By Denise Picard
What make the Ojai Holiday Home Look In unique is that the four houses selected for the tour are decked out to welcome the holiday season. This year, four inspired local designers will drive their talent over the top.
When you think of flowers and plants decoration, the Ojai Valley Garden Club comes to mind. From their membership comes a number of eclectic designers who will work as a team on the home, Arte et Labore. “Because the home has so many beautiful pieces, art and tile, the most stunning arrangements will be outside,” says Rena Randall, club president.“First of all, visitors will be greeted by Santa’s car loaded with gifts — a restored 1953 Curtis Roadster!”
Copper, greens and natural colors will be used inside the house. The outdoor dining table will be set for Christmas dinner with old silver and cream colors — white lights and silver balls above in the tree.
Darwin McCredie attended Architecture School at UC Berkeley, followed by 28 years split between two large architecture and interiors firms in San Francisco. This professional experience informed McCredie’s approach to architecture and interior design as totally integrated disciplines.
Before a single sketch for the redesign of El Guardian was done, McCredie posed a question to the owner. “What is it you want from this remodel? What is the story behind it all?”
“To bring in a basket full from the garden, plop it down anywhere and have it look like it belongs,” the owner said.
And so, decorating in a harvest theme for El Guardian is as organic as the fruits and vegetables grown on the property. Pumpkins, gourds, squash, fruits and flowers (many from the garden) will fill this home with color and a welcoming feel of bounty.
Cindy Vadnais Kemp’s family has lived in the Ojai Valley since the 1940s. They established the Ben Franklin store which reflects Kemp’s passion for crafts and fabrics. As a co-host for TNN’s show “Creative Living” and serving on the board of Herr’s Crafts-Promotion’s Unlimited for three years, her specialty has been Christmas, creating more than 100 trees and themes over the years.
For her Christmas decor at Villa Ravina, there will be ravens throughout the house to carry through the theme set with the RTK entryway tiles. “The Christmas tree will be themed for a Tuscan vineyard holiday. All the ornaments will depict aspects of Tuscany from the angels to the grapes and lush fruits,” says Kemp.
After 23 years in the film business working as a set decorator and production designer, Erin Ellwood moved to the Ojai Valley in 2007. Daughter of influential modernist architect Craig Ellwood and actress Gloria Henry, design, art and beauty have always been a part of the fabric of Ellwood’s life.
Always excited by a good challenge, Ellwood chose to decorate Casa Montana this year in a holiday theme that neither she nor the Holiday Home Look In tours have ever celebrated, Hanukkah. Her vision is to fabricate and create original one-of-a-kind pieces and artfully organic decor by repurposing found and reclaimed objects from the Ojai Valley. She will be using recycled olive oil bottles, reclaimed steel, pine cones, local bamboo poles, Ojai Valley olive branches, local tumbleweed, wine bottle corks, calling her installation “Organukah.”
“I have always strived to affect all the senses in my work,” says Ellwood, who adds, “I hope that the Holiday Home Look In visitors will experience Hanukkah at Casa Montana with their ears, noses, eyes and hearts.”
The Holiday Home Look In will be presented this year on Nov. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Advance tickets are $30 per person; group discounts are available for eight or more people. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Ojai Music Festival at 646-2094 or online at OjaiFestival.org. Day-of-event tickets will be $35 per person.