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The Warmth of the Holidays Prevails in Westridge
December, 2006 - Issue #26
Some would think that creating an intimate area would be a difficult task in a home that has 4,100 square feet of space to fill. After all, "cozy" and "super-sized" aren't adjectives that traditionally are associated together.

Surprisingly enough, however, the Chegwin home in Westridge seems to have conquered what otherwise would have been an antonym for others. Rose and Steve Chegwin, along with their sons, Chris, 21, and Brandon, 15, are comfortably surrounded by dozens of highly soft (both literally and visually) furniture pieces, accessories and more that make the space incredibly livable and effectively fill five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a game room, gourmet kitchen, formal dining room and more.

Maybe it's the leather chairs, overstuffed and beckoning; possibly it's the warmth cast from the large fireplace; perhaps it's the creamy shades of lemon, vanilla and tomato that cover the walls and reminds visitors of their favorite comfort foods. Regardless, this is a place that invites you in and hopes you stay a while.

That's a good thing, too, considering that the Chegwins are known as much for their hospitality as for their well-appointed home situated in the Emerald portion of Westridge.

"We really love to entertain," says Rose. "I'm into themes, and it might sound funny, but I love napkins. Every time I see a cool napkin, there's a party! The summer and holidays of course are big for us, but we have great fun with birthdays or whenever. We do game nights, martini parties, pizza parties - you name it. We used to have poker parties in the game room that was made for it, but then Steve stopped playing poker! But no matter what, we have a good time; our get-togethers are casual and a wonderful chance to be with family and friends."

The home, and its occupants, are definitely built for company. The large formal dining room easily seats eight, with plenty of space left for many a delectable dish. And Rose is the hostess who's more than happy to fill guests' plates with the tastiest foods. "I especially love this macaroni and cheese recipe that I got from the Barefoot Contessa. I thought the addition of tomatoes was a little weird, but it ended up being delicious." Rose's must-serve side dish recipe can be found in the accompanying sidebar, along with her holiday-friendly recipe for Cranberry Citrus Salsa.

You'd think that with all the entertaining this house has seen that it would be well over a couple of years old, but the family, original owners, has lived in the home for a short two years. That doesn't change how linked they feel to their environment, though.

"We were drawn to the floor plan," says Rose. "The Tuscan elevation and the turret were really attractive to us. This is the first home that I feel really connected to," she says. It's the couple's fifth home.

The house's Italian-inspired feel is a good match for the Chegwins. "After our trip to Italy, Steve and I wanted to have an old-world Tuscan feel in our house. We like that whole look: the colors, the bronze and the brown and the wood with the wrought iron."

The couple was lucky. Previously residents of Stevenson Ranch, the Chegwins heard about a possible Tuscan-inspired tract being introduced in Valencia. "When we found out that the builder we liked was doing the same sort of thing in Westridge, we waited for it. We were fortunate enough to get a very big lot, so we were able to install a nice-sized pool, too. The kitchen is great, and I always had wanted a retreat off of the master bedroom, and we got that, too."

What they didn't get was the opportunity to bring along the majority of their belongings. "When we sold the home in Stevenson Ranch, the buyer really liked the way the furniture and accessories fit the house. They bought absolutely everything. I had nothing when we moved here," says Rose.

Enter design consultant Ann Peters. "I met Ann at a local home boutique and she guided me through a lot of my purchases. We just clicked and she helped me out a lot. Together we selected some of our favorite key elements," Rose says.

This might explain why a walk-through of the Chegwin home feels awfully similar to an on-site display of favorite things. Well decorated but decidedly uncluttered, the home's accents and furniture seem nearly too perfect for the space they fill. It's as if each accessory, from a bowl of feather-covered ornaments to a delicately dangled bejeweled lamp pull, was made with the home in mind. Even richly-hued furniture (check out the muted-rose ottoman in the master bedroom retreat) does not detract from the overall look or compete for attention against other pieces.

After four Santa Clarita homes failed to fit the bill for the Chegwins, house number five seems to have made up for the previous expended energy. A good thing, too. Steve, the vice president of finance for Rantec MDM Microwave Systems (they are a government contract company that supplies microwave antennas), has lived in the SCV since 1968 and had little desire to search for their perfect Italian-inspired home beyond the 14/5 interchange. Same for Rose, the director of human resources for Del West USA and an involved Soroptimist. The pair hold a membership to The Tournament Players Club, too, which only increases their connection to Santa Clarita. The kids are pretty attached as well. Both went to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Brandon's now a sophomore at West Ranch and Chris is at College of the Canyons.

While many could, and should, argue that the Chegwins' presence in the SCV is a good thing for the community, it really must be the long list of treasured friends and family who benefit most from the family's proximity - and their phenomenal macaroni and cheese.


The Recipes

Rose Chegwin is known for being a great entertainer and an even better cook. Here are two of her favorite holiday recipes.

Cranberry Citrus Salsa
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup chopped yellow or red onion
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh is always best)
zest from one orange
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup currants
1/4 raisins
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
1 and A tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan; cook over high heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cool, stirring occasionally, making sure not to split the cranberries. Refrigerate, covered in an airtight container, until ready to serve. You can serve this salsa well-chilled or hot. It is great on duck, pork, ham or chicken.

Macaroni and Cheese
kosher salt
vegetable oil
1-pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 oz Gruyere cheese grated (4 cups)
8 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 lb fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package; drain well. Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt six tablespoons of butter in a large (four-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for two minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for one to two minutes, until thickened and smooth. Take off the heat and add Gruyere, cheddar, one tablespoon of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a three-quart baking dish.

Slice tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt remaining two tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.
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