Sunday, May 30, 2010

Amid the oaks, a work of art

A major addition blends seamlessly with the original 1927 showpiece in the intricately detailed Casa de Los Robles in San Marino.

Casa de Los Robles
A long driveway leads to the San Marino house, which sits on more than 2 acres. (Susanne Hayek)

It literally means "house of the oaks," but make no mistake: Casa de los Robles is a house of details.

Including stenciled beams in the dining room and a tiled ceiling in the kitchen, this three-story Spanish Colonial Revival in San Marino contains one intricate detail after another that, together, make the home a painstakingly crafted work of art.

Casa de los Robles gets its name from the 70 oak trees lining the property. The 2 acres of grounds are reminiscent of a private park: tranquil and shady and containing two ponds, five fountains and gardens designed so that something is always in bloom.

Built in 1927 by renowned Southern California architect Henry Palmer Sabin, the original structure was a two-story, 10-room house that cost $35,644, according to Altadena-based building biographer Tim Gregory. Sabin, who lived in the home with wife Dorothea until his death in 1956, also designed the Pasadena Hall of Justice and the Earhart Laboratory at Caltech.

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The current owners — the fourth in the home's 83-year history — bought it in 1999 and spent six years on a massive renovation, adding 4,000 square feet while keeping the flavor of Sabin's vision. The result is a seamless transition between the historic structure and the newly added breezeway, kitchen and adjacent great room, main level bedroom and expanded master suite. Among the additions are barrel ceilings in the kitchen and one bedroom, a signature Sabin design.

The lower level contains a wine tasting room, garage and home theater that seats up to 18. It also has a caretaker's suite with its own bathroom and private entrance. The main level includes the living room, library, dining room, kitchen, great room and a two-bedroom suite. Upstairs is the master suite and four additional bedrooms. All upstairs bedrooms have their own bathroom, and all but one have a balcony.

The spacious master suite is 1,800 square feet, including a sitting room, bedroom and octagonal vestibule connecting the two, with walls made to look like Venetian plaster. The bedroom opens up to a covered balcony with panoramic views of Mount Wilson and the San Gabriel Mountains. An adjacent sleeping porch can be used as a nursery or workout room.

Skylights, picture windows and French doors flood the interior with natural light. Spanish-style tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms display dozens of patterns, yet create a cohesiveness throughout the home.

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

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