Simple Things

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The old saying, ” Home is where the heart is,” rings true for myself and others who’ve experienced moving; especially numerous times. No matter where we live, we put down out roots, literally by either planting a tree, bushes, flowers, or volunteering within the community.

Moving and changing communities makes it difficult to form new relationships, especially as an older couple without children. That is why it is so important to take a few moments each day to take joy in the simple things. Take time to play tourist in your new community and share your finds with the natives. And don’t be afraid to ask about their favorite spots.  I’ve learned that long time members of a community often become so complacent that they overlook the little things their community has to offer.

Today, I’m keeping this post short but wanted to share a few pictures of the “simple things” that add joy to my daily living. It seems lately, that no matter where I live, I have native visitors. Living in Appleton, I love to walk along Apple Creek listening to the birds during the day, the frogs at night, and watching the carp as they mate. I also take great pleasure in the flowers and plants that we have so lovingly planted to beautify our yard. I hope that you also find pleasure in my simple joy.

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

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Life is exciting, you’ve just tied the knot and now are combining households. You need to decide what to keep, what to throw away, and how and where you want to live. These 5 tips will guide you through the home buying process.

  1. Be Realistic-  You aren’t moving into your parents’ home that they saved a lifetime to buy or build. You are moving into your 1st starter home. Prioritize your needs and wants.  Make a list with must haves and likes, the areas you like, size of home you need now combined with room to grow for potential children.  
  2. S-CocktailChecklistYour Credit Report- When you marry, your credit reports also join together. Make sure you both check your credit reports, have an open discussion, and work together to fix any blemishes before you start house hunting. Work with your creditors to raise your credit score. Planning for the future? There are 7 simple ways to raise your credit score.
  3. Shop your Lender- Do your research with different mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions. Ask about rates, 1st time homebuyers tax credits, incentives, and closing costs. Check the lenders reviews and sit down with them for a face to face meeting. This is a big step and you want to know with whom you are working and how the loan program works. Be wary of internet based lenders with possible hidden fees. Before you start looking for your first home, get pre-approved. A pre-approval lets you know how much home you can afford and allows you to lock in the lowest interest rate.
  4. 4. Don’t tie the knot and then plan to swing the hammer. In other words, don’t buy a complete “fixer-upper”. Fixing a house together puts a strain on both your marriage and finances. The only reality on HGTV are the surprises that homeowners face when remodeling and fixing up a house. HGTV never tells you how and where the homeowners come up with all the extra money to remedy the surprises. A “fixer upper” is costly and can deplete both your finances and energy when you should be focusing on building a life together. Homeowners need to budget for taxes, insurance, maintenance, and the occasional emergency such as the water heater or furnace failing.
  5. Hire a Real Estate Agent- Homebuyers need professional guidance when making big decisions. Emotions and excitement may get in the way blinding you to possible downfalls in different homes and neighborhoods. A professional real estate agent that works with first time Buyers will guide you as they would their children, helping you buy the best home for your money while negotiating the best dollar amount for your purchase.

The Packing Party

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The title, “The Packing Party ” seems fitting for this blog because it is relative when moving from one home to another. But, the Packing Party that I joined a few weeks ago has nothing to do with real estate. It is all about babies. Who doesn’t love a baby? They ask for so little, food, love, warmth, and a dry clean diaper. But some mothers need to choose between food and a diaper. Can you imagine?

I was honored to be able to participate in a Packing Party for Jake’s Diapers, a non profit whose mission is simply to provide the basic need of cloth diapers to babies, children, and adults in extreme poverty whose caregivers have to choose between food & diapers. Sounds rather simple but is so complicated. Jake’s Diapers has provided over thirty thousand diapers to 16 impoverished countries and to parents locally in need. The story of how everything falls into place and the partnerships that the founders of Jake’s Diapers have made to reach mothers and families in need is remarkable.

Many of the recipients of the diapers are orphanages in places such as Haiti and Peru. These organizations struggle daily to provide food and other basic needs for the babies. Jake’s Diapers only sends 2 dozen cloth diapers to each baby. It doesn’t sound like many but these  mothers are used to washing and greatly appreciate what they receive. The gift of diapers actually cuts down on the spreading of disease.

Jake’s Diapers partners with several businesses to provide for the transport and donation of diapers, diaper bags (in which to pack the diapers), and the adjustable rubber pants that grow from newborn to toddler size. Nicki’s Diapers of Madison, WI strongly supports the cause and provides huge donations. Johnson and Johnson also donates and supports Jake’s Diapers. The military also gets involved by transporting and dropping off the diapers.

How can you help? Jake’s Diapers needs cloth diapers. Have your children outgrown their cloth diapers?  Visit their Website to see how you can donate diapers. Monetary donations and your time are welcomed.

I personally never really thought about babies needing diapers. Of course, I knew there were starving babies all over this world but didn’t consciously think about the diaper need. I admire the founders of Jake’s Diapers for seeing a need and establishing a non profit to help diaper the babies. It touched my heart that even for a couple of hours, I could be part of something that provides basic needs both locally and internationally.

Creating Ambiance with Lights

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Properly used lighting combines style and function to your room while the design makes it distinctively yours. Correctly placing lights in layers serves different functions in the room including overall lighting, accent lighting, and task lighting.

Today, we often use can lights to illuminate the room while providing task lighting at the same time. Can lighting definitely serves a purpose, is relatively inexpensive, and takes the onus out of having to select lights. Can lighting also has a larger arc eliminating shadows and keeps the room from looking cluttered. But can lighting alone doesn’t give the room a focal point and lacks warmth.

Using chandeliers, sconces, and lamps warms up the room, provides layers of light, and makes a home expressively yours. Choosing the right fixtures helps to define your focal point such as the fireplace and complements the room. Wall sconces glowing softly alongside windows, at the sides of the fireplace, or at the entrance to the room are welcoming and create the feeling of elegance.

Chandeliers have always been classic features in the living room and dining room. Ceiling fans often replace the chandeliers in homes built with the open concept featuring a great room versus a formal living space . When designing a home to markedly reflect your personality consider putting chandeliers in surprising places such as the powder room, master bath, or closet.

Lighting should reflect the ambiance you want in each room. Dimmer switches and the correct bulbs both play a part in setting the mood. I’ve included some of my favorite lighting pictures from our Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes Parade and Showcase Homes.

Most importantly remember, the cost of lighting doesn’t have to break the bank to set your humble abode apart from your friends and neighbors homes.

 

Spring Fever-Is it Real?

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Spring has sprung; the robins, sandhill cranes, and redwing blackbirds are just a few of the birds that have returned. The worms emerged during the recent rains, the “occasional”sunshine exudes warmth and baseball season starts on Saturday.

But, does “spring fever” really exist? While not actually a fever, warmer longer days following the spring equinox creates a biological change in people. Humans experience a higher energy level, need less sleep, reduce their food consumption, and encounter a lifting of their spirits when winter ends and spring begins.

My  personal bout of spring fever started a few weeks ago. I laced up my walking shoes and leashed Riley, my walking companion, for our morning and evening walks. Even our very short legs, his four and my two, yearn to be stretched out and moved. I’ve started my yard tours to check on our bulbs and plantings to discover what survived and is emerging from the previously frozen tundra.We even went to the garden store on Saturday to dream and purchase seeds to start indoors for our flower garden. We met quite a few like- minded people itching to start their gardens. I can’t wait to plant the seeds and watch my yard flourish into a canvas of color. I also suffer from clean window-itis every spring. I want to rid the windows of all their winter dirt and soil so I can clearly see my garden and it doesn’t interfere with the streaming sunlight.

All the people walking dogs, riding bikes,pushing strollers, and in-line skating along Apple Creek trail yesterday was another sure sign of Wisconsinites afflicted with spring fever. We are also experiencing the effects of spring fever at work as people are showing a strong interest in building new houses.

What symptoms of spring fever do you experience? Do you feel the biological pull to exercise, redecorate your home, or plan a garden? Or maybe, it is the lifting of your spirits as well as a makeover with a new hairdo or wardrobe. Whatever your symptoms of spring fever, be sure to embrace the season.

The 5th Wall

Years ago, actually more than a decade ago, I tuned into the Christopher Lowell Show on the Discovery Channel several times a week. Besides encouraging the DIY’s, Christopher spoke daily about the 7 layers of design, emphasizing the 5th wall.

For many years, the 5th wall; the ceiling was often forgotten or just painted ceiling white. Although if we reach back far enough to 1512 and Michelangelo’s’ painting of the Sistine Chapel, we can see the beauty of decorating the ceiling.  Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel mural and sculptures far above our heads reminds us to look to the heavens for hope, guidance, and to meditate on the path of our lives.I remember laying on my back as a child, contemplating the swirls on my bedroom ceiling. Trends in decorating the ceiling come and go as do all decorating fads. In my lifetime I’ve seen various transitions from the white plaster swirls of my childhood to the horrible popcorn finish, to beams, crown molding, coffered ceilings, to several layers of the tray ceiling. Cathedral, tray, planked, and coffered ceilings are hot in today’s’ new construction.

Transform a plain room to one with the wow factor by using a ceiling treatment. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to create interest. A tray ceiling with rope lighting creates romance and ambiance. I especially love it when the ceiling is painted with various tones of the same color creating depth and drama.                                                                    tray ceilings with rope lighting

Coffered ceilings can remain an elegant white, be richly stained, or paint the ceiling first and then add the coffered for a dramatic effect.Tin tiles have made a resurgence for ceiling decor over the bar area or the kitchen island as seen here in the Jon Huss Custom Homes Showcase house.

Since ceiling decor trends come and go, do what feels right to you and it will last forever.Believe it or not, we often look up so it is best not to forget the 5th wall as Christopher Lowell would tell you.

Build Your Home with Personality

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Our homes should be an expression or reflection of our personality. How you decorate and design you home often tell visitors a bit about who you are and what you enjoy. It  also makes it a comfortable place for you to nest.

I once bought a very poorly taken care of and damaged home because it had built -in corner cabinets with glass doors, crown molding, rich looking woodwork, and an adorable telephone niche. The house had great bones and I loved the cape cod lannon stone exterior. The previous owners destroyed much of the house and allowed the landscaping to become entirely overgrown, but I saw beyond all of that because of the telephone niche and built-ins.

When designing and building your new home, I encourage you to add something that reflects you. If you love to bake , maybe you want to add a baking station or if music is your passion, build a music room. For those bibliophiles, put bookcases under the stairs or built-in shelving to display your collectibles and books. I recently saw a finished lower level that reflected the owners love of aviation. They incorporated airplane propellers into the ceiling fan and made the bar out of an airplane wing. The rest of the decor tastefully used different maps and airplane parts making the room a reflection of the owners’ passions.

While we often want our homes to be a showcase for others to admire, it is more important to make it yours. The advantage of working with a custom home designer such as Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes is that your home will be unique to you. We don’t build cookie cutter homes nor do we develop whole neighborhoods, rather we prefer to enhance them with beautiful high quality custom designs that reflect you and make your home your castle.

Are you thinking about building a home that both fits your needs and reflects your personality? Then we should talk about what I can do for you. Contact me.