Holiday Halls

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Holiday Halls

Private homes open their doors during 11th annual Beaufort Homes for the Holidays Tour
By JESSICA SPARKS
Special to the Packet and Gazette
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012   |  507 Words  |  

Explore some of the homes in the Islands of Beaufort community while getting ideas to decorate your house for the holiday season during this year's Homes for the Holidays Tour.

The tour of seven houses in the gated community, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, will help raise money for the St. Peter Catholic School Endowment Fund, according to Stephanie Sexton, one of the organizers of the tour.

The tour will feature a diverse group of houses, all decorated by professionals in the Beaufort area. Sexton said the decor styles should appeal to a wide audience.

"We've got homes that are very traditional, but we also have homes that are Southwestern in style, which is very unusual for Beaufort," Sexton said. "I think they're going to find it delightful, kind of a breath of fresh air."

Maggie Engstrom, owner of Sweet Bay, has been participating as a designer for the Homes for the Holidays Tour for several years. This year, her crew has chosen to do an entertainment theme with the influence of the Italian Renaissance.

"Each home will have a different feeling," Engstrom said. "Some will be soft, elegant. Some will be bright, modern, chic."

Sweet Bay will feature a different entertainment theme in each room of the house. For example, the front parlor will be set up for serving wine and cheese while the back porch will be decorated for an after-dinner eggnog.

"I've been doing it for a long time, and it's very exciting," Engstrom said of the event. "It's a challenge. We start probably in March when they decide what homes are going to be viewed. Then, as it gets closer, it's just a build-up of creative energy." This year, the tour will also feature some entertainment from student voices on both Saturday and Sunday.

While the tour of homes is an opportunity for a nice stroll inside the gated community, shuttles also will be available.

To kick off the weekend, the group also will host its annual gala Friday night in St. Peter's Walsh Palmetto Room. The event includes a catered meal, silent auction and entertainment by Deas Guys. Tickets are $75. Some of the items in the auction include jewelry, art, and excursions. Event co-chairwoman Mary Cunningham said there will be more than 100 items in the auction; however, she said, the featured item is a dollhouse handmade by a former priest of the church.

Event co-chairwoman Elizabeth Dardes said about 1,000 people took part in the tour last year. Last year the gala and the tour raised $50,000 for charity. Dardes said the committee hopes to raise as much this year. About 40 percent of the students at St. Peter Catholic School receive financial assistance.

Engstrom said the tour is an event the community looks forward to each year.

"People can't wait for this tour. They love it," she said. "It's a really nice day out in the community."