Creating Ambiance with Lights


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?


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.

Colors of the Season & Frost on the Pumpkin

Colors of the Season and Frost on the Pumpkin

As I write this blog, I’m basking in a sunny window, wearing sandals, and didn’t even wear a jacket today. This autumn day couldn’t be more glorious. It seems if I’m looking though rose colored glasses trying to believe the warm days and beautiful fall colors will last until spring.

We did have frost on the  pumpkin last week and experienced days in the 40’s in the Fox Valley, but my flowers prevailed. I decided to share one last post of our landscaping efforts for this year with pictures, as we worked hard to establish a brand new yard. Our issues with flooding and saturated soil continue thus we lost some plants. You can see the construction in the background as new sewers get laid. Hopefully they will redirect our drainage issues.

Unfortunately due to saturated soil we lost a burning bush, some delphiniums, balloon flowers and cone flowers. Our other plantings continue to do well. We can see year round color with the various evergreens, red twig dogwood,  lilac,hydrangeas, knock-out roses, perennial hibiscus, and Japanese maple. We hope our crimson maple, apple trees, and crab apple survive the winter. Surprisingly the daisies, coreopsis, and blanket flowers, and baby’s breath we started from seed continue to prosper. We also planted 60 spring bulbs so stay tuned for spring pictures.

Speaking of rose colored glasses, have you seen the beautiful sunrises and majestic sunsets recently? The colors of the season envelope me with peace and fulfillment, even with all the nasty stuff we continue to experience on the news and social media. I love looking at the beautiful fall colors and feel if everyone took a moment to experience the beauty of nature maybe they’d spew a little less hatred.

Take a moment or two and enjoy the colors of the season. I’m hoping they hang on for a little longer- maybe until spring.




The Landscaping Dilemma

A new home, especially a newly constructed home, often comes with a blank canvas for a yard. Our new home has the front simply landscaped but the backyard barely even has grass in it. Well, to be fair, the builders planted a fast growing rye grass to cover up the soil;kind of. We are plagued with low spots that tend to flood with the melting snow and the rain. Of course, the clay soil here in the Fox Valley isn’t the best for drainage.

So what is the landscaping dilemma? My husband and I have always had beautiful yards. We are the type A personality of a weed- free yard, lush, green yard planted with beautiful flowers that have always attracted visitors and people walking by to make comments. Now, with the blank canvas of a yard, we have been visiting greenhouses and landscape companies looking at plants and trees, changing our minds, and redrawing plans over and over again.We actually planted a few trees, knowing that we really wanted a maple, apple trees, and a small crab tree for both the beauty and as a pollinator. If anyone watched us measure, remeasure, and measure again before we planted, it would have made for a great YouTube video! But the trees are in and will soon be leafing out.  One of our big problems is that our backyard backs up to an open field and the winds blow strongly across the yard. Therefore, we need a bit of a windblock. So after many trips to the landscape yards; including Vandeheys, Shade Today, Home Depot, Steins, Lowes, Shopko, and Wolfraths, I finally did for my husband exactly what I would do for clients. I moved the plants around and laid them out so that we could visualize a basic plan. I know that I want all year color so we will combine evergreens with a small red twigged dogwood. We want a variety of evergreens to bring in different colors and textures. We finally settled on three varieties and sizes of evergreens. But now, we face more problems.

We love so many different plants. We really want a yard that requires little work as we loved the condo living lifestyle that we just left. We now have to work on controlling our impulse buying. We don’t usually have a problem with impulse buying, only when it relates to landscaping. We have promised ourselves that once we get our berms built and plant the evergreens, we will progress slowly. Of course trees and evergreens are nice but we both are individually studying different plans for a perennial garden. We look lovingly at rhododendrons every day and covet hydrangea trees, rosebushes, and the newer hibiscus trees. When things progress, we will post pictures. Of course, we are buying smaller plants in order to buy more plants and to keep it affordable.

Our big landscaping dilemma really boils down to keeping it affordable, narrowing down our selections, and determining the best spot for each plant. Of course, we also need to decide whether to kill the rye grass, regrade the yard, and replant new grass. Controlling my impatience for spring, green, and a beautiful yard also adds to the landscaping dilemma.

What is your biggest landscaping dilemma?


5 Tips for Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

5 Tips for Preparing Your Lawn for Spring

5 Tips for Preparing your Lawn for Spring or Establishing a New Lawn

We are all chomping at the bit for spring to actually arrive. It is April, although the snow and wind chills make it feel more like February or March. But spring will arrive- eventually and the time to prepare your lawn will arrive.

First of all, a disclaimer. I tend to be very serious about my lawn. I love spring and summer, green grass, and flowers. I love having lush, green, weed-free lawn  in which to walk barefoot. So on to the recipe for a great lawn:

  1. For existing lawns remove any debris that has accumulated and rake up matted grass to remove the snow mold. Raking encourages better air flow and allows new grass blades to emerge.
  2. In early spring, when the soil temperatures reach 50-60 degrees, apply a pre-emergent crab grass control. We have skipped this step if we don’t have crabgrass but if you have had it in the past, DO NOT SKIP! Do not wait until the crabgrass gets out of control as it is very difficult to eradicate.
  3.  Apply a spring fertilizer to give your grass a healthy start. Spring fertilization allows the grass  to build strength making it more tolerant to summers’ heat and drought. Knowing your soil type helps to determine what ratio of fertilizer to apply. You may also apply organic fertilizers at this time.
  4. Spring is a great time to aerate the lawn. Aeration allows water and air to reach the roots faster encouraging new growth and root development. Aeration is especially important for heavier clay soils that tend to compact. Again, timing and temperature is important. Aerate early before the soil temperatures reach 55- 60 degrees. Waiting until later may encourage weed growth.
  5. If bare or thin spots are visible in the lawn, use the early spring to overseed. Allow the seed to germinate before applying the pre- emergent crab grass control.

If you have a new home and are just starting a new lawn, determine if you need a cool or warm weather and also if it needs to be sun or shade tolerant. In Wisconsin we obviously need cool weather grass.

  1. Make sure your yard has been finished graded and all stones and rocks removed.
  2. Depending on the size of your yard, seed can either be spread by hand or using a spreader. If using a spreader, walk first one direction and then then the other making a checkerboard pattern. I’ve started several lawns and prefer seeding extra heavy to achieve a really thick lawn.
  3.  Apply a starter fertilizer to give the seedlings a good healthy start.
  4. A peat moss or straw mulch may be applied over the seed or you may prefer to just lightly rake the seed into the soil.
  5. Water, Water , Water. Depending on the wind, soil conditions, rainfall, and temperatures the new seed should be watered several times a day, keeping it moist but not to the point of drenching it. Continue to water until the lawn has good growth then back off slowly to once or twice a week.
  6. Don’t be in a hurry to mow. Wait until  the new grass reaches a height of 3-4 inches and only mowing about an inch. After germination apply the first application of fertilizer.

Follow these simple directions and the grass won’t be greener on the other side.