Last year, I toured the house and workshops of celebrated woodworker Sam Maloof with my friends Jackie and Gilbert. A leader in the California modern arts movement, Maloof crafted furniture for over 50 years until his death in 2009 at the age of 93.
Nestled in a citrus grove in Alta Loma, California near the San Gabriel Mountains, the blue-roofed house features handcrafted fences, gates, door latches and a sumptuous spiral staircase. A favorite avocado tree’s fallen limb serves as a central beam in the upstairs “treehouse room” in the 22-room house.
Inside the house is a treasure chest of Maloof-crafted furniture. Most of his furniture is crafted from walnut, his favorite wood to work with. Every room pops with items from Sam’s and wife Alfreda’s worldwide travels that reflect the spirit of arts and crafts.
Maloof’s chairs have a curving grace and high shine and the natural wood grain is showcased – perfection in a thoughtfully worked piece of wood.
The California and Mediterranean native gardens imbue the property with a reflective space with benches, sculptures, and picnic areas for visitors.
Maloof’s work is displayed in the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, Boston Museum of Art and New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan owned Maloof rockers.
The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts is part of a coalition of 30 museums that were homes and working studios of American artists. The Maloof house and workshops were moved to this five-acre site in 1994 to make room for the 210 freeway extension.
Our visit to the historic Maloof house was a wonderful afternoon immersed in enjoying the work of an exceptional woodworker.
Docent lead public tour information available at: www.malooffoundation.org/visit.