House Beautiful 2003 tours benefit children’s cause

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You’d never know from the dusty, bare floors and muddy gardens that this Bel Air property would soon become an exquisite “showhouse” to benefit a children’s organization.

Work crews swarmed the premises while interior and landscaping designers consulted their plans (and their celebrity “muses”), all in a hurry to meet this Friday’s deadline for the opening night unveiling of the 2003 House Beautiful Celebrity Showhouse-and for a good cause: 100 percent of the proceeds from the reception and subsequent public tours will benefit Children’s Action Network.

The pairing of House Beautiful magazine, which is producing the event, with an organization that has created a national adoption campaign, among other programs, is a natural partnership.

“We’re a magazine about shelter. They’re a shelter charity, and obviously that’s what House Beautiful is all about as well,” said Elizabeth Quinn, creative design director for the magazine, a publication of Hearst Magazines.

The partnership began last year with the first showhouse, which brought in more than $200,000 for CAN, said Jennifer Perry, executive director for the nonprofit organization.

An array of celebrities is participating as inspirations for the designers. They are involved “at different levels,” Quinn said. “Some are just a phone call, some are very involved. Last year, Courteney Cox was on the site every single day.”

Celebrity-designer pairings include Penelope Cruz and Tim Clarke for the downstairs guesthouse bathroom, cabana and exercise room; Eric McCormack and Barclay Butera for the upstairs guesthouse; Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Block for the front gardens; David Mamet and Kathryn Ireland for the library; Charlize Theron and Peter Dunham for the guest bedroom and bathroom; Connie Britton and David Desmond for the laundry room; Jada Pinkett Smith and Waldo Fernandez for the dining room; and Jane Kaczmarek and husband Bradley Whitford are paired with designer Suzanne Rheinstein for the living room.

Sally Field is designer Jackie Terrell’s inspiration for creating the kitchen and breakfast room. “She’s my muse,” Terrell said. “She’s my client, too. I did a couple of remodels for her. And other phases [of decorating].”

As for how Field has inspired the design of the kitchen, Terrell said, “I think of her as someone who likes a cottage kind of a look. She has a very sweet aesthetic-clean, fresh, simple.”

The result is “a pure white room with a dark walnut butcher-block island,” Terrell said. “Everything in the palette is shades of sepia. It resembles a dairy. Like my idea of a dairy.”

Many of the designers worked on the house together last year, which Terrell said made it particularly enjoyable this time around. “There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie,” she said.

One of those designers was Stephen Block, who this year is responsible for the walkway up to the house. “I wanted to bring in a punch of color,” he explained. “We’re now planting a series of red ornamental plum trees. They have 6 to 7 feet of trunk so you can walk under them, providing a linear walkway right up to the front door.”

Block’s enthusiasm for the project extends beyond the realm of design.

“CAN’s a great cause,” he said. “I have two young kids myself-taking care of kids is important. No matter who the governor or president is, the kids tend to suffer. Education continues to go down the tubes. I wanted to do something to help kids.”

There’s also a mother-daughter connection in the project. “Jessica Capshaw is working with Elizabeth Dinkel as the guestroom inspiration,” Quinn said. “Her mother, Kate Capshaw, helped found Children’s Action Network.”

Indeed, a powerful group of entertainment personalities including Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, Henry Winkler, Bob Daley of Warner Bros. and Sidney Sheinberg of Universal, founded CAN 13 years ago, Perry said. “They had all been working on children’s issues before they came together.”

The Bel Air property at 635 Perugia Way actually belongs to attorney Barry Goldberg, who recently purchased the property from Jean Stapleton. Built in 1933, the traditional Colonial-style home is what Perry describes as “Nice-not your typical L.A. house. It’s a real house for a real family. People can actually get ideas from the house and achieve those ideas,” she said.

The opening reception is Friday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cost: $175 per ticket. Daily tours are from Oct. 4 – Nov. 9. Cost: $25 per ticket, which can be obtained at the door or on the Web site, www.childrensactionnetwork.org.

For directions and information, call 800.525.6789.