#36 Window Box Planters

This warmer weather has us thinking that spring might be here to stay. Or is it too soon to put away the snow shovel? It really is hard to know what Mother Nature will send your way when you live in Wisconsin. Nonetheless, we are crossing our fingers and hoping for spring, mostly so we can start designing our flower boxes!

We created a Pinterest board with our favorite flower box ideas and color palettes. You can take a look at it to get some inspiration for your own home, and to see what we are loving this year.

A wonderful mix repeating the purple from the sage

A wonderful mix repeating the purple from the sage

A more formal approach with pops of red

A more formal approach with pops of red

An informal mix of purple and magenta

An informal mix of purple and magenta

A brighter choice with magenta

A brighter choice with magenta

We are torn between a whimsical and natural looking “wild flower” assortment, and a more-tailored arrangement of blooms. We think we have a favorite, but we are hoping to hear from our followers on which look they like the best. You can head over to our Instagram page to help us decide!

It is really reassuring that we can change the look of our landscaping up each year so we don’t need to stress out about permanence.  Whatever we end up with, we will make sure to repeat the floral groupings at the front porch in a planter, to balance the home and to carry over the colors and texture of the botanicals from our window boxes. This is a fun project that we looking forward to taking on in the next few weeks.  Here’s hoping for spring!

#33 Tech to simplify our day

Automated Faucets

1. We automated the faucets with this motion or touch technology from Delta Faucets. It keeps the countertops clean from dripping hands and it keeps faucets clean from dirty fingers. Oh, and it makes the necessary yet mundane things like washing hands go faster. It even has an LED light that indicates the water temperature. We have these faucets in the main bathroom, the master bathroom, and in the kitchen.

Automated Blinds

2. We automated the blinds with PowerView and SoftTouch technology from Hunter Douglas. With a quick tap on the wand or a click on the remote, the blind moves in place while you walk away. Once again, a twice-daily task is faster making our day more efficient and our outlook (literally) sunnier.

Automated Garbage Bin

3. We automated the garbage cabinet with servo drive technology from Blum. With a gentle push on the handle or the door, the garbage pops out at me. Our first thought was to keep the cabinet in good shape but having the ability to open this cabinet hands free is awesome (like when I just cracked an egg)! It’s another small way to make daily tasks more efficient.

Automated Lighting

4. We automated the lighting with motion sensors. More often than not, my hands are full when I'm entering certain rooms like the mud room or the laundry room. A motion sensor removes the burden of stumbling through a dark room or having to drop everything to flip a switch. Every time I enter the laundry room with a full basket of clothes in my hand, I’m so grateful for that sensor. Also, coming in from the garage with my arms loaded with my work gear and the mail, I’m so grateful for that sensor. We used the Lutron brand in our home which also has some great additional features that allows us to control some of the dimmers with an app on our phone.

All of these features cost a bit more but daily life is so much more efficient! Keep in mind that many of the features involved some planning and a lot of help from our electrician. We can still both recall our frozen feet and hands when doing the electrical walk through very early on in the building process. Thinking through these details, however, has proven to be so WORTH IT!

#32 Backyard Views

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Brent is bundled up tight in a blanket lined chore coat with insulated leather gloves. It’s a beautiful crisp late fall morning after a fresh blanket of snow has fallen. He’s riding a trusted companion across a field while double checking the fence lines for any issues that might have occurred during the summer. He’s listening to the honking of the V's of geese flying south for the winter. In the distanance, cattle are mooing their displeasure to make sure that you know hay stores have dwindled and it's time to replenish them with another round bale. Sounds like a perfect story from a ranch just outside Bozeman Montana or.... 100 yds from Home in the Heartland?

Like some of you know, the property we purchased is within whistling distance from where Brent keeps his horse. He is happy to prove to this to our visitors by standing on the screen porch and erupting with a high pitched whistle to see the ears on his horse perk up on the pasture just north of our property line. Even more proof is the ability, when the last of the farmers crops have been brought in for the year, to ride out in the middle of the field across the back windows of our house. Picturesque and another reason we love our "Home in the Heartland."

#30 Outdoor Living

We live in Wisconsin where there are very few weeks during the year where outside dining (and sometimes sitting) is comfortable. Instead of lions, tigers and bears, there are mosquitoes, flies, and bees. Oh my!

Even with the pesky visitors, outdoor living is awesome! Nothing beats grilling out with a cold beer on a warm summer day.

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When designing the house, we thought about how these outdoor spaces relate to the indoors. We put the grilling patio near the kitchen. In fact, the kitchen sink is on the other side of that window with the arch top - only 5-ish steps away from the patio. Then we added the screen porch on the other side. Perfect for bug-free dining and lounging. All in, these two areas seat 12 people comfortably with room for extra chairs to be brought in.

We actually love how the patio is tucked away instead of out in the open. We also love that putting the screen porch on the side of the house instead of the back allows for a better view from the dining room.

Besides dining, we also wanted the screen porch to accommodate some lounge furniture. The result is a comfortable mix of dining and lounging with some additional floor space to accommodate larger groups when needed.

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Like many of our rooms, it could use a few more decorations but we're keeping things simple for now and loving the extra space.


This is a view of our inspiration photo from houzz. It’s nice to have photos like this to reference when construction is happening.

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Check out the Shop Our House page to learn more about the products and finishes we selected for our outdoor living.  

#29 Paint Chip Art

Brent, August, and I went to the Art Fair on the Square here in Madison this summer and the last booth we stopped at was Lydia's. I am captivated by her unique art. She paints on paint chips - you know, the little swatches of color we use to select paint colors for our walls.

I had one wall left in my office that needed some art. I collaborated with Lydia providing her with pictures of the room and a pintrest page of things that I like. I requested a series of 3.

I absolutely love the paintings she did and how they incorporated into this gallery wall in my office. I purchased shadow boxes with linen backgrounds and white frames and the painting really look beautiful and feel so personal.

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Her paint chip art is personal to me because of my profession but her subjects are so diverse reflecting holidays, animals, food, and much more! Check out Lydia's website, instagram page, and etsy shop. It's really awesome!

Click here to visit Lydia’s website!

 

#27 Window Treatments

We L.O.V.E. our new blinds. Really, we do!

There are 8 windows in the front of the house. We wanted all of the windows to have a similar treatment so the look is consistent.

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We love the look of plantation shutters but we felt that the shutters would mostly be covering the windows with the vanes either open or closed. We wanted something that would open up the windows a bit more.

So, we went with Silouettes by Hunter Douglas. The wide vane creates the look of shutters but they roll up nicely into a head rail at the top of the window for a clear open option. They come in wide widths as well so we were able to do just one blind for each set of windows. 

The layering of the sheer fabric allows for light to come through but still allows for privacy.



Three reasons why we love THESE BLINDS:

The design allows each vane to magically float between two sheer panels. Creating a sculptural look.

The design allows each vane to magically float between two sheer panels. Creating a sculptural look.

Adjusting the vanes in different angles diffuses sunlight and creates ambient light throughout each room.

Adjusting the vanes in different angles diffuses sunlight and creates ambient light throughout each room.

Each shade has ultra-sheer panels that allow you to see outside clearly while still protecting you from UV rays.

Each shade has ultra-sheer panels that allow you to see outside clearly while still protecting you from UV rays.


Even easy to use for august

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Because there is a large built-in under our daughter's windows, it would've been a reach to get to a controller on the wall. We splurged a bit more and went with a remote controlled blind to allow for easy up and down. Her blind also has a second layer that blocks out most of the light so she has lots of flexibility in how much light comes in. It's been helpful during the summer when her bedtime is before nightfall. 

And now for the cream of the crop…

For the master bedroom and for my office, we installed Hunter Douglas Softtouch™ Motorization blinds. The quick touch of the wand signals the blind to automatically roll open or up. Yes, this feature is expensive but for us... it's SO worth it. We spent a lot of money on these windows and we want it to be easy peasy to see them during the daytime. We know that if we would've had to manually open and close 8 separate blinds every damn day (excuse my french)... it just wouldn't have happened.

We can pop into every room each morning and touch the wand or push the button on the control and we’re ready for the day.

 

H&R Carpets sells these blinds (and many other brands and styles). Visit hrcarpets.com, stop in, or call (608) 849-7482 to find out more!

 

 

#25 Interview with an Intern

This past summer H&R Carpets and Angie Schwab Interiors provided a joint internship to Kelsey Nonn. She's a student currently studying interior design at Madison College. As part of the internship, we asked Kelsey to help us out with our blog. She offered some questions for me to answer interview style - things that she was interested in learning and so she thought other folks might be interested in as well. Here's the interview:

1. Was there a defining moment when you knew you wanted to become an interior designer? If so, what was that moment like?

No, there wasn't a defining moment for me. It was a slow process of realizing an interest. Looking back, it was always there. I have always enjoyed color, texture, and pattern. I have always had a heightened awareness of my surroundings and the emotional changes that come with the physical changes in our environment. The ability to affect things has always intrigued me.

Interior design is a second career for me. I worked in information systems at Kraft Foods first. After I moved away from home and later became a home owner in my early 20's - that is when I first considered interior design a career choice

That’s me in 1980!

That’s me in 1980!

2. Where did you study interior design?

I studied interior design at UW-Madison. I received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Textiles and Design in 2007. I also have a Bachelor in Business Administration from UW-Eau Claire. I received that degree in 1998.

The door that would lead me to my new career!

The door that would lead me to my new career!

Classroom in the School of Human Ecology

Classroom in the School of Human Ecology

3. When did you decide to take the leap and start your own business?

I started my interior design business in 2004.

I knew I wanted to be a business owner well before I knew I wanted to be an interior designer. I took marketing courses in high school and continued taking business classes while attending UW-Eau Claire after high school. I read books about entrepreneurship and biographies about entrepreneurs. To this day, I'm still fascinated by people's stories. Being a business owner takes courage, confidence, and a serious work ethic. It demands that you work hard to figure things out even if it's outside of your area of expertise.

4. Why did you decide to start your own business instead of going to work for someone else?

I enjoy having the responsibility to set standards for how our clients are treated. Since most of our projects are residential - I am invited into people's homes. This honor comes with a responsibility to be respectful and empathetic. Listening to my client's needs is the most important thing. I also enjoy having the ability to be flexible and adaptive. The options available for purchasing home furnishings and fixtures has drastically changed since I started the business 14 years ago. I can meet those needs by using trade vendors for a full service experience, local retails for a more personal feel, or online vendors offering convenience and variety. We also offer e-design where we send you a completed plan and all the information you need to implement it without even meeting.

5. Between having a family and 2 businesses to run, how have you gotten through some of the more difficult times?

It hasn't been easy! We've had some serious challenges along the way both personally and professionally. Having a loving and supportive husband helps. We believe in each other and we love each other very much. When the going gets tough, you pick yourself up and do your best to learn from the situation.

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6. If there was one thing you learned along the way that you’d want to share with others, what would it be?

Never. Stop. Learning.

Hang out with people smarter than you.
Never assume someone doesn't have something to teach you.
Read.
Listen.
As a designer, always be aware of your surroundings and how you feel in those surroundings. Analyze why.


Some of my favorite books and podcasts for inspiration:

Young House Love

The Chaise Lounge

How I Built This

How to Be Amazing


7. How has your business grown or changed over the years? Have you changed with it?

Each project is different so the depth of knowledge and experience that I have has increased. I also have a wonderful list of resources. I've met a lot of creative and talented folks through the years. Harnessing their talent in a team effort has led to really beautiful work.

Another aspect that has changed is technology. We use digital images to convey our ideas and aid in the design process. The digital images get surprisingly close to reality. This offers clients an added sense of comfort that they're going to love the space when it's completed. Many of the purchases we make for our home are long-term. Making sure you love them is really important.


8. What has inspired you to continue to want to be a designer (and run your own business) every day?

photo by: Beth Skogen

photo by: Beth Skogen

After all of these years, I'm still so aware of how we are affected by our environments and I have an emotional attachment to the word "home". It's such an important place. Living in a home that is filled with things that provide beauty, happiness, comfort, and safety is so important. Being a part of helping our clients achieve that feeling is so rewarding! 

I am also really excited about the unique service that we offer and the unique way we deliver that service. We don't rely on product sales. We make the best design decisions for our clients based on his/her budget and preferences. This leaves our client with a sense of comfort about our motives and excitement about the way we can curate their selections for a unique and interesting look . Our delivery with digital images is really unique.