The 2013 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts: Back to the Future

It’s time to make your way East on the 210 for one of L.A.’s most cherished home design and landscaping events.

Photo by: Vanessa Martin Guidon Reaume Construction and Design went for a "calm, sophisticated retreat" effect when designing the master bedroom of the 2013 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, using natural colors with accents of icy blues. The contemporary chandelier is made of European crystal.

One of L.A.'s most cherished rights of spring is the opening of the annual Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. There are those who wait months to make decisions on their own home décor projects until they can view the hottest and most original trends, all under one roof.

If this year's Showcase House, a grand Monterey Colonial-style residence in Arcadia, seems a little familiar, that's because it was used once before for the same purpose, back in 2000. You'd think there would be no shortage of homeowners willing to vacate their house for several months in order for the area's top designers to have their way with every nook and cranny, but organizers explained that finding private property with several acres of space in the Pasadena area is becoming increasingly difficult, as more and more owners decide to subdivide.

But just because the home was used before doesn't mean everything isn't new and fresh — or cool and retro, as the case may be. This year, designers seem to have taken cues from the past and given them a modern twist.

Don Draper, for example, would be right at home in the featured office, because it's outfitted with late-'50s inspired custom-designed furniture, complete with a bar cart from Platner & Co. A period suited and coiffed intern was even posted at the desk for awhile, looking every bit the Mad Man.

In another part of the house, an original 1941 design on the living room doors has been replicated on the ceiling by Designs of the Interior.

You can almost feel the spirit of the house's original owners, Lawrence and Josephine Barker, of Barker Brothers Furniture fame. They bought the property in the early '40s, intending to use it as a showplace for their best pieces, and as a home for their family and the site for parties and fundraisers. The present is again reflecting the past.

Of course, there are plenty of cutting edge touches as well, like digital control panels hidden in mirrors in the master bath. Those disappearing screens can also be used as televisions. And then there are the pewter — yes, pewter — countertops in the kitchen.

Those who visit the Showcase House annually know that each year the designers get together and decide on one common little theme, mascot or motif, if you will, that's carried on in each room — sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden. No one will ever forget the year they chose monkeys. This year it's winged creatures, and attendees will have fun looking for cherubs, birds, butterflies — even bird nests.

The landscaping displays needed no winged additions, since there are plenty to be found naturally around the, patio, gazebo, lily pond and various other outdoor areas. The lush, versatile, drought resistant designs of Jason Lee on the grand patio are especially worth noting.

Also worth noting is that fact that for the $35-$45 ticket price, you not only get to see all the latest design trends and talk to the designers themselves, but you're also supporting a good cause. Proceeds from the event go to support the musical arts, with gifts and grants going to support schools, museums, therapeutic organizations, concerts, choirs, orchestras and many other deserving recipients.

For tickets and information, visit

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