2018 Pasadena Showcase House of Design Highlights Smart Tech


New, smart tech was key to the transformation of the 2018 Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

By: Jeanne Chung   

Images: Courtesy Cozy*Stylish*Chic

How do you infuse a modern aesthetic into a 100-plus-year-old Mediterranean estate? That was the challenge for 26 designers, who were tasked with incorporating current trends and technology into a home designed in 1915 by renowned architect Reginald D. Johnson.

“Overlook,” named for its location, which affords a view extending across the San Gabriel Valley and as far as Catalina Island, has seen a few transformations over the past century. In fact, this is the second time the property has been featured as a Pasadena Showcase House. In 2002  it was transformed into a Tuscan oasis. In 2013, the estate underwent what was largely a cosmetic remodel by the current homeowner. Many of the Tuscan elements that were introduced in 2002 were replaced with more modern elements. This past and future design tension set the tone and direction for this year’s Pasadena Showcase House. 

The 2018 designers brought modern elements as well as an avant garde energy to the project, focusing on smart-home technology. Ironically, one of the objectives of new home tech is to remain as unobtrusive as possible, so while touring the home it was easy to miss many of the important features if you weren’t looking for them. For example, Jimmy Leung of Woody’s Home, responsible for upgrading the wiring and installation of the A/V system, shared the nonobvious point that “all the components, receivers, (and) amplifiers are housed centrally in an equipment closet away from each space.” By having the guts and wiring of the system in a remote location, the designers could plan freely without any obstructions from A/V equipment.

In the family room, designer Michael Wrusch wanted the largest screen possible for the available space and had “originally planned to recess the TV into the wall.” Ultimately, an LG TV with OLED technology (and a screen thickness of about three credit cards) was attached to the wall using a magnet. Bang & Olufsen speakers, coming in at 50 inches tall, blended in seamlessly with the furnishings thanks to Art Deco-like styling. A Crestron interface, which “integrates the various technologies in a building so they can communicate and work together efficiently,” did just that. One push of a button closes the drapery, dims the light, turns on the TV, adjusts the volume, and readies the space for movie watching.

The same Crestron interface was implemented in a second-floor family room designed by JS Design + Create with A/V outfitted by Woody’s Home. For casual TV watching, an 80-inch LED TV is installed above an electric fireplace and recessed into the wall. For the ultimate movie-watching experience, a projector is enclosed in the ceiling at the back of the room and paired with a 110-inch motorized light-rejection projector screen that drops down in front of the TV. The screen rejects ambient light, which eliminates the need for a totally darkened room for optimal viewing. The surround-sound system, elevated wall-to-wall theater seating and lounge chairs, plush carpet, vintage lighting, and Farrow & Ball wallpaper leave iPic in the dust.

For the kitchen and breakfast room, the trick was to make the TV less conspicuous. A TV is a given in a luxury kitchen of this size, but an empty black screen interrupting the visual continuity of a perfectly designed space is a dilemma. To resolve it, designer Cozy*Stylish*Chic looked to the Samsung Frame series TV, which masquerades as art when not in use. An internal collection of original paintings, lithographs, and photographs of nature, architecture, and more are available for display, disguising the TV as a piece of art. Personal art or photos can also be displayed. Woody’s Home assisted in making this design a reality, where all the components were out of sight. As a bonus in the kitchen, a Sony Life Space UX Ultra Short Throw Projector projected recipes on a blank wall next to the range and was programmed to advance every few seconds, providing a hands-free cookbook experience. 

For the master bath, designed by Parker West, and the teenage bedroom suite, designed by Cozy*Stylish*Chic, smart toilets were utilized, equipped with features such as motion-activated hands-free opening and closing, personal cleansing (with warm water!) and drying, and an LED night-light. While Parker West chose a Toto Neorest toilet and included a Legrand night-light in the toilet area, the teen bath featured a Kohler Veil Intelligent toilet supplied by Ferguson Showrooms. The Kohler Veil is automatically cleaned with UV light every 24 hours to sanitize the spray wand, and deodorization is activated with each flush. 

Those are just a few of the smart home innovations the designers employed in the 2018 Pasadena Showcase House. It will be interesting to see what inspires next year’s version. Find out April 21 through May 19, 2019, when the 55th Pasadena Showcase House of Design opens to the public.


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