If, as a child, your idea of a playhouse was a blanket thrown over a card table, you'll be astonished at the sophisticated structures on display at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
Or you may just be envious.
The 12 whimsical children's playhouses--done up like a tugboat, a teahouse and even a pint-sized department store--will be auctioned Oct. 16 to raise money for homeless shelters in Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
In its eighth year, the Project Playhouse auction benefits HomeAid, a nonprofit organization that builds and renovates shelters for temporarily homeless men, women and children.
In the past, auctiongoers have paid between $1,800 and $38,000 for the playhouses, raising more than $1.2 million for HomeAid of Orange County.
This is the first year that HomeAid of Los Angeles/Ventura will participate in the event. Both organizations were established by regional chapters of the Building Industry Assn.
Since its founding in 1989, HomeAid Orange County has completed 30 shelters using more than $12 million in donated funds and materials. More than 25,000 people from some 1,500 companies have volunteered their time and skills to assist the group.
HomeAid Los Angeles/Ventura, established in 1997, is building a shelter in Pasadena called Euclid Villas, which will serve the homeless in the San Gabriel Valley.
Tickets to the auction party and dinner at Fashion Island, available through HomeAid or on weekends at the shopping center, are $20 for adults and $5 for children in advance of the event.
Tours of the playhouses are available on weekends until Oct. 16 for $5. A tour is also included in the price of an auction ticket.
The playhouses also may be viewed online at http://www.homeaid.org.
This year's playhouses, along with the builders and architects:
* "The Wishing Well Cottage" by the LeBon Family, builder Dave Mulvaney and architect Richard Krantz: a thatched-roof English cottage featuring an eclectic combination of a wishing well, fireplace with hideaway niche and cable-TV access.
* "Fallen Leaf Manor" by Osborne Development and architect Wayne Collins: a Victorian-style playhouse with a copper roof, stained-glass windows, a turret with a rope ladder and a mini-kitchen with plumbing.
* "The Little Neimans" by Neiman Marcus with Tony Valentine Construction and JBZ Architecture & Planning: for the young shopaholic, a mini-Neiman Marcus department store with display windows and a fashion-show catwalk.
* "Montecito" by Capital Pacific Holdings Inc. and architect Fari: a Mediterranean-style playhouse with working windows that mirrors in small scale the builder's homes in Newport Coast.
* "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by Pardee Homes and Bassenian/Lagoni Architects: a cottage with built-in bookshelves, cushioned window seat, mini-fridge in a kitchenette with plumbing and an intercom system.
* "The Enchanted Tree House" by Presley Homes and JBZ Architecture & Planning: a 15-foot-tall illuminated treehouse with a loft, pine flooring and rope ladder, all accompanied by the sound of chirping birds.
* "The Owl and the Pussycat" by the Richard F. Crawford Co. and architects Robert Borders & Associates: a tugboat design with teak decks, a captain's wheel, electronic gauges and switches and a whistle.
* "Magnolia Manor" by Taylor Woodrow Homes and EBTA Architects: a miniature Southern mansion with chandelier, green leather chairs, secret doors and a "guest house" for pets.
* "Enchanted Cottage" by Terry Lumber and DiCecco Architecture: an A-frame entrance of tongue-and-groove cedar leads into a "storybook" themed playhouse that is accented by river rock and a jigsaw pattern of different kinds of wood.
* "Kimono-Ver and Play" by Trimark Pacific Homes and architects Urban Arena: a Japanese-style pagoda with a tiled roof and sliding panel doors that was designed with the elements of feng shui in mind.
* "Victorian Enchantment" by William Lyon Homes Inc. and architect William Hezmalhalch: a Queen Anne-style cottage with a winding staircase, bay windows and an upstairs tower stocked with hats and boas for playing dress-up.
* "The Lighthouse Within" by WMC Development and architects Sinclair and Associates: this lighthouse-themed playhouse comes with telescopes and maps of faraway places, a sleeping bunk and a "navigation station."
For more information, call HomeAid of Orange County at (949) 553-9510.