House-tour fundraiser goes next week­end

Five house­holds to open homes for ‘Help Phone’


Bianca Fusco Zanatta isn’t think­ing twice about open­ing up her pala­tial Van­cou­ver home to hun­dreds of strangers at the end of the month: She ap­proached Kids Help Phone to take part in its fifth an­nual Homes for the Hol­i­days fundraiser.

“I at­tended last year and since I love help­ing kids, I thought to my­self, this is a great fit,” Fusco Zanatta says. “I am in­volved in the Girls and Boys Club and we host a Christ­mas party ev­ery year for about 80 chil­dren from the east­side.

“To open my house for Homes for the Hol­i­days is some­thing that I can do to help more chil­dren in need, and that is re­ally the ic­ing on the cake for me.”

The yearly event pairs in­te­rior de­sign­ers with five home­own­ers to cre­ate fab­u­lous Christ­mas show­pieces, of­fer­ing the pub­lic a chance to view gor­geous homes and pick up a hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing tip or two.

Fusco Zanatta’s res­i­dence has not re­ceived an out­side-de­signer treat­ment. It has been lav­ishly decked out for the hol­i­days by Fusco Zanatta, her­self an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor.

An 11-foot spruce, dec­o­rated with fam­ily heir­looms and home­spun dec­o­ra­tions, greets vis­i­tors from the foyer. Hand-painted na­tiv­ity scenes on the ta­ble in the foyer com­pete for at­ten­tion.

Many of the fam­ily’s or­na­ments have been handed down through gen­er­a­tions. Oth­ers have been found in shops and gar­den stores.

She care­fully picks up an old Water­ford green Christ­mas ball with a ruby in the cen­tre, which came from her beloved grand­mother.

Fusco Zanatta be­jew­elled the din­ing room fire­place man­tel in red vel­vet, bur­gundy and gold or­na­ments and two gold can­dle­sticks, cre­at­ing an eye­catch­ing fo­cal point.

In the kitchen, the elves have been in­dus­tri­ously pre­par­ing the ginger­bread house with candy and hol­i­day treats.

To cre­ate a lit­tle more drama, Fusco Zanatta’s alabaster chan­de­liers in the kitchen and din­ing room are fes­tooned with gar­lands and lights.

In the study, guests can re­flect on the true mean­ing of Christ­mas with her hand-blown col­lec­tion of the Twelve Days of Christ­mas glass or­na­ments.

Be­sides the hall­way tree, there are two other Christ­mas trees, all with their own theme. The liv­ing room tree is all bur­gundy and gold, adorned with rein­deers, over­sized red balls and gold bows, keep­ing with the decor of the for­mal room, while the fam­ily room tree is adorned with large golden and sil­ver balls and lots of tiny clear lights.

With the help of Ker­ris­dale’s Thomas Hobbs Florists by Mau­reen Sul­li­van, the din­ing room ta­ble is adorned with stun­ning flo­ral cen­ter­pieces burst­ing with deep red, white and green.

Dressed for Christ­mas Eve’s din­ner, the ta­ble is set with Ver­sace’s china and crys­tal­ware for 12.

The out­side is ded­i­cated to the child­hood won­der of Christ­mas and na­ture. On the ledge of the kitchen pa­tio stand minia­ture pine trees, while the wrought-iron chairs’ cush­ions are wrapped to look like Christ­mas presents. Out­side the guest house are two life-sized nutcrack­ers (from 12-yearold son An­gelo’s col­lec­tion of 68 nutcrack­ers). In­side, there’s St. Nick’s work­shop, fes­tooned with elves busily en­sur­ing all good lit­tle boys and girls wake up to a Merry Christ­mas.

For those lucky first 100 vis­i­tors, there will be home­made panet­tone, a kind of Ital­ian loaf, by Bella Ca­ter­ing.

“Adri­ana Vescovi [from Bella Ca­ter­ing] used to be the chef at Um­berto’s for 15 years and she even taught at his villa in Italy,” Fusco Zanatta says.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the Kids Help Phone tour hope to raise $50,000 from this year’s fundraiser. The four pre­vi­ous tours raised more than $180,000.

“ Each year, we have a bal­ance of homes, large and small, tra­di­tional and mod­ern, all with dif­fer­ent themes,” Kathie Jag­ger of Kids Help Phone re­ports. “Also, this event raises aware­ness of Kids Help Phone.”

(Last year, coun­sel­lors helped chil­dren in 256 B.C. com­mu­ni­ties more than 192,000 times by phone and on­line. Across Canada, there were 2.2 mil­lion calls for help).

“We are find­ing that the econ­omy has cre­ated lots of stress for kids and that even more chil­dren are reach­ing out to us for help,” Jag­ger says. “We have about 100 full-time and part-time pro­fes­sional coun­sel­lors work­ing for us.”

Kids phone for many rea­sons, rang­ing from is­sues with school, dat­ing and fam­ily, to ad­dic­tion, abuse and sui­cide.

“Our coun­sel­lors are highly trained and they of­fer hope to chil­dren in need,” says Jag­ger. “We can also re­fer them to more than 5,800 com­mu­nity and so­cial ser­vices to help chil­dren con­nect with the help they need right in their own com­mu­nity.”

This year’s Homes for the Hol­i­days tour takes place Nov. 28 and 29 from noon to 5 p.m. A pass­port for self-guided tours costs $40. To pur­chase tick­ets, call the Kids Help Phone at 604-2677057 or visit kid­shelp­­forthe­hol­i­days on the In­ter­net.


Bianca Fusco Zanatta’s home will be among five show­cased in Homes for the Hol­i­days, a sea­sonal fundraiser for Kids Help Phone. Fusco Zanatta, an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor, has dressed her home — in and out — with the magic of Christ­mas. The din­ing room ta­ble...

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