Sea­son’s greet­ings in four dis­tinct styles

An­nual Christ­mas home tour a feel-good week­end of trees, tin­sel, mu­sic and a boost to Ro­tary Club projects

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - JANIS WAL­LACE

If the re­tail dis­plays haven’t put you in the hol­i­day mood, the St. Thomas Ro­tary Christ­mas tour of homes of­fers to do so.

The 23rd an­nual tour opens the doors to four homes dec­o­rated by lo­cal florists and de­sign­ers Fri­day to Sun­day. It’s a feel-good week­end of trees, tin­sel and mu­sic to sup­port many of the Ro­tary Club’s projects.

Start with the can­dle­light Fri­day night pre­view, or gather a group of friends and wend your way around El­gin County dur­ing the day. Here are 10 high­lights to get the most from your tour.

Va­ri­ety of house styles as sea­sonal set­tings: The homes this year in­clude a cen­tury cot­tage ex­panded into a lux­u­ri­ous all-year home; a ranch filled with an­tiques; a spa­cious cus­tom-built house; and a new model home fea­tur­ing many up­grades. The tour also in­cludes the CASO (Canada South­ern) rail­way sta­tion where par­tic­i­pants can re­lax over a cup of hot cider and see four trees done up in dif­fer­ent styles by lo­cal de­sign­ers.

Va­ri­ety of dec­o­rat­ing styles: There’s a place for ev­ery taste, from coastal teal and aqua­ma­rine, to shore and waves in blues, sandy brown and cream. The model home is a blank can­vas for Berry Hill Ltd. Vis­i­tors also will want to check out the en­ergy ef­fi­cien­cies of the net-zero com­plete home. The fourth house shows how to in­cor­po­rate an­tiques into a 21st-cen­tury house.

A first-time old-time ap­proach: This year, one of the home­own­ers also is the dec­o­ra­tor for her home. “It is to­tally fur­nished with an­tiques the own­ers bought any­where you can buy and re­fin­ish your­self,” said tour or­ga­nizer Pa­tri­cia Mar­tyn.

Use of non-tra­di­tional colours: Two houses fea­ture cool hues, not the usual red and green. Her­itage Gar­den Gallery will show how to be cre­ative with a teal coastal vibe and how to work with unique as­pects of a cus­tom house.

Themes for dif­fer­ent rooms: One house has seven bed­rooms that re­flect the Mediter­ranean taste of pre­vi­ous own­ers and the Vic­to­rian pieces the cur­rent owner brought from their farm­house. The colours vary, too, from or­ange and yel­low to pink. Some houses will in­clude chil­dren’s rooms. Often, de­sign­ers dec­o­rate a tree in each room to show match­ing themes.

Sim­plify the decor: Casa del Lago in Port Stan­ley be­gan as a on­e­storey cot­tage in 1910, mor­phed into a Mediter­ranean villa, took on some Vic­to­rian touches, and now serves as home, stu­dio and entertaining cen­tre for June and Ross Ayrhart. They re­moved walls, open­ing the in­te­rior up to the panoramic view of Lake Erie. They also uni­fied the main level by re­mov­ing brick, paint­ing the walls a sooth­ing blue (Just Charm­ing by Beauty Tone) and adding art and ac­cents of sail­ing and ports from their trav­els around the world.

Bring the out­side in­doors: Rose Caris, cre­ative de­signer for McLen­nan Flow­ers and Gifts, wanted to make the most of the lake­side set­ting. “The blue is unique,” said Caris. She moved the tree to the side of the win­dow, and chose or­na­ments that echo sand and wa­ter and the fur­nish­ings: soft blue balls, white berries and crys­tal sprays, and burlap poin­set­tias with clus­ters of sil­ver bells in the cen­tre. She chose the burlap for its sim­i­lar­ity to sand in tex­ture and colour.

Open con­cept means co-or­di­nated decor: “When you have an open con­cept, the colours all have to blend in,” said Caris. From the din­ing ta­ble, to the kitchen is­land to the tree in the sit­ting room, she shows how to use the colours to unify with­out merely do­ing the same thing in each area.

Do-it-your­self ideas: How to trim a tree, how to co-or­di­nate an open area or give new life to an old side­board — the tour is chock full of fun ideas to take home and try. “Peo­ple are go­ing to see things they can do them­selves,” said Caris.

Do some gift shop­ping with a bid on silent auc­tion items: Sup­port from the tour funds projects in the com­mu­nity and around the world, such as the clean wa­ter project in Cameroon, the Ro­tary Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in St. Thomas, and the YMCA’s Strong Kids pro­gram.

IF YOU GO

What: 23rd an­nual Christ­mas tour of homes by Ro­tary Club of St. Thomas

When: Fri­day, 6-9 p.m.; Satur­day and Sun­day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: CASO Sta­tion, 750 Tal­bot St., St. Thomas

• 21 Glen­view Court, St. Thomas

• 8 Bir­chall Lane, St. Thomas

• 83 Shaw Val­ley Dr., St. Thomas

• 204 Ade­laide St., Port Stan­ley

Tick­ets: $18 in ad­vance at Berry Hill Ltd., McLen­nan Flow­ers and Gifts, Her­itage Gallery and Fern­lea Flow­ers; $20 at the door.

MIKE HENSEN/POST­MEDIA NEWS

June Ayrhart, owner of one of four homes on this week­end’s St. Thomas Ro­tary Tour of Homes, and tour or­ga­nizer Pa­tri­cia Mar­tyn dis­cuss how dec­o­ra­tions on the tree in the Port Stan­ley home re­flect its lake­side set­ting.

The lat­est dec­o­rat­ing trends will be on dis­play at the St. Thomas Ro­tary Christ­mas homes tour.

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