Amy and Frank Balisciano and thirty-eight other potential buyers participated in the design of the homes at Wallingford’s newest single family community, The Willows. Verna Properties and Sunwood Development have partnered as VW Homes to build The Willows, and they wanted their potential buyers to help design their new homes.
"I was impressed that VW Homes was really interested in knowing what their buyers wanted before they designed the homes," said Amy in describing the large focus group of young couples, empty nesters and families, who spent an evening at Traditions Golf Club discussing exteriors, floorplans and how they planned to use their new home. "VW Homes is trying to design houses that people will love living in," said Amy, who has since purchased a home at The Willows with her husband.
Focus group moderator, Joanne Carroll, posed the key question, "What are the absolute 'musts' for your new home and what are some of the 'extras' you would like to have?
1. VINYL SIDING for low maintenance.
2. FLAT NINE FOOT CEILINGS with CROWN MOLDINGS are preferred over cathedral ceilings because they give height with NO WASTED SPACE ON THE SECOND FLOOR.
3. LARGE FAMILY ROOM / GREAT ROOM, open to a kitchen with GRANITE COUNTERTOPS
4. KITCHEN ISLAND WITH BAR STOOL SEATING and BREAKFAST ROOM - both important.
5. LARGE MASTER BEDROOM with walk-in closet and tiled master bath
6. ROOMY DECK 12’0 X 16’-0.
7. MUD ROOM with separate laundry
8. FIRST FLOOR DEN
9. KITCHEN PANTRY and HALL COAT CLOSET
10. GAS HEAT and EXTRA INSULATION for energy efficiency.
Homebuyer opinions and insights guided architect, Jim Wentling, as he designed floor plans, elevations and interior features at The Willows houses. An author and nationally recognized residential architect, Jim has designed houses and communities in twenty states and Canada, and his firm, James Wentling Architects, has received local, regional and national recognition for its designs.
"Many people build homes with elegant formal spaces for resale, but they live in the more informal spaces the kitchen and family room," explained Wentling. "The formal rooms in the average house sit vacant, waiting for the ‘formal guests" who never arrive. At The Willows, we reduced or eliminated the rooms that are rarely used, and focused on creating special everyday spaces."
The focus group and word of mouth has generated 162 people on a waiting list of potential homebuyers. Since last month, The Willows sales director, Karen Kline, has been working her way down the list, making appointments to review floor plans. So far, eight homebuyers have purchased a home.
James Wentling/Architects is a Philadelphia firm specializing in residential design and planning. The firm www.wentlinghouseplans.com has designed residential communities in twenty states and Canada and they have received local, regional and national design awards. Jim Wentling’s book, Designing a Place Called Home Reordering the Suburbs, is a comprehensive and insightful investigation of the emerging trends in the design of affordable suburban housing. His latest book, Housing by Lifestyle, explains how houses can be designed with "component" areas based on how people live. Each component is analyzed in detail with sketches and diagrams of floor plans that will come together to make an enjoyable and livable house design.
The Willows www.thewillowsct.com is a new old-fashioned community of 65 single family homes, located on North Farms Road between the center of town and Route 68. VW HOMES is building The Willows with smaller to 1/3 acre lots and sidewalks on both sides of the street to encourage walking and getting to know neighbors. The Willows will be the first large single family community developed in town since 1995.
VW Homes is a partnership of long standing Wallingford builders, Verna Properties and Sunwood Development. Vincenzo Verna founded VERNA DEVELOPERS 40 years ago, and the company, which is now owned by his children, Liz, Marc and Gerald Verna, has built commercial buildings such as the Signature 91 Class A office building on Thorpe Avenue, and residential communities such as Rolling Meadows, Chestnut Lane, Old Oak Village and Woodcrest Knoll in Wallingford.
Bob Wiedenmann founded family run SUNWOOD DEVELOPMENT CORP. in 1985. The company has built over 250 homes, including their current community, Center Place, which is located on Center Street near downtown Wallingford, and award winning Harrison Greens, located adjacent to the Traditions Golf Club www.sunwooddevelopment.com