Dreaming of upgrades

Published 10:06 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Despite being a native of Tidewater and a resident of the area nearly my entire life, I have somehow missed attending a Homarama event during more than 25 years of offerings. But having spent some time during the past couple of weeks touring the in-progress homes that will be featured in Carrollton during the Tidewater Builders Association’s first Spring Homearama, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to fit a visit to the showcase into my schedule this time around.

My connection to the construction industry goes back to some of my earliest memories, sitting on my father’s knee as he fiddled at a drafting board he had set up in our attic so that he could work at home some evenings.

I was still pretty young when Dad decided to become a contractor instead of staying in architecture. Eventually, he would own a construction company that built businesses, schools and other government buildings all around Southeast Virginia and Northeast North Carolina. You’d recognize some of them right here in Suffolk.

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But somewhere in the midst of all that, he found time to put his pencil to paper one more time and design the house that we would build in North Suffolk. Dad’s gone now, but more than 30 years after we hammered the last nail, I live in that house again.

I still remember my father showing me the plans he had drawn and talking about putting a loft in my bedroom. At 13, I couldn’t believe how cool my room was going to be. I would surely be the only person I knew with a two-level bedroom. This would not be your ordinary house, I realized.

I found myself experiencing the same sort of gee-whiz anticipation as I toured the houses that are scheduled for showing during the Spring Homearama. Most still were awaiting carpets, flooring and other finishes, but it was easy to see that these homes would not be ordinary, either.

One of them even has a hidden room, accessed by a sliding bookcase. That might be cooler than the loft that Dad designed or even better than the idea that I pitched to him for a treehouse connected to the main house by a large, sealed tube. (Sadly, he shot down that suggestion.) A hidden room adds an obvious element of mystery to a home that really can’t be equaled.

Homearama will feature houses with double-sided fireplaces, houses with outdoor entertainment centers, houses with bathrooms lavish enough for a prince, houses with man-caves that ooze testosterone. And those are just the impressions from seeing the unfinished products. I can’t wait to see them when they’re done.

Having moved with my wife back into the home that my father designed and built, I’m relatively content with my living situation now. But there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about a few modifications here and there. I wonder where Dad’s old drafting table ever got to.