Parade of Homes!

WIN tickets to the Parade of Homes! We’re giving away 10 tickets for the Parade of Homes, which begins this weekend.

All you need to do is head over to our Facebook page and reply to the Parade of Homes ticket giveaway contest post with a movie that was either filmed in Dane County or references a place in Dane County. Go!

The Community of Bishops Bay lot for sale
The Community of Bishops Bay lot for sale

Calling all design junkies & open house addicts! (You know who you are..) The Parade of Homes begins this Saturday, June 11, and it's not to be missed. The theme of this year's Parade of Homes has be described as vintage, farmhouse and rustic (some of my personal faves!)

The Community of Bishops Bay lot for sale
The Community of Bishops Bay lot for sale

As you may know, I recently toured all of the available homes in The Community of Bishops Bay, then I told you all about that exciting new development here and shared a video interview with one of the residents. As a lover of charming old houses, I was a little surprised at how much I was digging so many of these brand spanking new homes! Their vintage, farmhouse charm was definitely speaking my language. I love the distressed wood, mismatch cabinetry & furnishings, painted cabinets, barn doors, beamed ceilings plus bead board & wood flooring on the ceiling??! So cool. These homes are a beautiful marriage of old and new; I think just about anyone will appreciate the design and decor. So what are you waiting for? Come get inspired!

While you're out and about, check out our lot listings at 5020 & 5028 Augusta Dr in Middleton! Nestled in The Community of Bishops Bay (where you'll find a handful of parade homes!) these large lots are in incredible VALUE! Priced at less than $11 a sq ft (!), it's hard to believe that this prime real estate offers up views of the Bishops Bay Golf Course AND slopes for rear exposure. The brand new pool/clubhouse/fitness center has broken ground *just* down the street. This is a great opportunity to be a part of the EXCITING Community of Bishops Bay, where 7 distinctly different neighborhoods will satisfy the nature lover, urbanite, & everyone in between. Seller is offering a $10,000 lot incentive if you choose to build with the reputable Design Shelters, but you are welcome to bring your builder.

Take it from Frank Lloyd Wright

As a Madison Realtor and mid century modern enthusiast, I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring Green estate, Taliesin, prior to last weekend. Not only was the drive beautiful (we took the scenic route to take in the rolling hills and vibrant leaves), but the grounds and building were truly inspiring. We did the two-hour home tour, but shorter and longer tours of the various buildings are available. Although I love history and found the stories about Mr. Wright and his family fascinating, I was truly there for the architecture. I was not disappointed! While we weren’t allowed to take interior photos, I dug up a few online of the rooms and features that struck me.

Sitting area near fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Bedroom at  Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Frank Lloyd Wright focused on bringing nature into his design, which translates into lots of large windows, natural wood and locally harvested field stone. I was surprised to see that, at least in this particular home, the wood trim, doors, wall panels and such were of low-grade plywood. I asked our tour guide why Wright didn’t use a “better” wood and her answer was simple. Being an artist, Wright’s home underwent many transformations; therefore, spending top dollar on a high quality hardwood wasn’t practical. Makes sense! I certainly feel a lot better trying things out in my home when I know I didn’t spend a lot on them in the first place.

I would say the biggest treats of the tour were the stone floors, vast fireplaces and wood ceiling beams. Being a Madison Realtor, I can tell you that many of the features we saw, such as the common stacked stone fireplaces, are usually considered dated by home buyers and sellers. I may have agreed in some cases prior to my visit to Taliesin, but seeing how Mr. Wright layered an array of textures, colors and shapes changed my perception. I couldn’t wait to find other examples of how these presumed “outdated” features could evolve into a room’s unique and attractive focal point.

A modern dining room where wood beams are a complimentary feature.

A modern living room where wood beams serve as a complimentary feature.

Dark, outdated features before makeover.

After - with some paint and creativity, dark features become interesting focal point in room.

As with much in life, it’s all about working with what you have and making that sweet lemonade out of those bitter lemons. Could one of your home’s unique lemons turn into an amazing, one-of-a-kind focal point with the right treatment? As homeowners beginning the listing process, consider how to play up your home’s original features. As buyers looking at outdated features as you search for home, be creative! Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

Garage apartments, granny flats, and "tiny houses"

All about the cool phenomenon known as "Accessory Dwelling Units"

accessory dwelling unit in madison wi real estate

From converting a garage into a rental unit, to adding a second home on your lot for an aging parent -- "accessory dwelling units" are popping up across Madison!

In January 2013, changes to the City of Madison's zoning ordinance allowed residents to legally construct accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Not only are ADUs helping some homeowners make better use of their existing space, they're also tapping into the increasingly popular "tiny house" movement.

According to the national experts at, ADUs are "a really simple and old idea: having a second, small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as an apartment over the garage, a tiny house on a foundation in the backyard, or a basement apartment."

So -- you have a garage you'd like to convert, or addition you'd like to make. Where do you start? Well, any legally added ADU will need a permit. Here's a quick list of first steps from our friends at the City.

Ten steps for planning and permitting an ADU:

1. Brainstorm your project goals and scope 2. Talk to the Madison Zoning Department about the project to determine its feasibility 3. Rough-sketch your ideas -- get creative input from family and friends 4. Identify your architect and consider potential builders (unless you're going the DIY route) 5. Work with your architect to create and refine a schematic design 6. Talk with your neighbors -- community buy-in is important, especially when adding density to already-dense areas 7. Choose a builder 8. Develop permit-ready (or construction-ready) drawings 9. Apply for your permit -- permit issued! 10. Break ground

Want to learn more? Here you go!

Green Accessory Dwelling Unit Initiative - resources for Madison homeowners who want to build environmentally friendly ADUs

10 Steps to Permitting an ADU - a quick reference guide for Madisonians interested in building (and permitting!) their own ADU

Design Coalition - design support for Madison-area residents who want to design and build ADUs - a volunteer-run resource guide on how to design, build, and get approval for your ADU, complete with zoning ordinances by state

ADUs in Madison - a Facebook page where Madisonians can share advice and resources related to ADUs

Time to Build - sample ADU floorplans, plus words of wisdom when thinking about your own ADU

Madison Zoning Department - who to contact when you're ready to get started!

Related links:

The Hottest Home Amenity: In-Law Apartments, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2014.


Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison

We get a lot of calls from home buyers who are looking for unique or mid-century modern homes in Madison. And we understand why! We love unique properties -- homes with extra charm, mid-century modern lines, and other special details that make them truly stand out. Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI Homes for Sale

Often, homes like this don't regularly show up in the MLS property search. But we're not deterred! We take matters into our own hands, turning into Madison real estate sleuths, working hard to track down the unique, mid-century modern homes in Madison that meet our buyers' needs.

Part of this involves turning to you. If you, or someone you know, owns a unique, mid-century modern home, and you're contemplating a move, we'd love to talk. We know you need a listing agent who understands your home's uniqueness, and who knows how to market its features properly to secure the best possible offer. That's where we come in. We know the Madison real estate market inside and out -- and our passion for vintage, unique, and mid-century modern homes means we're perfectly suited to help.

Here are a few tips for selling your unique or mid century modern home for the highest dollar possible:

1. 1950s and 60s home decor trends are back in a big way. We can work with you to turn your home’s “dated” features into today's trends that appeal to the buyers who are looking for something unique and vintage. (Here's an example of how to do that with dated bathroom tiles.)

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI homes for sale

2. Leverage your color palette! Let's identify the colors that work best with your home’s original features, then use that color palette to determine complementary wall and accessory colors that buyers will love.

3. For an instant facelift, consider painting your brick or stone fireplace.

4. Wood paneling can date a home and make a space feel heavy and dark. Refresh your space with paint and/or punchy wall art.

5. Vintage wallpaper can be beautiful! But it's very taste-specific. Consider toning it down with the neutral drapes and contemporary accessories.

6. Educate your buyers. If your home is unique, tell them how and why! From the type of materials used, to the history of your home’s design, or the credentials of it’s architect -- don’t leave anything out when selling buyers on your home's charm. 

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI vintage home furnishings

7. Make sure that your Realtor “gets it”, too. Your ideal Realtor will not only appreciate all that your home has to offer, but will be able to articulate its value to potential buyers. While it’s unlikely that every original feature in your home will be a mid-century gem worth saving, your Realtor should have an eye for vintage chic, and be able to help your home for sale reach the appropriate audience.

Just remember -- buyers are craving unique and mid-century modern homes. But not only do you need to know how to market your home to them, you need to show them why your home is special.