An Empty Showcase

Jan 27, 2014

DSC_0298The Pasadena Showcase House of Design event is fifty years old. This translates into fifty years of fundraising, totaling into millions of dollars, that have benefited local youth music programs, concerts, competitions, and grants.

Along one of the numerous curves of Arroyo Boulevard, in the South Grand-Covington area of Pasadena, is this year’s Showcase House, a 1915 English country estate designed by Stiles O. Clements (1882-1966) who was “a key figure in the 1920s Art Deco movement and in the 1930s Streamline Modern style.” Among his notable buildings are the Hollywood Park racetrack, Jefferson High School, and the Mayan Theater.

This English country estate sits on 3.5 wooded acres and features a pool, bathhouse, river rock spring house, tennis and badminton courts, greenhouse, gardener’s potting shed, and a pond. It has seven bedrooms, ten baths, five fireplaces, oak floors, redwood wall paneling, and floor to ceiling glass windows. Above the carriage house, there is a one-bedroom chauffeur’s suite complete with a sitting room and kitchenette. In 1915, the cost to build the house and garage was $28,000. (Courtesy PSHA)

Hundreds of PSHA patrons and members of the media flocked to the Empty Showcase House party this past Friday evening. Guests were greeted in the Salon by a jazz quartet, a huge table filled with an ice sculpture, floral bouquets, plates of smoked salmon, and bowls of steamed shrimp, cracked Alaskan king crab claws and raw oysters. People ate, sipped cocktails, caught up with friends, and chatted with any of the two dozen designers throughout the house who were eager to share their project renderings, which included floor plans, sketches, swatches and sample materials.

Showcase House 50

The patio had an ample bar with standing tables and displays by the yard’s landscaping designers, such as Dan Gromer Landscaping and The Pond Company that will be in charge of the lily pond and we spoke with Karen Miller of Sacred Space Garden Design. She and her husband Omar Huerta will be redoing the terraced garden, which is currently roses and ivy. The roses will be donated and Karen’s vision is to create a drought-tolerant oasis with drip irrigation. The original staircase will remain, but the brick and pathways will be re-laid, and they will use Arroyo stone and natural flagstone. Karen was a professional photographer and has the eye for design, composition, color, and spatial relation, while Omar is a metal architectural designer (SSGD builds gates and arbors) and “the builder” of this team. He accumulates various iron pieces and solders them into an art piece, one of which will be used in their Showcase design. They also enjoy utilizing one of the oldest astronomical instruments in the world, armillary spheres (Eratosthenes, 276-194 BCE) and will have one on display.

Sacred Space Garden Design


Inside the house, we spoke with Gary Fishbeck whose company is landscaping the front lawn, dubbed “The Garden of Prosperity” as eventually the stone of the driveway will have varying stones that resemble the Chinese symbol of prosperity.

Gary Fishbeck Architect


Walls were down and support beams exposed as we stepped into what will be an open kitchen and pantry designed by Cynthia Bennett & Associates. The color palette is varying shades of tan, greens, and blues; the fabrics so stunning we had to reach out and touch them.

Cynthia Bennett Assoc Kitchen


Cynthia Bennett (right)

Cynthia Bennett (right)


Cynthia Bennett and Assoc


Showcase Cynthia Bennett


Michael Berman will be re-designing the dining room…

Michael Berman sketch

Michael Berman


…while A. Peltier Interiors is recreating the nursery:

A.Peltier Interiors


Karen Shoener spoke of the challenge with the master suite with its long hallway leading to a rather minute bedroom with a fireplace. Off of the hallway are his and her dressing rooms and bath with dated (to put it nicely) frosted glass pivot shower doors, but marvelous built-in drawers that will be removed. The idea is to have a combined bathroom on one side and a combined dressing area on the other. (Maybe because we’re generally surly in the morning, the idea of separate bathrooms—to give each person time to take a breath and get their game face on—sounds rather percipient and astute.) We look forward to seeing their reinvention.



Showcase MS Bathrm


Designs of the Interior


Some interesting glass side windows leading into another room, what we believe to be “The Nanny’s Room”:

Showcase Nannys Room


The Salon leading to the outside patio area will have the touch of John Cole:

John Cole AMA


John Cole


The Great Room is to be designed by Kathryne Dahlman of Kathryne Designs, Inc.:



The carriage house will receive the attention of Dona Dockendorf  (Tocco Finale):

Tocco Finale


Jon Rasmussen’s The Pond Company and Dan Gromer Landscaping will oversee the lily pond:

Pond Co. and Dan Gromer


Finally, the tour was complete and it was time to chat, listen, and feast…

Showcase food


Showcase band

To celebrate their five decades, PSHA is publishing 50 Years of Pasadena Showcase Design Houses:  Supporting the Arts Through Design. This tabletop book includes over 500 photographs and details on all 50 homes. Find details here.

2014 Pasadena Showcase House will be open to the public April 13th-May 11th.

For complete details, visit Tickets go on sale Wednesday, February 5th.


2014 Pasadena Showcase House of Design watercolor by Joseph Stoddard



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena