Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 11, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 16



 Mountain Views News Saturday, February 11, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them. Story by Chris Bertrand

The gracious owners of 
the 1927 built, Spanish 
Colonial Revival estate 
scheduled to be the 
2012 Showcase House 
of Design (PSHA) 
have turned over the Robbins House in La 
Canada Flintridge for three months of frenzied 
transformation into one of the area’s most beloved 
home tour opportunities. In fact, last year’s home 
tour drew 35,000 visitors in 25 days. 

Designed by John Winford Byers for Mr. and Mrs. 
Hunter S. Robbins nearly nine decades ago, the 
estate includes 6429 square foot main house with 
eight bedrooms and baths, an 1100 square foot 
guest cottage, a writer’s retreat and greenhouse. 
The Spanish Colonial Revival villa incorporates 
elements from not only Spain, but Mexico, Italy 
and North Africa.

Byers, an engineer by education, was a self taught 
architect. He attracted much attention with his 
designs during his era, and designed projects 
or homes for celebrities and business leaders 
including Buster Crabbe, Shirley Temple and J. 
Paul Getty. 

Mario Saverino’s firm MK and Company Interior 
Design and Decoration, a design participant for 
over a decade, has been chosen to oversee the 
interior progress of the transformation, as an 
advisor this year. The Pasadena Showcase House 
organization’s interior and exterior chairs and 
their teams select advisors to help them ensure 
that things go smoothly, according to Saverino.

The project goes through several steps well 
before construction starts, according to Saverino. 
When a homeowner or charity agrees to offer 
their property for the year’s showcase house, 
they commit to be out of the property for six 
months. In exchange, usually at little or no cost 
to them, the property gets new finishes inside 
and out, extensive interior remodels in areas like 
the kitchen and baths, landscape and hardscape 

There is an informal presentation by designers, 
followed by a more formal review refining a 
cohesive overall design thread. Sometimes, 
the homeowner will elect to use an upgraded 
material, like hardwood floors over carpet, and 
those incremental costs will get negotiated.

Unusual things always happen, according to 
Saverino, and this home is no different. Every 
remodel is a guess and an estimate until you 
saw into a wall, or pull up the entire carpet. For 
instance, this year, the current family room used 
to be a garage. In working in the rooms above the 
old garage, they expected to see hardwood under 
the carpet, as a sample closet area with hardwood 
floors led them to believe. 

“Some communities, like La Cañada Flintridge 
may help us out by forgiving the work permit 
costs, those stickers required on the trucks.” 
Construction permits are another matter, 
however, and are always a significant cost of 
the process. “It’s going to cost you $12 for a 
permit for every outlet or switch, and this 
cost is absorbed by the designer or general 

The Robbins House has over twenty design 
or contractor firms coordinating different 
interior areas this year. Designer Paul Devine 
of Interior Devine, a repeat “performer” year 
after year in this showcase “stage play”, is 
taking on a portion of the project again. This 
year, his firm will redesign the sleeping porch, 
a staircase and an upper hallway.

“We took the theme from the design painted 
on the three Murphy Beds built into the wall. 
They were painted with three ships, which we 
assume are the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria,” 
said Devine.

“There are areas in the molding, where I want 
to have my decorative artist, Ken Moffat, do 
scroll painting around the ships, to add more 
detail. In the heavy wooded ceiling, I want him 
to add painted scrollwork; to add ‘lipstick’ but 
not overdo it.”

“Our business, which is geared to both the 
decorator and art connoisseur as well as 
beginner aficionados, includes one of the 
largest collection of antique prints on the 
west coast” he continued, “as well as an 
impressive collection of vintage paintings. The 
gallery carries frame moldings from around 
the world, but we also make our own frame 
moldings,” he pointed out, allowing them to 
fully customize the look for the area, as well 
as add appropriate artwork throughout the 

“The theme for my space is all nautical, from 
mermaids and sea monsters to navigational 
charts”, he chuckled. We are loading these 
walls down with artwork, clustered and layered 
like a woman’s charm bracelet. The homeowner, 
of course, gets first right of refusal, but there will 
be plenty for sale.”

Devine has completed the minimal demolition 
in their area, removing old carpet, repairing 
and sanding the wood floors and preparing for 
the staining process. “Because the time is so 
compressed, as soon as one workman is finished, 
it’s next, next, next! They literally step on top of 
each other to get it all done on time” he reflected. 

Meanwhile, that same compressed timeline 
is repeated twenty times over with the other 
designers, all working in the same home, on the 
same deadline. 

Saverino reflected about the twofold objective of 
the event. “Our goals are to allow the designers 
showcase their best work,” he said, “and for 
PSHA to generate money for their organization.” 
So both sides work together. 

In some years, two charities work together for the 
month long event, such as with the Bodie House 
at Descanso Gardens and last year’s Red Cross 
Headquarters in Pasadena, the Craven Estate.

According to Saverino, designers and contractors 
often get hired based on personality. “When 
potential clients get to meet the Showcase house 
participants in person,” he said, “then see their 
work right in front of them, and get to hear them 
explain their process, it’s a win-win.” 

“It’s a great process, concluded Saverino. “They 
(PSHA) know what they’re doing, and it’s always 
a very successful show. The public responds 
very favorably. It really helps with their music 
programs and it really helps the designers to have 
their work seen.

Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts (PSHA) is 
a non-profit, all volunteer-run organization, 

bringing arts and music enrichment programs 
to the greater Pasadena area of Southern 
California. They have funded over $18 million 
dollars in gifts and grants supporting the Los 
Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert 
Hall, Hollywood Bowl, over sixty schools and 
other non-profit organizations for symphonic, 
cultural and educational programs plus the PSHA 
Instrumental Competition. 

Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts will be open 
April 15- May 13. Tickets, which cost $30-$40, can be 
purchased beginning Monday, February 13, online at 

Mario Saverino can be reached at 626.791-7653 or 
through their website, Visit 
Interior Devine at 20 S. Oakland, Pasadena, or contact 
them at 626-795-5025 or


2012 Showcase House of Design – 

The Robbins House in La Cañada Flintridge


 If you own or plan to 
purchase a home, then 
you know that insurance 
is not just a luxury, it’s a 
requirement. While you 
should not skimp on certain 
coverage items, there are 
some steps you can take 
to reduce your overall 

 If you have a security 
system installed (and 
operating!), you might lower 
your premium by 5% or 
more. You’ll just need to 
provide your insurer with 
a copy of your contract or 
latest statement. Also, while 
newer homes have smoke 
alarms already installed, 
hooking them up in an older 
home might also reduce your 
premium by as much as 10%.

 Just like health or auto 
insurance, if you increase 
your deductible on 
homeowners insurance, 
you’ll reduce your premium. 
Just be sure you’re prepared 
to pocket smaller repairs like 
broken windows or damages 
from leaks.

 If your policy is held by a 
company that also offers 
auto or health insurance, 
look into discounts for 
multiple policies. You could 
save a percentage on both 
your homeowners and auto 
policies, for example.

 Another money (and 
time and stress) saver is to 
document everything in your 
home with a photographic 
inventory. Store photos, cds 
or videos in a fireproof box 
or, preferably, a safe deposit 
box off site, better yet, look 
into online back-up services. 
This will reduce the time and 
effort required to complete 
a claim, and guarantee 
an accurate replacement 

 Luther Tsinoglou has been 
licensed and practicing real estate 
since 1992. He specializes in 
residential and income property in 
Southern California. Luther can 
be reached at his direct line (626) 
695-8650 or at luther@tsinoglou.



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