OAKLAND -- Anyone who has remodeled a kitchen knows that it may be a headache, but a beautiful kitchen is the heart of a house.
Now there's a chance for locals and visitors from around the Bay Area to not only get some remodeling inspiration but to get a glimpse of the eclectic and charming homes of Rockridge.
"You really want to see inside some of these houses," said Keziah Moss, a volunteer helping to organize the 2013 Rockridge Kitchen Tour.
During the half-day of the self-guided event, patrons can wander through nine open kitchens, where they will be met by docents and given a brochure full of information on the remodels. It's the 10th anniversary for the tour, which occurs every two years. It's organized by and benefits the Rockridge Community Planning Council, whose mission is to preserve the neighborhood's flavor and encourage local involvement.
"It is a wonderful fundraiser for the community," said Moss, who moved to Rockridge a year ago to teach physical education at Claremont Middle School.
The nine kitchens in the tour were picked from a pool of applicants. To qualify, kitchens had to have been remodeled within the past couple years. And to be picked, they had to stand out -- for beauty, problem-solving or just plain interest. Moss said it wasn't just high-end kitchens that made the cut, it was ones that had something special.
One of her favorites is in a house full of South American folk art. Rather than making a purely utilitarian kitchen, the owners decided to extend the art into every space.
"The whole kitchen sort of reflects that same feel," she said.
Another kitchen on the tour is that of filmmakers Robin Mortarotti and Normandie Ramirez. Their 100-year-old hills house was designed by Louis Christian Mullgardt, but the kitchen had already been renovated years ago. When the couple decided to renovate, they knew they had to make big changes.
"Doors were literally falling off hinges," Mortarotti said.
Working with contractors they knew, including Alfredo Sanchez, and getting the help of architects Mercedes Corbell and Andrew Lee, the pair created a large, light open space that leads into the garden. Wood molding and marble counters keep a stylistic integrity with the home's original details, but a whole wall of cabinets was also removed and replaced with glass doors.
"We wanted a way of bringing the yard into the living space," he said.
Mortarotti said he isn't worried about the hundreds of people who will tramp through his house -- he plans to visit the other houses on the tour, too.
"It's fun to connect with your community," he said.
What: 2013 Rockridge Kitchen Tour
When: 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Sunday
Tickets: $35 online by Friday at www.rockridgektichentour.org/. Advance tickets at $35 are available at Rockridge Home, 5418 College Ave. Day-of tickets ($40) are available at the registration desk in front of the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Ave., beginning at 11 a.m. and throughout the day.