Tips to Creating a Welcoming Entryway in Your Home

Cypress Homes realizes that foyers and mudrooms are all about first impressions. When done right, these entry spaces sum up a home’s style in a few square feet, visually preparing visitors for the rooms that lie beyond. Foyers and mudrooms have a practical aspect as well — a bench to rest on, a mirror for touch-ups that owners and guests alike look to when coming and going. Here are 8 ideas to make the first steps into your home more appealing.

1. Coat Rack

Having a place for your guests to hang their coats is a great way to keep everyone’s belongings off the floor or on your favorite couch. This could be anything from a rack on your wall with hooks to a simple free standing coat rack that can be moved easily whenever you want.

2.Canvas Storage Bins

This creates convenient entryway storage. Whether they’re tucked into cubbies, underneath seating or into a closet, these bins will make it easy for your whole family to store their hats and gloves. These bins are also easy and inexpensive to change in case you decide on remolding or re-painting your entryway.

3.Use a Warm, Inviting Color Scheme

Amberwood Jochman Entry

Warm colors are often more inviting than cool ones. Think creamy neutrals, red, orange and yellow. However, try to avoid too much of the bold colors because they can be very overwhelming, especially when you are first entering a friend’s home. Some prefer to use warm, neutral hues in the entry with pops of color in the accessories.


In addition to a beautiful ceiling fixture, suited to the style of your decor, a table lamp will give you a softer glow when you need just a little light or want lighting more for ambiance.

5. Seating

Belleview built in bench

Arrange a place to sit in your entryway, for taking off shoes, sorting mail, and so on. It can be a chair, of course, if you have room, but you can also get creative here, using a vintage trunk or chest, a storage bench, a garden stool. A low-slungbench set against the far wall serves as a perch for visitors and a place to set bags, scarves, and other personal items temporarily.

6. Mirror/ Artwork

come in we are awesome signHaving a mirror too look at when you walk in is something that every guest will enjoy. Being able to fix their hair after a windy day or just checking to make sure they look good is something a guest will appreciate. It is also a good way to reflect light to your entryway and maybe even give it an illusion of a bigger space. The artwork should be simple but it should also give your guest an idea of the theme of the rest of your house.

Brookridge on prescott7. Inside or Outside Welcome Mat

Keep the snow and muddy shoes off your tile or carpet with an ultra-absorbent mat traps water and dirt so that your floors stay clean and dry.  The indoor/outdoor mat will protect your entryway for all seasons.

8. Slim Coffee Table

A slim, hand-welded steel table fits perfectly into narrow spaces, such as the foyers often found in condos or apartments. A delicate design camouflages a durable construction that can support a surprising amount of weight.


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4 Steps to Choosing a Color Scheme

It may seem like there should be a scientific approach when choosing a color scheme for your home, but in reality, there isn’t. Color is self-expression, which means it is very unique. Choosing a color scheme for your home can be stressful and overwhelming, considering there are thousands of colors to choose from. The key is to make it fun. Here are some tips for choosing a color scheme for your home…

Step #1: Find Inspiration
The first step is to narrow down your choices to colors that you like. Good ways to go about doing this are peeking through your closet, looking at any upholstery or fabric you have, or using a picture or piece of art. You want to figure out what colors you gravitate towards, so look around your house. Chances are you’ll find some sort of inspiration from something you already own.

FullSizeRender 7Step #2: Establish a Mood for Rooms
Next, figure out how you want each space to make you feel. Do you want your living room to be lively or cozy? Are you using the dining room for intimate gatherings or energetic parties? Do you want a romantic or tranquil mood in the bedroom? Picking a mood for each room will dictate what colors you should use in them.

Brookridge Harrsion master bed

Warm colors (red, orange and yellow) are all high-energy colors, but they encourage different degrees of activity. Red is a stimulating color and promotes interaction while yellow is uplifting and a mood booster. It conveys happiness. Orange is in the middle, evoking a friendly, exciting atmosphere.

Brookridge on Prescott master bedCool colors (blue, green and violet) are calming colors. Blue is soothing and encourages serenity. Green is the dominant color in nature. It makes you feel healthy, wholesome, and rested. Violet is sophisticated and dramatic. It combines the enticing qualities of red with the relaxing essence of blue.

Step #3: Mix and Match
Now that you know what colors you gravitate towards and how each color affects mood, you can narrow down your choice to one color. Let’s say you’ve chosen green as your main color. Tweak the green based on the mood of the room. Mix it with yellow to get a lively cheerful room. For a more tranquil effect, mix green with blue to get teal.

After you’ve chosen your dominate color, you’ll need to choose a secondary and an accent color. If you are looking for one color scheme for the whole house, choose 5 colors. If it is for a single room, choose 3. A good color scheme is one that blends well together and generally mixes in some neutrals with some louder colors. Test your colors on the walls before painting the whole room.

Usually, go with the 60-30-10 rule: 60 percent dominate color, 30 percent secondary color(s), and 10 percent accent color(s). There are different ways to choose the secondary and accent colors. You can go to a fabric store and look at your dominant color fabrics to see what other colors are used. Websites like Design Seeds are great tools for picking out accent colors as well. This site pulls colors from a single picture, giving you not only a scheme but also a visualization of what the colors look like together.

Amberwood Northmont living room collageStep #4: Put Your Palette to Style

Now that you’ve chosen your color scheme, it’s time create an atmosphere you’ll love. Incorporate the accent colors by using throw pillows, rugs, curtains, and wall art. The secondary colors can be used in furniture or as an accent wall color. Deciding on a color scheme was the hard part. Now it’s time to have fun putting your house together.

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Fall Lawn Maintenance

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, fall is a critical time for preparing your lawn for the long winter that will soon arrive. The key to a healthy lawn next spring is being proactive this fall.  Below are 4 steps to take before winter to improve your lawn for spring:

1. Leaves

fall-raking-leavesLetting those beautiful fall leaves sit on your grass all winter can halt your lawn’s growth and cause it to become thin in spring. Letting leaves sit all winter prevents critical sunlight from reaching your grass during the winter. Instead, mulch your leaves. This is a simple procedure, all you have to do is mow over the leaves until they are cut into dime size pieces. Afterwards, spread the the mulched leaves evenly over your entire lawn.

 2. Adjust Mowing Height

ss_MPC108081Even though you may not think about mowing your lawn in mid to late fall it is essential for maintaining a healthy lawn throughout the winter months. Ideally, keep your grass at its normal height (2.5-3.5 inches) until it stops growing. You should cut your grass slightly lower for its final cut. Keeping grass too long will cause the grass to matt under the pressure of the snow.

3. Repair Dead Spots (Reseed)


Fixing dead or warn down areas on your lawn before the harsh winter hits will give your lawn a head start in spring and allow your lawn to recover faster.  Start by removing all the weeds, leaves, thatch, and debris from the area you will be reseeding. Make sure you are choosing a seed that is most similar to the grass you already have. Next, prepare your soil by loosening it at least 1 inch in depth using a rake or aerator. This will allow water and nutrients to get to the roots. Finally, place a thin layer of straw over the seeds and water as needed.

4. Fertilizing

Lawn-Fertilizing-and-aerating-sandy-utahFertilize your lawn before the first freeze using a winterizing fertilizer. These fertilizers promote strong deep roots, allowing your grass to stay healthy during the winter. Winter weeds will be germinating like crazy in anticipation for the coming spring, so put a halt to those weeds by applying the spring fertilizer as soon as you can.

Having a beautiful lawn can drastically improve your home’s external visual appeal. By taking these few easy steps, you can save yourself a lot of trouble come spring.

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September Facebook Poll Results

Twice a week on Facebook, we create poll questions with 3 different options to let people tell us what type of home features they like. Then each month we’re giving you a summary of the winners so you can see our most popular home features!

Below are the poll results from September:

Kitchen Winner- Amberwood

Amberwood Kylea Kitchen

This luxurious and update kitchen won the first Facebook poll of September gaining 62% of the votes!

The kitchen is one of the most talked about rooms in the house, it is a room that you use every day. This Amberwood kitchen has a white theme. There are white wood cabinets, a large white tile backsplash the takes up an entire wall and light color granite counter tops. The colors of the features with the darker luxury vinyl plank flooring set a nice contrast. The hanging lights above are unique and stand out as well.

Powder Room Sink Winner- Avalon

Avalon Sink- Guest bathThis pedestal stand alone sink won this Facebook poll  by 57%!

This sink has a very antique and unique look. The basin of this sink has limited counter space but for a powder room it’s still functional. There are two drawers attached to the sink perfect for everyday bathroom supplies. A powder room is an important space because this is the bath that guests will use. You want it to be both functional and well decorated!


Porch Column Winner- Amberwood

IMG_6084This outdoor porch column winner took home the W, gaining 64% of votes!

The exterior view of your home is arguably one of the most important parts of the home. It is the first thing anyone sees when visiting or passing by. Porch columns are something we incorporate into many of our homes, often serving both as support for the covered porch and as a architectural feature. These particular columns have stone bases with tapered column above, giving a craftsman flare to the home.

Stone Fireplace Winner- Custom Home

IMG_2923This popular fireplace from a custom home won this poll by 72%.

A floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is the main attraction in this great room. The home features a two-story great room, allowing the homeowners and guests to see the fireplace from both the main floor and upper level. A raised hearth and built-in cabinets give this fireplace even more interest. Overall, this fireplace and home are very popular on social media!


Backsplash and Oven Hood- TIE*

Untitled designFor the first time, we had a three-way tie in our Facebook Poll! All three backsplashes & oven hoods were equally loved by voters.

A backsplash is a great accent for a kitchen. They come in many different materials, shapes, patterns and colors. They give your kitchen a personalized style and character. Chimney hood vents have become a popular look above cooktops.  These three backsplashes and hoods are pretty different but each make the kitchen stand out!

*The photos were from an Amberwood (left), a custom home (top right) and a Brookridge (bottom right).

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October Space of the Month: Pocket Offices

The concept of the home office is evolving. Years ago you needed a full-sized room to house all your workspace necessities. Today technology allows us to do much more with much less, so the space required has reduced as well.

“Pocket” offices have become a new home trend in recent years. These compact spaces take up less room than their predecessors, typically about half the size. An efficiently designed and well organized space will be much more functional and allow the homeowners to optimize the space in their home.

Below are three different pocket offices we created in our homes and their approximate dimensions:

The Bellaire – 7′ x 6′

A wall of open shelving in this office gives plenty of storage space for books, binders and more. The shelving creates an “L” shape workspace that utilizes 2 walls in the room.

Bellaire Office

The Bellaire Plan

The Avalon – 6.5′ x 6′

Floating shelves utilize the space above this built-in desk area. Cabinet drawers give plenty of space for bills or other necessary files.  Desk-height outlets make plugging in electronics on the easier than fishing cords down below.

The Avalon Plan

The Avalon Plan

The Thornberry – 8′-10.5′ x 8.5′

It’s is larger than the other two, but this office is still relatively small considering it can accommodate more than one person. This layout has two workspaces, each with its own drawer and cabinet. It allows two people to easily work side-by-side in the same space without feeling on top of each other.

Thornberry Office

The Thornberry Plan

All three of these designs include a window. This brings in natural light to the space which makes it feel bigger and less like a closet. Working in a stuffy area can be a drag, so having a view available is a great way to stay motivated.

They also include pocket doors to close the space off from the rest of the home.  This is nice when using the space to help limit distractions and also to close off the space when it’s not in use.

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Haunted Houses in the Fox Cities Area


With Halloween just around the corner, haunted houses are in full swing. Looking to visit a local spook spot? Here you’ll find information on some of the spookiest haunted houses in the surrounding Fox Cities area!

Terror on the Fox – Green Bay, WI- Open through Oct. 31

Terror on the Fox
2285 S. Broadway
Green Bay, WI  54304

logoThough it’s a little further away, the Terror on the Fox is definitely notable, having been voted one of the top ten haunted houses in the country.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Terror on the Fox. There will be never before seen attractions, new characters, and more animatronics to celebrate 20 years. Because of the anniversary, Terror on the Fox is supposed to be extra spooky! The haunted houses feature everything from clowns, criminals and asylum patients!


Burial Chamber Haunted House – Neenah, WI- Open mainly Friday & Saturday nights through Oct. 31

Burial Chamber Haunted House
500 N. Lake Street
Neenah, WI 54956

burial-chamber-haunted-house-neenahThe Burial Chamber has been voted the best haunted house attraction in the Fox Valley by many publications. Consisting of 4 major attractions, including 2 huge indoor haunted houses and 1 outdoor haunted woods and a burial stimulation! Expect a full night of scary entertainment.

The Burial Chamber has more than 125 actors working to spook you every night. Check out “Adrenaline,” a dark haunted house that will keep your senses alert, or “Insanity,” a brand new interactive haunted house that’s full of misdirection and scary effects.  Adrenaline is a zombie attack, while Insanity is an interactive indoor hunt filled with psychos. Also be sure to check out “Phobia Haunted Woods,” a wooded trail that makes you to feel like you are part of a horror movie set in the woods. The Burial Chamber also has “The Last Ride” Burial Simulators, made to bury you alive.

Misery Haunted House- Berlin, WI- Open mainly Friday’s & Saturday’s until Oct. 31

Misery Haunted House
235 S Wisconsin Street
Berlin, WI 54923

logoThis haunted house is inside the historically haunted Berlin Tannery. There are two haunted houses, a buried alive stimulation and laser tag.

This year, one of the houses is called “Escape Your Nightmare” which is different from last years Misery Haunted House which was called “Enter Your Nightmare.”  ”Escape Your Nightmare” requires teams of 2-6 people and you must use teamwork, creativity and problem solving in hopes that you will escape! Their other haunted house, is a hotel theme called “Hallowed Chambers.” It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before, completely redesigned for 2016!

The Morgue- De Pere, WI- Open every Friday & Saturday in October.

The Morgue
N5589 County Rd E
De Pere, WI 54115

zombieThe Morgue has many fun Halloween features. The main haunted house is a three-level 1920′s school building with something scary around every corner. In 1929 the building was temporally turned into a morgue. Legend has it, you can still feel the presence of those who once passed through.

There is also a haunted woods, a slide to hell, a big screen for movies and a huge bonfire that lasts all night. The best part of this experience is you never have to wait in line!  Just spend time by the fire or at the concession stand while you wait for your number to be called to enter The Morgue. It’s open every Friday and Saturday in October from 7pm-10:30pm. One dollar from each admission on the busiest night will be donated to a local food pantry! This haunted house takes CASH ONLY!

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Family Fall Events

Creepy Crawlies- October 7-8

Heckrodt Wetland reserve,
1305 Plant Road
Menasha WI 54952 

downloadHeckrodt Wetland Reserve is the host of this annual event and this year is the 15th year for this Halloween program in Menasha. The program takes place from 6pm-9pm. This event is family friendly and is very child interactive. There are crafts, story telling and hayrides. The last activity of the night is a haunted trail hike with lanterns and Halloween music and sounds! The event usually sells out midweek before the event so it is best to order tickets online ahead of time!

 Zooloween Boo- October 15 & 16

Menominee Park
520 Pratt Trail
Oshkosh, WI 54901 

Zooloween-entranceThis event takes place one weekend each year at Menominee Park in Oshkosh. The Menominee Park Zoo is 8 acres and each year features different exotic animals. This year’s event is October 15 & 16 from 11am- 3pm. Zooloween Boo is an event for children and families, offering many different activities.

Activities include: Trick or Treat station, bounce houses, concessions, games, crafts, prizes and mascots. Come dressed in costumes for trick or treating and a costume contest.

This event is a fundraiser supported by the Oshkosh community and all money generated goes to expanding the Menominee Park Zoo.

Halloween Candlelight Cave Tours- October 21-22

Ledge View Nature Center
W2348 Short Rd,
Chilton, WI 53014

hcct flyerThis event is a bit far away, but offers a very unique Halloween experience. Ledge View Nature Center hosts the event one weekend each year. It’s an educational event that features a half-mile guided cave tour.

Strange, scary stories are told during the event to prepare you for Halloween. This year’s event is Friday October 21 from 4:30pm-8:30pm and Saturday October 22 from 5:30pm-8:30pm. The candlelight cave tour is a fundraiser for the nonprofit friends of Ledge View Nature Walk. It is a unique experience and a great cause!


Meuer Farm- September 9- October 31

Meuer Farm 
N2564 US Hwy 151 
Chilton, WI 53014.

2016-maze-web_origThe Meuer Farm corn maze started Friday September 9th and goes until Halloween! The planning for this corn maze starts in February each year and is ready to go by September. Every year has a different maze.

There is also a large pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins, as well as daytime and nighttime hayrides.

The farm is very kid friendly, having animals and other activity areas to enjoy.

The Little Farmer- All Fall Long

The Little Farmer
N9438 Hwy. 151
Malone, WI 53049

11953170_10153057979556931_3490421312112546755_n-225x300The Little Farmer is 139 acres of family farm that features many fall activities. There’s also 20 acres of apples and pumpkins waiting to be picked!

The Apple House was built in the 1940′s and there you can buy apples, caramel apples, baked goods, soups, breads, squash, pasta, cider, house-ware items and more.

There is also a bakery on site that makes fresh pies and muffins every day! There are 9 different flavors but apple and apple walnut are the most common.

Another building on the farms is the Farmhouse/Apple Blossom Cafe which serves meals until 2pm daily with fresh farm ingredients.

A craft barn is also featured which is great for children.

Every weekend there are tractor rides from 1oam- 4pm. The hayride goes through 50 acres of woods and is FREE.

Other attractions include a 2 acre corn maze, animals and pre-picked pumpkins and apples.

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5 Steps to Organizing your Closet!

Summer has come to a close, which means cooler weather. It’s time to move out your summer clothing and bring in your fall and winter wardrobe. Organizing your closet can be stressful and time consuming but here are 5 easy steps that will change your closet organization forever!

5 Simple Steps

closetStep 1: Divide your wardrobe by seasons – It’s a simple way to organize your clothing, divide them into different piles; winter, summer, spring and fall. This way your clothes are organized according to season making it easier to alternate wardrobes.

Step 2: Create 3 separate piles – Divide your clothes once again into piles. Instead of seasonal piles, these piles are to determine which clothing you are going to keep, toss, and items that you are unsure of. It’s an easy way to de-clutter your closet and get rid of items that you don’t want anymore.

Step 3: Look at each piece of clothing carefully – This is a continuation of step 1 and 2, go through each of the piles in the different seasons and carefully look through and double check the items in your keep and toss pile.

Step 4: Decide what to do with your toss pile – Carefully go through the items in the toss pile and determine whether they should be thrown away or given away!

IMG_1409 copy (1)Step 5: Put your fall/winter wardrobe to the front – Take your summer wardrobe and store it in the back of your closet and bring forth the clothing that you will wear for fall and winter!

Following these 5 easy steps will help you get your closet ready for each season!

For more information on organizing your closet click here!



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Prepare Your House for Fall

Fall is around the corner!  The leaves have turned and are sprinkling the streets everywhere. It’s time to start prepping your home for the cold season. While you don’t have to full out winterize your home quite yet, it is a smart idea to get a jump on some of these tasks for the autumn season. Here are some tips to prepare your home for fall:

Heating & Insulation

  • Have the furnace inspected and the chimney cleaned.
  • Clean out the heating ducts and replace the furnace filter.
  • Check the house for any drafts. Be sure to check the weatherstripping around all the doors and windows, and replace screened doors with storm glass.
  • Take out, clean and store window AC units.
  • Stock up on firewood. If you are bringing it inside to store, make sure there are no bugs on it.

Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

  • Clear out the gutters and downspouts, and install leaf guards to prevent any clogging.
  • Add extra insulation to the attic to help prevent ice dams.
  • Replace worn shingles.
  • Prevent Water Freezing
  • Turn off water supply to all exterior spigots.
  • Insulate any exposed water pipes.
  • Remove, drain and store garden hoses.
  • If you leave for an extended period of time, keep the heat on and set it to 55 degrees.

Don’t Neglect the Garage or Power Tools

  • Sweep and clean out the garage.
  • Clean gardening tools and summer power equipment.
  • Make fall and winter equipment more accessible (rakes, shovels, etc.).
  • Check all the fall and winter power equipment (leaf blowers, snow blowers, etc.) to make sure they are working properly.
  • Clean and store all your lawn and patio furniture.

Other Odds and Ends

  • Pressure wash the exterior of the house – This should be done once or twice a year. You’d be surprised how much sticks to the siding of your house. Give it a good scrub to help remove any dirt, mildew, and bugs.
  • Close down the pool (if you have one).
  • Trim down branches that hang close to the house.
  • Check foundation for any cracks.
  • Clean and store the grill.

Tips for Preparing the Interior

  • On one of the last warmer days, open up all the windows and air out the house before sealing it up for the cold season.
  • Prep your doorways by setting out throw rugs and mud trays.
  • Prepare for more indoor cooking by doing a thorough cleaning of the oven and stove.
  • Clean out old items in the food pantry and refrigerator, and restock with ingredients for home cooked meals such as homemade soup, slow-cooker recipes, and hot dishes.
  • Get ready for closed windows by doing a thorough cleaning of the whole house to remove dust buildup. Don’t forget to shampoo those carpets! You’ll be spending a lot of time with them over the next 6 months.
  • Store summer clothes – switch out flip-flops for boots, put away swimsuits and pull out mittens and hats, swap shorts for sweatshirts, etc.
  • Organize holiday decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

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*Related Post: Fall Lawn Maintenance*

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Steps to Finishing Your Dream Garage

A Garage can be more than a place where you park your car everyday. Your garage can be  storage, living space, workshop, hobby room, or even a game room. Whether you do it yourself or outsource it, finishing your garage will add functionality, space, and value to your home. The first step is to draw up a finishing plan. This plan can either be all at once or little by little. If you don’t have a plan, it will make it extremely difficult to get anything done. Here are a few things you should address when creating your garage finishing plan.


Look into an electrical plan and decide if you want more power receptacles in your garage. Make sure you put in consideration how many power tools you have in your garage, along with where the workspace will be. The more power receptacles the better. Adding outlets to your ceilings is a great way plug in things like heaters, different kinds of lighting, parking gadgets, etc.  Make sure your home’s power supply can handle the additional juice.


If your home plan allows for it, you can create some extra storage space above the garage ceiling.  Make sure you don’t store heavy items in this space as its main purpose will be for lighter items that take up space. You may also consider adding a skylight to your garage (again, only if your home’s structure allows it). This will be a great way to save some energy during the day by not turning on your lights.


Next, consider what to do with your walls.  Adding sheetrock will give the space a more finished off look.  You could take it even further, by taping and plastering, painting, and even adding trim work.  Insulating your walls may seem unnecessary in your garage but this will make all the difference in the cold Wisconsin winters and make the space a lot more comfortable to be in.  A window is another great idea to get more natural light into the space.  Installing a service door that leads to either the side of your house or your backyard can come in handy as well. Finally, cabinets and shelving are great space savers to help you better organize the space.



Finally, consider what to do with your garage floor.  Installing an epoxy floor will give you a colorful, shiny floor that will have you, and your car, feeling like you’re driving into a showroom every time you come home.  Some other options would be rubber tiles or simply staining the concrete floor.

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