Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 1, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 12



 Mountain Views News Saturday, September 1, 2012 

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

Just listed, this custom home is located on 
a broad, quiet cul de sac that runs up to the 
San Gabriel Mountains. It is situated on a 
street named Toyon, for the distinctive native 
tree that dots these foothills with its bright 
red berries that suggest its other names, 
Christmas berry or California holly.

The current owners lovingly renovated 
the property in 2002, literally from top to 
bottom; from the steel roof to the dramatic 
angled flooring that visually extends and expands the rooms. Just these 
two features indicate the care and planning that went into the choice of 
every material and design throughout.

 It is a home that feels much larger than 2,262 square feet. There is 
an open floor plan, offering a casual great room, with the stunning 
kitchen (one of two) open to the sumptuous living area, which then 
opens to the dining pavilion and pool through French doors.

The gorgeous cherry and granite main kitchen offers a six burner, 
Thermador professional stove with pot filler, plus other high end 
appliances, including Dacor, Fisher and Paykel, Bosch and Sub Zero. 
The center island accentuates the attention to detail throughout, with 
scalloped edges. Hand painted Italian tiles detail the tumbled marble 
backsplash in the butler’s kitchen.

 The formal dining room, with a built-in hutch and marble accents for 
display and storage, offers peaceful treetop views of the valley below.

The floor plan was further tailored with an extraordinary master suite. 
A bedroom sized master closet was fully customized, and offers two 
separate bathrooms, one with a jetted tub, and the other featuring a 
steam shower and dual vanities.

 A very private bedroom suite, with its own private balcony, is accessed through the butler’s kitchen 
area. This combination offers a perfect solution for extended family, teenage or guest quarters.

 The landscape was designed by Lew Watanabe, whose name comes to many residents’ lips when asked 
about a short list of notable Sierra Madreans. Known as both a driving force and fixture in his beloved 
foothill town, this self described “landscape artist” lived in Sierra Madre for over 45 years. Dozens of 
articles and even a book, Master of Stone and Light, chronicle his inspired work.

Watanabe incorporated two of his signature weeping walls into this home’s landscape, where monoliths 
of rough hewn granite offer strategically drilled holes to recirculate water up through the interior of the 
granite, causing them to “weep” with gentle, soothing sound, sparkle and movement.

 You can see one of Watanabe’s most recent “weeping walls” at the LA Arboretum in Arcadia, a wall 
and monolith at Descanso Gardens in La Canada, which also displays Watanabe’s work refurbishing 
the Japanese Tea garden there, in Memorial Park, a monument to the town’s pastors who’ve passed in 
Pioneer Cemetery, the landscape at the West entrance to the city on Sierra Madre Blvd., the Gooden 
School garden at N. Baldwin and Laurel plus the restored Japanese Friendship Garden at Sierra Madre 
Elementary School.

 The back yard offers consummate seclusion, surrounded by mature conifers and dotted with tropical 
palms. It includes an expansive, shaded dining pavilion with two outdoor ceiling fans to gently cool 
guests on even the warmest days.

 The extensive brick and boulder detail extends to the brick built-in barbecue and serving stations. The 
yard wraps around to a gorgeous pool area, bordered by perennial flowers and lush, low maintenance 
grasses, which don’t require mowing.

About ¾ mile from 
the charming bustle of 
coffee shops, bistros 
and boutiques of quaint 
downtown Sierra 
Madre, the home enjoys 
the natural rise and 
fall of nature’s music, 
assisted by Watanabe’s 
two water features, 
the rustle of trees, and 
the call of birds, and is 
about ½ mile from two 
major hiking trails, at 
Bailey Canyon the Mt. 
Wilson Trail.

340 Toyon in Sierra Madre 
is offered at $1,025,000 by 
Reni Rose of Prudential 
California Realty, also in 
Sierra Madre. For more 
information and photos, 
or contact Rose at 626-




When you buy a home, or just make an offer, you will encounter the term "escrow account." 
Like making a friendly bet and asking a third party to hold the wager money, the "escrow 
agent" is the neutral party that holds funds in the interest of the mortgage lender and the 

When the terms of the purchase and loan agreements have been met, the money is released. 
When your application is approved and the loan takes effect, the lender will likely require 
money for property taxes and homeowner's insurance also to be held in escrow. These funds 
are added to your monthly mortgage payment and disbursed when the tax and insurance 
bills are due.

This protects the lender by ensuring a lien isn't placed against your property for non-payment 
of taxes, and your home (their collateral) is protected against catastrophe. But escrow 
also benefits borrowers by spreading the large annual payments for taxes and insurance over 
twelve months.

For example, if your taxes are $1,600 per year and your insurance is $800, you're budgeting 
a reasonable $200 per month instead of making two big payments. Escrow accounts do not 
earn interest, so if you make a large enough downpayment, you may be able to avoid the 
monthly escrow and pay the bills directly. Ask your agent and your lender about the pros 
and cons.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: