Nestled in the park-like grounds of the Santa Anita Oaks neighborhood of Arcadia, California is an historic 1937 Federal-style home—Locke House— designed by architect, Gerard Rae Colcord, known as “Hollywood society’s architect.” The home is modeled after an East Coast country estate.
In 2020, Locke House was chosen to be the Pasadena Showcase House of Design. Now in its 56th year, the venerable showcase is one of the longest-running house and garden tours in the country. The 6,700 square-foot home was reinterpreted by 17 interior designers and four exterior designers and was an opportunity to completely reimagine what the home could be, more than 80 years after it was built.
In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Jhoiey Ramirez to learn more about her creative process in designing a master bedroom, master bath, dressing room and closet for this project.
Inside the Showhouse with Jhoiey Ramirez
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Jhoiey Ramirez: We had a late start. We weren’t assigned the room until mid to late February, and we had lofty plans that required moving walls, plumbing and electricity. And with the pandemic slowing everything down since March, it took us well into July to finish.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a “Eureka!” moment during the process?
Jhoiey: Almost every moment was a “Eureka!” moment in this project. The biggest challenge was making sure that it was a perfect marriage with the traditional Federal details of the house and our modern aesthetic. The eclecticism that we are introducing is not just pleasing but an aesthetic that brings that sense of glamour back into the home.
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Jhoiey: The pandemic was both a curse and a blessing in our case. We were very particular on the plumbing fixtures and finishes and especially the tile, And some of the items had a long lead time, as they are new to market and shipping from Italy (in the case of the tile) and Argentina (in the case of the plumbing fixtures). The extended work months enabled us to not settle on any of our choices. We also have very specific details on our slab installation and millwork, had it not been for the pandemic, we would have had to water down how we achieved those details.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Jhoiey: The inspiration for this suite is the home’s architecture, the location, and the era when it was originally designed and built. The late ’30s is a period when Arcadia/Pasadena was having its renaissance. They were developing all the bowling greens, gardens and greenery all throughout town. It was a very glamorous period, and the architects were designing homes for Hollywood elites. It gave us a passport to transport all those elements into one cohesive story of today’s aspirational lifestyle. Addressing all the necessities a primary suite may need: a desk area, the bed, a conversation area, a lounge area, bar for a nightcap, his and hers dressing room, tub, steam shower, infrared sauna, private water closet, his and hers vanity. All the many uses—in both activity and relaxation, in one unified gesture, served on a glamorous platter, bejeweled like a lady and distinct like a gentleman.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Jhoiey: Absolutely. We took on this project to completely step out of our comfort zone. This has been our biggest challenge thus far, as we have only designed spaces that are on the modern side of style. So to take on a Federal style home—and make sure we did not completely make it alien to the home—was in itself outside any known comfort zone for us as designers.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Jhoiey: It was a completely individual process for us, especially coming late to the game. We were not part of all the initial group meetings with the other designers, but we had a good leader (Jill Fosselman) that gave one very definite rule: respect the home’s architecture. With that one statement, we all understood that we cannot design in a silo. We need to let the architecture of the house speak to us, which I believe we all listened to.
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Jhoiey: We happen to have acquired one of the biggest interconnected spaces in the home, the suite consists of three main areas: bedroom, closet and bathroom. Both sizes create their own unique challenges, and—this being our first showcase house—we definitely went big and completely stretched our abilities in both design and construction.
aspire: Describe the town of Pasadena in one sentence.
Jhoiey: Pasadena has an inherent old world charm that is unique, and it’s quite enveloped by greenery.
“This or That?” with Jhoiey Ramirez
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Jhoiey: This one is hard. Depending on mood, really, I love both and can’t possibly choose.
aspire: Saturated color or black and white?
Jhoiey: Black and white.
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Jhoiey: Brunch so long it becomes dinner.
aspire: Mid-century or 18th Century?
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Jhoiey: 2001: A Space Odyssey.
aspire: Week at the spa or week of Broadway shows?
Jhoiey: I’ve done both and, depending on the time of year, I’m capable of both!
Want More Good Design?
Click Here to view more interviews with the designers of Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
Photography by Peter Valli.
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