For those who love to see how others live, the Pasadena Showcase
House is the granddaddy of looky-loo heaven.
Members of the home tour's organizing committee, the Pasadena
Showcase House for the Arts, have had a lot of practice getting it
right, said this year's chairwoman, Jennifer Johnson.
"It is a much-anticipated event in the community," she said. "We
have successfully been putting on a Showcase House for 40 years. This
is our 41st year."
And it's a win-win proposition for everyone involved, Johnson
It raises funds for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and for youth
music programs, offers designers a chance to show their expertise in
the home and garden and lets the public see the most modern ideas in
home remodeling, she said.
The committee selects a different estate each year in the
Pasadena, San Marino or La Canada Flintridge areas to serve as a
backdrop for the ideas of some 30 Southern California designers.
This year's choice is a 10,000-square-foot Italian Revival-style
house constructed in 1929 in San Marino. It was designed by Wallace
Neff, who is often referred to as the architect of California's
Golden Age, Johnson said.
Having a design included in the showcase is a great marketing
opportunity for the designers, Johnson said. When working with
clients, designers stay true to the wants and needs of the homeowner.
But at Showcase House, they have an opportunity to design without any
outside influences, so it's pure designer input.
"I think we have a wonderful team of 22 interior-design teams and
12 exterior-design teams," she said.
Take the Traveler's Suite, a guest bedroom with bath, decorated by
Maria Videla-Juniel and Marcus Juniel of MV Design Group in Burbank.
The room is cast with a soothing palette of calming greens and blues
against rich chocolates. The colors are drawn into the bathroom,
which offers a serene spa feel, Johnson said.
For the space, Videla-Juniel said she wanted to create amenities
just like a five-star hotel in the middle of this lush Mediterranean
"Most of the furniture is custom made," she said. "It's done in
clean, tailored lines, which is my style. The room really reflects
what our style is all about."
On either side of the bed are nightstands in Ebony Macassar, an
exotic wood. One nightstand is round with just a top drawer, while
the other is a square chest of drawers.
"The comments we've been hearing are how cool it is to have two
different nightstands," she said, adding that they are the same
height and in the same wood.
The walls of the bedroom are painted green with a faux finish.
"It gives it a suede effect, and that's the first thing people
comment about it," Videla-Juniel said.
Blues and greens are carried out in the silk drapes and in the
chenille fabric on the headboard and chaise lounge. A rich chocolate
color offers contrast in some of the fabrics and the furniture.
Those who love exploring the outdoors will be intrigued by the
Kitchen Garden space, designed by former Burbank resident C.J. Forray
of Cottage Garden Design and Maria Kane of Maria Kane Design of
They have planted all sorts of aromatic herbs, fruits and
vegetables that allow the chef of the house to simply step outside
and pick them fresh for cooking.
"The garden has an ideal sunlight and shade mixture to accommodate
the kind of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you'd want for fine
cooking," Forray said.
Designers incorporated water features and cutting beds dashed with
colorful flowers perfect for table centerpiece arrangements.
To add a little whimsy, heads of lettuce peek out from pots shaped
like lettuce, and artichokes burst from pots that look like
"What we wanted to show people is a working garden," she said. "It
doesn't have to be a lifeless, colorless garden with everything in a
row. It can be a place you can walk through, sit in and savor and
enjoy and harvest things easily."
A 10-year member of the sponsoring organization, Johnson said she
gains personal satisfaction from the fact that this fundraiser
provides musical education for youngsters.
To date, the group's donations have totaled more than $13 million
to organizations, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
One program funded by the tour is the Through the Music Mobile
Program, which introduces third-graders to classical music by showing
them the instruments that create it.
The group also provides gifts and grants to nonprofit
organizations and schools to support continuation of their music
The tour committee recently distributed $800,000 they made from
last year's home tour to 48 recipients, including the Los Angeles
Chamber Orchestra for its Family Concert Series at Glendale's Alex
A $5,000 donation went to Sunday's Family Concert, said Ruth
Eliel, executive director of the orchestra.
Eliel has been to a couple of Showcase House tours in the past and
called them "fabulous" fundraisers.
"Because all of us in the nonprofit world are always looking for
ways to raise money that make donors feel good about their
contributions but also enable them to get something out of it," she
said. "The Showcase House is perfect in that way -- it's really a