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HOMEOWNERS - Edward and Patty Turrentine

HOME SITE - Pasadena, California

BUILT - 1904 – 1911

ACQUIRED - 1976, renovated "the next 12 or 15 years"

PROPERTY - 8,000 square feet plus adjoining 1,760-square-foot pavilion and two-bedroom guest apartment

BEDROOMS - Master suite and three additional bedroom suites

HIGHLIGHT - 27' x 45' ballroom with musician's balcony accessed via replica of Vanderbilt mansion's Swan staircase

FAVORITE AT-HOME PASTIME - Entertaining, from casual family barbecues to black-tie parties for several hundred guests

HOMEBUILDING TIP - "It is well worth the money to have an interior designer draw you a floor plan. Then, if you're doing it a little at a time like we did, you know what you need to do next. And you don't make so many mistakes."

The Elegant Library

Italian-inspired Conservatory

Pasadena, California — The Tuscan villa Edward and Patty Turrentine call home bears little resemblance to the Tuscan villa their Realtor first showed them 28 years ago.

"It needed a ton of work," says Patty. Sporadic remodeling efforts by previous owners had somewhat compromised the home's architectural integrity. But where others saw problems, Edward and Patty saw potential. "We'd never buy a house that's all done. The bigger the project, the better."

Drawing on Edward's professional design skills, they set about restoring the estate to its original grandeur — and then some. "We felt it was an elegant house," says Patty. "We just wanted to bring it back to and make it more than it was in the beginning."

Renovations were guided by their desire to maximize glamour while enhancing livability. Accordingly, they restored the home's most favorable features while stripping the kitchen and bath down "to bare bones."

Their efforts yielded an interesting surprise. When they broke into the living room wall, they discovered the remains of the marble mantel that had once graced the fireplace. "It took several years of looking to find a mantel of that size and quality," says Patty. "We finally located one in New York."

Built from 1904 to 1911, Edward and Patty have now restored this estate to its deserved glory. Shop Outdoor Living.

Restoration and remodeling kept them occupied for the next 12 to 15 years. There was "a lot of dirt and a lot of mess for a lot of years," Patty remembers. Yet even then, there was more to be done. "We're always working on the house. You never really finish."


Edward and Patty's first order of business after purchasing the house was to create a place for their two daughters and their daughters' friends to play. Working from the outside in, they ripped out the raised redwood pool deck and chain link fence, then reconfigured the kidney-shaped swimming pool so that it was rectangular, adding a black bottom to create the illusion of a reflecting pool.

Their next project was to integrate the landscape with the interior of the house. As it was, the French doors were situated a couple of feet above ground and couldn't be used to access the patio. To remedy the situation and improve traffic circulation, Patty and Edward raised the ground to floor level.

"We're always working on the house. You never really finish."

"Though a lot of people say our home is very formal," says Patty, "it was never a place where our kids and their friends couldn't run and scream. No one ever felt they couldn't sit on the sofa. We never took anything up or changed things around when the kids were little. People would say, 'How can you leave all this around? Don't things get broken?' Absolutely not. The kids knew which areas weren't for play, and they respected that. The housekeepers broke more things than the children." She pauses, then adds, "Ours were the only children who knew what Architectural Digest was in the second grade."

Their decision to convert the attic into a third-floor playroom was prompted by business concerns rather than breakage concerns. "Edward would call and say, 'I'm bringing over a client,' and I would be so embarrassed because I couldn't get the house together with so many toys strewn about. Up there, toys and dress-up clothes could be left out."

The playroom evolved along with the girls' interests. When they were putting on plays, dressing rooms facilitated costume changes. The sink, refrigerator, and hot plate came in handy for slumber parties.

The two walls that were mirrored when the youngsters were taking ballet later created the perfect atmosphere for the mirrored balls they hosted as teenagers. The pièce de résistance was the installation of Bobby Vinton's jukebox with 200 of his records that the singer shipped over as a gesture of appreciation for Edward's design assistance.

"We've had lots of fun times here," says Patty. "Everything the girls were involved in, we were involved in. Girl Scouts, swimming lessons, church groups, sorority parties — all their friends through all the ages loved coming here. We have very much enjoyed this house, all four of us. And I don't know how many other people from Pasadena and the surrounding areas!"

"Many different organizations in Los Angeles hold their benefits here. We have the space ... And it's lots of fun. We love it!"


Entertaining is a way of life for Edward and Patty, anything from casual backyard barbecues to black-tie dinner parties. They routinely open their home to his professional organizations and her cultural organizations, particularly for fundraising events.

"Tours, luncheons, benefits, theme dinners — many different organizations in Los Angeles hold their benefits here. We have the space — 300 people have been here. And it's lots of fun. We love it!"

When Edward and Patty renovated the kitchen, part of their intention was to make more room for caterers. Consequently, the kitchen was gutted and then expanded by removing two doorways and opening up several small adjacent rooms. They paid special attention to the counters, which had been so low that dishes couldn't be washed without bending over.

Commercial appliances were added in abundance: two ranges, two ovens, a huge refrigeration unit, and wine refrigeration for both reds and whites. The prep kitchen was equipped with a sink, trash compactor, marble pastry table, and plenty of counter space for caterers. "Now it's easy for a number of people to work here. And if we take the chairs away from the kitchen table, the caterers can use it as a prep table."

"We certainly use the kitchen for family," says Patty. "It's the room where the whole
family gathers." Shop Kitchen & Entertaining.

During the era the house was built, families generally ate in the dining room and only the servants spent time in the kitchen. Hence, the kitchen, while utilitarian, lacked warmth and coziness. Not so once the renovations were completed. "We certainly use the kitchen for family," says Patty. "It's the room where the whole family gathers. It has worked very well for us."


The Turrentines' taste in furniture runs the gamut from antiques and antique reproductions to contemporary. "We certainly have a mix of it in this house," says Patty. Drapery treatments, on the other hand, are consistently elaborate owing to the fact that Edward and Patty have their own drapery workroom. "We stand there and tell them how to make it," they laugh.

The conservatory may well be their favorite room, as well as the smallest. Yet architectural drawings handpainted on the walls between the archways make the room appear much larger, as though "you're in a piazza in Venice."

Glass-block ceilings and skylights illuminate the area with natural light, and the fireplace warms the room quickly on a chilly evening. "It's a cozy area for cocktails and conversation with friends," says Patty.

Walls in the pavilion guest house, which opens onto the pool, have their own trompe d'oeil effect. After being covered in sheet rock, they were built up and textured to look like giant slabs of stone, then handpainted accordingly. Elegance notwithstanding, the pavilion's upholstered furnishings get along beautifully with wet bathing suits.


On occasion, Edward and Patty even entertain in the master suite, which opens onto the solarium. Edward salvaged the solid carved-marble bathtub and matching marble window trim from a beautiful old home that was being demolished. Trouble was, the tub was so massive, they had to knock out an exterior wall, have it lifted into place by a crane, then rebuild the walls.

The result was well worth the effort. "The beige Italian marble with all the black and gold trim is stunning," says Patty. "It looks like the entry hall of the Waldorf Astoria."


When you're decorating or remodeling, Edward strongly recommends starting with a floor plan, which includes architectural changes and construction, furniture placement, fabric, and window treatments as well as background considerations. Are the walls to be painted or papered? Will floors be stained or carpeted?

"It's well worth the money to have an interior designer draw and design a floor plan. It gives you a base to build from. Then if you have to do it a little at a time, like we did, you know what to do next because you have a plan. And if you happen to run across something you need, a certain kind of chair, you can go ahead and purchase it, because it's all down in the plan."

Before talking with a designer, Edward first suggests going through magazines and cutting out pictures of things you like. Visiting paint stores and selecting colors that appeal to you is also good preparation.

"You have to do a lot of looking and deciding," he says, emphasizing that "a floor plan is THE best way to go. That way, you don't make so many mistakes."


In Edward's eyes, the house would never be complete until a ballroom was added. It was to be their final and most extensive remodeling project.

"Edward had always wanted a ballroom," sys Patty. "Homes similar to ours built in Newport, Washington, and elsewhere in the 20's and 30's had magnificent ballrooms. Ours didn't, so we built one."

The Turrentines were issued the first ballroom building permit in the city of Los Angeles since 1928.
Shop Furnishings & Décor.

The room was to measure 27 feet x 45 feet, and there was to be a musician's balcony, accessed by a replica of the Swan staircase in the Vanderbilt mansion. Edward purchased pilasters from a building being torn down outside Paris, France, and made molds of them for use in his ballroom.

Raised paneled walls and molding were painted and washed with two added colors. Touches of gold leaf were added here and there, then mostly wiped away before the sealer was applied.

"Edward is good at creating special effects," says Patty. "He's good at drawing and explaining what he wants, and he stands there while the work is being done."

All the wrought iron was designed by Edward and made on the property. To give it an aged and somewhat worn appearance, the iron was washed with acid and finished with a little bit of gold leaf to make it sparkle. "The ballroom looks as if it were always here," says Patty. "People have no idea we added it."

With both daughters having married this year, Edward and Patty are looking for a smaller place to live, something the size of their pavilion guest house. They've already planned their farewell party — a final grand ball in the ballroom.

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