Underground tunnels among unique features of 2018 Homearama homes

Highlands at Heritage Hill at 3284 Columbia Road, Union Twp., marks the 17th time Homearama is being held in Warren County. This year’s Homearama features 10 homes ranging in cost from $1 million to more than $2 million.

MORE: Take a virtual tour through the Homearama homes

Here are some of the more unique features and trends we saw during a sneak-peek tour of Homearama, which opens Saturday, July 21:

MORE: Everything to know about this year’s Homearama in Warren County

1. Multi-generational homes

Homearama, until this year, has never featured multi-generational homes. This year it features two, both of them by High Pointe Custom Homes.

“These are actually two of the first multi-generational homes that have been built in this region and in the Midwest, for that matter,” said Dan Dressman, executive director for Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati. “What it allows is two or three different families — it could be the in-laws, kids, cousins — they all live in different sections of the house … and then they’re joined together.

In the case of Heritage A (6,475 square feet) and Heritage B (2,705 square feet), a 32-foot underground hall runs between the two homes.

Constructed using a prefabricated concrete bridge structure, the hall is decorated to look like a combination beer hall/wine cellar with giant casks lining each wall, wooden picnic-style tables and benches as well as solid wood, double-arched doors with a speakeasy window into the wine room.

The Lighthouse is a 6,165-square-foot home connected by a secret passageway in a parlor room just off the entrance. A spiral staircase in that same room leads to a second-story crow’s nest.

2. Frontyard social spaces

Rather than sequester family and friends in the backyard for social gatherings, two Homearama 2018 homes put such spaces in the front of the property.

The Ashby Manor by Wieland Builders boasts a Southern style, with a wraparound front porch with a wood-burning fireplace. French doors open the space to the dining room.

The Homegrown by High Pointe Custom Homes puts a fire pit in the middle of a circular driveway in front of the residence. That rarely-found feature allows a homeowner to invite passing neighbors to sit and socialize and, on Halloween, a unique way to ensure trick-or-treaters don’t have far to go to score some candy, according to the builder.

3. Second-floor living rooms

While living rooms once were relegated to the main or lower levels, several Homearama 2018 homes add mini-gathering spaces on the second floor, giving a social aspect to an area once thought only worthy of bedrooms.

4. Refrigerators in pantries

Refrigerators, once the staple of kitchens and basement “man caves,” are fast becoming fixtures of walk-in pantries, as well, assuring meal maker or party planners additional space for lesser-used items.

5. Movie theaters, billiards rooms

Most of the homes at Homearama 2018 feature lower-level getaway spaces meant to give family and friends a place to unwind and have fun.

Stonewood, by Frazier Homes, takes that sentiment one step further. Following a meal, guests can settle into the lower-level media room or gather in the billiards room or recreation room, which features a bar and built-in booth. There’s a television over the bar, one in the billiards room and three in the main recreation area.

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