By Cherish Rufus
Among the many things I have found myself binge watching this past year is the noughties sitcom Girlfriends. Set in Los Angeles, it follows four friends through their romantic, professional and personal ups and downs, focusing in particular on main character Joan Clayton, played by the inimitable Tracee Ellis Ross (second from left in the picture above).
It could be that I have spent more years than I care to count house sharing in London, leaving me and my belongings more than a bit bruised, or that I have been mostly confined to my own postage stamp-sized flat in recent months. But I have fallen in love with Joan’s home: a beautiful, stylishly decorated Craftsman bungalow built in 1905.
Ostensibly located in LA’s tree-lined Larchmont Village district, in reality the exterior was shot in Pasadena and the interior on a set at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, making it very much the stuff of fantasy. Rendered both unrealistically spacious and cosy by the wonders of television, Joan’s place is also warm and inviting.
It is also perfect for that much-missed art of entertaining: the open plan living area boasts a big kitchen with envy-inducing amounts of storage, a gas range (a must) and a decent-sized island. The dining and living space is decorated with mementos from Joan’s travels, displayed on built-in shelves painted a dreamy baby blue and a wood-burning fireplace. There is a beautiful patio. No wonder Joan has played host to everything from dinner parties and holiday feasts to birthday gatherings and weddings.
Joan’s home is also her constant, seeing her through break-ups, job changes and losses. It is a sanctuary for her friends. A place to gather and hang out, yes, but also as a home. After the breakdown of her marriage, Joan’s friend Maya and her son move in for a few months, taking advantage of the guest room.
As a viewer, it is reassuring to watch someone genuinely care for and invest in their home, and have the space reward that attentiveness with comfort and steadiness.
Since my dream home does not exist outside of Netflix, I would opt instead for this meticulously remodelled 1930s bungalow in trendy LA neighbourhood Frogtown, priced at $1.5m. LA traffic allowing, it is around a 20-minute drive from Larchmont and offers a more contemporary aesthetic than Joan’s home: a clean and dramatically dark exterior with a sweet porch and small but neat outdoor space. It has a bright kitchen and five bedrooms.
Alternatively, I would go for this pretty whitewashed bungalow in nearby Atwater Village, which is currently on the market for $1.5m. It is slightly more minimalist but equally as elegant and inviting as Joan’s bungalow. As well as three bedrooms, the property has an open plan living area, which opens up to a backyard and spacious deck perfect for lounging, hosting and everything in between.
Fittingly enough, the neighbourhood is as calming and tree-lined as Joan’s. It must be kismet.
Photography: Paramount Television; AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; Christopher Lee Photography for Sotheby’s International Realty