Keeping up with those Joneses – Part 1

Back on October 25-26, the husband and I  walked through all the homes on the AIA (American Institute of Architects) 2014 Home Tour. This has become something that we really look forward to each October and actually remember to look up the dates in advance and get it on our calendar. After glancing at the little thumbnail pictures in the brochure, I was afraid that all the homes would be very similar because the picures all portrayed white, modern rooms. A picture may be worth 1000 words, but in this case, they were the wrong words.

The homes are all considered new construction, but the first one we went into was actually a restoration w/addition to a home built in one of Houston’s original neighborhoods in 1894. Although the inside had a modern vibe, they kept a lot of architectural elements like windowframes consistent with the original house. Also they used reclaimed wood flooring that was very interesting, but didn’t really go with the furnishings that they had staged the house with. It was the only house without a monster kitchen, kind of appealing to the non-cook in me.

At the other end of the spectrum was a 5500 sq ft home in a development of free standing town homes that don’t really have yards but share a central green space. I guess they are not so much town homes as tall homes. It would probably be considered 3 story, but I think there were at least five different levels of rooms. Lots of built in, modular-y storage and two outdoor, rooftop terraces. The master bath had the weirdest sinks I’ve ever seen. They were about 30 inches wide, but instead of having a basin they just sloped from the counter top sideways to a horizontal drain that ran along the opposite edge. The maximum depth was about 3 inches. The kitchen was one wall of cabinets, counters and appliances, a HUGE island and then a large table area with floor to ceiling glass on two sides and flowing into the dining and living rooms the third direction. It was lovely, and felt like a grand space, but actually I was thinking that, really, there wasn’t a ton of storage and no pantry. However, behind the kitchen wall is a hallway that leads to an extra room (guest room/study) and that hallway is lined with sliding panels that hid pantry shelves, a second fridge, a second oven, and more storage. Kind of like a giant butler’s pantry, but behind the kitchen. We actually saw a similar design in another of the tour homes.

One of the houses was nice inside, had a lovely side yard, and the eco-firendly design appealed to me, but it was faced with corrugated metal and held zero curb appeal for me. One home had a very zen-like fire/water/rock theme, but walking across stepping stones to get in the front door just seemed fraught with peril and litigation potential.

One home was monstrous, I think about 6500 sq ft. I liked it because it had the most traditional design, some warmer wood tones and a huge family room that was was separated from the open concept kitchen/dining/living area.

My favorite home was the one with lots of color. It was “only” 2600 sq ft (so slightly larger than ours). There were three comfortable but not enormous bedrooms, a kitchen large enough to accommodate a table that could seat twelve, and two large living areas that were both fairly open to the kitchen, though one had a drape that could be pulled across to provide some privacy and separation. Although it was definitely custom built for this family and their hobbies and lifestyle, it was the one that I could most easily see myself living in. Plus the girls living there were running a lemonade stand (with the proceeds going to charity) and I was thirsty.

The best part about going on these sorts of tours is being opinionated on what I like and don’t and seeing how trendy my tastes are in any given year. More on that tomorrow.

 

 

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