Sneak peek: The stunning Pasadena Showcase House of Design makeover

For only the second time in its 54-year history, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design is hitting repeat in Altadena with an encore transformation of the same Mediterranean villa that took center stage in 2002.

But if you think, “Been there, done that,” think again: When the showcase opens to the public on April 22 it will have been re-imagined through the lens of contemporary design.

“Design looked very different in 2002,” said Samantha Williams, principal of Ederra Design Studio in Pasadena, and one of this year’s design advisers for the annual fundraising event to support the arts. “I think people are going to be really surprised by the update… it’s gone from a Tuscan style to something more contemporary, and it’s interesting to see how the architecture of the house wears each of those styles differently.”

The Pasadena Showcase House of Design is recognized as one of the oldest and most successful not-for-profit showcase houses in the country. It attracts about 35,000 visitors each year who want to glimpse the latest trends in interior design, and a chance to shop the look.

Designers from as far away as Palm Springs and Santa Barbara were chosen by the showcase committee to work their magic on the interior and exterior living spaces of Altadena’s Overlook House, a gracious 12,277-square-foot estate designed by architect Reginald Davis Johnson in 1915.

Over the last several months, hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrades have been made to the home, from paint to furnishings to construction improvements and state-of-the-art appliances. (In case you were wondering, the homeowner doesn’t get to keep the furnishings and decor, but physical improvements, including state-of-the-art appliances, stay behind.)

Here’s a sneak peek at what ticket holders can expect:

Master bedroom suite

Before/after images of the master bedroom suite area. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

“What I am hoping people will see is that you can take an older home and have a fresh new perspective without turning your back on it,” said Greg Parker, owner of Parker West Interiors, who designed the 1,400 square-foot master bedroom suite.

Inside the master bathroom, the designer installed a full-size working fountain. “It’s definitely over the top,” Parker said of the refinished cast-iron piece, “but it’s a way to reinterpret the bathroom space, and what better place to see how people respond than the showcase house?”

Dining in

Before/after images of the dining room area. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

In the dining room, a sand-cast Murano glass chandelier by Lusive Lighting hangs from a metallic, silver-painted ceiling. “We were inspired by the idea of having really elegant dinner parties,” said designer Elizabeth Lamont of the Malibu-based firm a Room at the Beach, “but we wanted it to feel young, contemporary and happening… not stuffy at all.”

For her formal tablescape, Lamont included crisp white table linens designed with a customized logo, glass napkin rings, contemporary dinnerware by Rosenthal and Gio Ponti matte silver flatware by Sambonet. “I think there is a beauty to dining and that it’s kind of a lost art,” said Lamont.

Hub of the home

Before image of the kitchen.
Before image of kitchen area. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Next to the dining room, the large kitchen and butler’s pantry were re-imagined by Jeanne Chung, principal of Cozy, Stylish, Chic in Pasadena, who also designed the home’s teen bedroom suite.

“It is incorporating old and new,” Chung said. “It’s a contrast of materials and periods and styles.” She points to mixed cabinet choices, professional grade appliances, a customized range hood and tufted green banquette as examples. A large Samsung TV is installed on the wall. “It’s a frame TV,” said Chung. “When it’s turned off, it’s not a big, black rectangle, it looks like a piece of art… that’s how we live nowadays. It’s all about integrating technology into lifestyle.”

Cool pool

Before/after images of the pool area. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

In the backyard, Jeff Lokker, president of San Dimas-based Huntington Pools, also incorporated technology. The brand new pool with Baja shelf, water chaise longues and 12-seat infinity spa boasts variable speed pumps for energy efficiency and a Wi-Fi-enabled remote-control system. From any Wi-Fi-enabled device, the homeowners can turn on the spa, water features or color-changing LED lights. They can also turn it off. “If your kids are having a party, you could shut everything down,” joked Lokker.

Lokker estimates work and materials on the pool, spa, Turkish travertine decking, outdoor room and full kitchen complete with pizza oven cost upward of $400,000, underscoring how designers go all out on the showcase home each year.

Guest house

Before/after images of the guest house. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

The 780-square foot guest house was designed with midcentury accents, a hint of Scandinavian influence and flashes of copper, by Stephanie Leese and Jason Lai at Culver City-based L2 Interiors. Leese said the goal was to make the space feel young, open and bright. “We really just wanted to have fun with it, make it a little funky, even edgy,” Leese said. “We did a lot of unique finishing touches.” The chunky kitchen island with a 10-inch toe kick bottom and quartzite top may be her favorite element, “It kind of feels like it’s floating.”

Leese said she hopes visitors will tour the guest house and see how they can make a small space feel bigger. “There are plenty of small houses in L.A., and I hope people are able to relate to what we are doing and see that they can do it in their own space… our kitchen isn’t this ginormous kitchen that most people don’t have, [the guest house is] a very typical-sized house.”

The Pasadena Showcase House of Design

When: April 22 through May 20, closed Mondays

Where: Free parking and shuttle service from the Santa Anita Race Track, Gate 6

Cost: Tickets start at $35, and benefit music and arts programs throughout the community