Blue Skies takes you back to the middle of the twentieth century Perhaps because they were movie people accustomed to exotic locales and movie props, they couldn’t resist having fun with the design of their small units. In the mid-1950s with housing at a premium after World War II, nothing over eight feet wide was allowed to be transported on the Upw a rdly

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highways. Double-wides didn’t come into use until the 1960s. Once the units were in the park, however, exteriors could be customized to suit individual whims. A red torii gate framing a golden Buddha against a white filigree concrete block wall leaves no doubt where the interest of one homeowner lies. Elegant black Oriental statues line a side wall and complete the color scheme of black, red, and white. Another model features an Egyptian god figure on one wall and hand-painted hieroglyphics on a raised fascia around the roofline. The house is referred to as the Temple of Karnac or King Tut’s tomb. The tiki huts with bamboo and fishnets, perfectly suited to a time when luaus were common, have mostly been remodeled. In the early days of Blue Skies, extravagant parties were staged with Hollywood film props delivered by huge semis from Los Angeles. One Western-themed party U p w a r d l y

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included costumes, hay bales, and a full-size stagecoach, all borrowed from Paramount Studios for the evening. These parties took place next to the swimming pool at Tanner Hall, a building designed by architect William Cody. It was the first building placed on the property and noteworthy because few mobile home parks used famous architects in their building designs. Of course Bing Crosby’s park had to have a golf course, even if it was only a ninehole pitch and putt. Located on Starlight Circle in the center of approximately 150 units, it includes one lone parking meter placed there, it is said, for Jack Benny’s retirement. If you’re too young to remember the stingy persona Jack Benny portrayed on his radio show, just ask your grandparents. Visiting Blue Skies takes you back to the middle of the twentieth century where the spirit of a past era still pervades and mid-century modern elements are

common. While some of the original and more unusual facades have been remodeled, current residents of Blue Skies delight in their homes’ historical past and continue to create their own fantasies. One house I passed had a front yard of small woodland creatures, not unlike a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Another featured a desert garden of native plants, and many showcased water fountains in decorative settings. I particularly liked the huge saguaro cactus standing guard at one of the units. With multiple arms and an estimated height of over 40 feet, it had to be well over 50 years old, no doubt brought in by the original owner. If Bing Crosby hadn’t named Blue Skies after his hit song, the name would still suit. As I gaze upward, I see only slender palms waving high above and a few wispy white clouds floating in blue skies that are “smiling at me” and at the fun people have had here with their mobile homes. 39


O P E N R O AD

Palm Springs

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mecca for vacationers, golfers, celebrities, and those keen on mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs also offers a prime cache of attractive mobile home parks. In addition to golf, the Palm Springs area offers tennis, swimming, horseback riding, and hiking as well as chic furniture and clothing boutiques (think Trina Turk), art galleries, architectural tours, and weekly street festivals for treasure hunting.

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Palm Springs

WHERE TO STAY Accommodations in the area range from five-star luxury resorts to reasonably priced motor lodges. ALEXANDER INN Suites with kitchens 1425 Via Soledad 760.327.4970

Photos courtesy Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism

A PLACE IN THE SUN 754 San Lorenzo Rd. 800.779.2254

Hike lush Tahquitz Canyon, then visit the wild animals at the Living Desert Museum and the abstract tableaux at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Shop the side streets for wonderful antique, consignment, and reproduction stores, where you’ll find that fabulous mid-century objet. Maps of the city and its architectural homes are available at the Visitors Bureau, 777 N. Palm Canyon Dr., 760.778.8415.

MOBILE HOME PARKS EL DORADO MOBILE COUNTRY CLUB (380 spaces) 6000 E PALM CANYON DR, 760-328-2815 GOLDEN SANDS MOBILE HOME PARK (154 spaces) 1900 E SAN RAFAEL DR, 760-327-4737

RAMON MOBILE PARK (263 spaces) 1441 E RAMON RD, 760-327-5417 SAFARI PARK (217 spaces) 2601 S CHEROKEE WAY, 760-328-1108 SAHARA PARK (280 spaces) 1955 S CAMINO REAL, 760-327-1881

THE SPRINGS OF PALM SPRINGS 227 N. Palm Canyon Dr. 760.327.5701

Matchbox Terrific pizza 155 S. Palm Canyon Dr.

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WHAT TO DO

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WHERE TO EAT

SANTIAGO SUN CANYON PARK (175 spaces) 22840 STERLING AVE, 760-322-3876

FOR MORE INFO www.desertresource.com www.PalmSprings.com palmsprings.citysearch.com www.palm-springs.org 41


I N T H E YARD

Down the (New) Garden Path

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Creating an Outdoor Sense of Mystery By Leslie Dinaberg

Photos Brent Winebrenner

L

ong, narrow side yards are often overlooked as valuable garden real estate, but they can be essential in making a small space come alive as part of the overall landscape. With planning, ingenuity, and a flair for the dramatic, landscape designer Mark Sargent transformed Judy and Rudy Escalera’s formerly confusing, underused space into a glorious sidegarden destination. The Escaleras had lived in their Santa Barbara mobile home, which fronts a golf course in a senior living community, for about four years when they decided it was time to redo the side yard. Judy was concerned that the yard’s gravel path might be dangerous, and she wanted to create a more cohesive, scenic look. Sargent’s first impression of the space was of “a garden that was semi-landscaped, but it had outgrown itself. There were attempts at little visual side paths, but they didn’t really go anywhere and U p w a r d l y

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they weren’t inviting enough to make you want to see where they led.” After consulting with the property manager about restrictions, the two analyzed which elements should stay, which could be used but moved, and what needed to be added. Then they got down to business. “We had a lot of nice plantings to work with,” said Sargent. Ultimately, most were removed and placed in other areas. Only the hedges, a rose bush, and some olive trees remained in their original locations. The first and most dramatic design change was to extend the walkway out to the front property line. The Escaleras chose a “rather daring” Sedona Red flagstone tile that addressed their safety concerns and unified the look of the garden. It also had an unanticipated but rather dramatic effect on the monotonous beige color of the house. continued 43


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continued

Judy had planned to repaint her home after the side Other than trimming the olive trees and the hedges, yard was finished. Now she found that the vivid red-tile the Escaleras are able to maintain the garden themselves, walkway warmed up the house’s drab tone so much that painting proved unnecessary. “It was a clever accident,” explained Sargent. “It turns out the Sedona Red ties in so well that it made the house look like it was the right color.” “Another thing we did was to change the steps at the side of the house,” said Judy. “The new design has a little landing and the rail comes down like open arms, sort of saying, ‘Hi, here we are. Welcome!’ Then that beautiful red pathway leads up into the different areas of the garden.” Creating a pathway with a variety of interesting plant groupings—including plumeria, loropetalum, aloe, hydrangea, Jacob’s Ladder, agave, Little Ollie, and azalea—“helped give a sense of largeness to the garden so that the stairs Judy and her designer Mark didn’t just go marching straight down to the front door in a boring way,” said Sargent. They also incorporated a birdbath, a succulent rock garden, a patio, an antique garden bench, an important consideration for seniors and others who and a water feature. “It’s amazing how much we could fit may be on a budget. in without feeling overwhelmed. You still feel that you have “I love to putter around in the garden,” said Judy. “It places to go,” said Sargent. just gives me so much pleasure.”

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E THICAL • HONEST • TRUSTWORTHY • CARING 44

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U P S C AL E

Build Your Own

Front

Back

Renderings by Christina Rivera

Cut out and construct this model mobile home. Then personalize it by choosing your styling and landscaping.

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OVER THE FENCE

The Friendster Next Door By Leslie Dinaberg

I

n a wired age where we can create instant friendships with strangers scattered around the world, how many of us make the effort to know the people living right next door? Indeed, the poet Robert Frost’s sterling words have tarnished with age: These days, good fences don’t necessarily make good neighbors. Yet it often takes no more than a smile, a note, a phone call, or the ringing of a bell to create a sense of community in your

Be Welcoming “When you see your neighbors outdoors, strike up a friendly conversation with them. This is a great way to meet, connect and stay in touch,” says Kathy Peterson, host of Lifetime Television show, “The Balancing Act.” “Bake a batch of cookies (with your children if you can) and deliver the goodies to the newly arrived neighbor, suggests psychologist Aaron Cooper, author of I Just Want My Kids to Be Happy (Late August Press, February 2008). “Or invite your neighbors over for coffee or cocktails,” says Peterson. “This is a great way to get to know each other better.”

Be Gracious Cooper suggests you offer to collect your neighbor’s newspapers and mail or to water their houseplants when they go away. If you live where you need to clear snow from your driveway, clean in front of your neighbor’s home as well. “Offer to help if your neighbor is in need and you can do it and want to do it. For example, cook an extra dish for dinner and give it to a neighbor who is not feeling well or is grief stricken. This will make both of you feel better. Compassion 46

neighborhood. In close quarters such as mobile home parks, it’s even more critical to care about your surroundings and to engage with one another. In honor of September’s National Good Neighbor Day, here are some tips to make your neighborhood a happier, friendlier place to live:

releases feel-good chemistry,” says stress management expert Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress (Jossey-Bass, September 2008).

Consideration Counts “Maintain your home well so that it adds appeal to the neighborhood. Don’t allow your landscaping to become a weed patch or a dead botanical landscape. No cars up on blocks!” says Melissa Galt, author of Change Your Interiors, Change Your Life (Publishing by Design, January 2007). It’s also important to “keep your noise levels reasonable,” she says. “Let neighbors know if you are expecting packages. Ask if they will accept them for you.”

Address Issues “It seems simple, but talk to your neighbors if you have a concern,” says Pam Ragland, author of Radical Thought Shift and The 7 Why’s of Addiction (Aiming Higher Quantum Success Company, 2006 and 2008). 

Make sure you notify your neighbors if you are planning construction or remodeling, especially if you require a Dumpster, says Galt. And “don’t forget to invite everyone in for a housewarming when the place is ready!”

Safety First “A good neighbor should offer to be there for their neighbors for any last-minute emergencies and vice versa, whether it’s taking care of pets, borrowing, etc.,” says Peterson. “Do offer to be aware of strange vehicles and individuals cruising the neighborhood,” says Galt. “Everyone is responsible for safety. Don’t ignore unusual activity and assume it is expected. If in doubt, inquire politely out of kind concern.” If creating a healthy community isn’t motivation enough, think of your own health. “Being a good neighbor is healthy for both mind and body,” says Mandel. “We all need a support system and a helping hand occasionally to manage stress, both acute and chronic. Because of proximity, neighbors are easy to make friends with—and we all know how difficult it can be to make new friends. Neighbors are a natural.” Upw a rdly

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T

he screen door shudders to a close as Doris returns from the kitchen with a box of Nabiscos. “Cookies?” she offers the ladies. “No, thanks,” answers Marge. “Just a little more coffee.” Doris flushes. “I swear, I’m surprised I can still remember my own name sometimes!” She disappears back into the house and returns with the coffee pot. She gives Marge a refill. “So, what were we talking about?” she says. “Oh, yeah. The lovebirds.” “Dish!” says Pearl. “Well, you know Donna, who lives next to where Zippy moved in?” Pearl and Marge nod with anticipation. “She was over yesterday. I colored her hair. She’s going to Las Vegas for her grandson’s graduation. He’s a cute kid! And she really has beautiful hair. Marge, you should do your hair that color.” “And…,” urges Pearl. “Oh, okay. So the manager was over at Zippy’s the other By Onnah Roll night and Donna heard them giggling and playing loud music and saw them drinking on the porch. She said the manager didn’t leave ‘til after midnight! Donna saw her leave. She was up again on account of her bursitis. Poor thing hardly sleeps anymore.” “That doesn’t mean anything, just cause they were whooping it up a bit! Maybe they were just celebrating another eviction,” Marge says. “I wouldn’t be surprised though. They both always have their grouchy pants on. Maybe the two grouches will balance each other out and they’ll leave us all alone.”

Episode Two

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“All I know is, you didn’t behave that way back in my day,” adds Pearl. “Not unless you were serious—or seriously looking for trouble!” “Yeah, well, we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Doris teases. Pearl moved to the West Coast in 1970 from Kansas with her husband, Frank. Frank was a city planner who worked until the age of 62 with no vacations. He died of a sudden stroke while he was watching the New Year’s Day Rose Parade on television. Pearl had been a devoted housewife and mother, soft-spoken, a sufferer (she believed it was her job as a woman). Still suffering from various aches and pains (including her children, who take over the mobile home when they’re broke), she finds solace in romance novels and the Lifetime Television network. “Before I forget,” says Marge, helping herself to a cookie, “thank your daughter for that plant she brought me after my surgery.” “It was her pleasure. She was just so worried about you.” “It’s really doing well in the backyard. The flowers on it are so beautiful! I think it’s the only thing I’ve planted that’s lived since I moved here.” “It’s where?” asks Doris with a perplexed tilt of her head. “In the backyard. Next to the shed.” “Why?” “We needed some color there. That shed is so ugly I wanted something else to look at.” Doris starts laughing hysterically, smoke from her cigarette shooting out her nostrils. “What?” asks Pearl. “What is so funny? Are you okay?” “It’s just…,” and Doris tries to quiet her laugh with a gulp of coffee. “It’s just…,” she laughs some more, “didn’t you know that plant isn’t real?” “What?” Marge turns the color of the rose pattern on the tablecloth as the three try to catch their breath from laughing. “But Stan planted it. He never said anything. I’ve been watering it every day. I thought I had finally grown a green thumb! Oh, God! I need new glasses!” “I’ll say!” squeaks Pearl between laughs. “I’ve gotta run before I run all over the chair here. You’re too much, Marge.” “Okay, Sweetie! Come back tomorrow,” calls Doris. “I didn’t get the chance to tell you the rest of the dirt on Space 50.” Onnah Roll is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts. Her poetry has been published in Sentenial. Upw a rdly

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Illustration by Rene Golan

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LA S T L O O K

Everything old is new again! As the saying goes. Here, the dining room of a stylish mobile home, photographed for the Los Angeles Times Home magazine in 1970. 50

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Upwardly Mobile Magazine - Fall 2008