Discover downtown for the holidays

by: Vern Uyetake, The Tercek’s backyard, above, is muti-tiered for entertaining.

Grab your girlfriends. Invite the neighbors. Spend a day with your spouse.

And prepare to have fun, get a little exercise and get decorating ideas while benefiting others. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy the 2008 Lake Oswego Junior Women's Club Holiday Home Tour Dec. 4. And tour organizers say the event is just plain 'fun.'

Now in its 15th year, the event will showcase six eclectic homes from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. within close proximity and decked with holiday cheer.

'The whole essence of our tour this year is living and working in the downtown area,' said Holiday Home Tour chair Shari Newman of the downtown Lake Oswego homes featured. 'All the houses are within two miles of each other.'

The tour benefits women's and children's charities and is a signature event of the non-profit organization founded in 1974. Through three yearly fund-raising events - Holiday Home Tour, Lake Run and Helping Handbags - the club has raised more than $1.6 million for local women's and children's charities as well as scholarships given to graduating seniors from the Lake Oswego School District.

'It's going to be fun,' said LOJWC President Lauren Retzlaff. 'It always is.'

Sneak peek of the homes

Wilkins-Foster Home:

Etta Wilkins-Foster and Jeff Foster's home in First Addition looks like a museum. Collectables from here and there and some passed down from generations are displayed proudly on the mantle and on the piano - and in nooks and crannies in the three bedrooms.

'We decided we liked having stuff from our childhood around the house,' said Etta. 'It makes us feel comfortable.'

And the couple - and their two children - are right at home in their 1,980 square foot home originally built by Charlie and Millie Sadilek who opened Lake Oswego's first bank - Oswego State Bank - where the Tillamook Ice Creamery and Restaurant is now.

The couple's love of color, unique items and retro-furniture may be in part because they are both artists; Etta is a graphic artist and Jeff is an illustrator.

'I'm just sending this off to Finland right now,' Jeff said of the logo he designed for the Finish lottery, Veikkaus. 'It's like the Oregon lottery.'

A leather sofa and chairs in the family room were designed by Norman Zimmer who founded the Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership that designed the KOIN Tower. Everything in the house - vintage signs, a rug made out of polyester pants, pictures and lighting fixtures - tell a story.

Within the master bathroom, a large red door has been given a new life.

'This is the door from an old store front,' Etta said, of the glass door leading to a closet. 'The door swings both ways.'

Also on the property is a large studio in the backyard, a treehouse and the home of Etta's mother.

Swartz Home:

Ed Swartz has built and remodeled many homes in Lake Oswego with his design/build/construction business ESCM, Inc. But, it is his own home within the First Addition neighborhood where he can showcase his personal collection of Asian artwork and cargo chests, a gold gilded chest and love for open floorplans.

Built in 2007, Swartz and his wife, Lisa, created a 3,650 square foot escape that blends contemporary furnishings with rustic wrought iron details, antiqued black granite and with warmth from reclaimed lighting fixtures and hardware.

Two patios - one with a fire pit and one with a garden - give the couple and their two girls room to play. The main floor study blends Art Deco and retro Hollywood glamour and proves that mixing and matching fine furnishings and fabrics is always in style.

Tercek Home:

John and Kathy Tercek agreed that they began building a 6,800 square foot home in 1999 on Oswego Lake in an English tutor style but ended up also incorporating Old World charm.

'We took our time designing the home,' said Kathy. 'And we've had so much fun living here.'

Designed by architect Curt Olson and Olson Group Architects, the exterior of the home - with stucco, wood, stone and rustic details - foreshadows what's inside.

Modern amenities - such as appliances, a lower level wine cellar and theater room - blend with details like exposed timbers and hearty fireplaces that appear to have been there forever.

John's building company - Stoneridge Custom Homes - has a reputation for building luxury homes in Lake Oswego. Just a walk down the curved staircase to the lower level explains why.

Breezy conversation areas extend outdoors when sliding doors disappear, revealing a multi-tiered backyard with a pool with waterfalls, hot tub, covered bar and outdoor fireplace with seating. Oswego Lake is the focal point from most rooms in the house and the backyard's multi-layered entertaining spaces overlooking the water only makes the setting more tranquil.

Hosfield Home:

Located directly next door to the Tercek's home is the lakefront European villa belonging to George and Monica Hosfield. Built in 2002, this home was originally constructed by Tercek's company and later remodeled for the Hosfield's to incorporate an altered exterior, lower level finishes and extensive slate patio and rooftop terrace overlooking the water.

'Before there was lawn and different wrought iron and no stone,' said Monica of the backyard.

Inside, limestone floors, chandeliers, a formal dining room with views of a fountain, floor to ceiling bookshelves and ceilings with exposed beams create a timeless look.

A three foot chocolate Santa from Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut will be displayed in the kitchen and raffle tickets will be sold to see who can take him home, said LOJWC member Ann Tucker.

'The house is overkill on Christmas,' Monica said. 'My dad is from Switzerland and my mom is from Germany. It was a big deal in our house to always have Christmas everywhere. This year, a friend of mine has a 1950s Santa sleigh that's going to make an appearance.'

While the couples' two grown children enjoy lake recreation, the home also allows George and Monica to remain kids at heart -with plenty of water sports, an enticing media room and playful holiday decorations.

Poorman Home:

Situated on a cul-de-sac within walking distance of downtown Lake Oswego, Jay and Laurie Poorman's 3,100 square foot Northwest Contemporary home is surrounded by gardens - and the inside is alive with 'a zen-like calm,' Tucker said.

Built in 1955, the home was remodeled in 2005 and offers plenty of space for the Poorman's and their two college-age daughters. When entertaining, the family has plenty of options - the living and dining room with vaulted ceilings and views of wetlands, a more casual custom-built table and benches neaby, and a spacious kitchen and cozy alcoves decorated with contemporary artwork.

Notice the different color schemes in each room - a hot pink bathroom, navy media room and caramel-colored grass-colored walls in the master, said Tucker.

Ayre Home:

Soft arches frame a collection of antiques from around the world at David and Katie Ayre's home in the Forest Hills neighborhood. The 7,000 square foot traditional home was constructed in 2007 for the family of five.

The Ayres have lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Connecticut and combine treasures from abroad with new furniture, drapery and design selections thanks to the help of designers at Designs of the Interior in Lake Oswego. Tucker said the great room is 'brilliantly lit by two-story windows.' This room - with its blue, rust and gold color palette - seems to reach the sky. The brick fireplace extends floor to ceiling.

The home features a media/library room, two-story grand foyer, formal dining room with a marble fireplace and crystal chandelier, light wainscoting details throughout and a garage containing David's collection of classic cars and motorcycles.

The home's timeless architecture and antiques mixed with modern amenities and glamour create a sense of celebrating old traditions with new friends and family.

And isn't that what the holidays - and Holiday Home Tour - are all about, after all?