Showcase House in La Cañada

Apr 16, 2012

And what a show it is. Holy moly (yes, this will be the tone of this post, can’t help it, fresh from the tour, brain still buzzing).

If you’re intrigued, amused, or even disdainful of how the 1% live, get your ticket and go. This tour is fascinating, inspirational, amusing and just dreamy. We’d go again just for the views of the San Gabriel mountains. Tennis, anyone? A game of “H-O-R-S-E”? On a clear day like today, you can pause in your game and look past the trees on the property to a majestic mountain range. Not too shabby. For the showcase, Silver Birches has transformed the tennis/basketball court into a casually elegant restaurant and bar. Now, a simple steak and frites will cost you $25, but the setting and view more than offset the higher-than-an-airport prices; remember, this is your moment to splurge and pretend to live like the other half (well, like the 1%). And, it’s a lot of fun.

(And to Eleanor, our tour guide: you reign supreme. Thank you!)

The Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts is a nonprofit organization whose original name was the Pasadena Jr. Philharmonic Committee. In 1965, they adopted PSHA as their annual benefit. Proceeds from the Showcase House of Design help fund annual music programs such as the Music Mobile Van, a youth concert, and an instrumental competition, as well as supporting PSHA’s grants programs. Since 1948, PSHA has awarded more than 18 million dollars in gifts and grants.

The Pasadena Showcase House of Design
April 15-May 13
For tickets and more info, visit

Editor’s Note: If you’re going to take the tour and don’t want to see details, then stop here, as pics of the individual rooms and grounds are to follow.

Front walkway including vertical garden (below) by Debra Rabb of Debra Rabb Landscape Architecture in Pasadena, specializing in low water garden design.

The living room (above) was designed by Albert Janz and Sherry Stein of Henry Johnstone & Co. in Pasadena. The company’s goal is to “create beautiful, comfortable interiors filled with unique details that reflect the people who live there.”

The card room (above and below) and the hallway (following): designed by David Reaume, Rachel Duarte, and Jim O’Halloran of David Reaume Construction and Design in Pasadena. Reaume is “widely respected for his distinctive style, solid expertise, and refined creativity.”

The Gentlemen’s Study (below): designed by Jon Jahr of Jon Jahr & Associates in Newport Beach. “The cocktail table is a gilt grass tree stump.”

The Lady’s Office (below): designed by Kristi Nelson, Arley Laman, and Francesca D’Alessandro of KMNelson Design, LLC of Los Angeles. “Soft colors and reflective finishes create a sense of airiness, space, and volume in an otherwise tight space.”

The master bathroom, balcony, master bedroom, and his and her closets (the following five images) were designed by Kathryne Dahlman of Kathryne Designs in Studio City. “The design creates a tranquil suite.”

The second floor vestibule (below) was designed by Kristin Pipal and Ann Kneedler of Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture, Inc. of Long Beach. “A gateway to the master bedroom, the vestibule (is) transformed into a retreat for relaxing and reading.”

The guest suite (below): Joshua Cain and Jeff Godbold of Saxony Design Build in Burbank. Their aim was to use materials that would be “true to the Spanish Colonial architecture of this home.”

Reading room (below): Traci Larsen and Dawn Busalacchi of Traci Larsen Interiors in La Cañada. “A rich color palette of champagne and celery hued fabrics is very much in keeping with the Spanish architecture.”

Girl’s bedroom (following three images below): Maya Williams of Maya Williams Design in Woodland Hills. The room is designed for a dual purpose: “to be wisked away from the day-to-day reality and to transport the young reveler to a resting place where she is surrounded by happy whimsy, and also a place to refreshen and liven her spirits.”

Downstairs breezeway (following two images): Stephanie Leese and Jason Lai of L2 Interiors in Los Angeles. “An interior space that can double as an exterior with sights of the garden and the fabulous iron works of the breezeway doors.”

Kitchen and breakfast room (following three images): Gregory Parker of Parker West Interiors in South Pasadena.  “The new kitchen is designed with an eye towards classic California style as exhibited in the charming architectural detail of this Spanish Colonial Revival home.”

Dining room (below): Karina Oldemans of Karina Oldemans Interior Designs in Santa Monica. “The words light, sophisticated and elegant aptly describe the dining room (with) a touch of whimsy.”

And on to the back yard…

The Andalusian courtyard (following four images): Cassy Aoyagi, Kirk Aoyagi, Jill Van Sickle, and Isara Ongwiseth of FORM LA Landscaping, Inc. in Tujunga. “A dramatic backdrop of the Angeles National Forest (is) accentuated by incorporating lower and open plant material to preserve the pristine panorama … (and) the new layout will create a stronger balance throughout the courtyard.”

Pool and BBQ area: Melissa Carson and Barry Magness of Carson-Magness Landscapes, Inc. in Glendale. “Inspired by the unique blend of Spanish Colonial Revival and Moorish Revival architecture of this 1927 estate home, Carson-Magness Landscapes is drawing upon the spirit of silent era actor Rudolf Valentino’s fantasy films, specifically ‘The Sheik’ and ‘Son of the Sheik’.”

Greenhouse (following two images): Laramee Haynes of Haynes Landscape Design in Pasadena. Workshops will be available to “show visitors how to grown their own plants from cuttings, divisions, seeds and grafts.”

Restaurant by Walter Hubert of Silver Birches in Pasadena.








3 Responses for “Showcase House in La Cañada”

  1. I’ve always wondered how they do this. Does someone live in the showcase house, or is it an empty home? If someone lives there, how do the designers work around them? What happens to all the stuff when it’s over?
    If no one lives there, how do the designers get access? Is it a real estate partnership of sorts?
    It’s so mysterious to me.

  2. Kat Ward says:

    The house is owned and inhabited, though since the designers started working in January, we assume that the family is not living on the premises. The owners also get first dibs on whatever has been used by the designers, and the rest is open to the public for purchase.

    The full name of the nonprofit is Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. Proceeds from the Showcase House of Design helps fund annual music programs such as the Music Mobile Van, the Youth Concert, and the Instrumental Competition, as well as supporting PSHA’s grants program. Their initial name was the Pasadena Junior Philharmonic Committee. In 1965, they adopted the PSHA as their annual benefit.

  3. Ah, thank you! (Wish they’d come and do my house.)



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