Showcase House’s Beachy Vibe

This year’s palette of deep blues and earthy neutrals inspires airy spaces that evoke the sun, sand and sea.

This year’s Pasadena Showcase House of Design, also known as the Hinds House, was designed by prominent architects Marston and Van Pelt in 1916, when Pasadena was an untrammeled sylvan paradise. Some of the country’s wealthiest tycoons were just discovering the city’s untamed beauty and opting to build mansions there for their families. New Yorker Samuel Southey Hinds, a Harvard and New York University law school graduate, was one. After graduation, Hinds, born in 1875, moved to Pasadena, and into the 7,479-square-foot Tudor Revival home on two acres, with eight bedrooms and four baths. He practiced law, supported the arts and indulged his hobby of acting in local theater. A founder of the Pasadena Playhouse, he was a successful attorney until the 1929 stock market crash, when he lost all his assets. Undaunted, he gave up law and became a successful actor at age 54. Tall and distinguished-looking, he appeared in more than 200 films, often playing kindly authority figures. (Of note, he played Pa Bailey, Jimmy Stewart’s father, in the Frank Capra 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life.)

Although the Pacific didn’t lie just outside the palatial doors of early Pasadenans, it was a palpable presence in those years, reachable by motor car on rutted coastal roads that led south toward San Diego through onion fields and citrus groves, or west to other then-undeveloped sandy shores. It was a glorious adventure to reach the ocean, and many designers who participated in this year’s Showcase House chose to honor the beachy charms and Pacific blues that so enthralled those original Pasadena settlers.

In more recent years, the Hinds home has maintained its Hollywood connection. It has been the setting for many films, including Beaches and La La Land, and TV series such as Columbo and Mad Men. Here are a few highlights from the 2017 Showcase House of Design:


There were no family rooms in the early 1900s, even in sumptuous homes such as this one, says Robert Frank, who designed the 416-square-foot living room. “The living room is the main space in this home where the family was meant to gather informally and also where guests were welcomed,” says Frank, owner of Robert Frank Interiors in San Marino. His goal, he says, was to “transform the room into a bright and beautiful space to entertain guests while also being a comfortable, functional and peaceful retreat for the family.” He replaced the dark shutters with pale drapes framing elegant windows that open onto beautiful views of surrounding gardens. Using a neutral palette of flax, creams and white, along with touches of periwinkle and navy, he created two conversation areas with the airy feel of a beach house. On one side of the room, two blue chairs flank a white linen custom sofa; on the other side, a white linen sofa, wing chair and off-white longue. All fabrics are by Robert Allen and Beacon Hill. Walls are covered with a shimmery ivory grasscloth;  Dunne Edwards’  White Picket Fence paint shade brightens the ceiling and moldings. “We’re a coastal city, and this room was inspired by the pale sands and the ocean,” he says.


Designer Goli Karimi of Home Front Build, Los Angeles, described her master suite design as “a seaside escape” because “the palette of restful blues and neutrals replicate the experience of the ocean, sky and sand,” she says. Rooms were smaller in 1916, she notes, and this master bedroom measures around 300 square feet. She combined pale sandy tones and shades of white against the softest teal for the bedding, curtains, carpet, even walls. “The base color is off-white,” she says. “We had an artist brush over it with pale shades of teal and beige to create a look that seems as if you’re looking at the sea and sky coming together at the horizon.” The tan, off-white and teal rug is from Norbert Rug Gallery in Pasadena; the Weitzner drapes are made of Donghia cotton viscose and silk. The wing chair and ottoman by Baker are clad in Donghia chenille. The subtly patterned coverlet is by Zoffany.  A television drops down from the ceiling, and very small ceiling speakers are concealed in the four corners of the room.

Karimi’s design for the blue master bath includes a tub by Crosswater with polished stainless-steel exterior that reflects like a mirror and makes the space look larger, she says. The tracery ceiling is done with applied molding by J.C. Weaver. Walker Zanger made the azure dimensional tile on the walls and the azure hexagonal ceramic floor tiles.


Here’s an imaginative table for outdoor dining with family and friends. The custom fire-water table is made of more than 1,400 pounds of concrete and has a narrow river meandering gracefully across its top, with river rocks on either side. Succulents peep up through the rocks here and there and, at the flip of a switch, flames rise from beneath the stones. The water cascades down the table’s edge into a little pool and recirculates for a constant, soothing effect. Terry Morrill, owner of Pacific Outdoor Living in Sun Valley, says he and colleague Dominic Boinich designed the table together. “Our firm has always worked with water features and fire elements for outdoor living,” Morrill says. “Here we simply incorporated both features to create a durable, comfortable and attractive table for those with outdoor dining rooms.”