Newsletter Subscription
Print Subscription
Change Address
News
06.29.2011
House> Pasadena Showcase House
An English manor by Paul Williams has been updated by local designers.
Modern white furniture in the historicized living room.
Peter Christiansen Valli

In the past two months over 30,000 people toured the 1927 English manor estate by Paul Williams, chosen as this year’s Pasadena Showcase House of the Arts. Now in its 47th year, the fundraiser supports local cultural programs with local designers donating their time and talents in exchange for press.

While many showcase houses take place in unsold or empty properties, this one was vacated for six months by its (anonymous) owners. But they returned to a home with millions of dollars worth of remodeling and rehabilitation, both inside and out.

Located in La Cañada Flintridge, a wealthy suburb with about 40 Williams-designed homes, the property includes a 7,200-square-foot main house, a 1,800-square-foot guesthouse, and a pool house on about five acres. Commissioned by former rancher and real estate investor John Bishop Green, the English-style home has a red brick exterior with two decorative pot-topped chimneys. Inside, its ornate ceilings are made of plaster-of-Paris and burlap, the floors are cork, and windows are glass casements. When the property sold in 1945, it was described in the Los Angeles Times as “the most authentic 17th century English home in this country.”

   
Left to right: A custom starburst chandelier; the Moroccan-themed bedroom; Paul Williams' English-manor style house.
Lynda Rivers
 

In January the badly dilapidated house was handed over to 24 local design teams. Because of its architectural significance, the main manor did not undergo structural alteration. It did receive updated landscaping, as well as a detailed cleaning of its brick and mortar façade and a retooling of the roof and gutters.

Inside was a different story. With 10-foot doors, original leaded glass windows, a paneled and beamed ceiling, and a hand-carved wood and stone fireplace, the home’s “Great Room” reminded LA designer David Dalton of a hunting lodge or cathedral. He added a custom-made modern starburst chandelier, along with Tony Duquette lamps reproduced by Baker Furniture and bright floral and chintz fabrics by Isaac Mizrahi.

From Pasadena, Yorkshire Kitchens maintained the original footprint of the kitchen, restoring the sink, countertops, hardware, and cabinetry while building in modern appliances and transforming a pantry into a laundry room.

Reflecting on the spoils of 1920s first class travel, LA-based Barclay Butera Interiors used rich blues and reds with metallic gold accents and exotic elements to transform a bedroom into a Moroccan-style retreat. The outdoors comes figuratively in through touches like a custom-designed bed made of metal branches, a twig and moss chair, and foliage-inspired paint colors in LA-based designer Kristi Nelson’s bedroom blending nature with antique treasures for a lady’s bedroom and bathroom. Citing her experience working on historical houses including her own, Nelson also raised and mirrored the bathroom ceiling to add light to the small space without compromising the vintage fixtures and tiles.

 
The revamped pool area includes new furniture, landscaping, and outdoor dining away from the main manor (left) and intimate patio seating closer to the house (right).
 

The estate’s grounds also saw a significant upgrade. Reflecting Williams’ characteristic integration of house and gardens, they were redesigned to create a flowing connection to the home through livable outdoor spaces. Overlooking the 1940s pool area, Tunjunga-based FormLA Landscaping used sustainable materials like repurposed windows, recycled glass decorative pieces, and native plants to create a whimsical outdoor dining area with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Other improvements included a new outdoor fireplace, a vineyard, and a new guesthouse that rose from a former horse stable.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” benefit chairman Kathryn Hofgaarden said of the estate’s transformation. “The architectural elements have not disappeared.” Now faultlessly on trend, the current owners can look back on their six months in exile as well worth it.

Lynda Rivers