An Empty House Filled with Promise

Pasadena Showcase House of Design opens its doors for a preview; longtime event will support yearly music programs
By EDDIE RIVERA, Weekendr Editor
Published on Jan 23, 2023

With concurrent themes of Parisian life, butterflies, and exploration coursing through its rooms, the 58th Pasadena Showcase House of Design threw open its doors to media, friends, designers  and supporters Friday.

“I’m really excited about  this house,” said 2023 Benefit Chair Matt McIntyre, standing in the second level of the 11,000 square-foot interior of the home, which was originally built for Arthur and Ruth Nicholson Stewart. 

McIntyre is the first male to serve in the position in the organization’s 75-year history.

“It’s a return to showcase grandeur,” he said, “and it’s a really special property. We’re very privileged that the homeowners agreed to work with Showcase this year.”

This year’s home,  the Stewart House, a 1933 grand colonial estate in nearby San Marino, was actually featured as a Showcase House in 1983, and was quickly snatched up by its current owners. 

The American Colonial home was designed by the celebrated architectural firm of Marston & Maybury, and is set off by an expansive front  lawn, circular driveway, and dramatic portico. It features several French influences, as original owner Ruth Stewart was a world traveler and admired everything French, including the French influences of Tahiti, which she also imbued the home with. 

Designer and woodworker Christopher Ward, for example, is re-imagining an upstairs bedroom space as Ruth’s own personal explorer space, with maps and artifacts from her travels, as well as a telescope trained on a view towards Mt. Wilson, celebrating her inner and outer explorer. 

Elsewhere, throughout the house, more than a few designers have taken the leitmotif of butterflies and used it as an element in their creations. 

“A lucky accident,” said one exuberant designer. “It’s that theme of rebirth and re-emerging.”

Thirty-two local designers, both new and returning, will re-imagine the numerous bedrooms, sitting rooms, workshops, kitchen, bathrooms and pantries throughout the property in time for an elegant unveiling on April 23. 

Each of the designers was invited to a “designer walkthrough” in the fall, where they could envision their own interpretations of the various rooms, from entrance ways to primary bedrooms, and from patios to powder rooms.

In addition, according to patron Analily Park, the Showcase House is reaching out more to Latina and Latino designers. This year’s show will feature five Hispanic participants, she said. 

The final list of designers was culled from the submitted proposals and “matches were made,” said Vikki Sung, current president of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts organization. 

Added Sung, “I’m so excited. This is a big house, and we have a lot of people coming, but it doesn’t feel crowded. We have a lot of room.” 

Acknowledging the return from the pandemic, Sung added, “I love seeing people lingering and chatting in the house, which we couldn’t do last year.”

While the guests wandered and lingered and chatted in rooms covered with swatches of materials and renderings of final designs, on Friday night it was old wallpaper or old fixtures. By April 23, when the home will be opened to the public for a month, all will be transformed, as the designers’ ideas come to life. 

Proceeds from the showcase house tours will support the organization’s ongoing support of local music programs. 

Formed in 1948, to support the Pasadena Junior Philharmonic, the Showcase House now supports a wide range of musical gifts and grants, as well as a yearly instrumental competition, a MusicMobile, and an annual youth concert for fourth-graders at Disney Concert Hall. Since its inception, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design has raised $24 million for their music programs. 

 The 58th Pasadena Showcase House of Design will be open from April 23 through May 21, 2023. More information is available at

Make a Comment

  • (not be published)