I live in a historic neighborhood. Every year our heritage association puts on a fundraiser known as the Progressive Dinner Tour. They pick seven architecturally significant homes and bling them out for the holidays. Tour-goers pay to stop in each home, listen to a docent explain the history of the house, and progressively eat their way from cocktails to dessert.
No matter how stretched thin I feel by work, kids, and present-shopping awaiting me, the tour always puts me in the holiday spirit.
Every year, I work the Dinner House. I put on black pants and a white shirt and, along with some of my neighbors, volunteer to serve dinner (this year Chicken Wellington) and pour wine to as many as 500 guests.
Between tours, we stand around in the kitchen drinking wine and trading real estate news. Besides being obsessed with property values, we are all very concerned with who buys which house and whether they’re going to do the right thing by it, i.e. live in and restore it to its original splendor, or do some slap-dash makeover and flip it.
This year the houses on the tour were all from the 20s, featuring various Revival styles. After the last tour had come through, one of the other servers and I ran around the corner to the Dessert House to grab some cappuccino brownies and macaroons. The owner, a landscape architect, had made creative design choices that seemed unlikely to work, but did.
He took an outwardly plain-Jane Colonial and surrounded the outside with water features, drought-tolerant plants, and a backyard lined with bamboo. Inside he mixed modern elements with vintage. He blew out the formerly avocado green closet of a master bathroom into a fabulous spa-like shrine with walls of blue mosaic title, a solid slab of countertop with two deep sinks, and possibly the coolest shower I’ve ever seen.
It was a glass shower that opened front and back. Once you were done showering, you could step out the back door onto a balcony and dry off on the wide cushioned built-in bench, protected from looky-loo neighbors by towering bamboo encircling the immense back yard.
The bathroom was so sexy, with its gleaming faucets, state-of-the-art toilet, sleek ceiling fixtures, and I wanted to press my cheek against the cool marbled tile on the walls. I asked the owner if I could come over someday to take a shower. He laughed and said I was welcome.
Today I’m thankful for my neighborhood’s Progressive Dinner Tour.