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What $3 Million Buys You in California

This house, in the Claremont neighborhood, was built by Walter H. Ratcliff, a London-born architect who designed a number of Bay Area buildings in the English Tudor style. The home has undergone several transformations: A second gable was added in the 1920s, and in the mid-20th century, interior walls and bathrooms were added so it could be used as a boardinghouse. The current owners turned it back into a single-family residence and updated the plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. The house is about two blocks from the Clark Kerr Campus of the University of California, Berkeley; the school’s main campus is 10 minutes away. Monkey Island, a small park, is across the street.

Size: 5,214 square feet

Price per square foot: $566

Indoors: Two sets of brick steps lead to the front door, set in a wide porch paved in brick.

Beyond the front door is a large foyer that connects most of the rooms on this level. To the left, through wood-and-glass sliding doors, is a living room with a small fireplace. Windows in the living room, and throughout the house, have been updated in the original style. Sliding doors on the right side of the foyer open to a dining room with a built-in display cabinet.

A spacious kitchen is off the dining room, with a built-in desk, a center island with additional storage, stainless steel appliances installed by the current owners and room for a breakfast table. Two sunny sitting rooms connect to the kitchen: One has a tile floor inlaid with a fish pattern; the other has stairs leading to the lower level.

A bedroom and an office off the foyer share a recently updated bathroom with a glass-walled shower.

At the center of the foyer, opposite the front door, is a staircase up to the second level, where five bedrooms are arrayed around the landing. At the top of the stairs is a bedroom with windows on two walls and a built-in closet. Another bedroom, used as an art studio, is at the end of the hall. Across the landing is a third bedroom with its own sink, a relic from the home’s days as a boardinghouse. And at the back of the house are two more bedrooms, one used as a home office and the other as an art studio. There are also two bathrooms on this level.

The garden level has a large, open area with tiled floors, and separate smaller spaces used as craft rooms and music studios. A hallway connects the main area to a bedroom with a full bathroom across the hall.

Outdoor space: A covered deck off the main level of the house has a built-in wet bar and room for a barbecue. The patio, which runs from the side of the house to the backyard, is paved in brick, with a number of garden boxes. The driveway has space for two cars.

Taxes: $34,512 (estimated)

Contact: Ann Arriola Plant and Lynn Signorelli, Red Oak Realty, 510-501-2094; redoakrealty.com

Mission Hills, a neighborhood just north of Old Town San Diego, has a number of well-maintained Prairie- and Craftsman-style homes, many of them (including this one) historic landmarks. The owners of this house added a swimming pool and a garage, and did a renovation that included removing, cleaning and restoring all the original windows. Presidio Park, a 40-acre green space dotted with historic structures, is less than a mile away. San Diego International Airport is a 15-minute drive.

Size: 5,300 square feet

Price per square foot: $566

Indoors: A wide stone walkway leads to a covered porch with a wood-and-glass front door. To the right of the entry is a living room with two window seats, an original tiled fireplace, built-in cabinets with diamond-paned glass doors and original hardwood floors that continue throughout the house. Off the living room is a sunroom that connects to the kitchen.

To the left of the entry is a dining room with another window seat, a tiled fireplace and a built-in sideboard topped by a mirror. Off the dining room is a study with its own half bathroom.

Beyond the dining room is a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a backsplash that echoes the tile patterns of the fireplaces. A laundry room around the corner has access to the backyard.

On the second floor is the primary bedroom, which has space for a sitting and dressing area. Next door is an updated bathroom with a soaking tub. Adjacent to the bathroom is another bedroom, with a row of street-facing windows. And at the end of the hall are two additional bedrooms connected by a bathroom with a combination tub and shower.

Next to the primary bedroom is a set of stairs leading to a third-floor space that could serve as a fifth bedroom but is used by the sellers as a den.

Outdoor space: A patch of lawn separates the house from a three-car garage designed in the same style as the main house. Citrus trees are planted along the border to the neighbor’s property. A pool area to the side of the garage has space for an umbrella and lounge chairs.

Taxes: $31,500 (estimated, but the home is eligible for reduced property taxes under the Mills Act)

Contact: Todd Armstrong, Compass, 858-229-8752; armstrongestates.com


A few blocks from the Napa River, and within walking distance of the restaurants and wine-tasting rooms of downtown Napa, this house was designed by Luther M. Turton, an architect hired by the owner of a local tannery. In the summer of 1939, the owners lent it to newlyweds Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, who lived there while Ms. Lombard filmed “They Knew What They Wanted.” Over the years, successive owners have maintained many of the original details, although the exterior stucco color has changed several times.

Size: 4,106 square feet

Price per square foot: $729

Indoors: A flagstone path leads from the sidewalk to a front porch with classic Italianate arches and room for a cafe table and chairs. A window seat in the foyer looks out onto the porch.

On the right side of the foyer, pocket doors open to a living room with a fireplace. More pocket doors, opposite the front door, open to a dining room with white wainscoting, deep gray walls and a service window that looks into the kitchen. A wide doorway at the far end of the dining room leads into the kitchen, which has a purple center island, matching trim around the doors and windows, granite counters and French doors that open to the rear deck.

From the foyer, stairs rise to the second level. Across the landing at the top of the stairs is the primary suite, which has an arched window overlooking the street. The hardwood floors have been refinished, and the en suite bathroom has a walk-in shower and two vanities.

A hallway that extends from the landing connects three more bedrooms, one with original built-in drawers and another with an en suite bathroom.

The sellers turned the third floor into a combination den and screening room, and the basement level into additional living space, with a full bathroom, a wine room and a game area.

Outdoor space: Off the kitchen is a wide wooden deck that looks down into the backyard, with room for an outdoor dining setup. Wooden steps lead down to the yard, which has a flagstone patio, a hot tub and mature trees lining the perimeter. The detached garage holds two cars.

Taxes: $39,840 (estimated)

Contact: Jocelyne Monello, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, 707-224-8281; sothebysrealty.com

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