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An Altadena Craftsman keeps it light

Times Staff Writer

Talk ABOUT an architectural marriage that works. In 1974, Mary Jane Elgin, then a 23-year-old artist and Arts and Crafts-movement enthusiast, joined forces with Boyd Georgi, a modernist architect, to design a contemporary Craftsman home for Elgin’s parents in Altadena. Elgin had just returned from a two-year stint in Japan studying drawing and painting. Georgi was known for his design of the main library in Altadena, among other prominent works there and in Pasadena.

Melding the architectural styles and construction of the home took five years, during which time Elgin and her husband, Bruce Wilson, also started building their family of six children. Meanwhile, Elgin’s father told her the completed house would be hers.

Despite some creative differences of opinion, one thing on which Elgin and Georgi agreed was the positioning of the structure to infuse it with morning and late-afternoon light.

“The Craftsman style incorporates a lot of Japanese aesthetics,” Elgin said, but the homes tend to be dark. “We took that style and brought in lots of natural light.”

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About this house: To capture the Craftsman/Asian aesthetic, Elgin and Georgi designed shoji-style redwood sliding room dividers. Instead of sliding glass doors to enter the patios, they installed single French doors. And they used solid clear redwood in the decor. Some of the floors are high-fired red mission tiles, which flow outdoors to the back and side yards; the rest are tongue-and-groove hardwood.

To support the large windows the designers wanted throughout the house, Georgi hid superstructures of steel behind redwood. The atrium’s large central skylight illuminates the center of the home. A small ficus planted in the atrium 30 years ago is now 25 feet tall.

Special design touches include a hand-carved front door, detailed door handles, a handmade china cabinet and kitchen inglenook and stained-glass windows.

The 12-foot-tall, Art Nouveau stained-glass windows in the living room and around the front door were designed by Elgin. Her hand-painted and glazed tiles decorate the kitchen and breakfast room; heart-shaped rocks she crafted are embedded in the patios.

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Asking price: $2.65 million

Size: The house has four bedrooms and four bathrooms in 5,154 square feet. Additionally, there is an 840-square-foot guesthouse with a shower and bathroom. It can be used as an office or studio. The lot size is 35,189 square feet.

Features: A 200-foot driveway leads to this flag lot surrounded by mature landscaping (Canary Island pines and eucalyptus trees). The home includes a living room with 13-foot ceilings, a large family room, built-in storage throughout the house, a two-car garage, terraced gardens, a 35-foot black-bottom pool, a spa, a pond and a large grassy play area. Keeping in sync with the period, the kitchen has standard appliances; the room’s doorknobs are hand-painted by Elgin.

Location: Altadena

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Listing agent: Anne Sanborn, Sotheby’s International Realty, Pasadena, (626) 252-5711.

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diane.wedner@latimes.com

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To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photographs with caption and credit information on a CD and a description of the house to Diane Wedner, Real Estate Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions may be sent to homeoftheweek@latimes.com.


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