Rustic & Refined

Farmhouse style reigns at the Winter Parade of Homes


Whether they overlook a cornfield in the country or a side street in the city, farmhouse-style homes are celebrated in the rural landscape as well as the suburbs. The farmhouse, or folk house, is a persistent part of American architecture, adapting to different environments and trends over many decades. Recently, the farmhouses’ simple and functional style has experienced a resurgence, thanks in part to the popularity of television shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” The trend can be seen in homes locally, particularly in several being featured in the Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities Winter Parade of Homes.

The Farmhouse-Style Home

According to Leslie Wilson, owner of Bellwether Interior Design in Neenah, a farmhouse-style home “starts with the exterior and the use of board and batten as the main siding material,” with right-angled walls and 45-degree roof pitches. Inside, a farmhouse-style home often has exposed wooden beams, open layouts and plenty of natural materials for texture. Farmhouse-style homes are adaptable to different eras, functions and locations, with a distinctly modern feel being in vogue. But whether a farmhouse incorporates elements from other styles or not, themes of simple lines, homelike materials and connection to the land are this style’s constant hallmarks. Other modern farmhouse signatures include large porches, airy color palettes, furniture style vanities and sliding “barn door” style doors.

Fox Cities Farmhouses

Two homes featured in HBA Fox Cities Winter Parade of Homes fit these themes nicely. One that O’Brien Builders, Inc. constructed and that Wilson designed includes reclaimed wood corbels on the back patio and reclaimed decorative beams on the interior and exterior. The builders also included a local touch: the wood used to make the flooring, dining table, and butcher-block island in the kitchen came from trees on the construction site. “It’s what a traditional farmhouse floor would have possibly done,” Wilson says. “It keeps the product you’re putting in your home local, in turn making it a green material.“ Even though the home has many farmhouse-style touches, it maintains a modern feel with “clean, simple lines in the woodwork and furnishings,” according to Wilson.

Another home, constructed by Schmidt Bros. Custom Homes in northern Appleton, has a basic yet modern approach to the farmhouse style: “Decorative beams, clean straight lines on the exterior with a steel roof on the porch and a large kitchen,” according to Lisa Schmidt. The home offers many possibilities for recreating a traditional style, such as hardwood floors, vintage lighting and wrap-around porches; it also has many up-to-date modern amenities such as stainless steel kitchen appliances, a large master suite and radon and dampness control systems.

The Parade of Homes

The Winter Parade of Homes runs February 11-12 and 16-19, with remodeling projects open for viewings February 17-19. Of the 39 homes featured, 34 are new-construction homes, one is a new construction condominium and four are remodeling projects. The featured homes come in a variety of styles and floor plans, and the remodeling projects showcase a wide range of changes and updates.

According to Megan Schlimm, the director of marketing at HBA Fox Cities, the parade “is a unique way to experience what you may like about floorplan flow, functionality of a new product or service and aesthetics of the latest trends and paint colors.” It also gives ticket-holders a chance to see the latest in construction techniques, products and services, as well as an opportunity to speak to the builders and designers of the homes and ask questions about their work. “The Parade of Homes is for anyone, but it is especially helpful to those interested in building a new home, remodeling or updating their existing home, viewing new trends and interior design, and those looking for a general contractor/remodeler,” Schlimm says.

2017 Winter Parade of Homes

February 11-12 & 16-19
11am – 5pm weekends | 5 – 8pm weekdays
HBA Fox Cities has a free mobile app for Parade of Homes attendees called HBAFC, which is available for both iOS and Android. The app allows users to build custom routes with turn-by-turn directions, search homes with a number of criteria, add personal notes and ratings on each home, and purchase tickets for each Parade of Homes event. Tickets can be purchased online at In-person ticket sales begin at the HBA Fox Cities office in Appleton and in local ticket selling locations on February 6.


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