Courtney Thomas
July 20, 2023

A Primary Suite Adventure at The Pasadena Showcase House 

Designing the primary suite for the Pasadena Showcase House was an exciting opportunity to step outside our comfort zone. With a style that tends to lean traditional, this 1930’s grand colonial home felt right up our alley. A Showcase Houses is no place for safe, familiar designs. We challenged ourselves creatively and presented a design that our clients (past and future) may not expect from us. We imagined a space that was equal parts daring and serene. This primary suite is unique and unlike anything in our project portfolio. This primary suite tells a story of adventure outside our comfort zone. For the 2023 Pasadena Showcase House, we met challenges with grace and raced against the clock. 

green bedroom antique furniture colonial home

Finding Design Inspiration for the Primary Suite

We wanted to do something fun in this space. With a showcase house, you have no actual client. With this challenge, we imagined a client who had traveled to Southern Africa region on their honeymoon, because that’s always been a dream vacation of ours. We transported ourselves to that place and imagines a trip full of adventure, romance, relaxation, and wonder. We wanted their primary suite to reflect that. The result is a room that acts as a living reminder of their passion for travel, luxury, adventure, and animals. Even as they grow their family, the primary suite is full of nostalgia for them. This couples’ suite is luxuriously furnished. The room offers respite from a busy and often chaotic life. 

poster bed antique rug artwork footed ottomans

A Serene Bedroom Oasis

When you walk into the primary suite bedroom you submerge yourself in a serene oasis of green . You find calm instantly by the singular floor-to-ceiling hues. Echoing the essence of the African bush, we encased the room with grasscloth wallpaper. The grand four poster mahogany bed is a nod to the home’s Colonial roots, reminders of the antique furnishings they saw on their travels through Africa. The original marble fireplace that sits across the room balances the chocolate and taupe colors of the bed.

bedroom fireplace chocolate marble green walls grass mirror

Primary Bedroom Layout and Flow

Firstly, the suite features an unusual L-shape layout which gave us the perfect opportunity to divide its use of space. The bedroom features an alcoved area for work, a place for rest, a spot for conversation by a fire and a quiet nook to read, as well as a place to watch TV and even enjoy a glass of wine from the mini fridge.

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primary bedroom sitting area soft serene sofa roman shades green bedroom

Not to mention, the dreamy window treatments under sloped, low roofs reminded us of those you might have found in a suite on a 1950’s steamer ship. In place of views across blue oceans, these windows reveal greenery that goes on for miles. It’s the perfect place to reflect and take in the beauty of this grand colonial estate.

primary bedroom desk alcove custom shades green antique furniture colonial window view

African Jungle Bathroom Wallpaper 

The bathroom is where the African theme is really turned up a notch. The view from the bedroom towards the dressing hallway, in addition to the bathroom beyond, is where you pick up your first glimpse of our jungle themed wallpaper. It is a dramatic and inspired print that sets the tone for the rest of the bathroom.

primary bathroom lilac marble african jungle wallpaper soaking tub shower niche grooved marble

Fun Fact: The bathroom wallpaper in our adventurer primary suite represents the Savuti region in Botswana. 

Custom Crafted Bathroom Vanities

Of course, it’s hard to ignore one of the most distinct features in the primary suite bathroom, the custom vanities. With their honed Calacatta Viola counters, inset brass details and walnut fluted cabinet panels, they mimic the formal furniture pieces in our bedroom. For example, we offset their formality with playful additions of fringed rattan vanity mirrors and monkey cabinet hardware. 

primary suite bathroom custom walnut vanities grooved brass lilac marble viola grass mirror design

Below is a sketch we drew for the cabinetmaker. On the surface, the vanity looks almost like an antique. However, not pictured are the extra deep bucket drawers inside which address modern lifestyle storage needs.

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Lilac Marble in the Primary Bathroom

Continue through the primary bathroom and discover all of the natural stone elements in the primary bathroom have African lilac veining. Not only the shower and counters, but also the mosaic tile floors, the tub niche and the baseboards. The purple tones pair perfectly with regal, french brass faucets and onyx light fixtures. Also, the fluted woodwork in the custom vanities brings character and richness to their bearing. However, it is the shower’s grooved lilac tile that commands the most attention. The 12×24 marble tile pieces were hand selected and artistically arranged to look like the view from under a tree on the African savannah. 

pasadena showcase house primary bathroom suite shower marble lilac grooved tile brass shower marble bench

A Test of Grit at the Showcase House

As you might believe, designing a primary suite for a showcase house requires incessant patience and grit. In other words, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. How it works is that each designer funds their own project, hires their own construction team and directs their team of vendors while coordinating with the showcase board, volunteers and, of course, the homeowner. In addition, this year’s schedule seemed particularly grueling. Furthermore, a road bump in the logistics meant we almost had to pull ourselves out of the running. But we’re not quitters! After some toughening up, we started to battle off the challenges with grace (not necessarily ease). 

Designing this adventurous primary suite really was a journey. Like any good journey, it was a test of strength, patience, and determination. In conclusion, there is a sea of people to thank so we’ll just say — you know who you are. We are beyond grateful to have your support! As a bonus, we also learned a lot about Botswana’s incredible natural beauty and we may just have to start planning a trip! 

If you’re ready to go on a design adventure of your own with Courtney Thomas Design, submit your project details here

primary suite bathroom tub alcove soacking tub jungle wallpaper african lilac brass tub filler mosaic tile floor serene adventurous design


Kravet, Cowtan & Tout, Cole & Son, Woodbridge Furniture, Noir Furniture, Saatva, Rubin Rugs, Regina Andrew, Mission West Kitchen and Bath, Elements Room, Hudson Valley Lighting, Hydro Systems, Icera, Newport Brass, Scalamandre, Schumacher, Dunn Edwards, The Linen House, and more!

Courtney Thomas Luxury Interior Design Services

Courtney Thomas, ASID

Principal & Lead Designer

My job is to make spaces functional in their layout, comfortable in their use, inspirational in their style and luxurious in their appointment. In that order. For that one moment after installation, the pictures are perfect.

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Courtney Thomas Lead Designer