10 Reasons to Love the 2012 Showcase House

Apr 13, 2012

It’s Showcase time again here in Pasadena! Yes, the time of year when the natives get out their flat-soled shoes and put away their real estate envy for a few hours to wander through an uber-decorated dream house, all for a good cause.

This year’s makeover is a 1927 Spanish Revival in La Cañada, complete with adobe brick, decorative tile, wrought iron and the sweeping views we’ve come to expect in our Showcase Houses. I had the sneak peak at the property as the designers were frantically putting on the finishing touches, and here’s what you’ll love about this year Showcase house:

1. Gilded Tree Stumps
Good news, Pasadenans! Finally, a purpose for all those spare tree stumps we have lying around from the Big Wind in December. Just gild that bad boy in glimmering gold and call it a coffee table. Look for one in the Gentleman’s Study.

2. No Neons
Yes, we get it. Pantone said brights were in and now they’re everywhere, from jeans to blenders to the cover on Martha Stewart Living. Help! I lived through the ’80s; I don’t want to go back there. I’m suspicious that consumers really want a hot pink Kitchen Aid mixer for the rest of their lives. And, apparently, so is the Showcase House Design Committee, which determines the color palette of the house every year. No neons, but lots of colors with punch, including great reds and a bevy of blues that are fresh and modern without being… neon! Okay, there is a touch of citrus in the dining room, but just a touch.

3. Succulents Galore
The Showcase House is also a garden tour and this year, succulents represent big time. There are succulents in window boxes and pots. There are succulents embedded in a tabletop. There’s one of those spectacular succulent wall art pieces in the Andalusia Courtyard that will make you rue the day you planted those iceberg roses.

4. Tapas and Wine
If you’re like me, you enjoy spending a late Friday afternoon wandering through the house and gardens then staying for a glass of wine on the veranda, as if you are an Invited Guest visiting the home of your Very Tasteful Friend and not a paying guest at a fundraiser. We can all dream, can’t we? This year, to highlight the Spanish theme, the Restaurant at Showcase is offering tapas to go with the wine. It occurred to me that the restaurant set-up would be perfect for entertaining, even if it’s not my house. You don’t need a house ticket to visit the restaurant, so you can stop by anytime during operational hours. Would it be tacky to hold my husband’s birthday party there?

5. Murphy Beds
I kid you not. You gotta see ’em to believe ’em.

6. Yard Sale Mania
Did you know that most of the furnishings and artwork at Showcase are for sale at wholesale prices? I didn’t either. I assumed that all those wonderful pieces went back to Showcase Heaven after the event. But no, you can think of Showcase like a big estate sale—just don’t show up at 5 a.m. on opening day, you early birds. The current owners get first dibs on anything in the house for the first two weeks. (Buy the gilded stump! It’s awesome!) Then, it’s open season for the rest of us. To make an offer, contact the designers directly.

7. The Walls Talk
Sure, furniture is fine, but my eyes always get distracted by the art on the walls. Of course, I’m also someone who has years of children’s artwork stuffed under my bed waiting to be framed, so I’m envious of anyone who can put anything on the walls. But at this year’s Showcase, the art really stood out, from oils to prints. The real showstoppers are the two classically inspired paintings commissioned for the living room.  I call those, if the home’s owners don’t snap them up.

8. Doors Galore
The house is actually named La Casa de las Puertas because of the beautiful hard-carved doors imported from Spain. First of all, let me just say that I am all for houses with names. (I think of my own house as La Maison de les Chevaux du Chien. Or House of Dog Hair.) Second, it’s not just the front door that delights in this year’s Showcase. Look for beautiful examples throughout the home, so special that the organizers decided to leave the doors on, even though they usually remove them for traffic flow.

9. The Volunteers
If the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses is the “Granddaddy of Them All, “ then surely the Showcase is the “Grandmother of Them All.”  The all- volunteer, nonprofit organization has grown from 60 volunteers to an army of 300 who spend countless hours over the course of the year to put on the event.  They do everything from organize the Porta-Potties to negotiate insurance liability.  They may not wear white suits (because white does not appear to be in the approved color palette this year), but they are forces for good.

10. It’s All for a Good Cause
Since it’s inception in 1965, the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts has awarded more than $18 million in grants and gifts to support the LA Phil, Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and more than 50 school and other nonprofit organizations for symphonic, cultural and educational programs throughout Southern California. Bravo!

The Pasadena Showcase House of Design is open from April 15, 2012 to May 13, 2012. For tickets and more information, please visit




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