For two women whose homes will be featured in the annual Howard Hanna Mt. Lebanon Holiday House Tour, the driving force behind their elaborate decorating is the season itself.
"It's an absolutely wonderful time of year when we celebrate the holidays with the people we love, and I do all of these rooms specifically for my huge family," Louise Vuono said.
"We love Christmas as it is a very special time of year,'' said Mary Satterfield, who has been preparing theme trees in every room of her home since August.
The six homes on the tour are on Avon, Briar Meadows, Northridge, Pinewood and Vernon drives and Standish Boulevard.
The tour will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Maps with the homes clearly marked will be provided, and those on the tour may visit each in any sequence. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Included in admission is a lunch from 11:30 to 2 p.m. at Howard Hanna office, 607 Washington Road. Auctions, raffles, a bake sale and a boutique also will be held at the luncheon. All proceeds benefit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Free Care Fund.
At her home, Mrs. Vuono wraps red velvet ribbons to make candy canes of the white corinthian columns on the exterior of her home. The side of the house is awash in spotlights to create the illusion of beveled glass doors as sparkling diamonds in the night.
A new backyard addition for this, the third year her home has been on the tour, is a gazebo with about 1,500 miniature lights, lanterns in the arches and greens tied with red velvet ribbons.
Indoors, she tries to decorate all 14 rooms, including the downstairs game room for children with a tree, Santa and miniature wooden soldiers.
She also displays the Nativity and figurines painted by her mother, the late Louise Vinoverski, "which is a wonderful remembrance of her," Mrs. Vuono said.
At the Satterfield home -- new to the tour --a gardening theme highlights the guest bedroom with a 5-foot-high grapevine tree wrapped in lights and a swag of grapes, flowers and gardening elements.
Mrs. Satterfield's favorite tree brightens the downstairs guest bedroom -- an artificial, 7-foot-high Christmas tree decorated in red and purple in homage to the Red Hat Society, a social organization.
In a nod to husband Robert Satterfield's passion for sailing, the game room has a nautical theme. Displayed in the office is an Old World glass tree with glass ornaments.
While Howard Hanna agents serve as hosts at their home, the Satterfields will take the tour of other homes.
"It's a neat way to start off the holidays," Mrs. Satterfield said.
Last year, the tour raised $20,000, and in 2008 it raised $11,000 for the Free Care Fund. Over the past 23 years, the Howard Hanna firm has contributed more than $6.1 million to regional children's hospitals.
For Maggie Horgan, who is co-chairing the event, the cause is personal.Her teenage son died of an illness in 2001. Her son had healthcare coverage and often was a patient at Children's Hospital, but others are not so fortunate.
"When your child is in that situation, you don't think of money," Ms. Horgan, of Mt. Lebanon, said. "You just want the best care available, which is what the Free Care Fund provides, regardless of family situation."
Tour tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Those who buy four tickets get one free. The cost includes lunch at Howard Hanna donated by Max and Erma's Restaurant on Cochran Road. Lunch tickets also may be purchased without the tour for $8 each, or two for $15.
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org .