Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sorbet Colors in Historic Halls

Annual "Empty House" previews
2010 Pasadena Showcase home

The Cravens Estate, Pasadena

The long-standing arts organization Pasadena Showcase invites designers into a home, lets them do their stuff, and sells tours of the decorated homes to raise money for music programs. They've been doing it for over sixty years, and they're good at it, usually taking in about $3 million a year; the LA Phil and Pasadena Symphony are the greatest beneficiaries, but a few dozen other musical entities, from school bands to music therapy programs, benefit as well.

To satisfy the inner lookie loo within, Showcase also previews the house in January at an event called Empty House, which unfolded last night for media and members of the organization.

This year, for the first time in the organization's history, Showcase has taken on a home with historic designation status: the old Cravens Estate on Madeline Drive, currently occupied by the San Gabriel Valley of the Red Cross.

With historic status, the new designs must honor historic preservation guidelines, especially for flooring and cabinetry. The designers report that the two historians on board with the project, one from the City of Pasadena and one from a Southern Cal historic group, have not been especially draconian about preservation matters to date.

The Cravens Estate was completed in 1930. It was designed by San Francisco architect Lewis P. Hobart, who studied at the Beaux Arts in Paris and drew inspriation for the house from the imposing Ch√Ęteau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, built for Louis XIV's finance minister, the fabled Nicholas Fouquet. Originally on sixteen acres, now the acreage is trimmed and the home sits perpendicular to the street. It belongs to the Red Cross, to whom a later owner deeded the property.

Designers who impressed at Empty House include Joshua Cain of Saxony Design Build, who will aspire to populate the immense drawing room with mixes of traditional furniture and forward-trending fabrics, and Linda Allen, who will escape from some of the rigorous symmetry of the house with modern and asymmetrical, contemporary treatments of traditional French motifs such as silhouettes and the concave/convex Rococo patterning.

The redesigned house, which will also include several exterior and landscape touches, will be on view to the public from April 18 through May 16. Contact Pasadena Showcase for details on touring the house in April and May.

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