Photo by Van-Martin Rowe, original photo on Houzz
Photo by Van-Martin Rowe, original photo on Houzz

[symple_heading style=”” title=”By Kelly Sanchez | Houzz” type=”h3″ font_size=”” text_align=”left” margin_top=”30″ margin_bottom=”30″ color=”undefined” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]

Van-Martin Rowe added his own unique contribution to the rich architectural heritage of Pasadena when he designed and built an “urban castle” for himself and his husband, Barry Storch. The landscape and interior designer took a nondescript two-bedroom, one-bath home and transformed it into a one-of-a-kind residence with details from the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia and Morocco.

Inspired by the sequoia that has stood on the property for more than a century, Rowe envisioned a house with an indoor-outdoor sensibility and a vertical emphasis, which more than doubled the existing structure’s square footage. Fourteen-foot ceilings give volume to the spaces, without sacrificing livability or comfort. “I tried to keep it so that it lived like a bigger house,” he says.

Two of seven towers lend a fanciful air to the house, while a tall hedge ensures privacy. Earth-toned textured stucco provides a link both to the earth and the surrounding neighborhood.

Rowe tucked the entrance door, which he had fabricated of steel with a bronze finish, into the hedge.

Cast-stone steps lead from the courtyard to the loggia, which is used year-round. Rowe finished the ceiling — inset here with skylights — in blue plaster to evoke those done in Roman times. The fans throughout are from the Modern Fan Company.

Flanked by cast-stone columns, the loggia remains open to the outdoors but is protected at the same time. Find Durable Patio Furniture.

Interspersed with vintage Malibu pieces, tile from Walker Zanger and Anne Sacks stands in for a carpet. “I always say a room should look incredible empty – that way it will look even more beautiful furnished,” explains Rowe, who also designed the chairs upholstered in golden mohair and the sofa.

Triple-glazed French terra-cotta tiles from Cavendish Grey were installed with large grout joints.

The furniture on the loggia can easily be removed to accommodate large dinner parties or to create an impromptu dance floor for parties. “Flexibility is very important to me,” says Rowe.

Glass doors from the loggia lead into the library, which features a reclaimed-oak floor. “It’s really practical for animals, children and guests,” says Rowe. “Children can and should learn to live with beautiful things around them.”

For the ceiling in the library, Rowe took his cue from artist James Turrell’s Quaker meeting house in Houston, TX. “Blue is a very healing color,” says Rowe. “Here it basically disappears at night.”

An antique telephone ladder hung from the ceiling provides access to the custom shelves, done in vertical-grain maple cabinetry with a mahogany finish. 11 Home Libraries Around the World.

The distressed plank floors continue in the kitchen, which Rowe designed for entertaining, with two Sub-Zero refrigerators and an extra-deep Thermador professional range. Rowe installed an oversize Viking hood liner and decorated it with terra-cotta tiles and set the cabinets six inches above the floor. “If you want something to look bigger, float it off the floor,” he says. “Otherwise, it stops the eye.”

Tile from Ann Sacks is offset by a terra-cotta piece from Eye of the Day Garden Design Center in Carpinteria, California.

“I wanted the master bedroom fireplace to look like a walk-in fireplace,” says Rowe. He raised the hearth so that the flames could be seen from the bed.

Outside the master bedroom, cantilevered beams drip water into the swimming pool, which doubles as a fountain. “I gave it a negative edge like a reflecting pool,” Rowe says. Get Inspired Before Starting Your Summer Pool Project.

Pagoda-like details ornament one of the towers. Of the blend of eclectic elements he used throughout the property, Rowe observes, “In music and fashion, you see people sampling all kinds of things, but in architecture, not so much. This house is such a personal expression of my life.”

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