Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - November 26, 2010

Holiday home tour with a Spanish twist

Three Atherton homes are open for Christmas at Our House tour

by Carol Blitzer

Christmas at Marga and Cris Wedekind's Atherton home reflects their Spanish roots, from their capiz-shell tree ornaments and nativity scene at the base of their winding stairway to the gentle arches, stucco exterior and tile roof.

The Wedekinds' home is just one of three Atherton houses that will be open to the public Dec. 2 through Dec. 4 during the 22nd annual Christmas at Our House tour — themed "Home Sweet Home" — presented by the Saint Francis High School Women's Club. The fundraiser kicks off with a Gala Preview Party on Dec. 2, then offers a weekend of events that includes complimentary tea, a fancy luncheon and a Christmas Boutique, held this year at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel in Palo Alto.

Part of what makes the Wedekinds' home so interesting is how they transformed a Lindenwood 1950s rancher into a Spanish-themed, two-story family home, while working within the original footprint. They bought the home in 1992 and lived there for several years before they simply "ran out of room" after a horde of visitors arrived, Marga Wedekind said.

They planned their major remodel in two phases, beginning by transforming the old garage into a two-bedroom, one-bath unit with a new garage and an outdoor kitchen. That phase took two years to complete, from 1999 to 2001. The family of four then lived there during reconstruction of the main house.

Originally they were going to remodel, but they quickly discovered the foundation and timbers couldn't support the planned second story. So they tore the house down and started over, locating rooms pretty close to the original layout, she said.

Michael Chacon of M.A.C. Architects, Palo Alto, helped them translate their ideas into "structural form," as well as incorporate design touches, such as arches between the living room and the family room/kitchen.

Because Cris was born in Argentina and Marga in the Philippines, both wanted to incorporate their Spanish roots in the house design. Today that can be seen in the massive wooden furniture from Argentina (no problem of scale in this 7,200-square-foot house) and nara hardwood interior doors with capiz-shell inserts from the Philippines.

"One of the core reasons for doing the remodel (was creating the great room)," Marga Wedekind said. "We spend most of our time in this room, and we both like to cook."

Their state-of-the-art kitchen includes a six-burner Dacor range, cherry-wood cabinets, Travertine backsplash with slate inset and Brazilian cherry-wood floors.

Of special note on the tour will be the dining room, which is furnished with Asian rosewood table and chairs. The table setting is by Dani Johnston of Mackenzie Johnston Interiors, Mountain View, with greenery and flowers by Chrystal Keller of Sweet Peas Floral Design.

Even the tablecloth is Filipino, made of hand-embroidered jusi, which is made from banana fibers. The hand-painted Chinese plates were inherited from Marga's mother, and the Waterford and Bohemian crystal glasses were wedding gifts.

The home is filled with family touches: a glass pass-through showcase with carved Asian artifacts; an Oriental, carved chest; a red coral coffee table inlaid with jade, contrasted with Argentine street scenes on the walls.

Many of their decorations were created by family members: Marga's sister made the mother-of-pearl and crystal ornaments incorporated in the stairway garland, and Cris' father not only painted the library art but did murals in each child's bedroom.

"It's a lot of family," Marga said.

Although the house was completed quite a while ago, it took the Christmas at Our House tour to give the family the impetus to finally finish it, including adding baseboard and crown moldings and hanging art.

The new master suite includes a balcony overlooking the backyard and pool.

"I'm proudest of the bougainvillea. Finally they took!" Wedekind said.

Once more Argentine furniture dominates, with patinated-copper art by Oakland-based Stephen Bruce. The bathroom continues the earthy tones with its red marble countertop, Travertine floors, a steam shower — and paintings by Marga's sister.

The children's rooms reflect their current interests, with the son's Tahoe theme (think skis, knotty pine and a bear mural by Grandpa) and the daughter's evolving from horses and wolves to a beach theme, complete with Hawaiian quilt.

From the back, the home really appears like a Spanish villa, complete with a giant grill for barbecuing the old-fashioned way — using logs of wood to make your own charcoal.

Besides touring the homes, visitors may buy raffle tickets to win a $5,000 Twelfth Night Table Setting, donated by Tiffany & Co. The setting for eight includes china, crystal and serving pieces. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100. A second "Santa's Workshop" drawing offers a chance to win other treasures; tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Each drawing will be held Dec. 4.

Booties will be provided on the home tour, as guests will be asked to remove their shoes. Children 12 and over are welcome.

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What: Christmas at Our House "Home Sweet Home"

When: Twilight Tour (4 to 7 p.m.) & Gala Preview Party (7 to 10 p.m.) Dec. 2; home tours Dec. 3-4, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Christmas Boutique (Dec. 2, 6 to 10 p.m.; Dec. 3-4, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

Where: Christmas Boutique, tea, Gala Preview Party and luncheon at Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; tour at three homes in Atherton

Tickets: Tour $40; Twilight Tour & Gala Preview Party $125; Luncheon $35; may be purchased at Saint Francis High School business office, 1885 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View, or online at www.sfhs.com.

Info: Call 650-968-1213, ext. 701, or visit www.sfhs.com.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be e-mailed at cblitzer@paweekly.com.

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