Eclectic elegance strikes a chord

Home tour to benefit Auburn Symphony
By: Janis Dice, Home & Garden correspondent
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Where do classical music and classic architecture come together? At the “A Passion for Elegance” home tour, where all proceeds benefit the Auburn Symphony. On Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Auburn Symphony League will host the tour of private residences as its annual major fundraiser. This year, the self-guided trail leads to six foothills homes crafted by award-winning Gray Construction. The Auburn-based company specializes in innovative design-build projects for both residential and commercial sites. According to company president Doug Gray, the homes being exhibited were specifically selected to highlight an array of structure and décor themes. “Choosing the homes, trying to put together a diverse mix, has been a fun process,” Gray said. “It’s an honor to design and build someone’s home. And now it’s an honor to be part of the Symphony League’s tour.” The home of Gus and Debra Smith is one of the sites on tour. It didn’t take much convincing for them to agree to participate. “Our favorite thing to do is support local endeavors, but usually it’s as much behind the scenes as possible,” Debra said. “But when Doug asked us, we were stunned and flattered.” Reminiscent of a rugged, yet refined hunting lodge, the Smiths’ residence has a grand foyer and dining hall that balances its more casual spaces, such as the game room housed on the lower level. The home introduces rock walls, accent boulders and artistic stone to interior spaces with dramatic effect. The Smiths wanted a home that not only let the natural woodsy surroundings and distant views pour through broad expanses of glass, but seemed to bring the outdoors inside. “I like mass,” Debra explained. “I like big stones and I like big wood elements.” The structure anchors in fieldstone-clad pillars and heavy timbers, making it seem rooted to the site. “It kind of burrows into the hill Yosemite style,” Gray noted. During the pre-construction phase, the home was repositioned to best capture the emerging views. Window mullions were revamped during the framing stage when Gray realized the crossbars would obstruct the scenery. “Our team sees a home as whole; not compartmentalized pieces,” Gray explained. “We envision it from top to bottom; tip to tail, then make adjustments as we go along.” Because the Smiths’ pets are beloved members of the family, surfaces and furnishings that withstand paws and claws were favored. That attention to detail is seen throughout the home, down to the baffles in the glassed-in music room that temper sound while providing niches for the Smiths’ collection of vintage instruments. But visitors may find the most extraordinary touches in the master bath where boulders form a waterfall in the shower and perch on the rim of the round whirlpool tub. Downstairs, thin pieces of ragged slate form a three-dimensional mountain mural in the corner over the bathtub. In the tiered theater, faux rocks seem to be bursting through the walls of a mineshaft. “I hear people say they would never build again,” Debra said. “But I found the whole process so exciting.” The other homes on the tour include a 20-acre villa with Tuscan influences, a European-style abode that has won five awards from the Building Industry of America, a sophisticated farmhouse constructed to showcase the family’s personal treasures, a mountain-style home positioned to maximize the hillside parcel’s awesome views of the Sierra Nevada and the Sacramento nightlights and a residence featuring a minimalist motif with the roofline curving like an eagle’s wing, and a bird’s eye view of Folsom Lake in the distance. The homes string out from the Winchester Country Club in Meadow Vista to the outskirts of Auburn. Along the way, box lunches will be available for purchase. “We think tourists will be delighted with the homes and enjoy traveling through the countryside to each of the sites,” said Dorothea Mahan, chairman of the event. “The tour gives guests a chance to experience very different styles of architecture and pick up some unique decorating ideas. Plus, it’”s a fun way to help support our wonderful Auburn Symphony.” -------- “A Passion for Elegance” tour Exhibiting exquisite homes for a good cause is a sure way to make beautiful music.l The tour, sponsored by the Auburn Symphony League, features six residences designed and built by Gray Construction in the Auburn-Meadow Vista area. When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20 Cost: $25 in advance; $30 day of event. Box lunches available for $10 each For reservations and more information, call (530) 823-6683 or (530) 305-8575; visit the Auburn Symphony office at 808 Lincoln Way, in Downtown Auburn; or visit Advance ticket holders may attend a free Meet the Builder Reception on Thursday, Sept. 18, at artist Douglas Van Howd’s studio in North Auburn.Reservations are required and may be made when purchasing tour tickets.