Creative Freedom

Pasadena Showcase House continues its run at Oaklawn Manor
By Luke Netzley
Chris Considine/submitted photos

After just four months, the interior designers of the Pasadena Showcase House of Design’s flagship event have completed their renovation of South Pasadena’s Oaklawn Manor for the 57th Showcase House.

The Oaklawn Manor is a 1905 English Tudor mansion built for English civil engineer Harry Hawgood. It hosts the first Showcase House in South Pasadena in over 40 years. Each designer was given a section of the house and the creative freedom to decorate it with their own chosen materials and style. 

Until the mansion’s closure on Sunday, May 22, over 25,000 guests will tour through the numerous interior and landscape design spaces and see the work of numerous designers from across the San Gabriel Valley and LA County, including Pasadena’s Karen Billman and South Pasadena’s James Hernandez. 

“It’s an honor to be chosen to participate in the Showcase House,” Hernandez says. “There’s a lot to see, and there’re wonderful designers participating in this year’s Showcase House. It’ll be special for everybody who attends.”

Hernandez founded an interior design business after returning from a yearlong sabbatical across Europe that inspired him to gain a deeper understanding of modern design. He has since become known across Southern California and beyond for his high-end residential interiors and has worked with celebrity clients such as Caitlyn Jenner, Tyra Banks and Kimora Lee Simmons. 

Hernandez is a four-time participant in the Showcase House and felt especially connected to this year’s event because of its location within South Pasadena, which has been his home for the past 16 years. 

“One thing that gravitated me to do the Showcase House this year was that it was in my own backyard,” Hernandez explains. “It’s a quintessential town where you can bring your family. You feel like you’re at peace when you’re in South Pasadena. There’s a calmness about it and a tranquility.”

Ahead of his renovation of the Oaklawn Manor’s Sunroom, Hernandez’s vision was to incorporate a newfound brightness and modernity into the space. With a sponsorship from design firm Thibaut, Hernandez paired a neutral color palette with a botanical wall covering alongside contemporary furnishings and an organic hemp rug.

As a designer, Hernandez does not fit into any one stylistic mold but works based on client desires and personal experience across a breadth of styles, a trait shared by fellow Showcase House designer Karen Billman.

“The Showcase House is really a feather in my cap, and I think it would be for anybody,” Billman says.

Through renovating the gym and its adjacent hallway and bathroom in her first Showcase House appearance, Billman wanted to introduce a sense of elegance and dramatic flair to her section of the Oaklawn Manor. 

With the help of bath supply company Ferguson, gym brand Johnson Fitness and Wellness, Mission Tile West, Guilford of Maine and Fusion Builders contractor Anthony Bykowski, Billman used a gray tile with black mats for the gym floor. She then incorporated a silver-toned mesh fabric commonly used for noise suppression in theaters for two of the gym walls with a velvet black paint on the others.

“I’m really excited and I hope I get asked to do it again next year, because it’s really a fun process,” Billman says. 

Alongside the personalized design spaces, guests to the 57th Showcase House can expect over 20 boutique vendors at the Shops at Showcase, as well as several on-site restaurants and daily programming with local musicians, speakers, special tours and more.

2022 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays; 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays 

WHERE: Oaklawn Manor, South Pasadena. 

COST: $65 golden ticket; $200 insider package No. 1, gold ticket and empty house party; $400 insider package No. 2 


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