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See lakeside homes up close and personal

Buford Lanier Woman’s Club
12th Annual Tour of Homes
When: 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 18
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 day of the event
More info: 678-482-1878

This spring, Lake Lanier’s basin brims with water instead of barren ground, providing the perfect backdrop for the extravagant homes lining its shores.

The Buford Lanier Woman’s Club will showcase three of these homes, plus a houseboat, during its 12th annual Tour of Homes on April 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour, which lasts from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Last year’s tour featured receding water levels, but winter’s rains have since replenished the parched lake.

Besides waterfront views, this year’s tour boasts a unique collection of homes, each meticulously built, remodeled or designed by its owners.

"I personally think one of the things that make our home tour special is that we feature private homes in our community, not builder/designer homes," said Christine Lanzing, the club’s publicity chairwoman.

Participants can expect to view "beautifully designed homes and interior decorating," perhaps picking up a tip or two for their own residence, said Gayle Mack, the club’s fundraiser and tour of homes chairwoman.

Among the featured homes, the "Gated Lake Front Estate" in Flowery Branch sits on more than 4 acres of lakefront property and includes an impressive collection of windows, doors and even a treehouse perch, all offering views of the lake and surrounding outdoors. The home also boasts a pool and waterfall.

Husband and wife Karl and Valerie Ryder own the home and chose to showcase it during this year’s tour because of the event’s philanthropic twist.

All tour proceeds will help more than 60 local, state and national charities supported by the Buford Lanier Woman’s Club. Last year, the event raised $21,000. This year, Mack said she hopes to raise $30,000.

"We thought it was a good cause so we decided that we would be a part of it," said Valerie Ryder.

At first, the couple meant for their home of almost five years to be a weekend or summer getaway. They soon fell in love with the property, however, and began a 33-month project to renovate the existing home. When they finished, all that remained of the original house was its footprint and one wall. With the renovations, the Ryders created an abode inspired by their natural surroundings.

"We kind of wanted it to look like it had grown there," said Valerie Ryder. "We’ve modernized it as far as conveniences, but we tried to make it (with) more earth tones and more soothing, just a comfortable house where, when you come over, you feel welcome and enjoy being there."

Those taking the tour will be able to watch the home’s transformation on a TV inside the Ryders’ home.

For a description of the other featured homes or for more tour information, visit

The Buford Lanier Woman’s Club is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the community, promoting education, civic, social and moral advancement.