The floor plan of the Angelich residence is common in Los Angeles' hilly neighborhoods, where designs place living areas on top to take in the views.

The average cost for a basic two-stop home elevator in a new home is $21,000 to $25,000, experts say. Three stops run from $28,000 to $30,000 and costs increase for customized "cabs," as the residential cars are called.

Adding an elevator within an existing home can easily double the expense. In addition to a spot for a shaft and the equipment, the elevator will need electricity and a phone line.

Some cities require permits and an equipment closet, others do not. In Los Angeles County, permit fees will add to the cost of a home elevator in the cities of Los Angeles, La Canada-Flintridge and Manhattan Beach.

A standard-size elevator is 12 to 15 square feet, and a mid-size is 15 to 18 square feet. Some luxury homes will have even larger commercial elevators or more than one lift.

With so many variables, costs can range from $25,000 to $125,000 or more to add an elevator to an existing house.

Hoping to tap into the growing demand for design-oriented elevators, Elevator Boutique of Australia opened a showroom this year in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

In today's double- or triple-height foyers, for example, the right elevator can provide a "wow" factor, said Les Katz, chief executive of the company's U.S. operations. And stylish designs may help overcome consumer resistance.

Not everyone is comfortable with the idea an elevator in the home — chief among them, those prone to claustrophobia.

"Face it, it's a prison," Katz said. "A small, secure box."

Such fears are being addressed by the increased use of glass.

"You can see out," Katz said. "It's like being in a small room with windows."

Safety concerns during power outages are also a part of consumer opposition to home elevators.

If an elevator should stop, manual lowering options and backup batteries can be used. But the riders would need to be familiar with those options for them to do any good.

Real estate agent Craig Knizek of the Agency was in a newly built 8,000-square-foot house in Westlake Village when the listing agent took his clients ahead on a house tour. After 10 minutes or so, Knizek began to wonder where they were.

The clients, who were specifically looking for a home with an elevator, were stuck in the cab, which stopped about four feet short of the landing. Because no one knew how to operate the safety features, Knizek called the Fire Department, which freed the passengers.

Despite being in the elevator for close to an hour, "they were in great spirits," Knizek said, "and still wanted to see the rest of the property."