It has become an end-of-year tradition among the Times home staff: We compile a list of our most-viewed features on latimes.com, then nod (and occasionally smack our heads) over which stories clicked most with readers online. Oh, the brutal truths of Web metrics.
Our biggest reader-pleaser online has always been the home pictorial — the photo gallery of a house, condo or apartment that embodies our times, whether that means the design challenges of everyday living, the trends of an ever-evolving culture or simply the aspirations of those who love to dream of what might be, someday.
Our top 10 most-viewed home galleries for 2012 include examples from all three of those categories. In compiling the rankings, Times producer Dianne de Guzman used projections to ensure that photo galleries published in December were not at a disadvantage compared with galleries that have been drawing readers since January. We'll post more highlights from the year later this week.
Top 10 home galleries:
1. "USC frat house reborn": Mass Architecture and Design's makeover of Phi Sigma Kappa reflects the higher standard of living that many students now bring to higher education. The design: thoroughly modern and anti-"Animal House." As part of our intro declared: "Goodbye, stripper pole. Hello, salad bar."
2. "Lisa Ling's new Santa Monica house": Originally published in December 2011, this story carried over to our 2012 charts thanks in part to a design that reflected the owners' Chinese and Korean roots. The gallery continues to click with readers and is on its way to 2 million page views.
3. "Rammed-earth eco-house built into a seaside cliff": The swan song of the Times' Home section featured a pair of homes by Baja architects Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent. Their Ensenada house — with walls made of soil, clay, gravel, sand, lime cement and horse dung — scored with readers interested not only in green living but also residential architecture south of the border.
4. "Loft-like tower made from a refrigerator truck": D'Acosta and Turrent's experimental second home, partially made from a converted refrigerated truck trailer upended into a bedroom loft, was a bold, imaginative, off-the-grid hit.
5. "Simon Storey's Eel's Nest." The headline asked the question: "How to squeeze 960 square feet of living space on a hemmed-in urban lot of just 780 square feet?" An Echo Park architect answered with a house that tapped into online readers' hunger for features on small spaces.
6. “Designer is keeping up with the Kardashians, indeed”: The writer's goal was simply to shadow L.A.-based Jeff Andrews as he went about working with his client, Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, in Calabasas. The related gallery barely registered a traffic blip when first published in June 2011, and it didn’t make our annual list last year. But by the power of
7. "The House of Rock in Santa Monica": We wrote about the return of the show house in its many forms, including flip properties whose owners were shrewd enough to package them as design showcases. The fact that House of Rock developer Elaine Culotti threw parties that outraged neighbors only drew more people to the pictures.
8. "Sunnylands: Storied Annenberg estate:" The Times scored an early peek inside the late philanthropist Walter Annenberg's fabled 200-acre property in Rancho Mirage, publishing our photographic tour while Vanity Fair and other national media were still taking their pictures. The result is the first detailed look at what home is like when you're worth $4 billion.
9. "A '70s surprise: Encino glass house comes full circle:" Some might have written off this house as a 1970s disaster, but not Los Angeles Modern Auctions owners Peter and Shannon Loughrey. They shared a look inside a most unusual design: twin dodecagons, 12-sided structures filled with intriguing spaces, valley views and rustic beauty.
10. "Jewelry designer Amanda Keidan's little gem of a home:" This Venice residence provided reassurance that readers may love architectural experiments, celebrity retreats and billionaire dream homes, but they also appreciate design that simply embodies the three Ps: personal, practical and pretty.