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$3 Million Homes in California

This whimsical home, known as the Whale House, was designed by Michael Carmichael, an architect who was inspired by the works of the celebrated Catalan designer Antoni Gaudí to create a layout following the shape of a whale: The entry sits behind an arched opening shaped like a fish mouth; the interior courtyard forms the belly of the whale; and a guest suite resides in the tail. The house has no right angles, and the built-in cabinets, countertops and furniture are tailored to fit into the curved rooms.

The property is the Mission Canyon neighborhood, about half a mile from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and a 10-minute drive from the shopping and nightlife in downtown Santa Barbara. The popular Thousand Steps Beach is 15 minutes away.

Size: 2,606 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,147

Indoors: The house sits behind a gated entry and a brick patio used by the sellers for outdoor dining.

The front door, recessed behind a stone-lined arch, opens to an interior courtyard with an exterior staircase that leads to the second and third floors. Another door opens into a foyer with an elevator that offers interior access to the upper levels.

To the left of the foyer is a living room with high ceilings, tall windows, a fireplace framed by a wall of boulders and a long, organically shaped built-in sofa. Beyond this space is a dining area connected to a windowed kitchen with undulating cabinetry and counters; two stainless steel wall ovens; a window in the shape of a porthole above the sink; and access to a powder room.

The second floor functions as the primary suite, with a sitting area; space for a king-size bed; a hot tub framed by rock and blue tile; a fireplace set in the same rock wall; and a bathroom with a walk-in shower finished in stones and red tile, with direct access to a balcony.

Another bedroom suite is on the third floor. It includes a sitting area with a fireplace and a bathroom with a claw-foot soaking tub.

The guesthouse, in the whale’s tail, includes a living area, a bedroom and a full bathroom. It has direct access to a 75-foot lap pool, making it possible to swim to the central courtyard.

Outdoor space: The pool includes a swim-up bar with a built-in bench. A sauna lined with bamboo is in the courtyard. The property is landscaped with mature oak and sycamore trees, and has two off-street parking spots.

Taxes: $37,380 (estimated)

Contact: Daniel Carpenter, Sotheby’s International Realty, 805-770-0889;

This house is in Playa del Rey, less than 500 feet from the beach and within a five-minute walk of beachfront volleyball courts, cycling and walking trails, and fire pits. It is less than half a mile from Del Rey Lagoon, a park with a small saltwater lagoon and a playground. Playa Provisions, a restaurant owned by a “Top Chef” winner, is two blocks away; other nearby dining options include pizza and sushi.

Driving to Loyola Marymount University or Otis College of Art and Design takes about 10 minutes. Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles International Airport are 15 minutes away.

Size: 2,785 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,075

Indoors: The entrance to the house is off a pedestrian-only street adjacent to the main road, behind a white wood fence and a brick patio.

The front door opens into a living room with hardwood floors; high, beamed ceilings; an imposing chandelier; a fireplace with a raised hearth; and a staircase to the second floor.

The hardwood floors continue through a doorway, stepping up to an open kitchen and dining room with French doors that open to a Juliet-style balcony; a blue La Cornue range; custom-made cabinets painted a rich blue; a gray-and-white-tile backsplash in a chevron pattern; and a farmhouse-style sink with a goldtone faucet.

Three bedrooms are off a hallway extending from the kitchen. One has an en suite bathroom; the other two, across the hall, share a bathroom with a tub and separate shower.

The primary suite, on the second floor, has a walk-in closet with custom cabinetry and a bathroom with a walk-in shower and a skylight. It is off a hallway extending from a lofted family room overlooking the living area; this space has a built-in bench, a beverage refrigerator and sliding-glass doors that open to a small balcony with ocean views.

The guesthouse, which has its own full bathroom, is behind the main house, above the garage.

Outdoor space: The front patio, which is large enough to hold a dining table and lounge furniture, is surrounded by mature hedges. The garage holds two cars.

Taxes: $37,440 (estimated)

Contact: Michael Grady, The Agency, 310-995-8774;

This house is a 10-minute walk from Glen Canyon Park, which has playgrounds, tennis courts and trails following the canyon from which the park takes its name. Glen Park, a quiet neighborhood with coffee shops, a record store, a public library and a BART station, is also nearby.

Traveling to the Civic Center neighborhood or downtown Oakland by public transit takes about half an hour. San Francisco International Airport is about a half-hour drive. Half Moon Bay is 40 minutes away. Driving to San Jose takes about an hour.

Size: 2,460 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,219

Indoors: From the street, steps lead up to a covered entry. The door opens into a long foyer with hardwood floors and a staircase with a glass railing that ascends to the living spaces on the second floor.

To the left of the stair landing is an open living area with a sleek fireplace; expansive windows; glass doors that open to a balcony offering views of the surrounding landscape; a dining area; and a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a marble-topped island with an integrated sink and dishwasher. Off the kitchen is an area set up as a den, with floating shelves above stone-topped cabinetry.

A hallway off the den leads to a bedroom with street-facing windows and a bathroom with a combined tub and shower.

The primary suite is on the entry level, off the far end of the foyer. The bedroom has a walk-in closet and enough space for a king-size bed; the bathroom has a double vanity and a glass-walled shower.

Two more bedrooms are on the lowest level of the house. They share a bathroom with a walk-in shower.

Outdoor space: The balcony off the living area is big enough to hold chairs and a side table. A larger deck sits at the top of the terraced backyard, reached from the lowest level of the house. The yard is landscaped with drought-tolerant plants and has room to set up additional entertaining areas or a storage shed. The attached garage has one parking spot and an electric vehicle charger.

Taxes: $37,476 (estimated)

Contact: Suhl Chin, Corcoran Icon Properties, 415-695-7707;

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