Touring The Palisades

PPWC 33rd Annual Home Tour Spotlights Classic Craftsman and Contemporary Flair

By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer

The Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club 33rd Annual Home Tour came packed with surprises—from breathtaking ocean views to walls adorned with signed Ansel Adams prints to Superman- and Beatles-themed private chambers.

Originally planned for Veterans Day 2018 but delayed after the outbreak of the Woolsey and Hill fires, the January 20 Home Tour went off without a hitch, according to organizers, on a gloriously sunny Palisades day, despite the preceding week of rain storms.

“Home Tour was a wonderful experience,” PPWC President Robin Weitz told the Palisadian-Post. “We showcased a variety of amazing homes and provided tourists an opportunity to experience what it’s like to live in fabulous homes.”

On the Sunday tour, the Woman’s Club was able to open up a quartet of El Medio Bluffs structures—including a Craftsman home, a postmodern “Mystery House” and a hillside beach pad dubbed the Gallery Home—to the touring public. At the sites, docents and homeowners, as well as the landscape architects, interior designers and architects who worked on the homes, answered visitors’ questions.

A team of Palisades Charter High School ambassadors assisted guests on and off the shuttles from the high school to the featured houses, such as the 1949 Craftsman home, which the current owner had purchased in 1999. The corner house has been expanded with three renovation projects—the most notable being the creation of a fitness center in the former outdoor space between the main house and the garage.

Between the sunburst wooden beams girding the dining room ceiling and the stylish six bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths, the house mesmerized many visitors. Docent Kit Festa explained that the owner collects black-and-white photos, and much wall space is devoted to signed original prints by Ansel Adams and Umberto Daniello, an Italian neo-realist he had discovered on one of his many trips to Capri.

One of the Craftsman house’s greatest aspects was its Japanese influence, echoed in some of the home’s detailing—including curbside landscaping and the replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright chandelier hanging over the atrium staircase—but, most breathtakingly, the lush, bamboo-lined garden.

The Gallery Home earned its nickname because the person leasing this beachside pad owns art galleries in Paris and on Melrose Avenue. Indeed, the interior housed European paintings and furniture.

Originally built in 1947, the beach house has seen its two bedrooms expanded to five in the 1960s and ’70s. On one of the house’s multiple decks, LaFAZ—a trio of Pali High and Paul Revere Charter Middle School ninth- and eighth-grade musicians—performed classical compositions as tourists wandered the rooms and ample outer spaces with Pacific Ocean views.

The Parisian owner of the olive green house told the Post that she intends to open up the home for openings and artist-residence stays this summer.

The centerpiece home of the afternoon was the domicile described as the “Mystery House.” At the architecturally stylish residence awaited May Sung, founder of Pacific Palisades-based SUBU Design Architecture, who interior designed the place.

A 1996 Fulbright Fellow, the Palisadian, whose custom work has included the Rockwell PCH in Pacific Palisades as well as hotel projects such as La Serena Villas hotel in Palm Springs, told the Post that she worked on the postmodern contemporary Cape Cod-style domicile for three years as it awaited its permits and approvals from entities such as the California Coastal Commission.

Sung hired San Francisco-based Jiun Ho Inc. to execute the dining room furniture and also used utilitarian, easy-to-wipe-down plastic furniture for the patio to minimalist effect.

With “an interior/outdoor space that really bleeds into each other,” Sung said her goal was to take advantage of the backyard view. She employed an overall black-and-white motif that extends to the street-facing exterior.

“Black helps recess the volume,” she said.

As for the soft greys and blues she introduced into the interior’s color scheme, “It’s reflective of the Los Angeles skies,” said Sung, who additionally seized on the family’s heritage, history and interests in designing the lavish home’s interior. A cartoon-y wall map nearby reflected the roots and travels of the residents—Jewish dad, Taiwanese mom and their three children.

Sung paid additional attention to detail in devising their respective home offices, including a Beatles-filled one for Dad. The younger boy, an artist fond of comics, has a Superman bedroom modeled after the DC superhero, which featured an art deco phone booth design on the closet door and a wall mural with a silhouette of the Man of Steel flying high over the Metropolis skyline. In the master bathroom, Sung employed Thassos marble floor tiling and Waterworks fixtures.

In addition to the three houses, there was a “Cover.Build” home prototype at Pali High: a permitted building that an owner can install in the backyard and use as an art or music studio, or guest apartment.

Following the event, organizers and participants considered the Home Tour a success.

“I was very impressed with the caliber of visitors,” Sung said. “Many of them were very knowledgeable about architecture and space. Not only were there visitors from the neighborhood, there were also international visitors from as far away as Australia and Scotland.”

Weitz added that PPWC is excited to be able to support grants for several local nonprofit organizations in education, arts, recreation, community and beautification.

PPWC will host its Grant Awards Night on Tuesday, March 5.