The 43rd Annual Benton House Tour of Homes 49 N Sheridanis on Sunday, September 17th 2017, and the Home Tour Committee is now recruiting homeowners to showcase their homes. Consider participating, even if you’re unsure about it. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the tour? Benton House board member and past tour participant Lisa Watson shares her story.

“My house isn’t ready. Maybe next year.”

“I don’t want people riffling through my things.”

“There isn’t anything special about my house.”

These are all things I have heard and possibly even said about participating in the Benton House Tour of Homes. I moved to Irvington in September of 2011 and went on my first tour that month. It was quite simply amazing on a few levels. People volunteering to open their homes up to let strangers walk through?! Now, a few years later, I know that there is no such thing as a stranger in Irvington.

In the spring of 2013, I was asked to be on the home tour and I just wasn’t ready. I said, “There is so much I want to do to the house first.” I had DREAMS! Redo this room, and that one, and that one too! The Home Tour Committee received the “maybe next year” that they so often hear.

The following spring, I was asked again. You know what? I hadn’t done any of the things I had wanted to do, but this time, I said yes.

I had a lot to do. I didn’t really have to, but I wanted to. What committing to the September date did was challenge me to get some of those wish list things done. I replaced a window with French doors and had some landscaping done.

The days leading up to the event were filled with dusting, cleaning, excitement, and a little anxiety. “What if no one likes my home?,” I worried.

The weather on the day of the tour was perfect. Slight breeze, warm but not too hot, humidity was low. Let’s get this thing going!

Friends were in place and knew a bit about my house, if there were questions asked. And then they came. A couple hundred people walked through my home. I met so many lovely neighbors.

It was so worth it. I’d do it again in a minute!

Here are some of the questions (excuses) I have heard for reasons not to be on the home tour:

“My house isn’t ready. Maybe next year.”or “We are in the middle of renovating, but haven’t finished the work.”

Homes in transition are often exactly what people like to see. Being able to see the history evolving – sometimes down to the studs – people love seeing it all! The thing to remember is, this is a home tour, so personality and a lived-in feel is wanted; it shouldn’t feel staged.

“I don’t want people riffling through my things.”

They don’t; they won’t. The people on the tour are extremely respectful and appreciative of the fact that you’ve opened your home. And volunteers keep a watchful eye as they guide visitors and answer questions.

“There isn’t anything special about my house.”

I doubt that. Your statement is invalid! Home tour houses can be large or small; professionally decorated or DIY; filled with antiques, art, or just comfy furniture; or have an interesting or unknown history. Regardless of whether your home has unique nooks or the same features as nearly every house on the block, it’s interesting to someone.

“I don’t want anyone in that room.”

Then close the door! I had child gates in the doors of the two rooms where family members asked that I not let people in them; people could see, but not go in. Others have simply shut the door.

As you can see, having your home on the tour is pretty laid back. Whatever you feel comfortable with is what people experience. All profits from the home tour go to the upkeep and maintenance of the Benton House, which is an Irvington landmark that was built in 1873 and is now restored and open to the public. The Tour of Homes is our largest fundraiser and helps us sponsor community events and maintain the home and property. Help us by showcasing your home. Contact Elizabeth Wissel by phone at 317-572-8584 or by e-mail at bentonhousehometour@gmail.com.