The Crowd: House of Design showcases style and whimsy

If you ever dreamed of living in a 15,000 square foot Provencal stone villa perched on a rolling hillside surrounded by thousands of acres of open land, then a visit to the 2015 Philharmonic House of Design is a must.

The home design showcase, benefiting the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, opened May 2 with a gala evening preview for Philharmonic donors. The residence opened for public view May 5 and will remain available for tours through May 31.


Located in the exclusive enclave of Shady Canyon, Irvine, the 2015 House of Design is sponsored by South Coast Plaza and Coast Magazine. Tickets are either $40 for general admission or $50 for a House Pass — unlimited entry. Proceeds benefit the Philharmonic Society's Youth Music Education Programs.

The line-up of participating design professionals is impressive. Among the talent are John Benecke, Anne Figueroa, John Garcia, Wendy Ann Miller, Frank Pitman, Melinda Ritz, Wendi Young and Jeanine Veldhuis to name only a few.


On opening night the crowd enjoyed cocktails and food stations by Saltwater Catering while wandering the property — more than an acre — exploring the verdant grounds planted with 100-year-old olive trees, oaks and Melaleucas. A 75-foot lap pool, stadium tennis court, full court basketball area, theatre and incredible chef's kitchen raised plenty of eyebrows.

Of the nearly 20 room displays there was a tremendous variety of style, color, pattern and whimsy. From the elegant and formal traditional to the out-of-this-world modern, guests visited a piano room, outdoor furnished loggias, a rec room, his and hers offices, closets and dressing rooms, a romantic master suite and so much more.

For guests visiting through month's end, an onsite café by Saltwater Catering will provide dining choices. Venders will also be on the property offering the latest in design trends with merchandise available for purchase.

This season's benefit is chaired by Cindy Kornhaber with support from Philharmonic Committee President Linda England and Philharmonic President and artistic director John Magum. A very hard working committee of volunteers made the tour possible. Dedicated supporters include Dea Stanuszek, Kim Weddan and Sabra Bordas, real estate agent Rachel Swardstrom, who procured the residence, and volunteers numbering in the hundreds.


For more information visit or call (714) 840-7542.


A Chorus Line For The Children

Eighteen years and running, CHOC Follies brought down the curtain on another remarkable year. To date, more than 1,450 volunteers have sung and danced their hearts out to raise more than $7 million net for Children's Hospital Orange County.

Led by the indefatigable executive producer Gloria Zigner, CHOC Follies has rallied major community support involving the top 100 OC business and civic leaders helping to underwrite the long-running charitable effort. Zigner promised her audience that the follies will make it to its 20th anniversary in 2017.

The creative force acknowledged that without the support of significant donors Sandra Segerstrom Daniels, Dale Skiles, Sue Ann Cross as well as co-producer Lois Augustine, there would be no success. What is also a testament to the long run is the fact that the artistic team has never changed.

Directed by John Vaughan with music by Doug Austin and choreography by Lee Martino, it is unheard of in show biz that the same crew has worked together for 18 years.

Audiences cheered and proclaimed that the 2015 show "CHOCAGO: An Orange County Vaudeville of Guys, Dames, and Debutantes" may have been the best yet. Spotted in the opening night after the cast party were OC VIPs Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, celebrity chef Jamie Gwen and from the ABC TV show "Dancing With The Stars," Louis van Amstel.


By the close of the run in April on the boards of the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College more than $650,000 was raised for Children's Hospital Orange County. For the second year, proceeds will support the hospital's child life department of music therapy.

To learn more visit

THE CROWD runs Fridays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.