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In the Spotlight: The light-filled Laguna Hills residence of Dean Corey, executive director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, and his wife, Kaly, service director at the Center Club in Costa Mesa.

The golden-colored, 2,100-square-foot house is at once a refuge and a recreational outlet for the Coreys, each of whom is apt to spend upward of 10 hours each day on their jobs.

For them, home is where they can share the calm or cook up a storm for their performing-arts-loving friends.


“In our professions, we get to hear a lot of fabulous music, meet a lot of great people--but we both also love to be home,” Kaly said.

The home they wanted: Married for two years, the Coreys were sharing an apartment when, during a neighborhood walk in the fall of 1999, they came upon the house that would become their permanent residence.

With its honey-toned exterior, the Italian Mediterranean-style dwelling stands out in an area where mostly cream-colored residences are the order of the day.

“I took paint chips to Italy to match the color [to one of the structures] there,” said Kaly, 42, whose ever-present attention to detail is appreciated in Orange County’s private dining circles. “I didn’t want it to look like every other house on the block.”

The couple was immediately drawn to the 10-year-old home’s roomy kitchen, with its generous bay window.

“It was so open, so light, we fell in love with it,” Kaly said on a recent morning as sunlight bathed the bouquet of fresh lavender she’d placed on the kitchen table.


They also appreciated the home’s corner orientation and the resulting garden areas that rimmed its exterior. Walk out the French doors in the dining room, for example, and you’re standing on a patio area that leads past the living room, kitchen and family room.

Sound of music: The sound of orchestral music pours from a Bose radio as the Coreys take you on a tour of their house, which includes an office where Dean’s favorite pastime is composing music on a computer. Using a program dubbed Sibelius, he has begun a piano concerto he calls “a complicated piece.”

Amazingly, the computer can play back the work that Dean--at a pace of “about a bar a day”--has written during the past two months.

“I think about the concerto, come in and work on it,” he said. “It’s kind of like macrame; you enjoy it a little at a time.”

The sound of music “regulates a household--adds balance,” Dean, 53, said. “Sometimes, when I find myself too involved with the fund-raising side of my job, I get downtrodden, feel overwhelmed. And when I put some classical music on, I remember, ‘Oh yes! This is what [the philharmonic] is about; this is why we’re working so hard.’ ”

Walls that talk: Colorful, framed posters commemorating the couple’s travels to Italy, Scotland, Austria and England dot the walls of the Corey household.


“They bring back some of our very happy times together,” Kaly said.

On each of their wedding anniversaries, the couple has added antique watercolors to the collection, including a depiction of Salzburg, where the couple goes each summer to attend its famed music festival.

Time for romance: For the Coreys, sharing their culinary expertise is a special way they please each other.

“I’m spoiled,” Kaly said. “When I came home after a long day at the club on New Year’s Eve, Dean had dinner waiting for me.”

Using recipes from “The French Laundry Cookbook,” by chef Thomas Keller, which Kaly had given him for Christmas, Dean prepared canapes with caviar, lobster crepes and filets with wine sauce.

When Kaly whips up something in the kitchen for Dean, it’s always special, he said. “She’s a wonderful cook.”

But it’s not the cookbooks they read when they climb into bed at night. “Dean reads me fairy tales,” Kaly said, smiling. “He’s a very romantic guy.”


* Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at