“Welcome to the Fall Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase, where you’re sure to find #YourDreamHome.”
So reads the home page for the Parade of Homes website, and, truthfully, it’s not a lie if you do it right. This year, parade goers are given the opportunity to tour 390 new homes from September 12–October 4 and 63 remodeled homes October 2–4. With that sheer number of homes available, there is no doubt that there’s something for everyone.
Even if you’re not in the market to buy a home, the design inspiration is enough to spark creativity to update a room in your home. The Parade of Homes recently completed a research study (using exit interviews, focus groups, and phone surveys) to determine why people enjoy the tour. Two clear groups were established: those who go for inspiration to see the latest and most exciting products, features, and designs for homes, often in a luxurious setting; and those who are planning to make a change to their housing situation and see the Parade of Homes as a great resource to learn about what’s available on the market (prices, neighborhoods, builders).
Wendy Danks, director of marketing and communications for the Parade of Homes reflects on the 67 years the parade has been operating. “Just like Home and Garden TV, Houzz, Pinterest, and other social platforms that show photos and videos of homes, the Parade of Homes is all about showing you cool and interesting ‘stuff’ for homes,” she says. “When you tour you actually get to touch and experience the colors, flow, style, and materials in person (the best way to get a real sense of the spaces).”
The Parade of Homes has also been true to its promise: come and see the widest variety of home styles, sizes, prices, and types to tour, with no obligation. It’s perfect for those in the early stages of looking for a home to do research about new construction, builders, and of course find a style that works for their family. But it’s also perfect for finding that new color to paint your bedroom, a gorgeous lighting fixture that will fit in your dining room, even a new way of arranging furniture to make your room feel bigger. And of course, who doesn’t like to visit those million-dollar homes just to see what they’re like? The lowest priced home on the tour is $184,000 and the highest is $3.7 million, and homes fall everywhere in between.
For first time parade-goers, there are three simple tips to help make it an enjoyable experience. The first, and perhaps most often overlooked, is to wear comfortable, slip-on shoes with socks. Most homes you visit will ask that you remove your shoes in deference to the home’s future owners. Next, be sure to ask questions and imagine yourself living there.
The last tip that Danks gives to newcomers is to use the website (www.paradeofhomes.org) to help narrow your search — filters for price, location, school district, size, and more can help you select just the homes you want to tour. Then save them to your own Trip Planner (use the log-in at the top left) which can actually route your map between homes. Then when you tour, bring your smartphone or tablet and log into your Trip Planner to take you to each home.
“The people involved in building new homes, and remodeling current homes are truly artisans,” Danks says. “They take huge pride in completing a house that will become the center of one family’s life. I’ve been interviewing builders for over 35 years and I’ve never met anyone who said building homes was just a job — this is their way of leaving their stamp on the world.”
Parade-goers should be on the lookout for this year’s Dream Homes. In each Parade of Homes event, the parade’s charitable arm, the BATC Foundation, selects two to four homes that are truly spectacular. Those homes are dubbed Dream Homes (or Dream Remodeled Homes in the Remodelers Showcase), where visitors are asked to pay a charitable donation of $5 to tour. The proceeds then go toward building and remodeling homes for area families in need — like two current projects: an adaptive new home being built for a wounded Afghanistan war veteran and a major remodeling project to make Bluebird House (a group home where four medically fragile young men live) more comfortable and livable, including adding a family room so all four residents can spend time together in one space.
Of course, every year brings something new to see in terms of layout, décor, colors, styles, etc. But the formula — tour hundreds of homes for free — hasn’t changed. This year, the parade is again noting the homes that have a Green PathHome Performance Report (to help visitors understand expected energy use on these homes that have been independently inspected and rated). Unique to this fall, the parade has a focus on outdoor living, and there is a giveaway for a backyard barbecue party for 20, catered by the Rack Shack with a guest appearance by local radio celebrity Brian (BT) Turner.
Parade-goers will note the focus on outdoor spaces with an Outdoor Living Section feature in the guidebook that showcases the latest trends in hardscapes and softscapes from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities’ KARE 11 Backyard build partners.
“The fact is, Minnesotans just can’t get enough of the great outdoors. With long winter seasons can you blame us?” says Katy Baar, the Parade of Homes style editor. Baar notes that when it comes to homes to tour, the most impressive outdoor spaces can be found at the four Dream Homes, which feature over-the-top outdoor living spaces that are sure to impress.
With most of the homes on the tour for sale, the Parade of Homes is obviously for shopping, but it’s also for inspiration. It’s easy to incorporate your favorite features into your own home or plan for the day you purchase your dream home. From swapping out décor, to painting your walls, to replacing your kitchen backsplash or updating your light fixtures — there are endless possibilities.
For more in-depth remodeling help, you’ll want to tour the Remodelers Showcase. This occurs during the last weekend of the Parade of Homes and allows tour-goers to visit 63 remodeled homes.
Whether it’s looking for a new home, remodeling, or you’re just looking for some inspiration to update your own space, Baar says you can find inspiration in everything, and make it fit your lifestyle. “Be creative, and know that there are no boundaries or limits,” she says. “Also, I’ve learned that while certain trends may come and go, the homes on the Parade of Homes are built by some of the best builders in this industry, with customized finishes and architecture, plus tasteful design that’s built with integrity that transcends the test of time.”
When it comes to design and décor, Baar recomends you go with what you love. “The Parade of Homes is a great way to discover what you love and allows tour-goers to see multiple styles, price ranges, neighborhoods, and trends,” she says. “Mix and match to create your perfect home, and then go with the features you can’t live without.”
Fall Parade of Homes Trends
With 390 new homes on the Fall Showcase, the design trends are vast and the inspiration is endless. Baar notes a few popular concepts you may see a lot of.
Rustic farmhouse accents: Upcycled barn wood or white bead-board used for accent walls. Sliding barn doors are popular and mini versions can sometimes be seen in the family room to hide the TV. Wooden ceiling beams. Farmhouse sinks and rustic accessories. This look pairs nicely with other styles, even contemporary.
Shades of gray: Still a popular tone, you’ll see a lot of gray walls on the Fall Tour. Dark, charcoal/black walls take this trend to another level. The dark walls add drama and flare, plus a touch of elegance. For a kids space, a black chalkboard wall will be a fun and perfect addition.
Mixed metals and the return of gold: We’re seeing a lot more gold accents, lighting, and knob/drawer pulls than previous years, though silver and pewter tones are still popular. Mixing your metals is a look that works as well.
Open shelves or glass-front cabinets show off beautiful dishware and accessories. This is a popular look in a white kitchen with a monochromatic style.
Pattern and texture: The Moroccan trellis pattern is hugely popular and extremely versatile. From pillows and throws to lighting and backsplash, wallpaper, and carpet, this pattern is everywhere!
Ceiling candy: Lots of ceiling beams and ornate detailing. In our Dream Homes you’ll also find impressive archways and textured ceilings.
Painted islands: There are a lot of white kitchens on the Parade of Homes and, with a neutral backdrop, many kitchens feature painted islands for pops of color or mix-and-match wood (for instance, white kitchen cabinets combined with a dark-stained wood island).
Upstairs loft spaces are a popular feature among family homes because they can serve as an added media/play room or study area for schoolwork.
Bonus rooms: Extra spaces can be converted into a room that fits your lifestyle. Most common are exercise rooms, craft rooms, and basement wine rooms.