There is something deliciously energizing about having permission to peep behind the curtains of a luxurious home and imagine sipping morning coffee in the garden with your favorite weekend guests.
The Greater Fort Worth Builders Association invites you to do just that at its 21st Annual Kaleidoscope of Homes, Saturday through Sept. 25, in three fully furnished homes showcasing state-of-the-art technology and the latest trends in materials, design and colors.
Better yet, ticket sales benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, a North Texas landmark medical facility celebrating its 90th anniversary.
All the houses are in Montserrat West Fort Worth Estates, a gated enclave that perches on the chalky bluffs high above Mary's Creek. Known for several sprawling estates and spectacular views, Montserrat features homes that begin at $500,000.
Hermoso Castillo at
4804 Sidonia Court
The smallest of the homes on the Kaleidoscope Tour is a roomy 4,132-square-foot, four-bedroom, 4.5-bath, mission-style house built by HGC Residential Development and priced at $849,000.
"The whole industry is trending down in size," says interior designer Celeste Wegman, who has long done HGC's interiors. But HGC and Wegman, as head of the design team, have created a serene harbor for the harried soul that feels anything but small.
Cross the herb garden and step into this airy sanctuary with its wash of blue color and oh-so-open floor plan, and you can almost smell the California coast. "Everyone's most relaxing moments are at the beach," says Wegman, who is always chasing that elusive element that makes a home feel like a refuge.
She finds some of it in the natural fabrics: linen for sofas and drapes, cotton and silk for slipcovered pieces and upholstery. No wonder she favors the no-fuss appeal of distressed furniture. "It's new but it feels like an antique -- it feels comforting," she says. "It doesn't matter if it gets another scratch."
But this house, with the master bedroom and a guest suite downstairs and two bedrooms and two baths up, also embraces the newest trends. There's nothing shiny here. Floors are tile, and kitchen countertops are honed white marble, not gleaming granite.
But don't miss the master bath's tub that fills from the ceiling -- a new twist on standard necessity.
Maison de la Normandie at 4800 Sidonia Court
Brothers Tim and Tom Bates of Glendarroch Homes packed plenty into their 4,800-square-foot French eclectic home, priced at $925,000. There are four bedrooms, 4.5 baths, four fireplaces (two inside and two out), a wine room and a game room that converts to a media room with the touch of button that blacks out windows and drops down a viewing screen. There's an outdoor cooking station and lots of covered porches. Thermador's "steam oven" is one of the newest innovations in the kitchen, along with faucets that turn off or on with a touch of a finger -- or an elbow.
"We wanted to put everything into smaller square footage and make it less expensive," says Tom Bates.
On the outside, this house is distinguished by a copper-roofed turret room that houses a bath for an upstairs bedroom, but inside, the ceilings set this home apart.
The brothers must like to look up, and so should those who visit this house. Massive beams decorate the living room's cathedral ceiling. A series of barrel ceilings span the dining room. A coffered ceiling caps the cozy study. But the most impressive ceilings are the series of groin vaults that span an entry gallery as well as the master bath.
Designers from Stacy Furniture and Design Studio (formerly Dorian's) used pale blues and golds for walls and dark wood for floors, and took inspiration from country French motifs.
The Seville at
4801 Sidonia Court
The largest home on the tour is Spanish revival priced at $899,000 and built by Village Homes. Measuring in at 5,540 square feet with four bedrooms, four full baths and two half-baths, builder Michael Dike says the house is built like a "Styrofoam cup," with foam insulation sprayed into the walls to shield against the elements.
That's interesting and energy-saving, but home-tour enthusiasts will be more excited about the three outdoor living areas: a courtyard paved with Saltillo tiles featuring a custom-designed wall fountain, a rear terrace with fireplace and cooking area and an upstairs terrace overlooking the back yard.
Interior designers Laurie Turner and Amy Biggs of Evangeline Antiques and Interiors anchored this light-filled home with dark oak floors and bathed the walls with pale blue and gray. They selected honed white travertine for kitchen countertops and painted the cabinets a soft gray tinged with green. They ordered grass cloth and wallpaper, an old trend that is new again, and designed ironwork for the stairway railings, the Juliette balcony over the front door and more.
A few days before the home tour opened, Lisa Evans and Suzanne Edgar of Stage Crew, a Dallas-based home- staging company, began outfitting the home with an eclectic mix of sisal rugs, Oriental carpets, antique finds, artwork and slick contemporary furniture.
"Right now everyone is interested in mixing the clean lines of modern pieces with antiques," Evans says. She steps back, studies the formal living room, then smiles. "This house is unique, but it feels so comfortable," she says.