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Gazebo Getaways : The Favorite Victorian Spots for Trysts Are Making a Comeback

December 21, 1991|MIKE SPENCER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After you gaze at it for a while, what exactly do you do with a gazebo?

If you're Elizabeth Taylor, of course, you get married in one. If not . . . well, you just might have to give it some thought.

Whatever they're good for, the favorite Victorian spots for trysts are making a comeback, popping up everywhere from such posh resorts as the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point to some not-so-posh tract-home back yards.

"We had one customer with space barely large enough to fit one into," says Chet Beiler of Amish Country Gazebos in Anaheim. "But she says they spend almost more time in the gazebo than they do in their house."

The typical customer, however, is someone with a commanding view of something special--the ocean, the mountains or a lake.

Glenn and Sharon Carpenter of Anaheim Hills have a gazebo that overlooks a golf course and, "We love it," says Sharon Carpenter. "It's another little world and so peaceful, we use it a lot. We'll just sit out there and enjoy the view."

Such endorsements as that of the Carpenters are helping Beiler's business grow substantially. When he and wife Sharon and old Pepperdine University roommate Rob Huntington opened shop in 1989, they sold 50 units. That figure doubled in 1990 and could double again this year, putting them well on their way to their goal of 500 annual sales, says Beiler--even though theirs in the top-of-the-line product.

The Beilers and Huntington sell kits for gazebos made of wood handcrafted by members of Pennsylvania's Amish sect. The wood is treated and guaranteed against termites and decay for as long as the buyer owns the property on which the structure is built.

They offer five styles running in size from 8 to 20 square feet and ranging in cost from $2,400 to $20,000, when you start throwing in such items as waved cornices, copper cupolas, wishing wells and bridges. The Carpenters' pagoda-style gazebo cost about $7,000, according to Beiler.

The price also depends on whether the buyers prefer to put it all together themselves or have the company handle the installation. And Beiler insists that the average do-it-yourselfer won't find the task that difficult, just time-consuming.

"Two people could put our smallest model together in six or seven hours," he says, "while a larger model--such as a 12-square-foot pagoda with a two-tiered roof--might take 25 hours."

Of course, that's not counting any ground preparation such as a concrete slabs or subdecks, which Amish Country Gazebos crews can do for additional costs ranging from $500 to $1,250, again depending on the size of the structure and what its use is going to be.

"We've had customers enclose their gazebos for use as poolside bathrooms or even kitchens," he says. Obviously, then, in such cases plumbing becomes an add-on cost, along with the necessary screening or sliding glass doors.

Amish Country is not the only company in Southern California offering gazebos, but it is the only one devoted exclusively to such construction. Almost any architectural firm will design a gazebo and any construction company can build one.

There are lower-cost kits available at many home-improvement stores. In addition, there are do-it-yourself books offering plans and ideas. Sunset's "Patios & Decks" ($6.95) has no plans but, rather, suggests material alternatives, such as the use of benderboards for an open-air structure.

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