The 34th annual Holiday Home Tour keeps the spirit of the season — Halloween and Thanksgiving, too
By Stephanie Case
It’s Oct. 31, and Playa del Rey homeowner Molly Waggoner is prepping for a transformation.
“Tonight at midnight, Halloween is going to be banished, and it’s going to be instant Christmas at our house,” she says.
Two or three dozen mismatched Christmas trees — one made of seashells, one dripping with beads, some in green, red and silver — will scatter the house. An army of nutcrackers will stand at the ready, while handmade stockings hang from the mantle.
“I’m so obsessed with the Christmas holidays that my family, many years ago, dubbed it ‘the Mollidays,’” she says with a laugh.
This year, Waggoner’s feverish decoration is for a good cause: the 34th annual Holiday Home Tour, a fundraiser for the Airport Marina Counseling Service (AMCS), put on by the Westchester Mental Health Guild.
On this Sunday’s self-guided tour, attendees can wander through five of Westchester and Playa del Rey’s most striking homes, each embellished with their own holiday twist.
Those waxing nostalgic for Halloween can start at the Westchester bungalow: a renovated Craftsman home, full of windows and skylights, and decorated with autumnal flair.
Nearby on Naylor Avenue, a mid-century modern gem, built in 1941, sets the stage for a vintage Thanksgiving. The single-story house is full of original architectural features and splashes of ‘60s color.
Also in Westchester, an American farmhouse — designed with a marriage of rustic and modern touches — is ready for New Year’s Eve.
Over in Playa del Rey, two homes are embracing the Christmas spirit. One is a Cape Cod-style two story, packed with fine art, antiques and “features you couldn’t find anywhere else,” dishes Linda Peterson, co-chair of the tour.
“The homeowner’s father was a NASCAR racer, and she has the roof of his car mounted on the wall of her family room,” Peterson says.
The Waggoners’ place, a freshly remodeled beach cottage, is an apt location for a Christmas on the coast.
They bought it in early 2014, back when it was a small structure on an overgrown corner lot.
“[The land] looked like a giant forest, with a pool that had been built in the 1920s, and I thought, ‘We can really make this a paradise,” says Waggoner.
After two-plus years of painstaking remodeling, the finished product is exactly what you’d expect from a family of Playa del Rey surfers.
“Every little detail evokes the sea, from the bead board on the ceiling to a chandelier shaped like an anchor,” says Peterson. Roam the inside, and you’ll spot seagrass wallpaper, an array of ocean and coral tones — plus some classic red and green for Christmas.
Right outside is the “dream Southern California backyard,” with a pool, hot tub and firepit.
“You can see the blue of the pool, and the blue of the ocean on the horizon, peeking over our backyard fence,” says Waggoner. “It’s just beautiful.”
After scoping out each house, tour-goers can head to a reception at the Westchester Elks Lodge, complete with food, drinks and a pop-up holiday marketplace. There, local vendors will sell an array of ready-to-gift goods like vintage jewelry, children’s books, handbags, Christmas trees and cupcakes.
Proceeds for the tour will benefit the AMCS, a nonprofit mental health clinic that provides thousands of hours of low-cost counseling to the surrounding community each year, including youth therapy at Boys & Girls Clubs and elementary schools.
The Holiday Home Tour runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov 6. Tickets can be purchased for $30 in advance or for $35 on the day of the event at the Westchester Elks Club, 8025 W. Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey. For more information, visit westchestermhg.org.