BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
As a plant person, I have a lot of very long and very viney plants, so I’ve spent a lot of painstaking hours figuring out how to arrange my plants and their vines in an artistic way that doesn’t look like something from Little Shop of Horrors or Jumanji. Google wasn’t exactly my friend, and Pinterest looked a little like a nightmare. I was watching HGTV one night, and I saw the coolest thing – a vine wall.
Suddenly, I had an inspiration. I bought knobs from Lowe’s and screwed them into my wall – and ta-da! My vine wall, thanks to me eyeballing someone else’s house, getting the inspiration, and making it my own.
If you’re similar – HGTV-loving, inspired to make things your style by seeing beautiful homes, or maybe just incredibly curious to see how folks make living spaces their own, you’re in luck – the Junior League of Winston-Salem (JLWS) has reimagined its 15th Annual Tour of Fine Spaces, a look inside beautiful homes in the area, as a highly-produced and professionally shot digital adventure, debuting this year on Saturday, April 24 at 10 am, with tickets available to purchase online starting March 15 at jlws.org.
Tour of Fine Spaces is one of the Signature Fundraisers for the JLWS. Last year’s event wasn’t able to happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “That makes this year that much more special because we’re bringing these homes to the people,” said Erin Greene, Chair of the 2021 Tour of Fine Spaces. “The funds we raise are so important to give back to our community through our JLWS programming.”
Tour of Fine Spaces traditionally brings ticket holders to different homes throughout the Triad. Out of caution for COVID-19, the team took a creative approach to create a virtual platform. “It’s going to be a fun event to attend with your friends and family – safely,” said Greene. “Even if you can’t be together, you can watch it together and make it a social opportunity.” There are several ticket levels available, including individual pricing as well as special Tour “packages” with extra goodies from local food and beverage vendors.
Virginia Ellis, Assistant Chair of the 2021 Tour of Fine Spaces, has tapped into her professional life for this event. “I’m incredibly passionate about this industry,” the DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath designer said. “It’s such a great opportunity to highlight all of the talents we have in the community and to showcase unique small businesses.” In the past, homes have been a fun variety of iconic and historic Winston-Salem, newly renovated kitchens, indoor pools, outdoor living rooms, and more. In 2019, one homeowner showcased her completely redesigned, mid-century style kitchen – a vision in turquoise. “The Tour truly shows the variety in our neighborhoods,” said Greene.
One unexpected outcome of the past year has been a boom in home renovations. Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for home professionals in June 2020. With so many people working from home and spending extra time with their loved ones in their houses and backyards, it is not surprising that folks would decide to use this time to tackle the home improvement projects they’ve been dreaming about for years. The JLWS is excited to showcase some of these newly redesigned local spaces in its virtual 2021 Tour.
You might be thinking that a show of homes feels a bit strange considering our current reality with COVID-19 and its ripple effects. JLWS uses this traditional event of showcasing homes and decor to fund its programming in the community, like BookWORM – collecting new and gently used books to connect young readers and families without book access in their homes – and Strong Women Strong Families, its health fair initiative in partnership with local Title 1 schools. Tour funds raised also help support the overall organization’s mission of training women to be community leaders through volunteer service. “It truly is the essence of the JLWS to create several physical touchpoints with the community,” said Ellis. “It’s all about empowering the community around us through various literacy and health initiatives.”
Something to keep in mind – this is one of the JLWS’s largest and longest-running fundraisers. “If you’ve enjoyed the Tour of Fine Spaces in past years, we hope you’ll appreciate the opportunity to continue seeing homes in the area in a safe way this year,” said Greene. “And we hope this new format will be attractive to first-time Tour-goers, as well! The virtual opportunity provides an innovative way to continue our long-standing tradition while keeping our hosts and Tour-goers safe.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit jlws.org/support/fundraisers/tour-of-fine-spaces/.