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Just as a frame complements its picture, so does the landscape of a house. Getting it right means a carefully planned design and the perfect products to complete the look. Since every home is unique, more people are turning to specialty stores to get items not offered by big box retailers.

Bill Zemak, owner of Overstream Poolscapes in Charlotte, specializes in constructing pools as part of building outdoor living environments. “Many of my clients come in with complex projects that need specialty products,” he says. Hardscapes that incorporate a pool can be particularly challenging.

To get homeowners the latest on the market, Zemak turned to Hil Hamer who owns and operates American Brickstone with his wife, Dawn. A local provider of brick, hardscape, masonry, grills and lighting products, the company is able to supply homeowners and their contractors
with a variety of traditional and newer product lines.

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more.
To find out how American Brickstone can integrate the right products into your outdoor living design, call them at 888-688-6240 or 704-283-9065.

Visit the showroom at 1703 Morgan Mill Road in Monroe or on the web at

SECAUCUS, N.J. (December 3, 2010) –Artistic Tile’s Ziva Collection has won Interior     Design magazine’s 2010 Best of Year Award.  The winners of the Fifth Annual BOY Awards  were announced on December 2nd at the renowned IAC Building in New York.  Thousands of members of the design community voted on and the final winners were selected by a panel of esteemed members of the design community including  Interior Design magazine’s Editor in Chief Cindy Allen.

Hand carved by master craftsmen in India, the Ziva Collection is inspired by nature and brought to life in stone. Each piece is individually crafted by stone carvers who can spend up to one full day on a single piece.

“Ziva is a dramatic statement, but in a very classic way,” says Nancy Epstein, CEO and Founder of Artistic Tile who designed the distinct look of Ziva and traveled to India to work with artisans on its creation. “Ziva’s unique finishing technique and excellent craftsmanship puts it just a few steps ahead.”

The collection has two patterns—Lotus and Leaves—and each are available in two colorways. Leaves is available in white Thassos marble as well as Lake Blue. Lotus is available in Gris and Bianco Carrara. The new collection is offered in any of Artistic Tile’s eight showrooms or through their authorized dealers around the county. For more information or to find a showroom near you, please visit

Artistic Tile is one of the largest wholesale distributors of luxury tile and stone in the country, and offers unique products to architects, designers and homeowners available for immediate delivery.  The company is a family-run business headquartered in Secaucus, NJ.  Artistic Tile brand products are distributed through Artistic Tile showrooms, as well as through a network of more than 150 dealers across the United States. For more information about Artistic Tile, visit The Artistic Tile line is available locally at InStyle Tile at Call them at 704-665-8880 with any inferences.

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

We’re all doing it – many homeowners are retreating into their outdoor living areas as opposed to spending money on traveling these days. Nesting at home in a warm, inviting environment with family and friends has become typical for many reasons: Cost savings; convenience with 24/7 access to your own peaceful or lively sanctuary, depending on whether a pool party is in full swing or you’re having a quiet dinner by that same pool; comfort right outside your back door; and of course, the future home resale increase you garner from a beautiful outdoor space.

The trick is to start now if you want to add a pool so you can cash in on it all this year, not to mention the enjoyment factor. “Pools are great investments for families who cannot afford a vacation for the next several years,” says Frank Aylward, owner of Blue Haven Pools and Spas. “In the long run, it saves money. Everybody is looking for something more affordable and to help, we have not raised prices in two years and have not cut our construction quality or integrity.”

Pools, spas, waterfalls, water features, outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, gas and wood-burning fire pits – you name it; Blue Haven does it. In addition, through partnerships they handle your landscaping, fencing, irrigation, and pool-house construction – with Blue Haven serving as your point person for all enhancements.

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Blue Haven Pools and Spas.

For more information on Blue Haven Pools and Spas, call 704-889-1300 or email You can also visit

As sure as there are more joggers on your street with the (finally)–warmer weather, it won’t be long before you’ll want to venture outdoors to relax and dine with family and friends. Savvy homeowners are planning ahead to get their homes transformed for full enjoyment this season, before the rush.

“We urge homeowners to get started for the spring and summer seasons of outdoor living now. When spring arrives, they are set for many enjoyable days and evenings relaxing in their outdoor sanctuaries, while the plants are in full bloom,” says Mark Morgan, owner of The Morgan Landscape Group – one of Charlotte’s premier outdoorliving contractors. “Many of our newer customers are surprised to learn with the proper planning including fireplaces and firepits, they can enjoy their outdoor living spaces year-round with beautiful plants and features that provide visual and aromatic interest.”

When it comes to landscaping, “edible ornamentals” are a popular design trend. Besides the enticing fragrances permeating throughout  your outdoor areas, the bonus of edible plants is a fun and practical part of landscaping. Think blueberries or strawberries planted in a container, fig trees, blackberries on a trellis, grapes on an arbor, or tomatoes in an eco-friendly container…

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about The Morgan Landscape Group.

For more information on The Morgan Landscape Group, call 704-588-2292 or visit their web site at

It’s important to buy the right size log set – improper sizing can interfere with proper drafting of your fireplace. If the logs are too large, the unit will not burn as efficiently and the size may hamper the proper operation of the control system. Too small a log set will diminish the beauty of your hearth setting. Above you’ll see the parts of the fireplace you’ll need to measure before purchasing your log set – this area of your fireplace is called the “firebox”.

Sizing and Specifications
By measuring the front width, back wall, depth and height of your firebox, you can determine what size log set you will need. The chart below can be used as a guide to select correct log set size. Log set sizing charts vary somewhat by manufacturer so you should check with your hearth dealer for the chart that matches the manufacturer you’ve selected.

Gas Log Sizing and Specifications
The Main Benefits of Gas Logs:

  • Can operate without electricity 
  • Functional room decor 
  • Leaves no smoky odor 
  • No cleaning ashes 
  • Added source of space heating 
  • Environmentally friendly

Main Components of a Gas Log System:

  • Gas logs (the number of logs included in a log set will vary by style and manufacturer) 
  • Fireplace grate (stand on which the logs are installed, sized according to the log set size) -Gas burner system (burner type depends on fuel type and log style) 
  • Fuel injector (natural gas only) 
  • Sand (natural gas only) 
  • Vermiculite (propane gas) 
  • Damper Clamp (vented logs) 
  • Stabilizer clips 
  • Safety pilot (mandatory for vent free and propane gas, optional for natural gas) 

Gas Requirements:
Is a gas line currently installed?

  • If no, then a gas line or propane will need to be installed upon installation on the logs. A licensed gas installer should install your gas line.
  • If yes, please verify the following information: Is the natural gas line currently in place for a log lighter? If so, a larger gas line will most likely need to be installed. Again, any licensed gas installer can supply this service.

Vented or Vent Free Style Logs

  1. Gas logs are sold in vented and vent free or unvented styles. Vented logs require an open damper in the fireplace to allow the heat to flow upwards and out of the chimney. Vented logs mirror the action of a wood-burning fireplace with the damper open.
  2. While the vented logs do produce heat, vent free logs function more like a space heater because they do not require an open damper and the heat is confined to the room. However, vented logs are more aesthetically pleasing and not only supply some heat, but double as room decor.
  3. Vent free logs require an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), a device that senses the amount of oxygen in the room and automatically shuts off the log set when oxygen level drops below 18%. The pilot on a vent free set that has been automatically shut off by the ODS can only be re-lit when fresh air is available. This may require opening a window or a door to another room or cracking the damper open slightly.

For more information about gas logs and the wide variety of options visit or visit one of the Fire House Casual Living stores here in Charlotte.

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