A reported 53 homes sold for more than a million dollars in Central Ohio last year. For real estate watchers, that's an impressive number despite trying economic times and high unemployment rates.

In Central Ohio, 127 houses over the threshold of $1 million were still on the market around March 1. "We're selling, roughly, one a week," explains Rick Benjamin, president of the Columbus Board of Realtors. At that rate, the remaining listings won't all be sold for nearly two years.

"We've got fabulous opportunities out there to the buying public," adds Benjamin, and there probably are more to come as the spring real estate market goes into full swing.

Depending on the location a buyer desires, there may be more homes from which to choose. Benjamin says that within the Dublin School District there are 15 such properties on the market and one is in contract. Two have been sold in the last year.

Across town, within Plain Local School District-better known as New Albany-there are 23 active listings at $1 million or more. The news is better on sales, though. Sixteen such properties were sold in 2010, including a $5.1 million listing in the exclusive, gated New Albany Farms neighborhood that had been on the market for several years.

Bexley has an active inventory of six homes over $1 million, and three others were sold in 2010, according to the Columbus board. Upper Arlington has 12 listings and 10 sales in 2010. Meanwhile, the Olentangy School District area, including Powell and other communities in southern Delaware County, includes 23 currently active listings and 13 sales in 2010. Within the Columbus City School District there are 13 active listings and three that sold in 2010.

Even though the news is dominated by foreclosures and bankruptcies, there continues to be a fascination with big ticket homes and what they have to offer. Three sellers have opened their doors to reveal what $1 million can buy in today's market.

Family expanded

Less than a mile away from the clubhouse at the New Albany Country Club, a young family has outgrown its renovated, four-bedroom brick Georgian.

They are ready to move, but the current economic market makes selling slow despite the home's extensive updates, including its renovated kitchen and five-and-a-half baths. The home, located at 4683 Yantis Dr., is listed at about $1 million.

Homeowners Ron and Christy Mercer are owners of Promill Manufacturing, LLC, which creates cabinets and hard counter surfaces for commercial users. Ron Mercer put to test his knowledge of surfaces and mechanicals when updating this 20-year-old New Albany home. When they purchased the house almost four years ago it was still adorned with original Corian countertops and brass fixtures that it featured in the New Albany Parade of Homes in the early 1990s.

Cabinetry throughout the home has been updated with brushed nickel knobs, replacing its original brass. In all, the Mercers purchased more than 100 new knobs during the renovation.

The couple has incorporated an updated color palette through much of the house, including its expansive kitchen. Measuring nearly 30-by-30 feet, the room features a long center island with a cooktop and an eating area. A small sofa sits in front of a cozy fireplace and a breakfast area overlooks the New Albany Country Club golf course.

Among their prize projects in this home is the updated master bedroom suite, with an elaborately renovated master bath. The large, zero-entry shower can accommodate several children at one time, if the occasion exists. An extra deep bathtub, by Mansfield, was installed.

Ron Mercer is the type who always needs a project. One evening, when everyone was asleep, he went to the basement and began taking down a wall in what he calls a mediocre wine cellar. Eventually, that room became the service area of a wet bar that now adjoins the family room. The Mercers had their fourth child during the home's renovation, rendering it a bit smaller than they'd like.

Natives of Dublin, it's not unusual for the Mercer clan to have 35 relatives involved in their Thanksgiving gatherings. When friends are invited for children's birthday celebrations, crowds grow to 50 or more.

The house-approximately 5,500 square feet-generally suits their needs other than the fact that they would now like one more bedroom. And, perhaps, this innovative and energetic couple yearns for another project.

With a view

Along one of Upper Arlington's most picturesque streets, a 1930s classic known as the Boles residence is perched on a knoll overlooking a sprawling, well-landscaped lawn that includes a creek and a footbridge. An elegant winding drive curves up the rear portion of this mature property to its well-hidden, three-car garage.

Realtors who show this house, located at 2350 Onandaga Dr., like to point out local celebrities, including the former home of ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit across the street. Within walking distance to one of Arlington's libraries and other amenities, it's also said that the formal gardens here would provide the perfect setting for a daughter's wedding.

Dr. Thomas M. Boles and his then-wife, Belle, purchased the home in 1964. From that time until recently, the house was shaped to suit the Boles' family needs, including a dramatic kitchen renovation in the 1990s, which adjoins the home's original, classic dining room.

At the rear, a spacious, lodge-like family room, featuring a blue slate floor, wood-beamed ceiling, stone fireplace and two full walls of windows, was added. A butler's pantry attaches the family room to the kitchen.

Unique in this residence, too, is a cozy library in the center of the home with its walls lined with bookshelves and windows looking out into an adjacent screened porch. An interesting curved fireplace is a focal point.

There are four bedrooms, each with its own full bath. The owner's suite also includes a generous dressing room, measuring about 14-by-15-feet-converted from a one-time bedroom. The lower level of the home contains a semi-finished recreational space.

The 4,559-square-foot home, which started out much higher, is currently listed at about $1.2 million.

Déjà vu

Fifteen years ago this stately New Albany property was featured as a new residence inColumbus Monthly Homes. The owners had been lured to New Albany from Bexley by old friends Les Wexner and Jack Kessler.

Located at 8 Edge of Woods, this home has changed little since it was featured in our April 1997 edition. Situated in one of the first clustered and gated areas of the New Albany development, its traditional moldings, elaborate décor and multiple fireplaces are just as classic today as they were when it was built. Its listing price is about $1.1 million.

The now deceased homeowners' love of traditional style is evident throughout the 4,842 feet of space, which includes a bathroom adjoining each of the home's three bedrooms, as well as a powder room near the front door.

The first floor features a quaint, understated kitchen, a formal dining room, a master suite, a library and a well-designed living room that offers sweeping views of the rear portion of the New Albany Country Club golf course. Beyond are a trickling stream and a patch of woods. Hardwood floors throughout the public portion of this space were stained in a spring green color, an inspirational tone during bleak Ohio winters.

Stories of parties on the back terrace and other gatherings here are aplenty. Iconic memorabilia of the man of the house, a well-known business and civic leader, is still spotted throughout.

On the second floor, two guest bedrooms remain perfectly furnished and a large showcase, where the woman of the house once displayed a doll collection, sits empty, ready for new contents.

Sherry Beck Paprocki is the editor ofColumbus Monthly Homes.