Pasadena Showcase House of Design

May 26, 2022|In SD Blog|By Lauren Espineli

After a short hiatus, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design returned this year to transform the rooms of a grand estate in South Pasadena—the splendid Oaklawn Manor, originally built for English engineer Harry Hawgood. Built in 1905, this English Tudor mansion property was an especially inspirational and enchanting setting for this showcase. The South Pasadenan deems the event “one of the nation’s oldest, largest, and most successful home and garden tours” that also happens to benefit local Southern Californian performing arts programs—especially for children aspiring to be musicians.

Designers were tasked with transforming the mansion’s interiors on a tight deadline over the course of four very industrious months. They all had to design, source products, renovate, and install their rooms in this compressed timeframe using the year’s color palette all while facing the numerous challenges that a 115-year-old home presents.

Visiting the Showcase House

Oaklawn Manor | Illustration by Lynn Van Dam Cooper

Studio Designer client Susan Sawasy served as a co-design adviser with designer Christine Santana who were creative mentors for the designers. She described, “We sit on the side lines during designer interviews, and ongoing design presentations in the event our opinion is needed as it relates to the designers’ proposed design concept for the specific room or garden space. We selected the initial color palate based on what we feel is appropriate for the house and the colors that will be championed that year.”

Studio Designer had the pleasure of visiting the Pasadena Showcase House of Design on a beautiful spring afternoon. The quiet beauty of the home’s neat Tudor style details on the exterior do not quite prepare you for the striking and varied creativity of all the designs inside.

From traditional décor to streamlined modern to timeless sophistication, each of the creative talents tasked with decorating a room used the opportunity and high profile of show house designing to go all out and indulge in their creative inspirations. Susan remarked, “After months of discovery, repair, and restoration the owner is left with a vintage house that in reality is as close to new as it can get. Lovers of architecture and design get to see first-hand and up close what is going on in the world of design.”

With the landing gallery designed by Pamela Sandall, Judson Studios fully restored the original stained glass windows. | Photo by Chris Considine

Contemporary Sophistication

Library Design by SH Interiors | Photo by Chris Considine

Some designers opted for a contemporary look for their spaces including designer Robert Frank who brightened the Living Room by painting the historic ceiling beams and ceiling in pale colors. Stephanie Hatten of SH Interiors used a dark wood stain on all the walls of her Library design for a moody and seductive feel, accented with a wallpapered ceiling, plus brass and bronze accents that make the rich colors of the couch and rug really pop.

In the Sunroom, James Hernandez Interior Design was inspired by the exterior landscape to create an indoor oasis using naturally inspired fabrics like a grasscloth ceiling, floral wallpaper, and light-colored furniture that nicely shows off sunlight coming through a harlequin window.

Sunroom Design by James Hernandez Interior Design | Photo by Chris Considine

Classic and Hand-painted Details

Dining Room Design by Louise O'Malley | Photo by Lauren Espineli

Longtime Studio Designer client Louise O’Malley had the pleasure of decorating the elegant ground-floor Dining Room richly paneled in wood. She selected a showstopping crystal chandelier as the centerpiece of the classically decorated space along with other key antiques like decorative mirrors and ceramic sculptures. Louise also had showcase artist Shari Tipich hand paint floral details on beautiful ceiling beams.

In addition to the dining room, artist Shari Tipich had her own lavish space to decorate in her maximalist sanctuary, her Kimono Pavilion, that was her ode to the “mystique and romance of Asia.” Shari shared that she hand painted all the beautiful bamboo and wild animals scenes on panels at her studio and installed them in this captivating space at the top of a staircase.

Kimono Pavillion by Shari Tipich | Photo by Lauren Espineli

Stylish Places to Rest

Sanctuary Bedroom Design by Cordrey Collection | Photo by Chris Considine

Many designers had a chance to put their style signature on the many bedrooms in the mansion. Standouts include the spacious Santcuary Bedroom lavishly decorated by the firm Cordrey Collection. The modern space has a hip and retro feed with laser-cut panels that divide the beautiful custom bed from the custom gold velvet sofa in the seating area.

For the exquisite Guest Suite, Rachel Duarte Design Studio wanted to honor the history of the home with a fresh and bright design including metallic wallpaper on the ceiling, a blown glass light fixture, and gleaming gold details throughout. In the bedroom’s seating area, a table made completely out of mother or pearl is the highlight.

Guest Suite Design by Rachel Duarte Design Studio | Photo by Chris Considine

Form and Function Done Beautifully

Laundry Cafe Design by Denise Bosley Interiors | Photo by Chris Considine

The home’s more practical spaces for food and laundry were just as impressive as the other rooms. Pasadena firm Cozy Stylish Chic used stylish metallic details in their Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen design. Unique design elements of the kitchen include silvery tiles for the backsplash, hand-planed walnut counters, an oversized central island and modern appliances.

In the sunny and charming Laundry Café, Denise Bosley Interiors designed a fresh and sun-filled space for two important tasks, enjoying a cup of coffee and doing the laundry. With blue concrete tiles on the floor, the multi-purpose space retains some historic elements of the original building along with modern details like a Ikat-printed wallpaper, a farmhouse sink, and a delightful espresso counter.

Places to Relax and Unwind

Pool Cabana Design by The Art of Room Design | Photo by Chris Considine

Marti Farley, the President of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA), shared in the event program that the home owners added a pool and cabana in 1955 that were also decorated for the event. Design firm The Art of the Room Design worked their magic on the mid-century structure. They aimed for an organic natural vibe with the natural wood, woven rope furnitutre, wood veneer wallpaper. Other great feature include the giant kitchen peninsula and twin dressing rooms with showers.

As you exit the kitchen to visit the marketplace and eateries on the grounds, you turn to the right and see a lovely little water feature created just for the Showcase. California Waterscapes were directly inspired by the lovely light and shadow patterns coming from the many oak trees that surround the property. They installed acid-washed concrete and a wooden bridge connecting to twinkling awaterfall, stream, and koi pond along with native California plants including succulents.

Studio Designer’s visit to Pasadena Showcase House of Design this month proved the enduring value of such in-person design collaborations. Designers get a chance to “go big” with a richly appointed showhouse design and get to share their creative work to the public. Design fans of all backgrounds get the rare opportunity to see a grand estate up close and get familiar with prevailing trends of the trade.

Tranquil Oak Waterfalls and Hidden Gem by California Waterscapes | Photo by Chris Considine

But even more importantly, the design showcase is a chance for the local community to benefit from the creative arts including musical theater, orchestra, jazz ensembles, marching bands, and even music therapy for at-risk children. Since the first Showcase House in 1965, Over $24 million dollars have been raised by PSHA. Read more about all of the impressive rooms the event program. Susan shared, “At the end of the day it looks effortless. Each room is a fresh expression of materials colors textures and product. Everyone wins…but in this case the biggest winner is the house we know now as Oaklawn Manor.”

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