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Home Tours Add a New Dimension to Life

Wendy Miller is editor of Calendar Weekend's Ventura Edition

A home or garden tour can do for a dull weekend what a good catalog can do for a crummy Monday night: really perk things up.

The catalog has the advantage of being in the mailbox when you get home. There in the privacy of your own kitchen, you can sit in an old bathrobe, sip tea and in a state of full greed, engage in solitary fantasies of compulsive spending.

With a home or garden tour, where you visit houses that have been professionally dolled up or yards that have been fully coiffed and blow-dried, you need to get into a car and drive someplace. And you have to control the natural but embarrassing impulse to openly lust after another person’s things. But once there, you get to have a three-dimensional experience, which many of us still prefer, cyber nerds notwithstanding.

Josef Woodard, an ardent home-tour veteran, wrote this week’s centerpiece story on New West Symphony’s Design House ’98 (Page 40) in Camarillo. Also a cyber nerd, Woodard believes home tours and cyberspace have a lot in common.

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“Going to the Design House is like surfing the net,” he said, “but instead of going from site to site, you go from room to room in a house that has a really fascinating but strange composite identity.”

While the designers agree to a theme, he said, “each brings his or her own private whims to the experience. Since all are artists, they need to express their individuality. The sum effect can be a bit surreal.”

For Jane Hulse, who wrote about the annual Ojai Garden Tour (Page 7), the appeal wasn’t in stealing some time to indulge in fantasies, but in seeing the ordinary turned extraordinary.

“The guy who did a pond in his front yard,” said Hulse, “took a small yard and did a really spectacular job. And the people with the three adjoining yards did the work themselves; they didn’t hire professionals. They have been out there getting their hands dirty.”

Pass me that catalog, will you?


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