PIEDMONT -- It's always fun to enter people's homes and sneak a peek at how they live, checking out architectural and design styles, details of furnishings and home décor.

In support of this pleasure, the Children's Support League of the East Bay (CSL) is again offering its Heart of the Home Tour on April 25-26, a fun-filled excuse to invite yourself into five view-worthy homes in Piedmont and the Oakland hills.

It's an opportunity to indulge in beautiful surroundings, visit a pop-up boutique, enjoy a gourmet lunch and give back, knowing that all proceeds from the event benefit organizations in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that support at-risk children.

At the forefront of the day is the home tour of five properties, all built in the early to mid-20th century and represent a variety of styles, from Tudor, Colonial, brown shingle and traditional to contemporary, with up-to-date remodels, additions and bold décor. Each was selected with close consideration to offering tour-goers something unique.

"We look for homes that capture the imagination and attention of tour-goers; homes that have something different that the public haven't seen before and that haven't been open to the public," said Stacy Mattson, tour co-chair.

Visitors to the tour come away with ideas for remodeling and decorating, and the tour book, a wonderful resource with extensive write-ups and information on architects, contractors, designers and suppliers for each home.

"People walk away realizing what the possibilities are, especially with a home that's more of a modest size, people see how it can be beautiful in different ways," said Lee Eisman, tour co-chair. "Every home on the tour is not a mansion and that's what's nice for people to see."

One of the three Piedmont homes is on Crocker Avenue, a beautiful Tudor with an extensive, around-the-world art collection that the owners have incorporated into their daily living spaces throughout the house. The modern and ancient art pieces and heirloom antiques grace the expansive living room, dining room, home office, remodeled kitchen and butler's pantry, and upstairs bedrooms.

In second Piedmont home on Crest Road, a surprise awaits as the midcentury Colonial exterior hides a complete indoor transformation from a warren of rooms into a contemporary light-filled space with clean Scandinavian design. Once the total excavation was completed, great care went into choosing every detail of shape, texture, materials and color palette.

On Oakland Avenue, a carefully renovated 1912 Craftsman with warm, inviting spaces completes the Piedmont roster. More traditional, the home is filled with warm wood, treasures from the homeowner's travels and an elegance that asks to be lived in, from the gracious interiors to the spacious deck, front porch and outdoor living spaces.

Two other properties are located in the Oakland hills. The Country Club Drive home displays a complete transformation centered around fantastic bay views and entertaining. The owners completely gutted the house and from a lava-rock house created a modern yet warm contemporary, with all the latest in technology.

As their family grew, the homeowners at Harbord Drive were unable to find anything they liked as well, so they decided a major addition would create a beautiful space for their family of five. The renovation pushed out walls, added rooms and living levels and expanded outdoor spaces to take advantage of the spacious lot.

Along with the self-paced tour that can be completed over one or two days, participants can indulge in the Pop-Up Boutique at the Piedmont Community Center, where vendors will tempt browsers with trendy fashion and home accessories, jewelry and gifts, as well as lunch from gourmet food trucks and Lemon Girl pastries. Raffle tickets will also be available for a variety of must-have items.

The home tour is a thoughtfully executed event, many months in the planning. It combines maximum pleasure for guests with maximum rewards for nonprofit agencies that receive grants in support of their services for at-risk children. The services run the gamut from educational support, homelessness, domestic abuse and special needs to children's programs at shelters and counseling.

Combining the proceeds from ticket sales, vendors' contributions, underwriters and advertisers, lunch, raffle tickets and silent auction allowed CSL to give $225,000 to 26 agencies in 2013.

FYI
What: 26th annual Heart of the Home Tour by Children's Support League of the East Bay
When: April 25 and April 26
Cost: Advance tickets are $45 on tour only; $55 for tour with lunch; VIP tickets at $125 include a gala kickoff party April 24 at a sixth home and a pretour guest speaker, continental breakfast and silent auction at one of the Piedmont homes. Day of tour tickets can be purchased at the Piedmont Community Center, 711 Highland Ave. Regular tickets are $50 or $62 with lunch.
Details: Pop-up Boutique open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 25 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 at the Piedmont Community Center.
Information: For more information, purchase tickets: www.ChildrensSupportLeague.org. To volunteer as a tour docent contact customCreationsInteriors@yahoo.com.