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Location: Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Skinny: Where most beach houses take pains to be bright, airy and, well, for lack of a better word, beachy, this mid-century modern house on the California coast goes the other way entirely, opting for a puzzlingly dingy, drab, almost Brutalist approach to seaside living. It all starts promising enough: it's a two-level home with double banks of windows overlooking the Pacific, which, while not breaking any new ground architecturally, is certainly well up to the basic, rather undemanding tasks of a coastal home (i.e., providing views, sea breezes, and balconies on which to sip drinks while watching the sun, moon, waves, and/or dolphins go about their business). Inside is where it all goes pear-shaped, from the selection of a color palette more suited for Barton Fink's hotel room than a California beach house, to the disquieting mix of concrete and Soviet-era plastering techniques in the interior finishes. The good news is that it can all be gutted and refinished; the bad news is that it's asking $5.25M for that privilege.