I try to be a multi-faceted individual. Yes, I enjoy writing this column. I enjoy my work in the community. I enjoy politics and debates. But I also enjoy touring model homes.

Every year I try to do as many Parade of Homes as possible. No, I don’t want to sell my house and move away. I have wonderful neighbors and my house is my pride and joy. Several years ago, I had my attic and roof torn off and added an entire second story. The additional room I got was the same as on the first floor. I added a master bedroom with an attached master bath, whirlpool tub and separate shower as well as a walk-in closet. My children’s bedrooms are large enough to each hold a queen-size bed without overwhelming the room. Best of all, I have what most modern homes do not-a broom closet!

In planning my addition, I used the Parade of Homes as a point of reference for what I like and did not like. I noted room sizes and all the amenities that go with a new home. Many of the new homes that appear huge from the outside can be disappointing when you get inside. One home had the access panels to the hot attic inside a room designed for a young child. It looked like a recipe for disaster!

But the best part of looking at those homes is translating what the decorators did there to what we can do to our homes here in Austin. I saw a room for a teenage boy done in a motorcycle motif. It used a black metal futon for the bed and just a few pieces of furniture. Those homes are an excellent way to learn how to decorate unusual spaces as well as give you ideas on what you might like to do with your own home.

One of my favorite Parade of Homes will start this weekend and go for the next two weekends. It is the 3rd Annual Chicago Luxury Home Tour. If you’ve ever wanted to see what a house that costs from $1-4 million looks like, well here is your chance. And the best part of this home tour is that you can visit the homes over three weekends at your own pace.

The homes are located all over the Chicago area. Last year the tour even included a $2.5 million home at Armitage and Damen. How does this tour work? Well, first you purchase a Passport ticket. You can buy it at Caribou Coffee for $15 or at the first home you visit for $20. As you visit each home, you show the passport and they stamp it. Then you enter the home and see the amenities it offers. Many of the homes are grouped together, so on one weekend you might visit the ones in the western suburbs, the next weekend you do the ones in the northern suburbs and then the northwest suburbs.

Because the homes are built by different builders, they are located all over the Chicago area. For me, I try to look at the floor plan of each house before going inside and seeing if I can tell whether I will like the house or not. Some houses that I thought I would like, I didn’t. Other houses made you wonder what the builder was thinking. Like the house that had the tub set in rough stone. It was beautiful until you imagined sitting on that rough stone as you tried to get in and out of the tub! Needless to say, your bottom would be in for a rude awakening the first time you had to drag it over the rough stone. No one in their right mind would stand entering or exiting the tub because if you slipped and fell and hit your head, you could kill yourself.

It’s also interesting to see the poor designs in homes that are costing well over a million dollars. Yes, even in million-dollar homes you can have someone design a bathroom door that opens in and hits someone on the toilet-or find that those beautiful tiered rooflines translate into bedrooms upstairs with the same roofline inside that are similar to many of us who have turned the attic into an additional bedroom.

Have you been stumped about what kind of dining room furniture to buy? Or how a dining room painted red would look? Do stripes painted on a wall really look as nice as those they show on the design shows on TV? Well, touring these houses, you can see and get many ideas for your own home. The homes have been professionally decorated by top designers. Seeing those homes that cost so much and discovering that, other than the master bedroom, the bedrooms in those houses are similar in size to the ones in an average bungalow is an eye-opening experience. After touring those homes, you may leave them not with a longing for them, but smiling, knowing that our bungalows offer the exact same thing. All we lack are the huge hallways. For more information, visit www.chicagohometour.com.

This Sunday, let’s talk houses, remodeling or whatever else you want, beginning at 9 p.m. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#. For cellphone users, this is just like a local call using your nighttime minutes.

CONTACT: westside2day@yahoo.com