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YOUR PLACE THE WAY THEY USED TO PLAY HOUSE OF DESIGN'S SUITE SPACE FIRES UP KIDS' CREATIVITY.

Byline: Patricia McFall Correspondent

At the Pasadena Showcase House, which opens to visitors Sunday, Santa Monica designer Sari Ehrenreich has banished most of the accouterments modern children are supposed to crave from the kids' suite.

There are no video games, no television, no computer - in fact, no electronics. She calls it the ``Children's Theater of the Arts,'' and believes that kids will want to play there because, unlike scheduled and controlled activities it's all do-it-yourself.

Want a show? Here are a stage and costumes. Want to play music? Here are instruments. Want to create something beautiful? Here's paint and canvas.

Ehrenreich is serious in wanting to change the way kids play, calling on them to generate fun from their imaginations.

She also wants to create spaces that are conducive to quality family time.

``Overscheduling parents work so hard to provide everything for their kids,'' said Ehrenreich, ``yet they spend almost no personal time with them. We're losing family time, the time to sit on Grandma's lap, hear stories and look at family pictures.''

She sees decorating as an extension of family life, in that some environments are inviting and cozy, while others discourage interaction. Design choices are about more than just having pretty things put together well, and increasingly she works with clients as a lifestyle planner so they can ``live better in their homes.''

Ehrenreich's suite in the design house includes not only a small raised stage with a curtain, but also an Old World dressing room with many kinds of costumes and props, as well as work and performance areas for other arts and crafts.

``It's not a juvenile place,'' she emphasized. ``It's a formal, elegant, fantasy-filled place.''

In her view, too many parents choose ugly furnishings from chain stores because they believe kids will destroy them. She points out that many attractive materials, including those used in the design room, can be cleaned easily.

Some special features include having custom embroidery done for the theater. Pairs of objects, such as the settees, lamps and lampshades in the dressing room, provide subliminal order for kids.

``My definition of success in a room is establishing a feeling. Individual items are less important than creating a mood. I want people being drawn in to a feeling.''

Even families who can't afford a suite for their kids can take some tips from Ehrenreich's approach to design, making the right setting for family that will lure kids away from electronics, foster creativity and encourage warmth.

She tells parents, ``Never wait for kids to grow up before making your home beautiful, and don't wait for company to make it nice. Do it for your family.''

2006 PASADENA SHOWCASE HOUSE OF DESIGN

Where: Located in the estate area near Huntington Library. Parking and shuttle service at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena.

When: Showcase House opens Sunday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Through May 21.

Tickets: $25 to $30 in advance. (714) 442-3872. www.pasadenashowcase.org.

For more information: Call (626) 229-0840.

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3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Get some decorating tips at the 2006 Pasadena Showcase House of Design, open for tours Sunday through May 21.

(2 -- 3 -- color) Sari Ehrenreich's design for the children's suite, above, emphasizes creative play. Below, a colorful lamp adds interest to the costume-changing area.

Walt Mancini/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 22, 2006
Words:575
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