Sunday tour features five spectacular home remodels in Westchester and Playa del Rey

Steve Kaufmann’s 1927 Spanish-style home in Playa del Rey once belonged to movie star Ronald Colman Photo courtesy of Stephanie Younger

Steve Kaufmann’s 1927 Spanish-style home in Playa del Rey once belonged to movie star Ronald Colman
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Younger

By Ricky De Guzman

The Westchester Mental Health Guild Holiday Home Tour, an annual fundraiser for the Airport Marina Counseling Service that spotlights innovative home remodeling efforts, returns Sunday for its 32nd year.

Participants in the self-guided tour gain access to the interiors of five exceptionally well-cared-for houses that have also been decorated according to holiday themes, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Three of the houses are in Westchester and two are in Playa del Rey.

A concurrent reception at the Westchester Elks Lodge includes food, refreshments and a holiday boutique sale curated by the Guilded Cage gift shop.

This year’s tour roster includes a home that was redone to include every possible modern convenience, another remodeled by its architect owner, a house tailored to raising young children (treehouse included) and a recently renovated Playa del Rey bluff home with magnificent marina views.

There’s also Steve Kaufmann’s 1927 Spanish-style hilltop home in Playa del Rey, which once belonged to English actor Ronald Colman, a silent movie star who went on with the rise of the talkies to win the Academy Award for Best Actor as the star of 1947’s “A Double Life.”

Kaufmann has worked hard to preserve and in some cases restore the historic elements of his home, paying close attention to details such as tiles, railings, bookshelves and the overall color composition of the interior.

“It’s really important to me to retain [the home’s] vibrancy and keep its character the same,” said Kaufmann, an attorney. “It’s still a work in progress, but I feel more like a steward for trying to keep it the same.”

Kaufmann previously lived in Venice, where he couldn’t help but notice how the preservation of historic elements contributed to that community’s character and identity.

“I started to appreciate the historic character of Venice. I want that same [historic] feeling for my community,” he said.

The Airport Marina Counseling Service is a nonprofit community-based clinic in Westchester that provides low- or no-cost mental health services and training for pre-licensed therapists.

The Westchester Mental Health Guild was founded by local volunteers to help raise money for the center and reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Guild fundraising efforts also include maintaining the Guilded Cage and organizing the annual Jet to Jetty run/walk.

The holiday home tour raises between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, said Candy Yip, a tour organizer.

Gary and Terri Voets, owners of the other Playa del Rey bluff home on this year’s tour, are big supporters of the Airport Marina Counseling Service. Their house is making its second holiday home tour appearance.

“When I was told that they wanted my house for the tour, I agreed because it just feels like a good thing for community,” Terri Voets said.

The Westchester Mental Health Guild Holiday Home Tour runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, with a tour reception and holiday boutique sale from noon to 5 p.m. at the Westchester Elks Lodge, 8025 W. Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey.

Pre-sale tickets are $30 through WMHGtour2014.eventbrite.com or at The Guilded Cage, 8917 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester. Tickets are $35 on the day of the tour and can be purchased at the Westchester Elks Lodge. No charge for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. For more information, call (310) 641-7850.

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