Concept to Completion- The Making of a Parade Home

October 18, 2019
gretl home

Each home that we build by Gretl Crawford Homes has its own personal story because of our clients. This fall, I wanted to share a special story behind our entry into the Tri-Cities Parade of Homes this year. 

The Parade of Homes tour occurs every fall, just after kids are back in school, summer is winding down, and we begin looking forward to spending time indoors and updating décor for the change in season. This particular story is a reminder to me and to my team of why we do what we do, and why it is so important–because we know that we are not just building a home, we are building relationships and helping our customers construct the homes of their dreams.

This year’s Parade of Homes story actually began seven years ago, in the fall of 2012, at

 an earlier Parade of Homes entry of ours. That year, a young woman–a local physician named Katie Karlson–toured the home we built and fell in love with our entry. She rushed home, told her husband Aaron about it, then called her mom, Metta Marie, who lived a couple of states away, and told her as well about the beautiful home that she had just seen.  Katie mentioned to her mother that this home was built by a female builder, and that if they ever moved to the Tri-Cities, they needed to build with Gretl Crawford Homes.

Katie’s parents decided to move to the Tri-Cities soon after that. Her parents, Dennis and Metta Marie Fife, began working with me long distance in 2013 looking for a lot to build on–which eventually culminated in our building a beautiful custom home for them in 2014. It was from that initial opportunity of ours to build their dream home that relationships were built, and I now consider this family to be a special part of my family’s life. I followed Katie’s personal story via her parents for a few years, and as her young family grew, she and Aaron decided that it was time for them to build a larger home.  Katie was expecting their third child, and since her mom already cared for their young toddler, she wanted to stay close for help with the newest member of the family as well.

Unfortunately, Katie’s parents lived in a neighborhood which was out of lots available for sale or building, but the young couple was determined.  We met and discussed various options, and nothing was falling into place–until they discovered that friends of theirs who lived down the street from her parents had purchased two lots, and had only built on one of them…and…they were willing to sell it! Everything fell into place! Aaron and Katie began the process of purchasing the land in fall of 2018.  Within less than one year, we had completed the construction of their dream home and submitted it as this year’s Parade of Homes entry!

Although Aaron and Katie loved the home that we had built previously for her parents and wanted a similar layout and features for their own home, their new lot was not as big, and had an irrigation and PUD easement that took up 20’ on the western side which we could not build on–making the lot’s total footprint even smaller. For us to give them everything they wanted on that small lot, we had to prioritize necessary spaces on the main floor and spread the remaining areas between a basement and an upstairs, thereby creating a three-story home.  

It is during the “planning-design stage” when we identify the scope of work for any project.  This means outlining EVERYTHING that will go into a specific home: all appliances, plumbing fixtures, final finish selections, window and door trim styles and finishes (both inside and out) and type of lighting needed for each space etc. while still trying to keep within our customers’ budget. Aaron and Katie had very distinct ideas for every space within their home; however, how all of that got coordinated in an organized, intentional, and well-designed manner is where our skills were put to the test. With this home in particular, the small lot footprint as well as some time constraints made for a challenging journey! But as I always tell my staff, “It is from issues or constraints where our best designs actually come from!” I believe that when we have to expand our everyday building expectations, that is when we often create something extraordinary. 

Although our plans began in late fall/early winter of 2018, many of you will remember the horrible snow storm that blanketed the Tri-Cities in January and did not leave until March! We had a three-story home to build, with a full basement and nine-foot ceilings, on frozen ground covered by a couple of feet of snow that would not leave!  We were already behind!

As the ground thawed, we finally started construction, but we knew that we had a tight schedule and no time to lose. This became very stressful for us as the builders, and for our trade partners and suppliers as well–our team in the field.  Luckily, we had, and have, a great team of hard-working, loyal, and diligent folks that work closely with us day in and day out, and who know the value of these Parade Homes, both for our long-term success as well as theirs. They are always “all in,” and I believe that they are also proud to be an integral part of our award-winning entries! I can’t say enough about the people that work on our homes and how much I personally appreciate them. These men and women are the unseen heroes in our beautiful finished products.  With Katie and Aaron’s home construction, we also had an “outside construction specialist” (named Grandma Metta Marie) who would regularly check in on us and assess our progress on her daily walks around the neighborhood with Katie and Aaron’s boys. It was a great team effort!

Building a Parade Home starts with the spark of an idea, and ends as a final, fully furnished, amazing home that the public gets to critique and judge. It is through the challenges and obstacles that we face building these homes where our limits get pushed and exceptional work is done. We do this with pride every year!

This home was built by Gretl Crawford Homes and furnished by Its’s all in the Details retail store.

A special “Thank you” to Aaron and Katie Karlson, and to Dennis and Metta Marie Fife for being amazing people and for their trust in me. -Gretl Crawford

Unique curb appeal: this utilized a mixture of materials for a special home and family.

Space planning:  the main day-to-day living elements are on the main floor, the kids’ bedrooms are nestled upstairs, and the entertainment/active space takes center stage in the basement.

Design: Pella-stained wood windows and custom millwork throughout the house mixed with the “light and airy” design requested by Katie and Aaron required special coordinating of the millwork details’ starting and stopping points. 

 Finishing touches: with a Parade Home this is somewhat burdensome–as we simultaneously make decisions for final furnishings and accessorizing, and all by a deadline of August 28th!  The staff at It’s all in the Details, specifically Roberta, made that a lot easier this year! Building a Parade Home

**This article was originally written for Taylor Living Magazine’s Fall Issue in partnership with Mary Taylor. Photo Credit to Meghan Rickard, Adored by Meghan