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HOME OF THE WEEK : This post-and-beam glows : Remodel stays faithful to its architects' novel vision

November 15, 2009|Darrell Satzman

Tucked amid some of Pasadena's most opulent estates in the South Arroyo neighborhood is a rare post-and-beam home that has undergone extensive remodeling yet remains faithful to its architects' experimental vision.

Walls of glass, simple materials, wide-open interiors and seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces are the distinguishing characteristics. The effect is a home that rests delicately upon the landscape and seems to glow with a soft, warm light in evening hours.

The additions were overseen in large part by famed modernist Whitney Smith, a Case Study architect who also happened to be the brother of the original owner. The home was built for insurance man Robert Smith and his wife, Jane, in 1951 by Pasadena modernist architects Eugene Weston and Douglas Byles, the latter having served an apprenticeship under Whitney Smith. Smith then served as architect for a 1,000-square-foot addition completed in 1964, according to Pasadena-based building biographer Tim Gregory, who researched the home's history.

Positioned well off the street and surrounded on three sides by towering eucalyptus, the home is oriented toward the south and sits on flat ground in a setting that maximizes natural light and privacy. In front, a single curving oak tree stands in elegant contrast to landscaping that is all right angles -- squares and rectangles of lawn and gravel that mimic the home's clean lines.

A glass-tiled entry offers views into all of the home's common living spaces. The light-filled living room, dining room and kitchen feature glass walls and doors that open to a patio with a recently added lap pool and spa. A rectangular planter runs the length of the pool and doubles as a waterfall, offering a continuous soundtrack of gently flowing water.

The updated kitchen is outfitted with stainless-steel appliances, marble counters and a center island. All of the home's bathrooms also have been updated with marble floors and counters, tile and European fixtures.

Down a short hallway to the left of the entry, the home's master bedroom has higher ceilings than the other rooms and glass doors that open to a private garden and koi pond along one side of the property. Like the other bedrooms, it features exposed, flat beams and clerestory windows for light and cross ventilation. All of the bedrooms -- two of which are connected by pocket doors -- have views of the lush Arroyo landscape.


To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos with caption and credit information on a CD and a detailed description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012. Questions may be sent to



In the South Arroyo neighborhood

Location: 320 San Miguel Road, Pasadena 91105

Asking price: $1,795,000

Previously sold for: $1,665,000 in 2005

Size: Four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,760 square feet

Lot size: 11,292 square feet

Additional features: White maple floors, saline heated pool and spa, dual-zoned cooling and heating, gas-burning fireplace, a two-vehicle carport that has been updated with an electronic door on the front side.

Around the neighborhood: Through the third quarter, 70 single-family homes sold in the 91105 ZIP Code, according to MDA DataQuick, at a median price of $900,000. That was an 18.2% price drop from the first half of 2008. There were 56 homes listed for sale last week in 91105 on priced from $495,000 to $4.5 million.

Listing agent: Georges Rouveyrol, Sotheby's International Realty, (626) 229-0909

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