The location: The Cohen House.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The house of the Cohen family.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In the Crystal Cove / Pelican Hill area of lower Newport Beach. Right next to Marissa Cooper's house.

    The show uses frequent establishing (aerial) shots of those red-tiled homes in that development, even though they don't really film there.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. The very first episode of "The O.C.", and almost every episode thereafter. It's where Seth, Ryan, Sandy and Kirsten live, and where characters like Marissa, Summer, Luke, Julie, Jimmy, Caleb, Theresa, Lindsay and Trey have frequently visited (or stayed). Marissa first slept with Ryan in his pool house at the home.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A private home - but not in Pelican Hill or Crystal Cove.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. At 6205 Ocean Breeze Drive, in Malibu, CA, That's in the hills just northwest of Malibu's Point Dume, a good 80 miles away from those Crystal Cove homes shown at the start of every episode.

    (It's about eleven miles west another well-known OC location, Caleb & Julie's mansion.)

    Here is a photo map link from Live Local (the Cohen house was apparently still under construction when this photo was taken.)

    Actually, the Cohen house as we know it is a hybrid of sorts. This home, at 6205 Ocean Breeze, was only used for the exterior scenes of the front of the house. For the familiar poolhouse area, and the Cohen's kitchen, you have to go several houses down to 6210 Ocean Breeze, where the producers shot those parts of the house. And then, of course, both the pool and kitchen and the Cohen's front door area were duplicated into sets inside the studio.

    [WarningThis is a private home. Do not trespass on their property, knock on their door,
    or do anything else that might disturb the residents.

    But don't bother even trying to go there to take a quick look at the house.  One real estate listing tells us that the home is located inside a gated community (" one of Malibuís prestigious gated enclaves"), and sure enough, there is a gate at the base of Ocean View Drive (where it meets Sea View Drive) - so you'd be wasting your time trying to drive past to sight-see.

    And actually, the house isn't an authentic filming location in the real sense of the word. Except for the first two episodes, they didn't bring the cast there to shoot scenes very often. It's more like those aerial establishing shots you see throughout the show - a place they shot once at the start and then drop the same footage in over and over.

    According to the director commentary on the DVD, when they first started, they shot multiple scenes of the house with different types of cars coming and going, so they could use them later in different scenes without looking too repetitive.

    The actual Cohen house scenes, the ones with Seth and Ryan and Sandy and Kirsten, aren't shot in Malibu OR in Newport Beach. They are shot inside Stages 27 & 28 at Manhattan Beach Studio in the South Bay.

    There, inside those giant sound stages, the producers have built the "real" Cohen house, reproducing key parts of the Malibu homes (such as the doorway), including the entire 'infinity pool' / pool house / ocean backdrop scene that you see each week, as well as the interiors of the various rooms in the homes. They are sets, nothing more. Well-crafted ones, admittedly, and based on the actual properties, but sets nonetheless. The house in Malibu was only photographed a few times (at the start of the show back in 2003), and that old footage is just recycled to give the illusion that those sets are inside a Newport Beach mansion.

    However, the producers did return to the actual house in Malibu to film part of the final episode of the show ("The End Isn't Near, It's Here"), as the Cohen family took one last look at their earthquake-damaged home.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. This was almost one of my few failures.

    I knew from the DVD commentary on the pilot episode that it was a real home, in a real cul-de-sac. And judging from the house numbers shown in Episode 1 (see the photo to the right), I knew the house number was probably 6201 or 6205 - most likely the latter (although that sign might have been fake).

    I managed to establish that it was in Malibu by finding an old real estate listing on the web from when the real home was sold (back in late 2004). But that was as far as I could take it for a long while.

    I tried to spot the house using Google's aerial maps, but their aerial photos of the Malibu area were of no use - compared to their similar aerial photos of Palos Verdes, the Malibu images are blurry and god-awful.

    But then finally, with a little more web-surfing, I found this other old real estate listing on the web, which gave the exact address (as 6205 Ocean Breeze Malibu, CA 90265). Thanks guys. I appreciate it. Not being able to find that one location was driving me crazy. (And since the house is reportedly located in a gated community, the owners shouldn't have to worry about too many O.C. fans cruising past their home...)

    Later, I discovered the Live Local aerial maps, and they give a good view of both the Cohen and Cooper homes.

    Update: In 2015, a fan (Marco) tipped me to this new real estate listing. It seems that the Cohen house is up for sale again, this time with an asking price of $6,250,000. The listing mentions that the 6,376 square-foot home has 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, and sits on a 4.45-acre lot.  So, if you happen to have a cool $6 million lying around, The O.C. house can be all yours (except, of course, for that non-existent pool house).
    (Thanks, Marco!)

    : And in 2017, another fan (Kevin) let me know about a real estate video showcasing the Cohen house (this time with an asking price of $6,595,000).
    (Thanks, Kevin!)   Here's the video:

Alas, late 2018 brought bad news for OC location fans, as the raging fires that swept the Agoura/Malibu area claimed one of the OC homes in this Malibu neighborhood.

Note that this is NOT the main Cohen house (at 6205).  That still stands.

But it appears that 6210 Ocean Breeze Drive, which was the location of the Cohen swimming pool shots (and the visual background for the faux poolhouse), burned to the ground during the fires.  Ironically, only the pool itself survived, and can be seen next to the smoking ruins of the house, in this aerial shot:

Fortunately, neither the main Cohen house (at 6205) nor Marissa's house (at 6201) was lost - just this one home, at 6210,

I want to thank Steve Covington for providing us with this news.  Thanks, Steve!

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