Looking to downsize from her four-bedroom home in Beverly Hills, designer Amy Shock longed for a coastal live-work retreat.
She wanted to replicate the walls of glass and other Midcentury aspects in the Trousdale neighborhood but on a smaller, more manageable scale.
After looking at nearly 100 listings spanning Ventura to Newport Beach, Shock stumbled upon a metal double-wide 1964 mobile home in Ojai and tricked it out.
She transformed the low-end building by adding high-end features. The results?
You've never seen a mobile home like this.
"This was my opportunity to build a house for myself with the money I had in my pocket," she says. "I liked the idea of having something with a high-end feel but the initial outlay wasn't very much."
Shock, 56, bought the mobile home for $5,200 three years ago and over 12 months crafted a serene, light-filled sanctuary with drop-dead gorgeous views of the Ojai Valley.
"There's no snobbery when I tell people I live in a mobile home," she said. "I'm surprised at how many of my peers think it's a good idea."
The 800-square-foot mobile home had languished on the market for five years due to its short lot size. Still, the lot spans 3,600 square feet and features wraparound views, an impressive collection of mature trees and abundant wildlife for the avid birder. And with no other trailers in sight from inside, the home felt far removed from its location in the Mira Valle Senior Mobile Home Park.
The original carpet, kitchen and bathroom were dated, but Shock liked the home's small windows and Midcentury feel. "They alluded to a lot of potential," she says. She kept two windows and a door and stripped away everything else. She installed all-new electrical and plumbing and added new cabinetry and lighting. A new 500-square-foot room addition is currently being used as a painting studio. A second bathroom gives the house a U-shaped floor plan. Shock likes the home's flexibility — the new room can be used as a living room, master bedroom or guest quarters. "There's a million ways that I can swap the rooms around," she says.
Shock doubled the size of the existing deck and created a welcoming L-shaped covered sun porch for outdoor dining and entertaining. A new compact kitchen with an efficient work triangle — refrigerator, cooktop and a sink installed on an open island – works well for her. And because storage is minimal, Shock placed cabinets on wheels so that they can be moved from room to room, furthering the open feel of the interiors.
The home's most dramatic change is the addition of floor-to-ceiling glass panels that flood the main living area with light and connect it to the outdoors.
It was also her biggest splurge. The UV protective solar glass Fleetwood panels were special ordered and cost $40,000. They are defined by custom steel frames bolted and welded together in place by metalworker and custom car builder Ian Roussel. Shock says it was worth it. "It helps with both UV and solar heat gain," she says.
In an effort to offer shade, Shock fabricated custom roof planes that extend far beyond the south-facing windows.
Despite the surplus of glass, the rooms feel private. "It was careful positioning of the glass versus the solid area," explains Shock who has remodeled many homes. "Something that I would do for any single-family home."
Several times, Shock describes the remodeling process like her paintings of modernist environments. "This is what my art is about," she says. "Shaping space."
And although she spent more than she anticipated — $180,000 including the purchase price — she is thrilled with the result, which looks like something out of Dwell magazine.
And as a housing proposition, it is attractive. Shock divides her time between Los Angeles and Ojai and pays about $700 a month in association fees at the mobile home park. She does not pay property taxes because she doesn't own the property.
"I have a free-and-easy lifestyle," she says. "I've got everything I wanted here."