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Interior DesignWe spend of good part of our lives collecting – antique china, crystal figurines, sports memorabilia, old pottery, Christmas ornaments – the list is varied and unique to each individuals’ taste.  Sometimes vacations and excursions are primarily focused on adding to our collections.  When we get home and review our collectibles, we think, “Now what am I going to do with this?”.  Read the entire article HERE. Bryan Pule Interiors. 303-399-8866.

Until the turbulent US economy stops spiraling and starts rebounding, every dollar counts. When it comes to putting your money where your home is, I want to share some ideal ways to get started recouping the most on your investments – both today and in the future.
house-as-system
Your home is a system that’s really just as good as the sum of its parts. Not unlike an auto made up of interacting components, a house also needs to be in sync and tuned up for efficiency. Potential areas of concern comprise costly energy bills, uneven temperatures from room-to-room, drafts, moisture, mold, mildew, poor indoor air quality, ice dams, pest infestations, seemingly uncontrollable humidity levels, and even premature deterioration of building materials. These can all result from a breakdown in the relationship between the house systems: the actual building, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and you, the occupant.
The process-of-elimination approach may wear on your nerves as you try solution after solution, investing more time, money and energy – with undue stress, without resolution.

Properly diagnosing and fixing the root cause requires a house-as-a-system approach based on building science. This is where it pays to call in a certified professional and/or accredited contracting company; these pros are trained to conduct comprehensive, whole-home assessments to find the real problems, then prescribe and prioritize improvements that make the system as a whole function at its best, turning your home into a finely tuned machine. For improved efficiency, an energy assessment is a must to spot a home’s deficiencies.
house-leaks
Getting More for your Money
Most home-performance retrofit projects will pay for themselves over time in reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. But, remember, to accelerate that return on investment there are numerous incentive programs, including many funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

  • ENERGY STAR is a national flagship initiative from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which offers a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home while helping to protect the environment. BPI is deeply involved in the ongoing development and deployment of this key program.
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the NC Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Again, there are some requirements for the work to be performed by BPI-credentialed professionals.
  • The Weatherization Assistance Programs enables low-income families to permanently reduce energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. During the last 32 years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program has provided services to more than 6.2 million low-income families. Many weatherization assistance programs use the services of BPI certified professionals. Check to find out if you qualify.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, make it worth your while – and dollars – to do some investigating to make your home truly high performance in all areas.

For more information contact Advanced Renovations at 704-799-3999 or visit their website at www.advancedrenovations.com.  Advanced Renovations is located at 3914 Miriam Drive, Charlotte, NC 28205.

Writing collaborated by Duane Johns (Advanced Renovations, Inc.) and Ginger Sprinkle @ nine dots branding & marketing company @ 704.998.8797

This year, it’s all about getting real. Back to the basics. Simplifying in smart, new ways. So, why not consider taking that
home organization right into your closet!

While there are optimum times to purge items from your wardrobe (prior to the start of a new season), there is never a
wrong time organize your closet. In fact, organizing in phases can be equally liberating — spreading joy throughout the year.
How long do you stand in your closet, wondering what to wear? If you’re like most, the answer is “too long.” You know what that means — it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Trust me, it’s worth the time and effort. And it will drastically cut back dressing time in the morning, as well.

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

As a personal stylist in Charlotte, Catherine Horgan works with clients to create signature looks and a fulfilling wardrobe. Learn how to tap into your personal style at http://www.ClosetOfStyle.com or call 704-408-0055 to schedule a style session.

You might think that homeowners who go with a custom design for their kitchen cabinets do so primarily for aesthetic reasons.  But in my experience, improved efficiency is the main reason that prompts people to remodel a kitchen  and install new cabinetry. Then, after they discover you don’t have to choose between form and function, that’s when they come to a custom cabinet company.
The notion of “form versus function” is a false dilemma. If you think that buying custom cabinetry means that you’re putting form over function, think again. Custom-designed cabinets actually give you the best opportunity to combine form and function.

Most homeowners know that custom cabinetry is beautiful. Let me illustrate why a custom design offers superior function, as well. L et’s say you want to install a corner cabinet. You can use a Lazy Susan configuration or the newer Magic Corner design that allows shelves to tuck away when the door is closed. If you work with a company that uses standard “box” cabinets from a manufacturer, it has a ripple effect on the entire kitchen. That corner cabinet “box” is a standard size—a size which the “box” cabinets to the left and right must accommodate. And as those cabinets are shifted further away from the corner, they in turn affect how the next cabinets must be configured.

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

Aaron Dumford is regional manager of Old River Cabinets. Call him at 704-831-6267 or visit 10235 Perimeter Parkway, one block west of I-77 off Harris Boulevard in Charlotte. You can also visit
http://www.oldrivercabinets.com to learn more about their manufacturing facilities and preview their product lines.

Trent Haston

Just because a home is beautiful on the outside, doesn’t mean it’s functional on the inside. Recently, we had the opportunity to help a Myers Park family, with the renovation of their kitchen. Their home was a beautiful Cape Cod, but it needed a comfortable kitchen to match its classic curb appeal.

Confined and outdated, the space was overwhelmed by floor to ceiling cabinets. Set apart from the rest of the home, the cramped kitchen had a single entry from the hall with just enough floor space for a small breakfast table.

The first step to improving the feel of the kitchen came by expanding the space nearly 30 square feet into the backyard. Not only did the design allow for a large center island to be installed, custom windows and a complementing  Dutch door on the new exterior brought natural light and backyard views.

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

As vice president for Andrew Roby, Trent Haston helps oversee a variety of a custom residential construction projects. To learn more about how Andrew Roby can turn your home into a personalized comfortable space, call them at 704-334-5477, or visit them on the web at http://www.andrewroby.com.

Beth Keim

Tricey and Doug Edwards had a decision to make, to gut or not to gut (their kitchen). That was the question. The kitchen, as we all know, is the heart of the home, the gathering place. We also know it can be the most expensive room to re-do. I explained, to the best of my ability, the pros and cons of a “face lift” vs a “gut job.” A face lift often accomplishes all your needs. You can leave the existing layout and “face” everything else. Cabinets can be painted, appliances switched out, floors changed out or refinished and of course paint, tile and furnishings. In many cases it can be all you need for a new, clean and fresh look for less. Our next consideration was major renovation – moving walls, new cabinets, switching to gas, maybe bumping the room out for additional windows. It’s a hard decision to make because as great as a face lift can be, we all really want the blow out, something totally new.  we all really want the blow out, something totally new.
My only advice is this, if the budget allows and it’s the only major thing left on your home renovation list – go for what you really want.

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

Beth Keim is the owner of Lucy and Company, a full-service interior design firm
located at 1009 East Boulevard in Charlotte. They can be reached at 704-342-
6655 or at www.lucyandcompany.com.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be busy.  Between dinners, cooking, decorating and shopping, many buyers and sellers decide to put real estate concerns on the back burner, which can make for a slower market.  However, the holiday season can be a jolly time for buyers and sellers looking for opportunities.

Buyers who are willing to trade some gift shopping for house hunting will enjoy a greater selection and fewer competing offers.  They’ll also have an easier time scheduling showings, arranging meetings with home inspectors and securing appraisals.  In addition, sellers with homes still on the market during the holidays may become more motivated, so bargains abound.  Lastly, buyers who purchase homes during the last few months of the year are able to take advantage of tax benefits and attractive interest rates.

 If you are thinking of selling your home in a time of turkeys and tinsel, the holidays can be a joyful time for you, too.  While a home for sale during the holidays is likely to have fewer showings, visits from prospective buyers may be fruitful with motivated, qualified buyers.  During the holidays there is also ample vacation time, providing buyers more time to look for a home than other months.

Many sellers may use holiday decorations to add appeal to their home.  This can be a good idea, but be sure not to go overboard.  Just like any other time of the year, you want to make a good first impression and highlight the selling features of your home.  While inflatable snowmen and Santa collections are fun, too much holiday décor can be seen as clutter and potentially distract eyes from great selling features, such as a nice front door or lovely view from the living room windows.

Also, remember that some home buyers who visit your home may not share the same religious beliefs that you do.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate your holiday, but keep it simple and strive for neutrality.

As always, if your house in on the market, you should keep it presentable and ready for sale, regardless of the season, weather or holiday.  You never know who will be buying your home and celebrating the holidays in it next year!

By: John Horton, Chairman, Austin Board of REALTORS®

While other areas of the country have seen unprecedented foreclosures and significant loss in property values, we in Central Texas have been very fortunate to be in a much better real estate market. In fact, the slight down turn in real estate values that we have experienced has created a perfect opportunity for some homebuyers to buy or build homes in neighborhoods that they could have only dreamed of before. If you are one of the fortunate who is considering a new home, consider which architectural styles will be the best choice over the coming years.

As recently noted by Roy Braswell, accomplished architect of Braswell Architecture, Inc., buyers of upper-end homes are no longer going for traditional brick that was once the standard in the U.S.  Instead, styles that reference other countries and or periods of history are the looks that sell.  I agree with builder Mike Holloway that the Tuscan design which has been so popular over the past few years is here to stay. It just works for San Antonio, and is a classic design for the Hill Country as well. Roy Braswell, in his recent comments in the San Antonio Express News, stated that he thinks another Old World look that high end buyers might successfully replicate is Spanish Colonial, which has a long history in San Antonio, and is used successfully in older neighborhoods like Olmos Park and Monte Vista. Other styles mimic Mediterranean architecture from California. California has always set the trends for designers and builders in Texas. I will say that lately I have seen a slight trend toward more modern looks but those that seem to work well in our area are more classic with simple, clean lines.  However, remember that it is only 1% of San Antonio that want modern homes.

When you have decided which architectural style best suits you and your lifestyle, consider which interior elements will best complete the house of your dreams.  For any style, and especially the Spanish Colonial look, come and let us draw, design and manufacture that perfect entertainment center or bedroom group for your home. And remember, drawing to delivery is less than a month on our custom wood furniture made from the finest Canadian Alder. As I have always said, “If you can dream it, we can build it”.

I could go on and on about remodeling and decorating, and I will! Look for new trends and great ideas in Urban Home, or give me a call at “Catrina’s at the Ranch,” 830-755-6355, IH-10 West in Boerne, and look for our new store, “La Catrina,” which is Spanish slang for “all dressed up,” coming to 1604 in October!

-Catrina Hoelke, Catrina’s at the Ranch & La Catrina    830.755.6355

   When we think of design, we often think of colorful couches, contemporary dining sets or trendy paint colors.    However, in our zeal to make our homes an attractive, welcoming place to live, we often overlook the best designer money can’t buy: Mother Nature.

In Texas, we’re fortunate to have a diverse landscape that supports a wide array of flora and fauna. By utilizing Texas’ natural offerings, we can create outdoor spaces that are inviting to you and to Mother Nature’s livelier children – the local wildlife.

Native Texas plants come in a wide range of colors and sizes that allow you to make your outdoor space an extension of your artistic aesthetic. In addition to providing endless design options, they’re accustomed to Texas’ climate, which makes them hardy and drought-resistant. This means you can spend more time and money enjoying your yard than maintaining it.

The best feature of many native plants is their appeal to wildlife. Plants such as hibiscus or honeysuckle attract hummingbirds while lantana and sunflowers attract butterflies. These stunning visitors offer you entertainment while also nourishing your plants.

You can also create a Zen-like retreat in your yard by adding water features. For example, fountains provide water to sustain wildlife as well as the soothing sound of running water for visitors and birdbaths are a great way to attract our feathered friends and the beauty and melodies they bring with them.

Using Texas’ natural gifts, you can create an outdoor space that is truly an expression of your individual personality and make your backyard a place that feels like home.

-By: John Horton, Chairman, Austin Board of REALTORS®

The time has come yet again to get out your extension ladder and perilously teeter on the top rung struggling to reach your clogged gutters. The stench of that which comes out makes you crinkle your nose, and the mess left in the wake of your cleaning extravaganza can be seen on the ground below your feet. Wouldn’t it be nice to wave farewell to such a dangerous and unpleasant task, without having to pay someone else to do it? LeafGuard by Beldon, Inc. has the perfect solution.  Having chosen LeafGuard as the best gutter system on the market in 1995, Beldon carries the only patented one-piece, seamless gutter system that is guaranteed not to clog.

Gutters are a necessary evil for your home. They were created to capture rainwater and carry it safely into a downspout before it has a chance to eat away at your soffit, fascia and foundation. The problem is, ordinary gutters not only capture water, but they also collect leaves, twigs and other debris that can cause them to clog during a heavy rainstorm. LeafGuard by Beldon has come up with a design to allow rainwater to travel down and around its curved hood and into the gutter, while at the same time deflecting debris. Pat Franks, Chief Operating Officer at LeafGuard by Beldon, says, “A one-piece gutter system is better because it only allows one outlet for water to go into. With two-piece systems, there’s a second opening where debris can enter.”

LeafGuard was invented in the early 1990’s by a retired policeman in New Jersey who was frustrated by his gutters being pulled down every winter due to snow and ice. A one-piece gutter system was the answer. He then brought his creation to Englert Manufacturing, who works with dealers around the globe. LeafGuard by Beldon Inc. is the largest dealer by far, with 15 branch operations active today.

The question is, how does the system work? According to Franks, the gutter system works using the scientific principle called “liquid adhesion.” The hood, which deflects the leaves and twigs attempting to invade your gutter, is not a gutter add-on, but is instead attached to the system. Made from one continuous piece of O32-aluminum, the thickest aluminum on the market at 20 percent heavier than ordinary gutters, it’s shaped into a seamless gutter bottom and hood, which makes it unique in the marketplace. Each gutter is custom fit, durable and is available in a variety of colors. The attractive design also blends in with every style home.

The best part? With clog-free gutters, you no longer have to give any thought to water damage or surface erosion. But if you somehow still end up with a clogged gutter, the installing dealer will clean your gutters for free. That means no more dangerous climbs on your extension ladder!

To get an estimate or to find a dealer near you, visit LeafGuard by Beldon’s website at http://www.beldon.com/leafguard or call them in Austin at 512.351.7710 or San Antonio at 210.852.2023.

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