This year’s 71st annual Parade of Homes will showcase the latest trends

This year’s Parade of Homes will be June 18-27.
interior of living room
Photo by Nikki Hansen
Classic Custom Homes of Waunakee Inc. completed this home for this year’s Parade of Homes (June 18-27). This staged house, located in Verona, is one of three Classic Custom Homes in this year’s event.

In 2020, Dane County saw its most new home starts in at least a decade, exceeding 2019 by more than 100 new builds. This year’s data is showing the same trend on a year-to-date comparison.

Many people are reevaluating the function of their homes during these unusual times, says Tonia Crary, interior design/client coordinator for Sun Prairie-based Crary Construction Inc.

“People have been leaving their homes less and want a space designed that fits their exact need,” she says. Which makes a new build, where you can customize every last detail, an attractive option.

Crary Construction is one of 29 builders participating in the upcoming Parade of Homes — hosted by the Madison Area Builders Association, or MABA — which allows residential builders to show off their newest builds featuring the latest trends in home design. It’s also an opportunity for those companies to connect with prospective buyers or renovators who might hire them.

The Parade of Homes, or POH, helps builders lock in their annual client lists, which usually include one to five residential houses for 80% of builders.

With an average attendee count of 10,000 to 11,000 on a normal year, Madison’s POH tour would have seemingly fallen victim to COVID-19 restrictions and public unease in 2020.

kitchen space

Photo by Nikki Hansen

Yet that wasn’t the case for the 70th annual event, which introduced virtual tours, limited capacity for home visits and added a fall event with a different format to keep the tradition alive amid a busy building and renovating market. The centerpiece summer event in 2020 drew 7,000 unique visitors.

“It’s more than we expected would come through,” says Chad Lawler, executive director of MABA. “We had two-hour-long waits to get into some sites.”

living room

Photo by Nikki Hansen

Lawler says they worked with Public Health Madison & Dane County to make sure they hosted a safe event, and some of the modifications might become long-term changes, Lawler says.

2020 is the first year POH included 360-degree virtual tours, which drew an extra 8,000 unique viewers — and those tours won’t go away. “I’m sure there’s some overlap with who came in person, but it did allow those who weren’t able to or didn’t feel comfortable coming in person to still see the homes,” Lawler says. “We will be doing that again. There was a lot of good feedback.”

POH also tested a “scattered” site format for the 2020 fall event, which means parade houses were located all across Dane County, including in Verona, Middleton, DeForest, Sun Prairie and Stoughton. In the past, POH has operated in a “cluster” format, with three to six houses right next to each other in designated neighborhoods. This year’s POH (June 18-27) will be a hybrid of scattered and clustered sites, featuring 40 houses total. Scattered sites result in less crowded tours, which allow the builder and the attendees more time to talk. “It’s good for the attendees and also good for the builders to show off where they actually build,” Lawler says.

bar area

Photo by Nikki Hansen

There will also be a fall event again this year, taking place Oct. 15-17 and Oct. 22-24.

“Right now, building is very strong and there’s a lot of people looking to either remodel or move out of their current place,” says Lawler. “I guess a year being stuck in your house, you find the issues you didn’t notice previously or things that were never issues before become issues.”


Photo by Nikki Hansen

What you’ll see on the tour
We got the inside scoop from Tonia Crary of Crary Construction Inc. on what you’re likely to see at this month’s Parade of Homes. Crary specializes in interior design for her clients and shared a few en vogue elements of home design for 2021:

  1. Farmhouse style is not going away. It’s more sophisticated now, Crary says. “People are packing away rustic tin signs and looking for clean lines and warm woods,” she says. Shiplap is still popular for adding texture to a room, but many are installing it vertically for a modern twist.
  2. The scullery is back. If the word sounds old-school to you, that’s because it is. Dating back to the 1800s, a scullery is a small, tucked away space dedicated to dirty dishes and kitchen overflow. Back in the day, it was about keeping things sanitary, but today a scullery’s purpose is more about providing an extra prep and storage space that’s not ready for Instagram (or dinner party guests, once that’s a thing again).
  3. Bold colors and light woods. Warm colors and neutral woods are replacing cool grays and blues, Crary says. While the white kitchen will seemingly never go out of style, she’s seeing a lot of bold color choices paired with lighter wood tones. Many homeowners are choosing dark hues for siding, but there’s also a trend toward light and creamy stone or brick for both exteriors and interiors.
  4. Rattan returns. Everyone everywhere is wishing they’d kept that oversized papasan chair in the basement after all. Wicker furniture made of rattan is officially experiencing a revival. “We are seeing it all through homes in furniture and accent pieces,” Crary says.
  5. Four more things to keep an eye on: Home offices have moved to the top of homeowners’ wish lists, for obvious reasons. Curved lines are in for windows, archways, islands and furniture. Black trim on windows is a big request, Crary says, but white windows are still a classic choice. Luxury vinyl plank flooring is still reigning supreme for main levels for its looks-like-the-real-thing appearance and durability, which is needed with pets and growing families.

Andrea Behling is the editor of Madison Magazine.