With increased down payment requirements and stricter lending criteria, some homeowners are opting to stay in their homes and renovate rather than move.

Others are taking advantage of the fact that builders are no longer bidding up the cost of land, so parcels can now be snatched up at better prices. These people are finally making their dream a reality and building custom homes.

If you are considering renovating or building a custom home, you won’t want to miss an upcoming design event. In celebration of National Kitchen and Bath Month, Chicago’s exclusive Merchandise Mart is opening its doors to the general public for an “Open House” showcasing the world’s largest collection of luxury boutiques for home building and renovation.

On Saturday, October 4th, more than 30 luxury kitchen and bath boutiques including Waterworks, Ann Sacks, Kohler, and Christopher Peacock Cabinetry will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s hot and what’s new while being wined and dined by showroom consultants.

The LuxeHome open house celebration starts with a keynote presentation from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. with Monica Pedersen of HGTV’s Designed to Sell: Luxury Properties. Monica will explain how to transform a luxury property into a showpiece using the best brands which, of course, have showrooms in the Mart. Her presentation will be held in the north lobby. To register, log in to www.luxehome.com/openhouse.

Monica and her team of carpenters from Designed to Sell will be available for autograph signings and photo opportunities in the Mart’s new Design Resource Center, Suite 163, following the lecture.

Other scheduled celebrity appearances include:

Ed Sanders of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Addition

Ed will be speaking at The Kohler Store (Suite 100) at 11:30, 1:00, 2:30 and 4:00 p.m. on the subject of Universal Design: Bathroom Design Solutions for Every Stage of Your Life.

Lou Manfredini a.k.a. “Mr. Fix It” on NBC5 Chicago’s House Smarts

Lou will be available for a “meet and greet” from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the American International Tile showroom (Suite 134).

If you have extra time, you may want to run up to the Mart’s 12th floor and check out the International Antiques Fair. It will be open from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Tickets are $15 and sold at the door.

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