Holiday tour captures wows, whimsy of unique homes

Italian-style castle with a tower is one of six on display for fundraiser
By: Gloria Young, Page designer, business reporter
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Loomis basin holiday home tour
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Tickets: $25 in advance and $30 on tour day
Day of tour tickets sales at H. Clarke Powers elementary school in Loomis
Gourmet buffet lunch $15
Holiday boutique and art show at H. Clarke Powers (free admission)
More information and tickets: visit

When Parmis and Kevin Freel decided to build  a home in Loomis, they envisioned the look of a castle but with modern-day flair.
Taking inspiration from the grand historic buildings they visited on trips to Italy, the Freels’ residence is a three-story stone structure complete with a tower. It is one of six stops on Dec. 8’s Loomis Basin Holiday Home Tour benefiting the Loomis Basin Education Association.
“We didn’t want to do modern and it’s not Mediterranean,” Parmis Freel said. “... There’s a lot of stone on the outside that we also brought to the inside. There are a lot of brick barrel vaulted ceilings, wrought iron and cast concrete. It gives it that castle feeling but at the same time, it has a very warm ambiance.”
And there’s a great view. A wall of windows faces Folsom Lake.
“Our entire back yard is Folsom Lake,” she said.
Parmis Freel is a real estate agent who specializes in high-end homes. Through the years she’s observed what works and what doesn’t. She put that expertise into the design.
“I was seeing what flows or doesn’t flow,” she said. “I took the best of everything and put it together.”
One of the many highlights  of the home is the open-plan kitchen, set up for entertaining on a grand scale.
“The whole ceiling is brick inlay and it is barreled,” she said. “The refrigerator looks like a furniture piece. The countertops are two pieces of granite inlaid in one another. There’s one piece and another piece that frames the other. That’s never been done before.”
The Freels used light and dark tones for the cabinets and furniture pieces.
The tower, which is all rock inside, is the first wow feature visitors see when they enter the home.  Chandeliers, replicas of those found in an actual castle, add to the authenticity.
“There’s a very large heavy front door that’s wrought iron,” Freel said. “It matches double doors that go into the wine cellar.”
The wine cellar is done in the same style as the kitchen, but in darker tones.
In the family room, the focal point is a huge cast concrete fireplace.
“I could probably walk in it,” she said.
One of Freel’s favorite spots is a Persian hookah lounge, with traditional arches and tiles, and fabrics in a mosaic of blues, purples and pinks.
 “There are lots of built-in niches with cushions, so it is like you are in these little cubbies,” she said.
Another family-favorite  is the theater room.
“It’s dark — no windows — and very comfortable,” she said.
The room seats eight and has a movie screen across one wall.
The house is decked out for the holiday season and ready for the tour.
There’s so much to see, she said.
“Every piece of furniture (in the home) is custom made,” she said. “There’s a lot of detail. Someone could probably stay in each room for 30 minutes and find something new.”
That includes moldings and finishes. There are designs on the ceilings in many of the rooms.
Outside, the property is gated with a circular drive and includes a five-car garage.
For the Freels, opening their home for the tour not only showcases its beauty, but, as parents, it is a good way for them to support the Loomis school district.
“If we can help with things like that, we do,” Parmis Freel said.
Each of the six featured custom homes on the tour reflects the personality of its owner, coordinator Laurel Krein said.
The Freel house has been given the tour name of Lake View Manse.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Krein said.
Another home, dubbed Old World Mediterranean, includes a 1,600-square-foot interior courtyard and secret garden with a fireplace and olive trees.
The Storybook Victorian is based on  the Apple Farm Inn in San Luis Obispo and was built for the enjoyment of extended family and friends.
The Hacienda at Sierra de Montserrat, the newest home on the tour, was completed this year in the Sierra de Montserrat development in Loomis.
“It has a Spanish feel with saltillo tile, a romantic master suite, beautiful backyard and beach entry pool,” Krein said.
The Loomis Hills Retreat has an old world castle feel with three fish ponds, a wood bridge, 27 unique doors and a Harry Potter tunnel under the staircase. 
The one Roseville home in the mix is called Christmas Wonderland and is filled with decorated themed Christmas trees.
The annual home tour raises funds for the seven kindergarten-eighth grade schools in the Loomis Basin.
“It is a major fundraiser for the Loomis Basin Education Foundation and the money goes directly to school programs,” Krein said. “This year we’re helping fund music education and PE to make up budget shortfalls from the state.”
Last year’s tour sold more than 500 tickets and Krein is hoping to exceed that this year.
Running concurrently with the tour will be a holiday boutique and luncheon at H. Clarke Powers Elementary School in Loomis. Cost for the gourmet buffet lunch is $15. Entry is free to the boutique, which will have more than 20 craft and holiday gift vendors.
There’s also an art contest and sale. The contest is open to students in grades K-8, including home-schoolers. The top 75 winners’ pictures will be on display and for sale. Theme for the art submission is Home for the Holidays.