Weatherly Stroh added  her home to the 2015  Birmingham Home Tour.

Weatherly Stroh added her home to the 2015 Birmingham Home Tour.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Open the door to inspiration

Home tours show off interior artistry

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 22, 2020

  Home tours give  participants a chance to see how other people in their community have styled their interiors.

Home tours give participants a chance to see how other people in their community have styled their interiors.

File photo by Donna Agusti

 Stroh’s Birmingham  home features many  pieces of her artwork.

Stroh’s Birmingham home features many pieces of her artwork.

File photo by Donna Agusti


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — There’s only so much inspiration we can garner from the pages of design magazines.

For a fresh take on interior design, sometimes it takes the real thing. That’s exactly what home tours provide for their guests — the chance to peek at others’ creativity and spark some of their own.

From contemporary to colonial and every style in between, home tours with multiple locations offer a variety of looks for visitors, with something to appreciate at every one, according to Birmingham resident Rose Pochmara Bolyard, the co-chair of The Community House’s annual Birmingham House Tour for the past two years.

“The first time I went on the Birmingham House Tour, I really appreciated the fact that I could experience such diverse home designs and styles all in one event. It gave me a deeper appreciation of each,” she said. I realized that even if a home wasn’t necessarily my style, I could appreciate the quality craftsmanship showcased, and exquisite attention to detail.”

The 33rd annual Birmingham House Tour to benefit The Community House will take place in the early fall of 2020, and as always, proceeds will go to benefit the nonprofit’s outreach efforts for families in need in the area.

“We estimate approximately 600-900 attendees each year attend the tour. Many are searching for inspiration for their next project or home improvement, while others simply enjoy a fun day out on the town with their friends, family and colleagues to support a great cause,” Bolyard said. “The tour also presents a wonderful platform for local architects, builders, designers, building suppliers and contractors to reach a greater audience where their products or hard work can speak for itself. It’s a win-win.”

Kathie Ninneman, senior director of guest and volunteer services for The Community House, said without a doubt the kitchens are a favorite of visitors, with the latest and greatest appliances and trends.

Second to that, she said people love to see the inside of homes in their neighborhood built by well-known architects like Albert Kahn and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Giving designers the chance to shine is what George Bulanda, marketing and communications director for the Michigan Design Center, loves about the center’s well-known home tours. The Michigan Design Center’s annual home tour will now be hosted every other year as to not interfere with the Junior League of Detroit’s biennial home tour in the spring. It will be back in 2021 with more one-of-a-kind design concepts from well-known experts.

“To me, the tours underscore the difference a professional designer can make,” Bulanda said. “The furnishings, the tiles, the lighting — a lot of it comes from the design center too. People invariably ask, ‘Where did that sofa come from?’ and we’re happy to point them in our direction. But sometimes we feature the designer’s own home, and people want to see more than anything how designers curate their own space. Those are always really popular.”

Since variety is the spice of life, one of the biggest tasks for home tour organizers is to make sure each space is markedly different.

“Our last tour we had transitional, traditional, one with modern art, just a ton of different styles of homes. If you go see four or five ranches, it’s likely you’re going to forget what you saw, because they all look the same,” Bulanda said.

Sure, home tours are a fun day for attendees who get to peek into their neighbors’ unique and thoughtfully designed spaces. But homeowners enjoy themselves too. After all, what’s the point of putting in all that time and effort to create the perfect house, if no one sees it?

“It’s a lovely way for homeowners to share with others the pride they have in their home,” said Ninneman. “We’ve had homeowners tell us that when they come home after the tour, they found the house spotless with no indication hundreds of people had been through that day.”