For thousands of home shoppers, a chance to dream

June 13, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

They came seeking ideas on how to redecorate the den, sink a whirlpool into the bathroom or remodel the kitchen with the most up-to-date ranges and countertops. They took mental notes on innovative floor plans, multi-tiered deck designs and space-saving storage in walk-in closets. Others shopping new or custom homes came to check out local builders' work.

But most visitors to Dream Homes '94 yesterday came to gawk, craning their necks at skylight cupolas, peering over third-floor balconies at marble-floored foyers, letting their mouths drop at the sight of hand-painted solariums and a shower stall for two with seats.

During its opening weekend, the Home Builders Association of Maryland said the exposition drew about 8,000 people, paying $6 each to tour nine showcase mansions in the new Woodridge subdivision in northwest Baltimore County. Part of the admission fee for daily tours through June 26 will go to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Children's House.

When they emerged from the $775,000 Chase Presidential -- built by Landmark Homes -- Dot Rabenstein and Betty Puckett lamented they'd soon have to return to their "reality homes" in Severn in Anne Arundel County.

"I can see why they call it a dream home," said Ms. Rabenstein, after touring the 7,200-square foot home, the show's largest. "It has everything you'd want in a home. But I wouldn't want to have to clean it."

Other visitors also couldn't help but think practically while gazing at homes peppered with wet bars, two-sided fireplaces and built-in bookshelves. A crowd stood in awe at the entrance to the living room in Clark Turner's Chase Presidential, surveying the soaring ceiling, detailed molding and windows above three sets of french doors. One man remarked, "How do you wash those?"

By mid-afternoon, a steady stream of visitors walked or rode shuttles from house to house along the one-third-mile Woodfield Court -- sometimes standing in line to get into homes.

Many came in search of decorating or remodeling ideas. Jennifer Harris, 23, of Severn, who plans to be married soon and buy a home in the next couple of years, took the tour with her mother to find out about options available in new homes. Dan and Rosemary Maynard, of Mount Airy, said they're remodeling their kitchen and liked the idea of kitchen islands with five or six burners. Persila Mertz, a physician who plans to build a new home, said she found herself particularly interested in new kitchen appliances, parquet wood floor designs and exterior building materials.

"It's nice to get ideas," she said. "We like to draw little plans."

Visitors listed spacious, elegant foyers and large, plentiful windows among more impressive features and said they expect at-home movie theaters, shown in three homes, to become more common.

Some criticized floor plans for wasting space, especially those with long hallways. Others complained about too-small bedrooms. One visitor noted that a dining room's layout did not leave enough space for furniture, such as a buffet.

Though only three of the Dream Homes mansions have sold so far -- those by Orion Homes, Ashley Custom Homes and Williamsburg Builders -- builders said they felt satisfied with the exposure they and their suppliers have gotten.

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