Posted in Happenings in Ventura County, Outdoor Kitchens

Holiday Home Tours in Southern California are…

so “So Cal”. I have to admit, we are a different sort out here in Southern California. We live in a time of strange dichotomies. We import our fun, not content to love what we have, and what the rest of the US wishes they had, oh no, we go to great lengths to import faux weather. Go to the snow? Not us, we bring the snow to us. We are not exactly living in a “Winter Wonderland” but we try. Snow in LA is a rarity so I had to do a double take while driving on the 101 Fwy. this Sunday afternoon when I saw the small hilly front lawn the size of a football stadium at Oaks Christian School covered in snow and kids frolicking with their sleds. It was in the 60’s today. No rain, no snow. We are in middle of a drought and Oaks Christian can afford to import truckloads of snow. Hopefully it was a fund raiser for a good cause.  Thousand Oaks City Hall also has a hand in creating faux weather. The concrete lake is frozen over to create an outdoor skating rink.

Meanwhile I am heading towards another charity event for a good cause and anticipating having a fun time with friends. It’s the annual jaunt to the Holiday Home Tour put together by the Wellness Community-Valley/Ventura Chapter. We go for many reasons. Not only is it a warm fuzzy knowing our money is going to support a worthy cause. The Wellness Community provides a wonderful network of free programs to those individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer as well as provide support for their family members.

Moreover it is fun day out for girl friends to get together, throw a little money back into the local economy while we  “ooh and ah” at the spectacular 10,000 sq ft. Mega Mansions in all their holiday faux-snowy glory. Tuscan, “Zen-tarian” (Mediterranean meet Asian), French Country and Tudor style estates, one more spectacular than the next.Oh My! I would have loved to have shown you pictures but no cameras were allowed.

As we are at one home on the tour, we notice the Carolers. My feeling is there is something really out of sync watching Christmas Carolers adorned in Dickens Era Caroling Costumes replete with Heavy Coats, Tops Hats, Bonnets and Petticoats gathered deck side near the infinity pool on a pleasant Southern California Sunday.

We saw enchanting displays of Christmas Trees in front halls, libraries, dens and dining rooms but I have to admit the real show was the backyards! As I walked through beautiful mega-manse estates, I wondered why some homeowners overlooked the kitchens. There were some kitchens that were downright dull with builder grade cabinets that looked so out of place when the rest of the house was so exquisite. It then hit me as I entered the back yards, (indoor-outdoor living space as we call it in California). The backyard is the other living room. It was no surprise to see where the money was invested. Outdoor kitchens! And what kitchens they were! We are talking beautiful resort worthy backyards. Infinity pools, jacuzzi’s, one had a zip line traversing over a stream in the Santa Monica Mountains, another had a water slide formed out of the mountain side, Separate Structures for the Cabana Houses with wide screen TV’s, fireplaces,  “His and Her” bathrooms were some of the amenities I saw. Then my heart skipped a beat when I saw the outdoor cooking cabanas. I mean these backyard designs and construction must have cost the price of a small house. Complete Viking Outdoor Kitchens: fully equipped with bar-b-cue grills, refrigerators, dishwashers, sinks, beer taps, plenty of granite topped counters, teak style cabinets,  fireplaces and flat screen TV’s around cozy seating arrangements.  Who would ever want to leave home?  With outdoor living spaces like this, no wonder why the indoor kitchens were ho-hum. Who needs to use the indoor kitchen when outside is so beautiful?

In a time of such great disparity, it is a pleasure to see many people come together to donate their time, their labor, and their homes for a worthy cause. We stopped at the Holiday Boutique and bought some gifts. I found a beautiful knit scarf and found out the ladies who knitted the scarves donated their time and yarn just for the event. I was told all their proceeds go back into the charity. That meant something to me. It was a good show and a lot of fun.

Photo credit:…/2008/12/surfing_santa.jpg



Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

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