Touring the Pasadena Showcase House of Design

Join our exclusive insider look at the 55th Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

Pasadena is full of exterior architectural feats, but the city’s no slouch in the interiors department either. Case in point: The 55th Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

This past spring, more than two dozen designers unleashed their creativity on the grounds of Descanso Gardens’ Boddy House, a 12,000-square-foot, Hollywood Regency–style mansion where approximately 25,000 visitors flocked to see the design achievements up close. The Pasadena Showcase House is one of the oldest, largest, and most successful house and garden tours in the country.

Founded by the nonprofit Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, the Showcase House is an annual fundraiser with the goal of bringing music enrichment programs to Southern California. Though its philanthropic mission is reason enough to support the organization, visiting the Showcase House and seeing what each of the designers has done with their designated room is an awe-inspiring experience.

Samantha Williams, Samantha Williams Interior Design
Rooms designed: Formal dining room, kitchen, and prep kitchen
Years participated in Showcase: 5

What was it like working on the Showcase House? 

It’s very different than working with clients. I make all the decisions based on my own taste and intuition, so it’s truly my vision in all of the details. It’s also a very collaborative process that brings together all of my vendors, tradespeople, and resources, so it always feels like a true team effort to pull off a big renovation in a short amount of time.

About the rooms: I wanted the dining room to be a balance of classic and contemporary elements. The stature of the house lends itself to some beautiful antiques and I wanted it to feel very fresh and upbeat without feeling stuffy. We chose a bold, embroidered trellis fabric for the drapes and French blue sisal to add texture on the walls. I really loved the juxtaposition of a traditional dining table offset with contemporary artwork. Many of our clients in Pasadena want their interiors to fit with the style of their home while also feeling updated, and this room strikes a perfect balance. ​

We took our inspiration for the kitchen from the beautiful surroundings of Descanso Gardens. This influence can be seen in the trellis patterns we incorporated into the cabinetry, custom hydrangea backsplash, and the look of natural French oak floors. We wanted to lighten up the kitchen by focusing on a soft palette of blues, whites, and light neutral tones.

The custom white and brass hood paired beautifully with bronze hardware and plumbing fixtures. The tile—customized mosaics from Saxum Tile—added a big dose of luxury. All of the appliances were from JennAir provided by Ferguson and the Showcase was an exciting debut of their new product line.

Maria Videla-Juniel, The Art of Room Design
Room designed:Lady’s hideaway
Years participated in Showcase: 8

What was it like working on the Showcase House? 

This project is a favorite of mine because technically I don’t have a client dictating what I can do. I get to use all the great products and a color palette I’ve discovered but haven’t had the opportunity to use with a “real” client yet. This year that meant using eggplant color, which is a favorite of mine.

The other thing about Showcase is that it’s for an excellent cause and will bring music programs to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience them. Because music is so important to my children it’s easy for me to say yes to the Showcase organization.

About the room: This year we envisioned a fashionable, sophisticated, world-traveling millennial using this room. Our goal was to create a lady’s hideaway that was also an inviting office and an escape for some “me time.” We wanted the space to have a worldly vibe and an abundance of luxury but also be very personal and super comfortable.

Once our key design components were in place—the rug, desk, cabinet, and wall covering—we layered in color, texture, and pattern to complement all with an interesting mix of furnishings and accessories from some of our favorite vendors as well as from our own storefront in La Canada-Flintridge. It’s a balancing act to unify all the components for an effortless visual flow, but when you get it right the room really sings.

The sourced accessories in the hideaway bring a polished, harmonious vibe that feels like a personal travel collection. I think the best collections are the ones that continue to evolve and tell you a story about the person each time you’re in the room. We are proud of how the lady’s hideaway came together and the positive response it’s received. It was fun to use a fresh and new color palette and to push the design envelope with styles and textures for a cohesive and inviting design where luxury and comfort coexist.

Denise Bosley, Denise Bosley Interiors
Room designed:Master bathroom
Years participated in Showcase: 2

What was it like working on the Showcase House? 

Working on the Showcase House takes a lot of dedication. What most people don’t know is that even though the house tour is only open for four weeks, the actual process from design to completion is about seven months, so it’s a huge time commitment. My favorite part is probably the construction, which sounds crazy because there are huge time constraints and anything can and will go wrong. But seeing the design come together makes it all worth it.

About the room: The master bathroom was designed to stay true to the Hollywood Regency style of the home but with a contemporary edge. I tend to lean more masculine with my designs and I like to play with contrast so I mixed in dark-stained oak cabinets with dark blueish-gray quartzite counters with a waterfall edge.

I lightened up the room with a white marble herringbone mosaic floor, which added a subtle texture. I think mixing metal finishes can add a lot of interest so I combined polished nickel fixtures with unlacquered brass hardware. One of the highlights of the room, which tied everything together, was the custom Carrara marble accent tile that was etched by a CNC machine to create a linear ribbing effect.

We removed the large jetted tub to make room for a larger, more luxurious shower, complete with a rain head, a bench, and a 6-foot niche. Storage was another important feature for the master bathroom. The linen cabinet had hidden laundry pullouts and the vanity drawers were all built around the plumbing fixtures to steal every available inch of storage. Some of the smaller details that brought it all together were the brass rotary light switches, the Turkish towels, and the black-and-white photography.

Robert Frank, Robert Frank Interiors
Room designed: Master bedroom
Years participated in Showcase: 5

What was it like working on the Showcase House? 

Working on the Showcase House allows us to showcase our design work and is a great opportunity for us to meet people in the community who we might never otherwise meet. We also love the collaborative effort of working with other designers with the goal of creating beautiful interior spaces for visitors to see. Each year that we have participated, we have met and become friends with many new designers, vendors, and visitors.

 About the room:

We used the Descanso camellia collection as our design inspiration. Mr. Boddy, the original owner of the home, loved camellias and, in fact, even named a camellia after his wife. So with the help of Gracie Studio we designed and created a hand-painted wall covering that featured a camellia design.

When working on historical homes, our goal is always to provide a fresh interpretation of the historical architectural style—one that is representative of the history of the home. To reflect the home’s style, traditional elements were incorporated alongside contemporary elements in order to update and lighten the overall feel of the space. Furniture was custom designed and luxuriously upholstered to give the space a fresh and inviting feel. New window coverings allowed the windows to be more visible and open up the views to the exterior garden terrace and the surrounding mountains.

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