Holiday Décor on Display in Balboa Island Home Tour

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The dining and living room in Todd and Denise Talbot’s Balboa Island home, featured in the 21st Annual Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour on Sunday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Home design and holiday décor come together this weekend for the return of a popular community event.

The Balboa Island Improvement Association will host its 21st Annual Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday (rain or shine).

For $35, guests will get to peek inside a handful of coastal cottages, modern homes, and island adobes. In addition to the impressive architecture, attendees will enjoy the various styles of holiday décor.

The tour will feature six houses, each will its own unique charm and style. In addition to the houses on the tour this year is the Balboa Island fire station, a first for the BIIA Holiday Home Walking Tour.

A train circles around the base of Todd and Denise Talbot’s Christmas tree at their Balboa Island home.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Organizers hope the tour will ignite the holiday spirit in guests, said BIIA member Sue Sibley.

The tour was started by women of the Balboa Island beautification committee, formed by the BIIA. The purpose was, and still is, to raise money for the beautification of the island.

It’s also the most significant fundraiser the Association holds all year, earning thousands of dollars for the island.

Organizers hope for about 800 to 1,000 attendees throughout the day. Visitors come from all over, Sibley said, and about one-third of tickets are sold on the day of the event.

Homeowners tend to get a lot more of the home improvement projects on their list done a lot quicker when they know they’re going to be on the home tour, Sibley said.

The personal touches of every home are what make each  stop of the tour unique and eye-opening.

“Everybody has a different idea of what they want,” Sibley said.

Denise and Todd Talbot’s home at Park and Collins avenues will be featured on the tour and has a number of distinctive features.

The Talbots have lived in their contemporary Balboa Island home for almost five years. They were part of the home tour the first year they moved out to the island.

“We want to give back to the community,” and volunteer, Denise Talbot said. “This is one way we can.”

Waterpointe Homes built the house and Talbot’s friend, Donna Puzifera of D for Design, helped design the interior.

Interesting features include the year-round bougainvillea, gas fire pit and lanterns, and distinctive light fixtures.

Highlights of the Talbot holiday home tour include a collection of Santa figurines in the top clear kitchen cabinets and an oversized nativity scene on the side porch.

A second Christmas tree in a beach themed Christmas room in the Talbot’s Balboa Island home.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

In a shelving unit upstairs sit a variety of stories, from a unique plate the Talbots brought back from Turkey to a glass whale they picked up in San Diego.

Upstairs, an impressive master bathroom with tile from Walker Zanger, an Orange County-based luxury stone and tile company. A second Christmas tree near the bedroom window.

Climbing a few more steps higher and guests will be able to take in the views from the rooftop balcony. The harbor, fashion island and Newport center, the hills of Newport Coast, and the surrounding Balboa Island homes and businesses can all be seen.

Nearly every piece of art or décor has a story behind it in the Talbot home. A painting of a beach locals are sure to recognize next to the neatly festive set table. A scene from neighboring Laguna Beach in a small frame in the luxurious master bathroom.

They haven’t always had as much holiday décor as visitors will see this weekend, Talbot said. The decorating increased because of the home tour, she explained.

“We love Christmas and we love decorating, but until the home tour we didn’t do it [as much],”

They spent the entire weekend preparing, Talbot said. With a little help from a friend to place the trees, she and her husband “powered through” three days of decorating.

A table setting in a holiday decorated home in Sunday’s Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

“The Christmas season comes and it comes in on full blast,” she said, “and I just love it.”

Talbot, and other homeowners on the tour, decorate a little earlier than most people because the timing of the tour in early December. They need to start early in order to be ready in time, Sibley said. But that also means they get more time to enjoy.

“I get to enjoy it the whole month,” Talbot said “It gets me in the Christmas spirit.”

It was decorated slightly differently when they were on the tour a few years ago, Talbot said. The ribbons, stockings and color scheme are all different this year. Last time she had more of a “beachy, sandy” theme throughout the house. This year is more focused on the classic red and green color scheme (except the master bedroom, which kept with the Balboa beach Christmas motif ).

Each house will have several docents placed strategically throughout to guide and inform guests as they make their way through each home.

The day will be full of festive fun, Including the Balboa Bachelors, a local  trombone choir, who will be traveling house to house playing holiday music for guests. The event will feature a reception for homeowners and docents.

For more information, visit

Balboa Island Improvement Association member Sue Sibley (left) and Balboa Island Holiday Home Walking Tour participant Denise Talbot in her home.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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