A Rebel with a Cause: Mid-Century Modern Homes
By Gina Dostler
Keven Stirdivant is a young guy and avid skateboarder, making inroads in real estate on this side of town. He and his agents have set out to knock on 1,000 doors and make 500 cold calls this month to meet their year-end goal of selling 100 homes. He approaches every person with a simple invite to visit an open house, but soon his love of mid-century modern architecture becomes apparent.
Q: Why target just mid-century modern homes?
A: It’s a niche I am incredibly passionate about. I enjoy design and love art and I’m always stoked about these homes and the movement behind them. Wright, Eichler, Mackay, Eames and many others were a sector of designers from roughly 1933 to 1965. Mid-century modern homes were built by those rebels; innovative men and women speaking out through their organic designs, clean lines, and open spaces versus the compartmentalized boxes so prominent in “cookie-cutter” homes. I identify better with the buyers and sellers of these homes more than any other type. It’s like we are all of the creative mind type and we “get” this type of architecture.
Q: What brought you into selling real estate?
A: Actually, my son. I was 17 when I found out my girlfriend was pregnant. I got scared mainly thinking how am I going to survive. I had dropped out of high school; college wasn’t an option. I remember standing in my mom’s house telling her what happened and I looked out the window across the street and saw a 21st Century sign. As a skateboarder, I had hustled shoes and wheels for skateboards at school and realized I could sell homes, had to sell homes.
Q: Quite successfully in the beginning, yes?
A: Yea. In 2000, I had set up shop in L.A. and I was pulling down six figures before I was 20. My head was so big in 2004. I had a penthouse, had this car and that car and was living the high life for sure. Then between 2006 and 2011, everything slowed down until I lost everything. I can say, yea, it changed me definitely for the better. I got really humbled by it all. You know, being broken down, it makes you search and rock to what’s more important – family, friends and doing what you love to do.
Q: How has this niche figured into the new you?
A: In 2011 my best friend died, a real iconic dude in Laguna Beach who had a successful business. We had grown up together. It was a very depressing time for me but once I woke up out of it, everything shifted. I wanted to do things that allowed my passion to flow, to inspire me and everyone else. I was thinking about selling just mid-century homes here in OC, but wondered if it would financially work. It was my wife with her support and encouragement who said go do it; see if you can do this mid-century modern thing, working with cool homes and cool people. Soon I started meeting homeowners that were so stoked this was my niche. About 65 – 70% of my homes are mid-century modern. And though it gives me an edge over others in my business since not many out there are focusing on a certain style, I really feel it’s the passion, the love of selling homes that drives my business to success.
Q: Where can one find mid-century modern architecture in Orange County?
A: All over L.A. there’s iconic architecture. But in OC, they are hidden in little pockets. Joseph Eichler homes in Orange. Cliff May in Costa Mesa. John Lautner and Richard Neutra in Newport Beach. But by far the coolest architecture in Orange County hands down is Laguna Beach where this new group of up and coming modern architects reside. Guys like Carlton Graham, and Walter Metez have this new vision for Laguna Beach. Though the most famous, the dude for modern architecture is Mark Singer, all of them are bringing unbelievable organic designs into the landscape that vibe with the surroundings.
Q: So more homes in OC are making their way into the modern realm of design?
A: I sold a client a home in the Back Bay built in 1955 that looked like a barn. But she had the vision for it and we gutted the whole thing. She painted the outside with cool Eichler grey and the door orange; and planted succulents outside. A home doesn’t have to have a flat roof or be a 2014 Mark Singer masterpiece to make it modern. It’s all about making a home cool, open and functional.
Q: How many agents do you have working for you at KASE Real Estate?
A: I have 13, all pretty young, around 26, 27 years old. A couple of them are legendary skateboarders. I find skateboarders are able to take it, the business. I mean when we are skateboarding, we fall on our faces a lot, get up, dust ourselves off and do it again. It’s like that in real estate. Plus skateboarders are really into mid-century architecture. The whole philosophy of it is in tune with how we rock with the world. It’s all about going out there and enjoying the process. We go out and knock on doors because it’s what we want to do. We’re not there to twist your arm into something. We’re just hanging out, challenging ourselves everyday and making the dream come true.
Keven Stirdivant, Cal BRE#01434793
KASE Real Estate
668 N. Coast Hwy #148
Laguna Beach, CA 92651