"Parade Of Homes" Showcases Latest Trends

Forty-five custom homes are open to the public all week long. The annual event is sponsored by the Tyler Area Builders Association.

The homes range from $100,000 to more than $1 million. But whether or not you can afford to buy the houses, you might at least be interested in some of the gadgets and accessories inside them.

We toured one of the nicest and most expensive homes in the parade, located in the Tyler neighborhood Highland Park Estates. It costs $1.3 million.

"We have elliptical arches in this Tuscany-style home and stucco walls," Bob Kurtz, the builder, said. "The elliptical-shaped stairway is suspended with Travertine treads."

It's all about the details. From the soft, sconce lighting to the soft edges on the window sills, the home brings the outside in to make you feel like you're in the Mediterranean.

"Our windows now are more energy-efficient than they were a few years ago," Kurtz said. "All windows have to have low-E glass."

The kitchen is where you'll find the latest appliances to make life easier, like a warming drawer and a built-in refrigerator with a light-up touch pad. And the dishwasher has a popular stainless steel interior, which is supposedly more sanitary and less noisy.

"The granite countertops vary in price, anywhere from $50 to $80 per square feet," Kurtz said. "Any home can change out its Formica countertop or tile to granite."

The media-game room is the hub of modern electronics and an old-style wall-mounted fan. Moving into the bedroom, it's equipped with smart-house technology to let you control and monitor your home. The closet includes a Personal Valet, which takes care of your ironing for you.

The weather outside is hot now, but come wintertime, the foot-warming vents under the bathroom sinks can come in handy.

But this summer, the pool is where you'd probably want to hang out, especially a pool with fountains and an Infinity edge.

The 2004 Parade of Homes runs through Sunday. The homes are open Monday-Friday 6-9pm and additional hours Wednesday and Friday 10am-2pm. This weekend, you can tour the homes 2-6pm.

Admission is $10 or $5 for children 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

For more information, call the TABA at 903-561-3964.

Julie Tam, reporting.