Nine custom homes at The Riverfront highlight 2011 Homearama

Home exterior at nightThere are more than 100,000 reasons for the Fall 2011 Homearama at The Riverfront at Harbour View in Suffolk.

Thats how many people are expected to make the pilgrimage to the custom-home show through Oct. 30, and buying a new home is just one of the reasons.

Indeed, some come looking for that dream home. Others come seeking ideas to retool an existing dream. Still others come to dream and marvel at the latest innovations in home construction, design and technology.

Barbara and Rudy Burwell of Chesapeake came looking for ideas for their soon-to-be-built retirement home, looking for features that we both like in each house, Rudy said. I really liked the man cave, he said, referring to the theater rooms at the Treasure Chest house by Joey Corp. and the Tee Time house by ABT Custom Homes.

I love the spacious outdoor living design and covered patio, said Barbara, referring to leisure attractions at the Coastal Cottage by Sasser Construction and Justin Kauflin House by Clark Whitehill.

First-time homebuyers and newlyweds Kathlyn and Jeremiah Macasaet of Virginia Beach came for the landscaping, Jeremiah said. The couple just bought their home three months ago. Were definitely looking for ideas, he said.

And Dale Francis, a native of Barbados, enjoys her Chesapeake home but needs to upgrade. Plenty of closet space, large kitchen that I can entertain family members, she said. Because when my island folks come they come seven at a time.

Its the 30th year the Tidewater Builders Association has presented the homes show. Unique at The Riverfront at Harbour View is that all nine custom homes can be viewed in one glance because of the island park layout.

They represent the newest additions to The Riverfront, developed by East West Communities and featured in the 2001 Homearama. Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, tennis and volleyball courts, retail shops, restaurants and sweeping vistas at the confluence of the James and Nansemond rivers.

The 3,721-square-foot Justin Kauflin House is the first on the block when you enter the new community. Its the designated charity house this year, named for the accomplished jazz pianist of Virginia Beach who was awarded a builders association college grant in 2004.

Interior design students from Tidewater Community College and the Art Institute of Virginia Beach competed for design of a room in the house. Art Institute students won the competition for their design of a teen den.

Other highlights include 19-foot vaulted ceilings in the master suite, stone fireplace, textured wallpaper, second-floor porch and brick and stone exterior.

At $750,000, the Kauflin House is also the priciest of the homes, which start at $550,000. Sale of the house will help fund the associations scholarship foundation.

Other theme homes bear the names of local corporations or unified causes. Volunteers at the Get Pink With Sentara House are offering breast health information and promoting mammograms and health screenings. And, you can get a chair massage.

More than the names of homes, however, are the features inside the homes that seem to drive the popularity of the show.

Each home features the latest and best, including: custom cabinetry, touch-sensitive faucets, vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors, cascading water at poolside and man caves with wet bar, 120-inch TV and a half bath. On some homes, designers dusted off ideas from the past and offered interior pocket doors and wrap-around front porches.

Elsewhere, technology abounds with teen and childrens media centers and fingertip control of security, appliances and home entertainment from an iPad. Furnishings, including art and luxury cars, are thrown in to add to the ambience.

Prospective buyers should hurry, though. Even before the 16-day show opened Oct. 15, at least three of the nine homes had been sold and a fourth had a pending contract. A bevy of real estate agents and bank representatives are at the ready to discuss the possibilities with would-be buyers.

Perhaps more than anything, Homearama keeps alive the dream of home ownership.

I come every year just to see whats new, said Kelly Braxton of Norfolk.

Ive been coming since he was born, she said, hugging her 6-year-old son, Kevin. Im just browsing, still dreaming. But one day, who knows?

James Thomas Jr.,

The Virginian-Pilot
October 24, 2011

By James Thomas Jr.