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Homes for the Holidays : Old Tustin Walking Tour Steps Back in Time With a Big Theme Effort

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A few thousand people are expected to be oohing and aahing Sept. 28 as they troop through Stevens House, the centerpiece of five homes on display during the Old Tustin Walking Tour.

The turreted Victorian house--with its etched and leaded glass windows, intricately detailed wood molding, sparkling chandeliers and hand-carved fireplace mantel--has that ooh and aah effect on people.

In addition to the home’s permanent features, tour-goers will receive an extra treat: Professional interior designers have decorated for a turn-of-the-century New Year’s Day party. A pair of antique ruby lustres, shimmering with the kind of light-bending prisms that Hayley Mills discovered in the movie “Pollyanna,” will highlight a table set with antique silver and china.

The four other houses on the tour, sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, also have a theme. It is Thanksgiving at Ferry House, an example of California Monterey architecture built in 1928, and Christmas at Shatto House, a Colonial Revival built in 1907. Martin House, a 106-year-old example of Greek Revival, is ready for Halloween.

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A wedding dinner party is about to take place at Almond House, a new house built to look like a Cape Cod Colonial. There, visitors will see dining room chairs covered in fine net tulle drawn into big bows that trail the floor like a bridal train, fabric-draped kitchen countertops pressed into service as a buffet, layered lace tablecloths festooned with strings of pearls and windows topped with artfully arranged branches of dried honeysuckle.

What they won’t see is all the work that went on behind the scenes.

Fifteen designers have spent hundreds of hours tracking down rugs, silver and china, and persuading nursery owners to donate garlands of greenery, bakeries to create gratis wedding cakes and antique car owners to park their cars in front of the homes to help set the scene.

The Old Tustin Tour is a first for the local ASID chapter, but its members are not strangers to home tours. Last December they decorated the 23-room Philharmonic House of Design in Santa Ana.

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Designer Erin Honeycombe of Tustin, who co-chaired the walking tour with Lisa Weber of Fullerton, began knocking on residents’ doors months ago to invite them to participate in the project.

“We were flattered,” said Mary Almond, who owns the 9-year-old Almond House, “because we built the house to look old and they thought it was.”

Her husband, Al, built a trellis specifically to serve as a backdrop for a five-layer wedding cake to be displayed in the kitchen. He and Mary plan to be in the house during the tour along with their son, who will dress as a groom, and their daughter, who will be dressed as a flower girl.

At $15 a ticket, ASID hopes to raise $30,000 for three groups: The Sheepfold, a Tustin shelter for battered women and their children; Children of the Night, a Los Angeles-based program to help child prostitutes get off the streets, and the society’s own education fund.

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Home tours are plentiful in Orange County and most of them benefit local charities.

Washington Square, an area of Santa Ana north of Civic Center Drive and west of Flower Street, and Old Towne Orange will be the sites of two separate home tours Oct. 5 and 6. The Santa Ana tour features seven houses, some from the 1920’s. The Orange tour, sponsored by Old Towne Preservation Assn., will take the public through five period homes, a Victorian church and a commercial building on a 2-mile walking tour.

Four custom-built homes in Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills and the Hillcrest section of Orange will be the focus of the 16th annual Halo of Homes tour Oct. 18, sponsored by the Littlest Angel Guild of Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Tabletop, floral and patio designs highlight the homes.

Homes selected for such tours are impressive, even before the designers enter the scene. How do they enhance a house that’s already opulent?

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“You have to work with what’s there; you can’t change the flooring or the wall covering,” said designer Deanna Rousseau of Santa Ana, who decorated the Almond House dining room with designer Susan Mitchell of Santa Ana.

To let in more light, they took down the dining room window coverings and replaced them with bunched and draped tulle topped with silk flowers. They kept the Almonds’ dining room furniture, covering it in trailing white tulle but brought in a room-size petit point rug with pink flowers on a white background. A padded white screen was also added.

At Stevens House, Lynn Smith and Bill Kiefer, both based in Tustin, went shopping at Ginny’s Antiques in Tustin to find Victorian accents. “She has a whole armoire full of lace tablecloths. It was hard to pick just one or two,” Smith said. “And the ruby lustres just sort of said ‘Take me.’ ”

“In Celebration of Old Tustin Walking Tour,” 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 28. Tour begins at 228 W. Main St., Tustin. $15. Tickets available in advance by calling (714) 643-1549 or (714) 998-5669 and on tour day at Stevens Square Gazebo, Main and C streets.

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Washington Square (Santa Ana) tour Oct. 5 and 6. Tickets $6 pre-sale and senior citizen and $7 on tour day. Information: (714) 835-8783.

Old Towne Orange home tour sponsored by Old Towne Preservation Assn., Oct. 5 and 6. $10. Tickets available at City Hall the day of tour or by calling (714) 997-1863.

“Halo of Homes” tour sponsored by the Littlest Angel Guild of Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Oct. 18, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, Hillcrest section of Orange, gift fair, refreshments. $18. Tickets and information: (714) 996-7953.


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