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Home for the holidays

by: Vern Uyetake, The Best’s living room overlooks Oswego Lake and incorporates different prints, textures and colors.

What do holiday-decorated homes, local business and charities, yummy treats and a splash of wine have in common?

Well, it sure makes for a fun day in Lake Oswego.

The holidays are all about gathering, giving thanks and helping those in need. Fourteen years ago the Lake Oswego Junior Women's Club created a seasonal event that has become a community staple of good cheer.

The LOJWC 14th annual Holiday Home Tour will take place Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The tour benefits women's and children's charities and will feature four local homes - spread between Dunthorpe, North Shore, Skylands and Lake Grove.

The LOJWC is a volunteer non-profit organization founded in 1974 to support women's and children's charities in Clackamas County and the Portland metropolitan area. Through three fund-raising events - Holiday Home Tour, Lake Run and Helping Handbags - the club has raised more than $1.6 million for charity and given scholarships to graduating seniors from the Lake Oswego School District.

Step inside the tour homes

The Johnson Home: Jeff and Amye Johnson's 1929 Dutch Colonial home is cozy, yet roomy enough for their three kids and then some - just like they used to entertain in the south.

As charming as the storybook house made famous from the Father of the Bride movies, this 4,000-square-foot house is an elegant blend of traditional and modern accents, amid a soft blue, beige and creamy white color pallet. The family moved to Portland from Texas years ago, but found their love of the Northwest when they moved to this Dunthorpe home.

'My husband said if we're going to live in Oregon, we're going to 'live in Oregon' - amid the trees. It's very wooded and we're on an acre of flat ground. This house feels like the house I grew up in,' Amye Johnson said.

But the house wasn't always as glamorous as it is today. Attractive, yes - but not functional for modern living.

'Before it was a box - four bedrooms in each corner,' Johnson said. 'Everyone was really sympathetic for eight and a half years when we were sharing one bathroom.'

Much of 2007 was dedicated to a new 980-square-foot wing - crafting space for gourmet cooking, a master suite upstairs and more bathrooms.

'I wanted to build space that we could live in,' Johnson said. 'Now, we truly live in the whole new part of the house that we never had before.'

The home is symetrical. French doors lead between sunrooms, dining rooms and the new kitchen. A formal dining room wrapped in sunny yellow walls features an original built-in hutch. Crystal doorknobs serve as accent pieces throughout the home.

A skylight above the stairs illuminates the pathway up to three childrens' bedrooms and a new master suite. The daughters' bedroom contains family heirlooms while the boys' rooms represent their love for Texas football and baseball.

While the Johnsons are still adjusting to their newly found space, the Southern charm radiating from the home wasn't compromised.

'I've got that new home space without that new home look,' Johnson said.

The Poloni Home: Nestled atop a hill overlooking Mt. Hood, the home belonging to Jim and Jennifer Poloni and their two sons combines a variety of textures such as walnut plank floors, ironwork, dark cabinetry and light millwork.

With a rich color scheme - dark chocolates, caramels, reds and creams - the 4,800-square-foot Skylands home is as grand as a golf clubhouse, and features French and European accents. Leather couches and plush chairs are ready to sink into. The traditional home was built in 1981 and purchased by the Polonis in 2006.

After an extensive remodel, the home now incorporates a stunning kitchen with double chandeliers and exposed beams above, a guest suite and library. The formal home is perfect for entertaining and will feature items from Al's Garden Center of Sherwood, Chocolates by Bernared Callebaut, linens by French Quarter and some furnishings by Designs of the Interior, according to the LOJWC.

The Best Home: Sleek lines and contemporary decor in black, crème and taupe set the stage at Gary and Robin Best's home on North Shore Road. Upon entering the 7,500-square-foot home, the black granite floor with tiny gold particles illuminates from a wall of windows in the vaulted living room.

'At night when the lights are on it, the gold flecks sparkle,' Robin Best said. 'It's pretty neat.'

A sweeping staircase at the left leads to the master suite - which encompasses the entire upstairs area. The three-story home is build upon a sloped lot on Oswego Lake that is surrounded by trees, waterfalls, bamboo and outdoor places to sit and converse. The home is truly an extension of the landscaping - patios with fire pits seat company comfortably, pathways twist down to the lake and windows frame nature in each room like artwork.

Built in 1996, the home was purchased by the Bests in 2006 and the family completed renovations this year. Traditional and contemporary furnishings take center stage and fireplaces are always a glance away because there are so many.

'We're really casual but we have lots of parties,' Best said. 'Even though this house is a contemporary design, it's very cozy.'

Just past the formal living and dining rooms, the kitchen includes bird's eye maple cabinets, granite counters and tile floors. Glass doors lead to a heated deck, perfect for late summer night and fall soirees.

Beneath the home's main level is a media room, wine room and bedrooms. An apartment equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom is located above the garage so guests have plenty of privacy.

Best said she is excited to share her home on the tour and give back to the community that has given her family so much.

'It's a new experience for us - and for a good cause,' Best said.

Best said their time spent in Lake Oswego has been overwhelming, and they've made so many amazing friends.

'The friendships that we have here,' she said, 'are beyond anything we've ever expected.'

The Allen Home: Ann Tucker, magazine co-chair and member of the LOJWC, described Ken and Kathy Allen's Lake Grove home as a fairytale and charming secret waiting to be discovered.

With plenty of interior greenery as well as tall oak trees surrounding the stone and shingle façade, the home is really an experience, rather than a structure. And seeing green is only half of the splendor, the residence is a sustainable, 'green,' home. Eco-friendly materials and design abound, Tucker said.

Oversized windows on the main floor and light tubes on the second floor fill rooms with natural light while all wool and sisal carpet is made without harsh dyes, formaldehyde or other chemicals and is biodegradable.

Stucco walls are insulated fashionably - with denim jeans, which also deaden sound from traveling through walls.

The Allens and their four sons enjoy the great room with a fireplace, open kitchen and plenty of space for good conversation. Furniture by Designs of the Interior is incorporated into the living area.

Notice the painted cabinets and cedar bead-board ceiling in the kitchen, anchored by Italian marble counters and recycled butcher-block made from FSC stewarded wood, according to Tucker.

The second story of the home encompasses an area for three bedrooms and a media room as well as a master retreat with private study overlooking a couryard.

Guests of the Holiday Home Tour are invited to donate to a Christmas family sponsorship program in conjunction with Horizon Communiy Church/Horizon Christian Schools of Tualatin. Christmas trees will fill the Allen's courtyard and each will be designated for a particular family in need.

To conclude the tour, wine tasting, cheese and sweets by Moonstruck Chocolate Company and music by the Kate Davie Trio will take place at Oswego Hills Vineyard and Winery in West Linn for a Jingle Mingle. Ivy wreaths and topiaries - in addition to jewelry, holiday gift-wrap and stocking stuffers from local businesses - will be available for purchase.

'I think this is going to be a great year,' said Chandra Terry, LOJWC member and co-chair of the tour. 'There's plenty of variety.'

This year the Annie Ross House, Community Transitional School, Girl's inc., Parrot Creek Child and Family Services and Yolanda House of the YMCA will benefit from the purchase of a Holiday Home Tour Ticket. House addresses and shuttle service information will be provided on each ticket.

To learn more about the Lake Oswego Junior Women's Club, visit its Web site at www.lojwc.org. For more information about Oswego Hills Winery, visit www.oswegohills.com.