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Home Tours

Tickets Are Now on Sale for the 2023 Lakewood Home Tour 

We talked to organizers about how they plan the annual November event.
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As it does every year, the LECPTA announced the first home of this year's Lakewood Home Tour, a Georgian-style house built in 2021, during the annual 4th of July parade. Courtesy of the Lakewood Home Tour

When Genniva Bruce moved to Lakewood in 2017, she kept hearing about some home tour. For one weekend each fall, the Lakewood Early Childhood PTA opens six neighborhood houses for the general public and the generally curious to tour, raising money for local schools in the Woodrow Wilson High School feeder pattern. The event, which takes place November 11–12 this year, remains popular. More than 2,000 people step across the homes’ thresholds during the two-day event each year. But Bruce thought it was weird. 

“I thought it was strange that people would go into other people’s houses and just walk around,” she says. “Then once I did my first tour, I realized how amazing and fun it is.”

While volunteering with the LECPTA, she was asked to be house docent, leading visitors through one of the homes on the tour. “I stood there and talked about a specific room and the history of that room for three hours,” she says. After her shift was done, she checked out the other houses. Bruce loved going through them, admiring her neighbors’ styles and seeing how they put their homes together. She was hooked. 

Bruce has volunteered on the home tour team ever since. She says she likes the community aspect of volunteering and meeting everyone. And she loves the mission—last year, the home tour raised $355,000 for local schools. And, of course, she likes seeing all the houses. This year, her fifth to volunteer, she’s completing her second stint as co-chair of the whole committee and the event’s organizer.

But planning the annual Lakewood Home Tour is “quite an undertaking,” she says. (Bruce jokes that her kids think she’s working a real job, and she has to respond, “’no, mommy’s just volunteering.’”) Besides coordinating the logistics of the actual tour weekend, she’s planning other events, like their float in the annual 4th of July parade, a kick-off party, a dinner for sponsors, and more. The whole organizing committee has 40 people. “There’s so many people that go into making the whole weekend work,” she says.  

The home tour team is always planning. They already have next year’s head chair in place. But preparations for the fall event begin in earnest around April, Bruce says. During that stage, they’re starting to pick the homes. Some homeowners submit their own houses for consideration, but the committee will “also scout and scour the neighborhood on our own,” she explains.  

Picking the houses is tricky. One of the things that makes Lakewood so special, she says, is the history (the neighborhood’s going on 100 years) and the diversity of the houses. “You might have a Hutsell next to a Georgian next to a mid-century modern or a brand-new build.” They want the tour to reflect that diversity, Bruce says. They don’t just want six new builds on view. And they try to wait at least 10 years before repeating a house on the tour. Even then, they want a repeat house to have something new, like a remodel, about it. 

The team will tour prospective homes mid-May through July. Bruce has lost track of how many houses they’ve visited so far, but she estimates 20 to 30. When walking through each house, they’re looking for what’s interesting about the home, Bruce says. Is it architecturally fascinating? Is the interior design unique? Do the owners collect things, like art or china? How old is the house? People like going through historic homes, she says, and they always want to have at least one on tour. 

Going through the potential houses is one of Bruce’s favorite parts of the gig. “I actually love doing it,” she says, “I wish I could do it forever.” She likes seeing the interior design trends—wallpaper is making a resurgence—and how people decorate their spaces, like the powder bath. She finds inspiration in looking at everyone’s style, even if it isn’t her own. 

“That’s what’s interesting about home tours,” she says, “is you walk in a home and you’re like, ‘I would never do my house like this, but I love and appreciate this person’s style.’” 

Bruce says their goal is to confirm all six houses by the end of July. After that, it’s the homeowners’ responsibility to get their homes ready for the November event. Some use it as a motivator to finish their cast-to-the-wayside home projects. Although, she notes, that if the tour team picks your house, “we think you’re tour ready.” Closer to the event, the team will coordinate the “little logistics,” like bringing in florists and arranging 10–20 docents for each house.

“Basically, they are responsible for making sure the house is exactly the way they want it,” she says, “and then we take over their homes for that weekend and then hand it back to them Sunday evening.” 

The 47th annual Lakewood Home Tour will take place from 11 a.m. November 11 through 5 p.m. November 12. You can see the homes at night during the Saturday evening candlelight tour (from $40), but a $30 general admission ticket (presale tickets are currently listed for $25) will get you access to all six houses during the day all weekend. 

It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to tour each home, Bruce says. They’ll give you a guidebook at your first house with a map and a suggested route to follow. Some Lakewood residents travel from house to house in their golf carts, she says. But whether you visit all the homes in one day or split them over two just depends on your stamina, says Bruce. 

To make things easier for tourgoers, Bruce says they’re planning to have coffee trucks, snacks, and water staged like pitstops around the neighborhood—a first for the home tour. They also are considering hosting popup shops, featuring the tour homeowners’ local businesses, during the weekend. “It’s a great way to highlight them and support our community,” she says.  

That local support gets at the heart of what they’re trying to do, Bruce says. Lakewood has a lot going for it, like its proximity to White Rock Lake, its architecture, and its access to downtown. But what drew her to the neighborhood “was this really wonderful sense of community.” And that’s really what the Lakewood Home Tour is all about.

Get tickets here.

Author

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…
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