Sylvanus Marston was the quintessential architect of Pasadena, California’s Golden Age and this home, built in 1913, is a prime example of his genius for marrying grand scale with inviting warmth and comfort. Interior designer Amy Sklar was tasked with reimagining it for modern living for her clients, a couple with two young children. “We lovingly preserved and updated it,” she shares. “The interior is rich with original features including white cedar woodwork, oak floors, and period hardware and fixtures. The ultimate goal of this remodel was to honor the history and integrity of an over 100-year-old home while updating its functionality to suit a busy family of four with young kids.”
The living room features multi-paned casement windows, allowing natural light to flood in. There’s a Spanish inscription over the Batchelder fireplace, welcoming friends, while dual inglenooks flank the fireplace. Amy knew it would be a mistake to paint over the original woodwork, so to lighten the overall space, they went with a sofa upholstered in a high-performance ivory fabric and a white cactus silk rug. “Then we layered in bold colored graphic throw pillows with playful patterns, to make it feel more modern,” she says. “I found a vintage glass top coffee table with faux bamboo legs, that also helped lighten the room, and chose a pair of lounge chairs with open spindle backs in wood that connected with the wood built-ins but felt airy at the same time.”
The original kitchen had a seating area that took up a great deal of useable space. “We relocated the breakfast nook to what had previously been a mudroom to reclaim that space and create long runs of countertop and increase the functional space in the new design,” the designer explains. They also opened up the doorway into the new breakfast room to unify the spaces and doubled the size of the windows to allow for more natural light. “Another unique bit in this kitchen is the range under the windows, allowable by installing a downdraft behind the range, which itself is a piece of art. The original kitchen is not wide enough for a traditional island, so we opted for an antique French rectory table.”
There’s a downstairs office, which also had an original Batchelder fireplace. A freestanding desk would have taken up the entire space, eliminating the option for extra seating, so Amy designed a custom desk into an existing bookshelf with an inlaid leather fold-down top that could be tucked away when not in use. Two leather club chairs were brought in for cozy fireplace seating, and a TV is hidden away. “The art above the desk is actually a Samsung Frame flat-screen TV that looks like a piece of art when not in use! It’s my favorite of the new TV technology out there for sure!”
Originally, the second floor of the house had only two bathrooms, both Jack & Jill configurations. “Our challenge on that level was to carve out space for another bathroom and make each one en suite,” Amy recalls. “Not only were we able to that, but I love how much additional storage we were able to add to the primary bath, with new custom built-ins and an antique sideboard that I had made into a vanity.” This was a great feat, considering most older homes have original pedestal sinks—AKA zero storage whatsoever.
The project took about a year from start to finish, and the clients were incredibly happy at the end. Even with the original woodwork and fireplace details, the “Fresh Traditional” space doesn’t feel too heavy or dark. “The clients were so happy with what we were able to achieve, and how we managed to update the house, but still retain all of its charm and character,” she concludes.