Even though 2011 was a down year for the housing market, it was an up year for housing events in Hampton Roads.
February through November, southeastern Virginia was the scene of three nationally recognized homes, as well as the Peninsula's own Parade of Homes showcase of new custom homes and its first Remodel Mania home-renovation project.
Here's a look at the highlights of each:
Virginia Beach: Extreme Makeover
In February 2011, Beverly Hill moved out of her 1,200-square-foot rancher and into a 4,000-square-foot house, thanks to thousands of local volunteers and HGTV's "Extreme makeover: Home Edition" TV show. Duane Cotton, a Hampton native and owner of Trademark Construction in Chesapeake, helped bring the project to Virginia, coordinated the home's construction and continued to be its main cheerleader.
Hill and her family — husband and six adopted daughters — were chosen for the project because their original house was badly in need of repairs, and she had cramped quarters for fixing the food and gathering the clothes and blankets to give to the homeless community she regularly helps. See a recap and video of the TV show at http://abc.go.com/shows; look for the Hill Family, Season 8, Episode 9, aired April 24.
Mathews: Blog Cabin
After renovation experts and celebrities from the DIY Network remade a 1905-built farmhouse on Mobjack Bay in Mathews County, a woman in Ohio won it on her birthday, Oct. 7. The lucky birthday girl was among more than 8.9 million entries. The house and 16 acres is estimated to be worth around $800,000.
Over the course of weeks, the farmhouse had its interior torn out, taking it down to stud walls, and then it was given a modern-day look and feel. From time to time, viewers were given the chance to vote on materials, such as flooring, countertops and room colors.
This month, Blog Cabin begins work on an 1880s farmhouse in Waldoboro, Me., and viewers can once again vote on design features at the show's website at diynetwork.com/blog-cabin. The show airs in August with another chance for a lucky person to win the oceanfront home. You can also see the Mathews project at the show's website.
Norfolk: Ultimate Beach House
Coastal Living magazine sponsored the construction and interior design of the best of beach houses at East Beach, a neighborhood in the Ocean View area of Norfolk. Just steps away from the Chesapeake Bay, the two-story house features rooms with bay views and cooling breezes. When you enter the house, you feel stresses and strains just melt away. Beach thinking takes over. Walls and accents in the rooms are done in pale sea glass colors — not bright beach ball colors — leaving you relaxed and in vacation mode 24/7.
Florida architect Steve Mouzon built the 3,100-square house, wanting to prove a house can allow three generations to co-exist as their ages and needs change.
First- and second-floor master suites add flexibility. For example, an upstairs master suite allows parents with young children to sleep there until the kids are teens and the parents want to move to a more private master suite downstairs. When aging elders need a place to stay, the parents can go back upstairs. When the elders are gone, the parents, now older themselves, can head back downstairs. Learn more about the house at http://www.coastalliving.com.
Hampton: Remodel Mania
In one week, Kathy Townsend's 1,050-square-foot home was given a total redo, valued at about $120,000, as part of the first Remodel Mania project sponsored by the Peninsula Remodelors Council, an arm of the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association. More than 120 companies and 80 volunteers donated materials and time to provide everything new — from the roof to the driveway and inside with new custom kitchen, bath and hardwood floors. The house was also made energy efficient with insulation and new heating and air systems.
"Are you sure this is our house?" said Townsend, 55, when she and her two children, Emily, 17, and Tyler, 13, saw it for the first time.
All three were overcome with emotion and gratitude as 200 people welcomed them home after a week's stay at a nearby hotel while the work was done. Townsend has been a single mom since her husband died in 1998.
"I never envisioned we would live in a house like this," said Townsend when she saw the built-in office space she now has for her work as a medical transcriptionist at home. Before, she worked in a corner of the cramped kitchen.
"We are so thankful."