BY MIRANDA WHITWORTH, Contributing writer
They are some of the most beautiful homes in Bakersfield, displaying some of the most enchanting holiday décor, and you have the chance to see it all first hand during a home tour aimed at opening the heart and stimulating the creative spirit of the Christmas season. The Assistance League of Bakersfield invites one and all to the 21st annual Chez Noel holiday home tour Friday and Saturday.
Three beautiful homes in the Bakersfield area have had their halls decked and trees trimmed in anticipation of the hundreds of ticket-holders who will make their way through the meticulously arranged rooms of the Seven Oaks, Seven Oaks Grand Island and Old Stockdale properties.
Chez Noel 2010
What: A holiday home tour presented by Assistance League of Bakersfield
When: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Tickets: $35; available at Bargain Box, Pappagallo, Olcotts, Sugardaddy's, Miss Holiday or Country Club Liquors & Delicatessen.
"Without giving too much away, one of the homeowners is an interior designer," said Assistance League public relations chairwoman Dona Chertok. "Her home will be pretty amazing as far as the new trends on decorating your home and the new trends for holiday decorating."
Chertok is referring to the Seven Oaks home of Bob and Judy Hampton. Judy Hampton is the proprietor of Hampton Place Interiors at The Stockdale Fashion Plaza, and, according to Hampton's assistant, Jill Templeton, all of the furnishings in the home were selected by Hampton through her business.
"Judy is somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to decorating. You won't see a lot of knickknacks, but you will see some amazing pieces," Templeton said.
The Hamptons moved into their Cormier Drive property in May 2008 after spending 12 months building and decorating the colonial-style home. The grounds overlook the Seven Oaks Country Club Golf Course and feature a pool, outdoor kitchen and eating area and a guest house. Indoors, the custom kitchen showcases marble countertops, and dark-toned scraped wood floors line the common areas and hallways. Asian accents and French country style combine to give the home a grand yet comfortable feel.
Hampton is more than happy to have her home on the tour and, as a local interior designer, she said her property is always open to her clients for touring and for those looking to add a little style to their home life.
"What I suggest to people is just find one good piece at a time instead of filling your house with items that will be out of style in three or four years," she said. But Hampton joked, "For Bob and I, it's different. We bought a lot of this all at once but, at our age, we don't really have time for one piece at a time."
Chertok pointed out that all of the homes on the tour have something a little bit different to offer when it comes to décor.
"As far as the decorating for holidays, the homeowners do it themselves. So you will see a lot of personal touches," she said.
If you have questions during the self-guided tours, Chertok said there will be Assistance League docents and even a few of the experts may be on hand.
"A lot of our homeowners are there when the guests are coming through so they can answer questions about the place," she said. "And some are there just listening to the comments and the descriptions of people walking out the door."
Tickets to Chez Noel allow visitors access to the homes on both days of the tours. When visitors are finished viewing the homes, they can head back to the Assistance League's headquarters at 1924 Q St. for coffee and a stop at the Assistance League's Bargain Box Shop, a thrift store filled with donated items benefiting the league's philanthropic programs.
For more than 54 years, the Assistance League of Bakersfield has outfitted schoolchildren with clothing, helping underprivileged kids have a more successful school experience. Operation School Bell is the largest of the Assistance League's programs and is currently providing clothing to approximately 3,000 children a year. Assistance League volunteers also participate in a teddy bear collection for Operation Hugs. The effort provides stuffed animals to the California Highway Patrol, Mercy Hospital and the Bakersfield Fire Department to be given to children who have undergone traumatic experiences. The league also provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors and, through Operation Opportunity, collects professional clothing for people looking to re-enter the work force.
Chertok said none of the programs would be possible if it weren't for the hard work of the ladies.
"We've got a large group of women that actually run the assistance league and do all of these philanthropic programs," Chertok said. "We operate all by our volunteers and do a lot of recruiting, all by word of mouth."
It's that word of mouth that has been able to land such exclusive and beautiful homes for the Chez Noel tour each year, Chertok said. "We've been lucky that nine times out of 10 when we've asked about someone having a home on the Chez Noel tour, they have said yes! Bakersfield really opens up their hearts to our community and philanthropic programs."