You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

Now that the weather is finally cooling down it is a great time to spend an evening outside by a lovely fireplace.

Fireplaces and firepits make a wonderful place for friends to gather, or just to enjoy a glass of wine after a busy week.

The Stone Man is a specialty stone landscaping company dedicated to providing the highest quality custom stonework for our clients. Projects range from small border walls to full stonescape installations. For stone or paver patios, pathways, walls, outdoor fireplaces, firepits, outdoor living and kitchen areas, or any kind of custom stonework, please give us a call. Our prices are competitive and our quality is second to none.  We also build pergolas, screen porches, sun canopies, and any other kind of custom home additions.

We are on the web at  To contact us, please call 704 616-7948 to talk with George Crump (Master Stone Artisan/Owner) now, or email

Here are some elegant and thoughtful holiday decorating ideas, from Serena and Lily, on how to comfortably prepare your home for guests, this holiday season!

5 Festive Ways to Create a Comfortable Guest Room with Serena and Lily products:

1. “Pimento Sheets”- Start getting your guests in the holiday mood with festive and colorful sheets.

2. “Kuta Tin Boxes”- Offer you guests a gorgeous place to store their cherished belongings.

3. “Throw Pillows”- To promote a relaxing atmosphere, make sure everyone has a soft pillow to cuddle.

4. “Lucky Stools”- Creatively accommodate your guests luggage with seasonal sophistication.

5. “Chunky Throws”- Make sure your guests are warm and cozy with large, soft blankets.

For more information about these trends and products please visit

1. Thou shalt embrace maximalism.
Thou wilt find minimalism to be something of a bummer in thy abode. Thou wilt grow tired of an endless sea of beige and thou wilt long for a splash of color & a dollop of pattern! Bargello pillows, Furnace bottles, and rustic modern lamps – these shalt be the accessories that add some panache to your pad.

2. Thou shalt not deny thyself hotelish comfort at home.
Thou shalt furnish thy rooms with paw-pampering, hand-loomed llama wool rugs, luxurious lighting and our fabulous furniture.
Thy rooms shalt feel like the most opulent hotel rooms in which thou hast ever stayed.
Thou art worth it.

3. Thou shalt buy an X-Bench.
Then, thou shalt buy another. Thou shalt use them in pairs, perfect under thy console or placed near thy sofa. Thou shalt rest thy feet upon them & so will thy guests. In fact, thy guests might even fight over who gets to rest upon them. Therefore, thou shalt establish house rules about thy X-Benches. Perhaps thou should consider a sign up sheet.

4. If thy nest needeth zest, consider thy crest!
Thou shalt emblazon with thine initials wherever possible.

5. Thou shalt mix fancy with frisky.
Thou shalt not be overly formal, for if thou art, thou will be sad. Conversely, thou shalt not be overly whimsical, for if thou art thou will not feel chic. Therefore, thou shalt embrace a mix, pairing the chic classical foundation – excellent proportions, classic furniture – with a layer of playful punctuation. Then thou shalt rest.

6. Thou shalt honor the funsters of yore.
David Hicks, Alexander Girard, Piero Fornasetti, Bonnie Cashin, Bjorn Wiinblad – if thou dost not knoweth them, thou should. Thou can use Google Images to learn more about them and thou shalt channel their fun, idiosyncratic, playful spirit in thine own interiors. Thy home will be fun, happy, and chic.

7. Thou shalt not commit murder,
…unless thou art murdering for a decorative accessory.
If thou should find thyself at one of our stores and seeth the last bird bowl on our shelf, thou shalt feel free to use whatever means necessary to obtain that special something.

8. Thou shalt not be afraid of orange.
Thou shalt use orange copiously in thy interior, whether it beeth in an orange breakfast room or via the zing of an orange lacquered box. Thou might even consider painting thy front door orange to pique thy neighbor’s curiosity. Thou shalt also covet chocolate brown.

9. Thou shalt play ping pong.
Better still, thou shalt have a ping pong table in thy living room. Then, lo, thou shalt play ping pong with thy spouse rather than sitting around watching thy tv.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
In fact, after following these 10 commandments, thy neighbor might covet thy house. So there.

For more information about current decorating trends and tips please visit our website at

You’re Cordially Invited to our next Seminar:

What’s the best use of space?  Who will help me with design and material selections?  What changes will be needed to my home’s infrastructure? How do I figure out how much to budget?  All these questions and more will be answered live by our team of professionals!

Some of the topics we’ll discuss:

*  Kitchen and bath design trends
*The three levels of remodeling to fit all budgets
*Timeframes for project completions
*Living through a remodeling project
*Realistic budgets for each room

Sat., Nov 13th, 10:00 – 11:30 AM
at  The Tile Shop
Nations Ford Road and I-77 South
(I-77 Exit 4)

Seating is limited!
Call 704-759-3920 or e-mail to RSVP

Educate yourself before spending a dime on your kitchen or bath remodel!


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kreecherCHARLOTTE, NC — The Furniture Connector, the city’s premiere sourcefor designer market samples and close-outs, is pleased to announce a partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital on a holiday incentive that is sure to bring out the kid in everyone, and a share joy with pediatric patients at the same time.

Now through Saturday, Dec. 11, for each Kreecher ($42) sold in the Southend store, one of the squishy, stuffed pals will be donated to the hospital to give to hospitalized children.

It’s the best kind of two-for-one shopping: someone on your list gets a special gift, and a patient at Levine Children’s Hospital gets a warm hug and message of love in a colorful package.

So what exactly is a Kreecher? Manufactured by industry pioneer Manhattan Toy, Kreechers are as adorable as they are varied in texture, color and shape.

levineThe story goes that what started as a mad science project of cross-pollinating baby blankets, old sweaters and abandoned teddy bears has become a line of characters that are as adorable as they are unique.

Each Kreecher has a name and a back story. For example, there’s Eugene (above), who’s described as “a holiday sweater experience that went south in a hurry.” The bright colors, soft textures and non-traditional design make Kreechers appealing to children and adults and everyone in between.

“Everybody needs a little something to love on,” said Rodney Hines, owner of The Furniture Connector, and Kreechers certainly fit the bill.

The Furniture Connector
2905 Griffith St.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
1-5 p.m. Sunday

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

Please visit our website at

With a return of family togetherness, smaller living spaces have U.S. families adjusting to new household realities.

Things are getting tight in the American household, and it’s not just the recession squeeze.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2000 and 2007, the number of parents living in an adult child’s household increased by 67 percent. At the same time, a recent Pew Research Center report (Nov. 2009), shows that one in 10 young adults ages 18 to 35 say the poor economy has forced them to move back in with their parents. Add to that the fact that for the first time in nearly 15 years, the size of new homes in the U.S. is shrinking, (down 7 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau), and it’s clear that the American household may be getting a little too cozy for comfort.

Whatever the cause of these new phenomena—whether it can be blamed on job loss or the more positive signs of Americans’ desires to build closer family bonds during increasingly insecure times—forward-thinking designers, architects and builders are being called upon to consider “proximity with privacy” solutions that will take some of the pressure off crowded households.

The need to relieve tension and stress and promote independence and interaction, yet also provide the much-needed personal space within multigenerational homes, has become a necessity for sandwiched families.

Many experts agree that separate living quarters, which may include a second master suite and even a second kitchen or cottage, are the best solutions for third- and fourth-generations living together. However, with major conversions being out of reach for many financially strapped homeowners, experts such as JELD-WEN, a leading manufacturer of windows and doors, are offering simple solutions designed to work with the many different needs that an extended family may have.

Peace and quiet
There’s no doubt about it: the more people crowded into close quarters, the more noise increases exponentially.

“Most people don’t pay attention to interior sound control,” said John Downs, JELD-WEN
product marketing manager. “However, they may subconsciously experience general discomfort or uneasiness in an area of their home and not realize the impact doors can have to improve this issue. Unfortunately, that means many people are still living with thin, hollow core interior doors that do next to nothing when it comes to blocking sound. Yet switching out interior doors is one of the most cost-effective changes you can make to increase living comfort.”

For a few hundred dollars, replacing interior doors with the latest sound-reducing technology can drastically help control noise.

JELD-WEN’s ProCore® The Quiet Door® is up to 50 percent quieter compared to a hollow core door, effectively blocking out many common household sounds. It also delivers the heft of an all-wood door and is available in a wide variety of stylish designs.

Other lower-cost tips for instilling peace and quiet in the home include testing the sound emission of appliances and household items such as vacuums before purchasing them. Many sound-reducing models cost no more than other new versions, yet won’t significantly contribute to household noise.

Experts also say that at least 25 percent of noisy rooms should have sound-absorbing materials like carpet or wall coverings to prevent loud footsteps from carrying throughout the home. Finally, consider designating a “quiet zone,” such as a spa-like bathroom retreat or a reading nook in the farthest corner of the home, that is free from noisy electronics and the hustle and bustle of family activity.

An increase in household energy
A household full of family members undoubtedly raises the energy level. More people typically means a bigger energy load, as the home is working 24/7 to try to keep up with different schedules and individual demands. That means more household electronics, laundry loads, and heating and cooling needs. This can be an unexpected financial drain on families who may be working hard to conserve limited resources.

One of the best ways to offset the increase in energy demands is to incorporate more energy-saving features that will also increase the home’s comfort level. Highly energy efficient, affordable JELD-WEN® Vinyl windows that are ENERGY STAR® qualified can help reduce utility bills over the long run, saving money month after month. Under the government’s new economic stimulus plan, families can also take advantage of federal tax credits of up to $1,500 for qualified energy efficiency improvements related to items including windows and doors. JELD-WEN has made it easy to determine the specific requirements and which products qualify for the tax credits by visiting

The federal requirements stipulate that qualified products must be installed between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010.
Different needs, universal solutions
As children boomerang back home after college and elderly parents move in with their children, home designs and operations need to function well for both the young and the old.

Safety, including easy-to-operate and secure window and door locks, as well as wider doorways to accommodate increased traffic flow and potential mobility issues, are important considerations. Making sure family members check to ensure fire alarms and fire extinguishers are operable, develop an emergency evacuation plan and create a centralized place for updated emergency numbers are key priorities.

Above all, most experts agree that multigenerational living can be a joyful, rich experience—it simply requires some planning and a shift in what has been the “typical” American lifestyle.

“Americans have gotten so accustomed to bigger houses and bigger spaces, this may be a bit of an adjustment,” said Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of Today’s Homeowner television show. “The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do within an existing home to make it more comfortable and accommodating, no matter who ends up coming back home.”

If you have window and doors needs for a multi-generational household, visit The Design Center, a completely new retail concept in the Ballantyne Area outside of Charlotte offering JELD-WEN windows, doors, garage doors as well as professional installation services all in one showroom.
The Design Center is located at 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, 29707. The phone number is 800-276-0411.  For further information please visit our website at

When it comes to home improvement, there’s no doubt homeowners will be pickier with their pocketbooks in 2010 and 2011.

In fact, according to leading sources such as Meredith Publishing, homeowners with limited discretionary funds are weighing their priorities this year, picking and choosing among home improvement projects that will make the cut.

But not all home improvements are created equal when it comes to the best investment choices. Take windows and doors. With hundreds of styles, options and performance combinations, the decisions can be daunting. With that in mind, JELD-WEN, one of the largest manufacturers of windows and doors, offers “insider tips” on where homeowners should look to save, and what features might be worth the extra splurge.

Where to Save

Materials make a difference. When it comes to windows and doors, experts say materials do make a difference. In general, for windows, vinyl will typically cost less compared to wood. Although if you need to replace old wood windows, JELD-WEN offers replacement wood window sash kits that can be installed in existing wood frames and can be very cost-effective.

Good taste can come standard. Custom trim, style and hardware options will typically cost more. It’s always worth asking first whether there might be a standard design option in an alternative material so a particular look can be achieved without sacrificing style. For example, JELD-WEN offers more than 100 panel designs as part of its interior door line, many that mimic classic and traditional solid wood styles, but cost far less. The company’s standard line of  hardware options also gives homeowners variety when it comes to finishes, colors and designs, without having to pay more.

Maintenance requirements can be the “X” factor. Save by looking for pre-primed, prefinished options that can help reduce costs over the long run and protect the initial investment. Choices such as vinyl windows or fiberglass doors mean minimal maintenance requirements year after year.

Efficiency is in the bank. For long-term savings, insist on windows and doors that come standard with energy efficient, Low-E glass. JELD-WEN offers highly efficient models that don’t cost extra, and energy saving models that qualify for tax credits. The U.S. Department of Energy says that homeowners can save an average of $125 to $450 a year on energy costs by replacing worn-out windows with more efficient models.

Where to Splurge

Don’t scrimp on style. Homeowners don’t have to pay big bucks to achieve a great look, but experts agree that if you don’t love the style or if it doesn’t fit with the character or architectural design of the house, it’s not worth the investment, no matter what the price.

“Windows and doors make a huge difference in terms of the overall look of a home—considering there is at least one of each in every single room of the home,” said John Downs, JELD-WEN product marketing manager. “As a homeowner, these are product categories where you can’t afford to have something that detracts from the overall style of the home or your taste in décor. Today there are so many choices that can reflect personal style and theme. Doors and windows give homeowners a major opportunity to get creative and make a décor impact throughout their home, often at a fraction of the cost of other home improvement projects that focus only on certain areas.”

Go for major impact. Don’t sacrifice on main focal points. Homeowners with limited budgets may want to put the majority of their dollars into areas that are going to make the biggest impact such as the entry door, garage doors and the rooms they spend the most time in. And don’t forget about resale value: respondents in a JELD-WEN nationwide survey of real estate agents estimated that a typical 2,500-square-foot home with updated entry and garage doors is worth, on average, an additional $16,000.

Consider performance features as well. For example, spending a few extra dollars on a
JELD-WEN ProCore® The Quiet Door® interior door to reduce sound between the laundry room and the rest of the house may be worth the peace and quiet.

“It’s increasingly common to see homeowners splurge on a custom wood or fiberglass entry door, for example, and save by putting affordable, energy efficient vinyl windows in the rest of the house,” said Downs. “When it comes to balancing the budget, it’s a matter of prioritizing in a way that’ll deliver the most bang for the buck. For literally a few dollars, more homeowners can impact the décor, design and their own peace of mind throughout the entire home.”

Little extras well worth it. It makes sense to invest wisely in areas that’ll provide a strong payback. Cladding, which is essentially a prefinished metal layer for the exterior of wood windows, provides great weather protection and never needs to be painted. As a result, according to JELD-WEN, nearly 90 percent of homeowners choose the clad wood option, recognizing the long-term value and payoff, even though it costs slightly more than primed wood.

Above all, do your homework. There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to windows and doors. Compare features, benefits, warranties and style flexibility, and choose products that will stand up over time.

“It’s worth spending the effort in order to get the maximum return out of your investment,” said home improvement expert Danny Lipford. “In today’s market especially, that’s essential no matter what your budget or your priorities.”

If you want to save or splurge, energy efficient and stylish windows and doors are currently available through The Design Center, a completely new retail concept in the Ballantyne Area outside of Charlotte offering JELD-WEN windows, doors, garage doors as well as professional installation services all in one showroom.
The Design Center is located at 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, 29707. The phone number is 800-276-0411.  For further information please visit our website at

There are the superstars of home improvement—the flashy granite counters, lavish floor coverings and elegant custom cabinetry—that typically earn top billing on the remodeling charts.

With obvious benefits and the hefty price tags that go along with them, they tend to steal the show when it comes to renovation wants and desires.

But what about homeowners without a razzle-dazzle budget who still want to add pizzazz and character to their home? Fortunately, the experts say, there are still plenty of home improvement opportunities waiting to be discovered that can lend both substance and style.

“In today’s market, it’s time to get creative and think beyond the large-scale remodel to smaller improvements that will still have a significant impact. The beauty of these projects is that they are relatively affordable and easy to accomplish,” said Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the Today’s Homeowner television show.

Neglect Case #1: Doors of shame

Doors are a prominent feature in nearly every room of a home, and many rooms contain more than just one. Entry, passageway and closet doors take up a large amount of space. The National Home Builders Association estimates that there is an average of 19 doors in today’s home and yet, interior doors are often overlooked as an opportunity to make a major difference in a home’s overall look and feel.

In fact, in a recent survey of interior designers conducted by JELD-WEN, less than 35 percent said they would expect that replacing interior doors would improve the look of a client’s home. However, after seeing pictures of the before-and-after difference an interior door upgrade made,
98 percent said that it had a positive effect and they would definitely consider interior door replacement for future projects.

Many JELD-WEN® interior doors are available for $100–$200, and the styles and options are nearly endless. With Santa Fe southwest styles, American traditional flat panel looks, cottage motifs with intricate detailing or Craftsman classics, choosing the right interior door style can immediately accentuate great architectural design and serve as an impressive focal point without changing anything else in a room. For homeowners who complain about dark and dated interiors, crisp white interior door finishes can have a dramatic impact on brightening and refreshing the home’s overall interior design. So why do they continue to be neglected?

“Our studies show that a lot of people would like to replace their interior doors, but they don’t know how to go about it, they’ve never taken the time to evaluate the options available or they can’t find the right contractor to do the job,” said John Downs, JELD-WEN product marketing manager. “We hear it all the time—homeowners who update their doors can’t believe the positive difference it makes, and wonder why they didn’t do it sooner.”

Neglect case #2: Not-so-neat-and-trim

Another interior feature of the home that is nearly universal is trim work. Windows, doors, floorboards, ceilings, trim can make the difference between homes that look finished, well-cared for and contain lots of character, and those that don’t.

Like interior doors, endless trim styles, finishes and patterns are available, and trim is typically inexpensive and fairly easy to install with the right tools and know-how. Details such as crown molding can add a rich look while wainscoting can create a custom style that adds tremendous interior design value. Floorboards that are spotless and free of dings and scratches call attention to beautiful flooring and highlight wall colors.

“It seems like a small touch, but it can make all the difference in the world in a room,” said Lipford.

Neglect case #3: Hardware horrors

In kitchens and baths, hardware receives top billing, as it typically is used as a jewel to accent great cabinetry, but that same sensibility isn’t always carried out in the rest of the home. Experts suggest making sure hardware is coordinated throughout—in a finish and style that’ll match the home’s architectural character.

Hardware immediately updates a home, and the reverse is also true. Chipped, discolored or outdated styles date a home and can seem like relics from another time. And don’t just consider handles and knobs—hinges, doorstops, locks and other hardware accents should match and represent the same style.

“There’s a big difference between charmingly historic and simply out of date,” said Downs.
“Typically, you can’t go wrong by making sure your finishes match and the styles you select are true to the architectural design of the home.”

Neglect case #4: Storage shortage

It may not be considered interior design by definition, but storage is definitely a desirable attribute for today’s homeowner. Editors of Meredith Publishing state that a top trend for 2010 is the desire for more storage. Evaluate your home and get creative. Adding storage in laundry rooms, attics or basements, closets and the garage doesn’t have to be expensive and will pay off in terms of the overall comfort and resale value of the home.

Neglect case #5: Left in the dark
Most interior design experts agree: the right lighting can truly change a home’s overall look, feel and mood. Adding a few inexpensive overhead lights and lamps to help brighten dim rooms increases their use and value. Consider selecting new interior doors with glass panels to allow light to filter from room to room. When remodeling, consider adding larger windows, French doors or skylights to further open up and expand a space.

Above all, experts say, think outside the box when it comes to improvements.

“Doing smaller, overlooked improvements and projects can make as big of a difference as the major ones,” said Lipford. “The best tool to figure out the potential opportunities to refresh your home and add character is your imagination.”

Energy efficient and stylish windows and doors are currently available through The Design Center, a completely new retail concept in the Ballantyne Area outside of Charlotte offering JELD-WEN windows, doors, garage doors as well as professional installation services all in one showroom.
The Design Center is located at 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, 29707. The phone number is 800-276-0411. For further information please visit our website at

Home design experts recommend making time to prepare yourself and your home for seasonal entertaining, drop-in guests and overnight visitors. Simple decorations and quick prep work can afford you the time to enjoy your family and guests without wearing yourself out. Remember—you are part of the holiday celebrations, too!

Urban Home asked several of Charlotte’s well known designers – Wendy Yeakley, owner of Homestyles by Wendy; Brittany Raines and Lindsay Sartorio, Homestyles by Wendy; Beth Keim, owner of Lucy and Company; Rodney Hines, designer, owner of The Furniture Connector and Monica Setzer, A Christmas Shop at Porches and Yards.

The general consensus was that holidays do not have to be a time of stress and confusion with decorating— keep it simple was the mantra of the group.

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more.

Quality cabinetry isn’t an item someone should sell you. It’s an investment you should choose after educating yourself. As an educated homeowner you can end up actually spending less—often far less—for the quality and design you want, by reviewing the details of the perceived high end estimate. Do not assume the lowest estimate is your best deal.

I remember a recent case where a homeowner got two estimates for new kitchen cabinets. Sometime later he called me because the door style he wanted wasn’t included in the lower estimate— and he’d been told by his vendor these doors would add $7,000 to a $24,000 job.

Most cabinet companies will provide you a set of standard options for doors, drawers, hardware, and molding—and anything else is an upgrade. So to avoid the most common pitfalls of the cabinet design process, let me suggest four questions you should ask:

Are all the door styles the same price? Certain styles are more in demand so vendors charge more. It’s the same reason that blue jeans with holes cost more money, because they’re the current fashion. Ninety percent of cabinet companies buy doors from someone else. So by the time the doors get into your kitchen, you may be paying for the profit and overhead of two or more middlemen. At Old River Cabinets we manufacture our own doors. It doesn’t matter what style you choose since the prices are all the same.

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more.

To find out how Old River Cabinets can design beautiful cabinets with smart storage solutions for your home, call Aaron or his staff at 704-831-6267 or visit the showroom at 10235 Perimeter Parkway, in Charlotte or on the web at

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