Inspiration on Parade

Whether you’re shopping for a new home, looking for ideas for your next big remodeling project, or simply curious about life in a particular neighborhood, turn to this season’s crop of home tours. These events, often hosted by builders’ associations, historic preservation groups or neighborhood clubs, grant a behind-the-curtains peek into a community’s standout residences. Some tours feature new builds ready for purchase, some open privately owned homes to the public and others showcase a mix of both. All offer a wealth of inspiration.

For prospective buyers, these tours are more than a window into individual homes for sale—they’re a way to take the pulse of a neighborhood. Home tours “give a feel for different communities,” says Vicki Pelletier, vice president of
operations at the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. “You can see how that community lives, how it thrives, and what the neighbors and schools are like.” Home tours also make it easy for vacation homebuyers to comparison-shop in different mountain towns. “Visitors are interested in seeing what their dollar buys them in our local market,” says Laurie Peter of Colorado Group Realty in Steamboat Springs.

Those not in the market for a new home also benefit from the tours, which show off properties at their best—from beautifully appointed historic residences to modern dwellings. “Model homes are great for giving you new ideas,” Pelletier says. “They’re all very current on color trends, lighting, and ways to open up and soften a room. You can walk in and imagine that room as if it were in your own home.” At the Colorado Group Realty’s annual Parade of Homes, people bring their cameras and notepads, Peter says. And because some events invite the builders, designers and landscapers to mingle with visitors, guests can connect with local experts and garner inspiration for their own home.

Mark your calendar for these top Colorado home tours:

Jewels of the Highlands Home Tour, Denver
“An opportunity to see houses that you don’t get to step into every day,” says Jenny Apel, tour co-chair and owner of Nostalgic Homes brokerage. Tour 13 privately owned homes in northwest Denver featuring a mix of cutting-edge new construction, Victorian mansions and bungalows throughout the LoHi, Berkeley, Sunnyside and Highlands neighborhoods. Ticket sales benefit the Denver School of the Arts. May 1, 12 pm-5 pm, $15;

Washington Park Home Tour, Denver
Stroll through five private homes on this southeast Denver circuit, which features everything from a historically preserved Tudor to a remodel with contemporary accents. “We get a mix of buyers, people looking for inspiration and people who like the history of the neighborhood,” says Rebekah Marcus, co-chair of the Washington Park Home Tour Committee. Tickets to the event, a fundraiser for Steele Elementary School, include admission to a plant sale, art show and other attractions at Steele, as well as the chance to tour the school’s historic planetarium. May 7, 10 am-4 pm, $15 (day of tour, $20);

Colorado Group Realty Luxury Home Tours, Steamboat Springs
Each Wednesday from June through August, Colorado Group Realty opens a new, fully furnished for-sale home to the public. “You see something different each week,” says Laurie Peter, advertising coordinator for the brokerage. “We have homes in a variety of styles—classic mountain and mountain contemporary; homes with a southwestern flair; and some that are sleek and modern.” The brokerage also runs a Parade of Homes event each August, where seven owners of private luxury homes welcome their neighbors in for a look. Wednesdays, mid-June through August; 4 pm-6 pm; free;

Dream Home Series (Denver Parade of Homes), Denver Metro area
Denver’s biggest home tour, this ongoing event lets visitors come and go as they please over three and a half weeks and features dozens of new homes (though only a handful earn the “Dream Home” title). These luxury residences—all priced at $1 million or more and fully furnished, decorated and landscaped—represent the cream of the new real estate crop from Loveland to Parker. August 11-September 5, free;