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.

Empty Nesting or Building Your Forever Home

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Your last child prepares to leave home and you embrace the transition with both trepidation and excitement. Your home is yours again to do with as you please. But, as those adorable children aged, so did you and your body. The stairs seem to have gotten steeper, the number of bathrooms to clean have suddenly multiplied, and the extra bedrooms just sit empty. What to do with your family home, the home where you raised those beautiful babies becomes the nagging question.

The number of baby boomers with the desire and need to age in their “forever”home continues to increase each year.Very few homes exist on the market today that fulfill the needs of the empty nester desiring their next home. Thus many soon to be or those already experiencing the empty nest are considering building their last home.

So what should be incorporated into the new empty nest?  Although there are many elements, this article focuses on the top 7 on most everyone’s list.

  1. Easy access- Your new home should be built in an area with easy access to shopping, doctors, and cultural activities that you enjoy. The home should also be built with easy access from the garage to the home with either zero entry or room for a future handrail or ramp.
  2. One floor living. Consider one floor living with as many maintenance free features as possible. Incorporating an open floor plan with enough storage eliminates the need to use the basement stairs as much as possible.
  3. Open floor plans. Open floor plans allow for extending the dining table and adding extra chairs for entertaining. You can easily move furniture around when entertaining family and friends.
  4. Fewer but larger bedrooms that can serve both as an office, sewing room, and guest bedroom with ample storage.
  5. Functional kitchens with good storage and entertaining space. Becoming an empty nester doesn’t mean life stops, it just changes. Entertaining becomes more enjoyable since your family no longer requires large daily meals.Many empty nesters look forward to finally building the kitchen of their dreams with the latest technology
  6. Wider hallways, doors, and walk-in showers. Plan ahead just in case the inevitable happens and a wheelchair or walker is required at one time or another. No one wants the frustration of trying to maneuver equipment in tight spaces.
  7. Convenient laundry rooms. Although downsizing, doing less laundry since the kids are gone, and moving to a ranch home eliminates carrying the laundry up and down stairs; consider locating it off of the master suite. Saving a few steps and being able to put the clothes away straight from the dryer is just another benefit of a well planned home designed for just one or two people.

The above are just a few suggestions for planning and building your next forever home. Finish the lower level with another bedroom or two if you want to encourage your children to visit frequently. We downsized twice in the past 3 years; first from a 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath 4,000 sq. ft home to a 4 bedroom 3 bath condo with 2 bedrooms in the lower level,and finally settling in a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath ranch home with an unfinished lower level. Cleaning and maintaining our home is much simpler and easier and our kids still visit comfortably for an extended period of time.

Are you thinking of downsizing or resizing? Let me help you plan and build your empty nest filled with light, well planned spaces, and great storage.

 

 

A Year in Retrospect in the Fox Valley

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A year in retrospect in the Fox Valley. We returned to live in the Fox Valley last December 21st after a 23 year hiatus. We lived all over Wisconsin during our time away and found many things to love and of course a few to dislike about each area.

So what is it about Appleton and the Fox Cities that we find attractive? The winters are NOT on the list of what we ( especially I) love! Actually, I abhor them and am already freezing and tired of wearing so many clothes. But we had a beautiful summer and a long fall, allowing us to spend weekends on the boat, take long walks in the evenings, and partake in all of the outdoor music the area has to offer.I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

The Fox Cities really grew up in our time away. As a matter of fact when we first moved here in the early 1980’s, one had to go to Green Bay to do big shopping other than Sears and J.C. Penney’s. Then the downtown developed with the Avenue Mall and later the Fox River Mall came on the scene.It is exciting to see a bustling downtown with locally owned shops, restaurants, and coffee shops.  Today, the arts and music scene, while continuing to evolve offers something for everyone. We loved the Heid Summer Music Series and attended each one . The Mile of Music, extremely well done with a wide variety of acts, attracted a crowd of all ages, including the little ones at the Lawrence University Academy of Music. We’ve enjoyed the arts too, with visits to the Trout Museum, Take Me to the River month long exhibit at the old Thilmany Mill in Kaukauna, the Art Fair in City Park, and the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh. The beautiful PAC brings in some great shows.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Fox Valleyaires Barbershop Concerts and area competition in which my husband participates.

We have also taken time to enjoy hiking in both the winter and fall at Thousand Islands Nature Preserve while watching the wild river run over rocks and logs into the more serene lake. We’ve driven along the lakeshore in both Oshkosh and Manitowoc, thrilled with the park areas that have been established so people can enjoy some of the areas natural beauty.

The sporting events have also grown in the area. We love hockey so ventured up to Green Bay to watch the Gamblers and the UW- Madison Hockey team. We’ve been to the Timber Rattlers for baseball and will most likely return.

The year hasn’t been all about what the Fox Valley offers. It also involves work. In the spring, I started a job as a new home designer with Midwest Design Homes and Jon Huss Custom Homes. This fun position allows me to use my creativity in helping people design their dream homes. It also means that I need to go out and network. I have met some wonderful people in the area through the chambers, BNI, and Fox Valley Women in Business.

We also spent that past year working on settling in our new home and making it ours. That meant hours of sweat equity in landscaping and maintaining a brand new yard. To think that 2 years ago I was reveling in the ease of condo living. Now we are once again shoveling snow, mowing, and weeding. Plus, our beautiful 3 season room should be completed today!

We need to continue to discover and enjoy the area. First on my list is to seek out the best holiday displays and visit the Kohler Museum over the holidays. We will also return to the Trout Museum and walk downtown Appleton to admire the ice sculptures.

What are your favorite activities in the Fox Valley area that you would recommend?

The Moving Experience

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The Moving Experience- I am an expert. In the last 37 years my husband and I personally moved 9 times. We also moved our children multiple times, more times than I want to count, and my parents once. We spent Thanksgiving weekend moving our daughter to her first home as a homeowner; thus the reason for this post.

Moving is a pain. I’ll admit it, I hate moving. But as a new home designer, all of my clients need to move. And no, those of you reading this post will not benefit from my physical skills at moving. But I offer free advice. I won’t even lament on how difficult it was to move my daughter as I want to save her any embarrassment and would like her to be there for me in my old age.

The first rule of thumb in moving is to declutter all your belongings. I personally am not a saver. Given our numerous moves, I tend to keep our belongings streamlined. I try to live by the motto of, “if you haven’t used something in the last couple of years than it is time to consider getting rid of the item.” Albeit, that is somewhat difficult with wedding presents and family heirlooms. Before you start packing sort your things into groups:

1. for keeping

2. for donating

3. for selling

4. for throwing away.

Take pictures of the things you need to sell and post them on the many Facebook selling sites. Choose your charities and don’t worry about the multiple trips you make as others benefit from the donated items.

If you tend to be a pack rat or haven’t moved for many years, the task may seem daunting. Set yourself a schedule and start with one closet or one drawer. Work your way through them and around the room. Finish one room before starting on another. It can actually be somewhat fun going down memory lane.

Next, as each box gets packed make sure it is labeled well. This can be done right on the box or with a typed up list inventorying the contents of each box. If you employ a mover to load and unload your household items, this is an excellent method of ensuring nothing gets lost or damaged. Also make sure to mark the box on several sides describing the room in which it belongs. Make sure to keep important items such as checkbooks, passports, and closing papers in an envelope or safe place.

I’ve noticed that many people are self moving rather than using a moving company. If that is the case, plan ahead by gathering all the needed supplies. Boxes and often packing paper can be found for free by posting on Facebook or looking at Craigslist. If you ask ahead you may acquire boxes at local grocery stores, Kwik Trips, and liquor stores. Make sure you purchase plenty of packing tape and good markers. Survey your larger decor such as pictures and mirrors to decide what kind of packing material to use. Most importantly, do not plan to pack everything one weekend. We sold our condo at the end of last November and moved December 18th. Knowing we were going to move soon, I started packing unnecessary items early. Even for an expert, packing up a whole house can be overwhelming.

Bottom line when moving- plan ahead. Keep it organized to make the whole process easier for both the move out and the move in. Change your address early on subscriptions, contact the utility companies so you have power upon move in, decide on internet and TV services and schedule the appointments for the day after you move in to your new home. Don’t be afraid to clean out, toss, sell, or donate old unused item. Take it from someone who hates clutter and disorganization, by following these simple suggestions the moving experience won’t be so traumatic.

Does Your Home Speak to You?

Does your house speak to you? No, I’m not crazy, but I believe if your house does not speak to you something is wrong. I’ve always told my clients; whether I was working as a designer at Steinhafels, a Realtor or a new home designer for Midwest Design Homes/Jon Huss Custom Homes, your house must say, “Welcome Home, this is your sanctuary, this is where you are meant to be.”

My past Realtors used to get frustrated with me when we drove up to a house and my immediate reaction was to drive on. If the front of the house didn’t attract me, it definitely wasn’t worth my time or theirs. The funny thing is, I never loved the front of our Madison home because it was too dark and in a very dark wooded neighborhood. But it warranted a second look and ultimately a purchase because the owners landscaped the yard with bright impatiens and a charming sundial (which much to my dismay they kept.) The little things can really make your house say , “Welcome Home.” Originally our Madison home had a charming tree growing out of the lower deck and a spiral staircase from the lower deck to the upper deck. I found both charming at the time. We won’t discuss here how they both became an issue. I often bought homes because the quirky things grabbed me; such as a little built in arched telephone nook, corner cupboards, or a grand entrance.

Do you notice how holiday decorations warm up the front of a house and make you want to visit? A well placed lit lamp in a front window creates a feeling of coziness and warmth. For some reason when I see a light in the front window I think the home and it’s owners must be warm, friendly, and about to serve a comforting meal. Again, I am not crazy, it is just an illusion that I hope is true. A home with gables, front porches, the right mix of exterior colors, or well planned landscaping may also say, “Welcome Home, this is where you are meant to be.”

Every home my husband and I have bought possess large windows and the ability to see the backyard when walking through the front door. We love to bring the outside in; especially as we live in the north. Over-sized and well placed windows, a signature of MDH and Jon Huss Custom Homes, help the homes feel bright and spacious, inviting people to sit down in a sunbeam.

If you are thinking about building a new home, drive around and look at houses paying special attention to the ones that make you want to stop and step inside. What is it about them that attracts you? Do they have the same ,”Welcome Home” feeling on the inside. Make sure to incorporate the elements when building, buying, or decorating your home. These elements need to also be integrated in the interior design of your home. It doesn’t matter what kind of architecture or design you prefer, it must speak to you personally.

Please share the features in a house that say welcome home to you.

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