Sprawling Altadena Mediterranean Estate Built for Widowed Sisters Revealed as This Year’s Pasadena Showcase House

2018 Pasadena Showcase House in Altadena.Huntington Pools-Pool area.Living Room.Hand made sofa in the Living Room.Billiard Room.Grand Foyer.Upstairs of the Grand Foyer.Traveler\'s Retreat Room.Bathroom with views of the San Gabriel Mountains.Original Zebra wallpaper.Teen\'s Room.The Family RoomDesigner Michael Wrusch poses in the- Family Room.Designer Xander Noori poses his the- Gentleman\'s Office.Designer Rozita Nazarian poses in the- Au Pair Suite and BathDesigner Shari Tipich poses in the- A Wanderer\'s Hideaway.

Story and Video by BRANDON VILLALOVOS | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

7:03 pm | April 9, 2018


Nestled near the Altadena foothills mostly unseen to street traffic lies a nearly 12,000 square foot estate that was revealed to be this year’s Pasadena Showcase House of Design site where nearly two dozen designers have completely taken over and made over an historic estate.

This year’s Showcase House, called “The Overlook,” is a majestic Mediterranean masterpiece designed by distinguished architect Reginald Davis Johnson and constructed in 1915 at a cost of $14,000 for widowed sisters Ruth Hargrove and Mary Emma Baker.

Fast forward to over one hundred years later, and you’ll find the sprawling estate undergoing last minute final work throughout its 1.6-acre grounds and inside the house in preparation for its public debut.

The annual fundraiser sponsored by Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts is one of the Pasadena area’s most important and anticipated, and regularly draws more than 30,000 visitors. The monies raised help fund various programs that promote music education for San Gabriel Valley youth.

“This home is a Mediterranean style home. However, we have an interesting twist as the inside has been converted to a more modern type of a home. Something that’s perfect for the modern day family,” said Marilyn Anderson, President of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.

“The Overlook” sits on a sweeping compound which includes a pool on lushly landscaped grounds. Exterior designs include a kitchen garden, a guest house garden, an olive court, a Bohemian hideaway, pool, outdoor kitchen, veranda and poolside garden.

Interesting factoid: “The Overlook” was also the 2002 Pasadena Showcase of Design House, although renovations began anew after that. Subsequent owners have added contemporary elements to suit their taste and lifestyle, making it an eclectic blend of unique living space.

This year, 16 interior designers and 7 exterior designers have designed their assigned spaces to reflect their own design sesibilities and styles styles and to reclaim the house’s classic glory.

“I think this year, the dual tones will make a big statement in the house. A lot of black and white and brass feature prominently in the designs,” said Vikki Sung, Benefit Chair for the 2018 Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

A welcoming portico leads to a front entry where carved double doors open to reveal a breathtaking two-story Grand Foyer with modern, oversized Lindsey Adelman chandeliers. Elegant details abound with marble floors, soaring ceilings, spiraling pillars, modern glass balustrades, and oversized windows and French doors through which the rooms are drenched in light.

Aside from the Grand Foyer, the main floor of the more than 11,000 square foot main residence includes a kitchen and Butler’s Pantry; Dining, Room; Living Room; Billiards Room and Petite Lounge; Library; Powder Room; and Family Room. Not to be forgotten is the family dog who gets his own little space beneath the stairs.

Up the main staircase is the mezzanine, overlooking the Grand Foyer below, which leads to the master bedroom suite and includes both the morning and exercise rooms and the modern man’s retreat; media room and bath; teen suite; and the Au Pair’s suite.

“We are using some new technology in construction. There are marble slabs that are only about a quarter inch thick so they look just as beautiful as regular marble, but are a lot easier to handle and a lot easier to work with. We also have new technology. There’s a quarter inch television in the family room that offers you as much vividness of the picture quality as any other TV,” said Sung.

Michael Wrusch of Michael Wrusch Designs mixed old with new by combining vintage mid-century modern furniture with futuristic technology, such as phone charging stations in a sofa and a nearly paper-thin flatscreen tv in the living room.

“I wanted to integrate all the electronic things. That’s how we live today,” said Wrusch.

The noticeably sleek and amazingly thin television commands the room above a media center chest which is over 60 years old.

“It hangs on a wall by a magnet … so no holes have to be drilled,” explained Wrusch,

The guest house encompasses a living room, kitchen, bedroom and one full bathroom separate and is in between the kitchen garden and bohemian hideaway pool out back.

“Our main focus this year is trying to make it a little bit more modern and contemporary. We have a little bit of a Scandinavian design in with it, so when you come, see and check out the guest house, you’ll be able to see that,” said guest house designer Jason Lai of L2 Interiors.

Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts’s collective goal is to provide funding to programs that benefit the community through diverse music programs that nurture the study and appreciation of music, provide music as a vehicle towards health and healing, offer music education knowing that the study of music enhances other academic subjects, as well as cultural enrichment, and ensure that music is available to a broad range of audiences, according to the organization’s website.

The success of the Pasadena Showcase House of Design has enabled PSHA to make cumulative donations of more than $20 million to support community music and arts programs throughout the community.

The estate will be open to the public starting April 22 and go until May 20.

Tickets cost between $35-$45 and can be ordered online at PasadenaShowcase.org.