Welcome to 45 Chrisman Avenue!
It doesn’t get any more Southern California than a Spanish Revival bungalow within walking distance of a sandy beach and vibrant downtown Ventura. We used to ride our bikes downtown along San Nicolas Street and Chrisman Avenue, dreaming of living in such an iconic location. When a “for sale” sign went up at 45 Chrisman, we didn’t wait for a formal invitation. We quickly gained entry and soon stood in awe of the huge original windows, high barrel ceiling, unmolested woodwork, and iconic Batchelder fireplace. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the house was a mess.
Ventura maintains a small town, laid back, surfer vibe that’s been beaten out of most of Southern California. We know our neighbors, have our favorite cashier at the grocery, and (under normal circumstances) randomly run into friends at Fluid State or Winchesters. With endless beaches, Santa Barbara’s cultural centers, and Los Padres National Forest’s hiking and biking trails all nearby we never run out of weekend activities. For fifteen awesome years, we’ve never been disappointed to call Ventura home.
There are a number of significant, and a few inconsequential, things I’d like you to notice about the history and renovation of 45 Chrisman Avenue.
As you approach from the street you’ll notice that the 1924 structure remains entirely original. Lack of inappropriate modification or augmentation over the years allows the original floorplan’s simple efficiency to shine. With a large front courtyard facing the morning sun, and light pouring in from every angle, the home lives far larger than it’s square footage implies. Pay attention to the unusual plaster design, the thick walls with deep inset windows, the near 100-year-old tiles of the courtyard which show no cracks, the dramatic arch of the entry above the sturdy oak craftsman door. Discovered in 1919, the Ventura Oil Field brought significant growth and prosperity to Ventura, and this executive home exemplified that prosperity.
Entering the Living Room, consider the craftsmen who created the plaster and lath barrel ceiling. Their handiwork soon withstood the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake which nearly leveled the town, as well as countless tremors over the subsequent century. Note the original woodwork, believed to be Ipe, which was a significant upgrade over oak or even pine seen in contemporary homes. The Batchelder fireplace was designed and manufactured in Los Angeles. During the renovation, we worked with local artist Michael O’Kelly and an original drawing of the fireplace from an archived catalog to recreate the original outer hearth which had been lost to a previous renovation. You’ll see Michael O’Kelly’s influence throughout the renovation.
As you enter the Dining Room, note the open floorplan and the easy modern-feeling flow of the living areas of the home. Most local homes of this era have closed off rooms, textured wall plaster, and lack the indoor/outdoor relationship provided by the large panes of glass. The newly refinished red oak floors show no signs of creak, sag, or slope throughout the home. It’s important to mention that the furnishings of the home were collected over the years and are considered part of the experience. Most furnishings are for sale and will be offered to the buyer once the home contract has been finalized.
The Kitchen, completely reconstructed from wall to wall, floor to ceiling is the culmination of many hours brainstorming and debating with the area’s finest artisans and craftsmen. Maximizing functionality and storage was our consistent priority. Since the space is small, the cost of material wasn’t a concern and we were able to build our dream with the finest materials available.
Woodie Woodpecker Woodworks designed and built the kitchen cabinetry
Their work is also featured in the hallway and the bathroom
Every cabinet is completely custom to the home. For example, to best fit the space, the cabinet to the left of the window measures 32 ¼” wide. The one to the right measures 30 ¼” wide. Every aspect of these cabinets is scaled to make sure your eye doesn’t see the difference, but we’ve maximized the space without using any “cheater” fill pieces.
Open a drawer. Feel the heavy-duty rollers, notice full wood construction and the furniture-like joinery at the corners, try to slam it shut, or leave it slightly open.
The breakfast nook shows our attention to detail.
Pull out the drawer on the right. This is the longest drawer available and holds a deceptive amount of supplies.
Note the piano hinge on the right bench, and lift the seat. Storage continues behind the drawer.
Now lift the front edge of the table, it flips up on another piano hinge. Push it all the way up, clearing the light fixture, so it rests against the window. Although you can fold the table leg down it’s really not necessary.
Open the left bench, where we keep our larger and less used kitchen appliance and bakeware.
Another gem hides above the refrigerator where the cabinet is impossibly deep. The cabinet and the refrigerator are sunk into the wall, minimizing their visual heft but maximizing the use of space.
Michael O’Kelly appears again in the tiles of the backsplash and floors, his design was manufactured by his company California Pottery and Tile Works
I literally begged Michael for months to do a signature piece for the kitchen, which you see to the bottom right. I’ve never seen another like it.
O’Kelly has a vast portfolio of significant work including the tile mural west of the Mission commemorating Ventura’s 150th year as a city
Note that the hand-made, high-temperature-fired floor tiles are 11” square rather than the standard 12”. The smaller tile creates the illusion of a larger space without being busy as a significantly smaller size might be. The natural variation of color not only creates visual interest, but it also helps hide when you’ve neglected cleaning duties.
Dolan Begala of Mastery Tile and Stone personally cut and laid every tile in the house, including the entry medallion, kitchen, and bathroom. The design in the kitchen, with a squared border and diagonal field, honors the Spanish Revival ethic of creating a visually stimulating tile “rug” where textile rugs were inappropriate. You’ll see this again in the bathroom and back patio.
The eight decorative tiles “randomly” placed when we laid the floors were a flashpoint for the crew, with Dolan declaring “I don’t do random! Where do you want the tiles?” In the end, we laid a chalk grid on the floor and I “randomly” placed the decorative tiles. If you can’t tell by now that I’m a bit of a control freak, at least Dolan could.
Quarried from Vermont Soapstone, the countertops are as thick as they appear. I distinctly remember my aversion when I realized most countertops have a bullnose to add visual heft. I seek authenticity and found it in soapstone.
Run your hand along an edge and feel the soft natural texture
I really like that soapstone develops a patina over time, helping the kitchen appear to match the age of the house while also appearing timeless
The thresholds to the laundry room and the back door are also soapstone, creating continuity.
Dave’s Signs has created virtually all of the neon signs in Ventura including the iconic “Historic Ventura” sign at Rip Curl on C Street. The EAT sign belongs with the home and is included with the sale.
Moving back through the Dining Room, go into the hallway and note the Woodie Woodpecker Woodworks coat closet and huge drawers.
The main bathroom was also reengineered to the studs with our same attention to detail. You’ll recognize the CPTW tiles on floors and walls, expertly installed by Mastery. Woodie Woodpecker designed and created the cabinet. The medicine cabinet door, the only original piece, was previously mounted between the two windows.
In the main, as well as the second bedroom, you find plenty of light. The blackout shades will stay with the house. The ample closets were custom designed and have never been completely filled.
From the second bedroom, step into the second bathroom and note the wine fridge in the shower! We wanted more storage, but our realtor friend wisely demanded we not eliminate the shower. The custom cabinet merely sits in the shower pan and can be easily removed if the buyer chooses.
As you exit the bathroom into the laundry hall, make sure to open the pantry door on your right. Also, note the tankless water heater and the electrical sub-panel. All plumbing and electrical systems have been redone to modern standards.
Take a deep breath as you enter prolific local landscape designer Michelle Walker’s masterpiece. Inspired by a hike along Matilija Creek in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai, virtually all of the plants are local natives and require no irrigation.
The patio, featuring tiles from RTK Studios in Ojai, is on a substantial concrete slab. Note the incredible attention to detail of the tile rug installation: The slab was measured perfectly so that the outer terra cotta tiles required no cuts, which would interrupt their symmetry. Similarly, the inner terra cotta, placed on a diagonal, has no cheat or fill to make up for imprecise measurements. This methodical attention to detail carries over to the unseen mechanical aspects of the yard as well as to the organic plantings.
To the left of the teak couch, which is for sale, find and open the clear plastic outlet cover and flip the light switch. Even if the current fountain isn’t to your taste, knowing that the infrastructure for your dream fountain is ready should be a plus. Near the fountain switch, also notice conduit allowing wires to travel to various locations in the yard including the garage. We’ve run speaker wire from an amplifier in the garage allowing us to have surround sound, creating an awesome entertaining space. Finally, take note of the landscape lighting controller. It’s truly spectacular at night.
Hidden in the lavender plants directly across the patio you’ll find pipe fittings for your dream outdoor kitchen. Water, natural gas, and electrical conduit are already there.
Behind the right side of the couch, locate the natural gas outlet frequently used for our heat lamp.
The natural gas firepit, quarried of local stone, is reminiscent of a Chumash village gathering place. It features a hand-made manifold producing large yellow flames creating stunning visuals after dark. The sunken fire pit also acts as a bioswale, collecting and filtering rainwater from the entire back yard during heavy winter storms.
The stone pad outside the main bedroom windows was conceived as the location for a hot tub. Though it would be easy to add the hot tub, we use the area as a surfer’s shower, removing sand and salt after a long day at the beach rather than tracking it inside.
As you move towards the garage, note the concrete benches constructed with bricks recycled from the original driveway.
The garage, set up as an office, studio, and bike shop, has also been completely remodeled. The north side is currently leased from the neighboring property owner for $167/month and access through their driveway is included in the lease. When I commuted by motorcycle, we called it my Bat Cave as I would quickly disappear into what looked like seldom-used storage space on the neighbor property, then suddenly reappear in the completely different environment of our own personal park.
I truly hope that you grow to appreciate 45 Chrisman and enjoy Ventura as much as we have! It’s been an incredible 10 years, but we are ready for new adventures.
If you have any questions about the property or the furnishings please reach out.
Brad and Lindsay
- Refinished Red Oak Hardwood Floors
- Plaster & Lath Barrel Ceiling
- Batchelder Fireplace
- Original Woodwork
- Deep Set Picture Windows
- Open Floor Plan
- Large Lot
- Quarried Soapstone Countertops
- Custom Cabinetry
- Upgraded Electric & Plumbing
- Breakfast Nook
- Stainless Steel Appliances
- Walk-In Closet
- Tankless Water Heater