East Beach is all about a laid-back, Jimmy Buffet-type lifestyle along the Chesapeake Bay.
Which is why Homearama keeps coming back there. People come by the thousands to see the coastal cottages that make up the Norfolk neighborhood, which was launched when 100,000 attended its first Homearama in 2004, according to organizers.
Porches, walking paths and pocket parks are hallmarks of what is called a "walkable" community just off Shore Drive in the Ocean View area.
This year's East Beach Homearama, the third in its 30-year history, is open through Oct. 28 and promises more of the same: custom-designed, furnished and landscaped houses constructed with efficiency and comfort in mind.
"My favorite feature of the Coastal Haven house is the outdoor living space," says builder Charles Schmitt.
"The house provides a two-story covered front porch and a covered back porch, allowing the homeowner to relax and unwind while enjoying the sounds of the ocean and multiple views of East Beach."
On the structural and energy-efficiency side, some homes are framed with stronger 2-by-6s instead of standard 2-by-4s and insulated with sprayed-in foam.
David DeBord of DeBord Custom Homes uses a new product called Home Slicker, which creates a drain system behind the HardiPlank siding so the wall system is protected from the damaging effects of moisture and mold.
The homes also feature crawl spaces that are sealed so they can be heated and cooled by HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems; energy-saving LED lighting; and Apple's home automation system called Savant Smart Home System.
You'll also see smaller home sizes like the 2,400-square-foot Simple Elegance cottage that includes a finished carriage house, first-floor master suite and covered front porch. It sold for $649,000.
"While a smaller home, it lives very big due to several reasons," says DeBord.
"First is the open floor plan which has the foyer, family room, dining room and large kitchen all tied together as one large space. Then, the 10-foot ceilings on both floors with a wide hallway running down the center of the second floor. Add to this glass transoms over most of the interior doors and the house 'feels' much bigger than it actually is."
On the opposite end is the Exotic Seaside Retreat, priced at $1.7 million, with 3,600 square feet along 120 feet of sandy beach. Three covered porches and bay views from almost every room, including the oversized laundry room, ramps up its specialness.
"Structurally, it's designed with the foundation eight feet high to allow for a water view from the first floor and the first-floor porches," says builder Kyle Riley of Seaside Homes.
Inside, decorator Tiffany Sisolak of Exotic Home Interiors draws on her world travels to create what she calls a "collected" home décor.
"I'm always inspired by mixing styles that you would not normally put together," she says.
"I love the antique door on the stand in the living room. This was a piece I found in India last year; it was salvaged from a haveli, or a private mansion in India.
"Mike Day started the business in 1990 after a backpacking trip just out of college. The items we find are in fact antiques, solid wood and reclaimed items from around the globe.
"The dug-out canoe in the living room, for instance, was a real canoe made out of teak wood that we had cut in half and had shelves placed in it to make a standing book shelf. When you're in the house, notice the old rope tied to the top of it. That wasn't something we added.
"The stories behind the previous lives of so many of our pieces excites me."
This year's Charity House, called The Globe, benefits the Global Friendship House, a residential facility that will house international students at Old Dominion University.
Builder Lori Strickland of Strickland Homes likes the master suite and its loop-like floor plan that flows through the bedroom, master bath, closet and then to the laundry room.
"It's so functional," she says.
"And so luxuriously breezy, a sea of calming blues and whites."
Strickland particularly likes the shower, which she calls a Carrera marble dream with two overhead shower heads and three modern jets. The vanity counter top is quartz that has veining that mirrors the marble in the shower, and a soaking tub with a shining chrome floor-mounted faucet.
"I think I could live in there," she says.
Contact Kathy at email@example.com
See a photo gallery of East Beach Homearama at http://www.roomandyard.com.
Follow East Beach Homearama at Facebook.com/Tidewater-Builders-Associations-Homearama and Pinterest.com/Homearama.
Want to go?
East Beach Homearama showcases 10 custom-built, professionally decorated and landscaped luxury cottages in a self-guided tour that ends Oct. 28. East Beach is located along the Chesapeake Bay on Shore Drive in the Ocean View area of Norfolk. Homearama prices run $640,000-$1.7 million; most of the homes are already sold.
Sponsored by the Tidewater Builders Association, the show is open noon-9 p.m. daily, except noon-6 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10; active-duty and retired military and seniors 62 and older get a $1 discount Monday-Thursday; ages 12 and under free.
Free tickets: Pick up a free ticket Monday, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at the Daily Press office, 7505 Warwick Blvd., Newport News; one per household while supplies last.
Oct. 21 and 27. Fun and games for kids 2-4 p.m.
Oct. 22. Taste of Norfolk with restaurant samplings 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 23. Gifts from the Kitchen with Hampton Roads foodie Patrick Evans-Hylton, 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 24. Mothers Day Out, gates open at 10 a.m. for moms with school-age kids.
Oct. 24. beer tasting with local brews, 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 25. coffee and chocolate tasting 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 28. Sea Monster Mash Party for kids 1-3 p.m.