|With its redwood cladding and contrasting gull-wing roofline, the Ridgeline residence perches high above Pasadena, with breathtaking views of the city below. Constructed in 1967 by Mortimer J. Matthews, the original post and beam structure allowed for floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, providing flexibility and visual connection to the surrounding landscape.
Design for the major renovation and addition began in late summer 2008, and focused on preserving the distinctive cruciform plan and folded roof planes, while strategically lifting portions of the roof to bring in more light and add interior square footage. The primary challenges were to maximize the visual and circulatory connections between inside and out and to filter natural light to the central axis, all while maintaining the midcentury character of the interior. Removal of several interior partitions united dark, disengaged spaces into one open great room where the family spends most of its time, and where floor-to-ceiling sliding glass walls blur the distinctions between landscape and room. A semi-enclosed private master bath courtyard additionally draws the landscape in with a glass curtainwall that disappears into the restored redwood siding, tying the old and new together. The west end of the house was elongated and exterior siding removed and replaced with full-height glass doors and clerestories to capture the west light and direct it inward through the bedrooms and interior hallway toward the more public areas of the house.
While the midcentury plan capitalized on the stunning 200-degree city views, the reorganization of the program introduced new connections to southern and western exposures, and opportunities for a more private indoor-outdoor “room.” The kitchen and family room face out to a newly designed pool and deck, with built-in acid-washed concrete seating and barbeque areas interspersed with elevated succulent planters, creating a dialogue between interior and exterior sitting and cooking spaces. A new trellis and lifted roof embrace these areas, the heart of the family’s living space. New plantings at the deck and throughout the site provide softness and articulate public and private zones, while an expansive new turf field beyond becomes a sustainable playground overlooking the entire site.
The materiality of the 1960s design was critical to both the restoration and addition, as many areas, particularly the exterior, had not been touched in half a century. The client also wished to bring the house up to current fire safety standards: original glazing was replaced; decaying redwood siding was removed and restored; exterior eave detailing references the original interior black and white reveals. Inside, original teak millwork was restored to its natural glow, and its character reinforced with new, custom-designed complimentary pieces throughout. New clean, white terrazzo and stark, polished concrete floors marry a contemporary aesthetic with the home’s midcentury spirit.
A sensitivity to and understanding of the house’s original structure and materiality allowed the renovation and addition to preserve the finest characteristics of an iconic Pasadena home while improving the functionality and quality of the living spaces for a modern family.