Habitat Mike Todd
Mike Todd's Laguna Beach Hideaway
Year built: 1938
Year bought: 2003
House size: 1,380 square feet
Lot Size: 4,300 square feet
Bedrooms: two with office
Mike Todd had no idea he would be so lucky. As he sat on his front porch with his two dogs Wags and Buckley at his side, he gazed around at the overflowing amount of both tropical and succulent plants enclosing his yard and felt the soft ocean breezes flying up the hill and into his doorway. He never thought he would own a home in such a beautiful spot–especially in his beloved hometown of Laguna Beach, California.
Getting it was purely accidental. At the end of last year, the previous owner of the house–a longtime patron of the arts in Laguna Beach–passed away and left her home to her nephew. The nephew had to leave town and was looking to get rid of the house as soon as possible–thanks to some help from his uncle Merv, Mike swiped the house up right away.
“I'd been living in a house down the street the last few years as well as others, and it had all been real new and the typical kind of tract home,” says Mike. “And when I came up here and saw the house for the first time–it's so old and has so much character. You kind of feel like you're really at home here. I grew up in Laguna off and on, and to come into a house like this, you feel the real vibe you get in Laguna–the real art. The lady who lived here was an artist, so you can see that in the house.”
From the front, the place looks like any other house–small, cozy, and hidden in the South Laguna hills. Walk in, and you can see some remnants of art left behind by the previous owner, as well as a large array of colors combined with wood on the floors and walls. Walk further back down the hall and things begin to change. After passing a couple of bedrooms, you suddenly find yourself in an indoor/outdoor room with one of the house's three fireplaces and a couch situated directly in front of it. Look to the left, and you see a line of boards in what was a garage. Tucked behind that is what used to be an art studio and that Mike now uses for a tool shed.
Stroll further to the back of the house, and you're in a large open-air back patio–a landscaped mixture of concrete, brick, plants, art, lanterns, and an overall feeling of home-style warmth. According to Mike, the outside's the best part: “My favorite part of the house is coming home and being able to have a little bit of a yard and some space outside of my house. A lot of the homes around here–especially in Southern California–are built from edge to edge and fill in the lot. Whereas this house uses a little bit less–it has a nice front yard and a nice backyard. I can come home from a surf and throw my board and my wetsuit in the front yard and just kind of hang out. It's just real simple and all I really need.”–Checkwood