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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.
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.
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  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

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 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

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

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 or call them in Austin at 512.351.7710 or San Antonio at 210.852.2023.

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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I love playrooms today. I don’t remember having one as a kid; we all played in our bedrooms and in the backyard, so how lucky are our kids to have that bonus room, basement or attic conversion found in homes today. I frequently am asked to help with these spaces and the No. 1 need is storage and zones for all the activities and “stuff” that can clutter up a bedroom (and the family living room). It’s a room that should be devoted to imagination, color, fun and a hiding place for all the plastic toys we love to hate. Basically it’s a room for stuff and lots of it.
Depending on a child’s age, interests and activities the one constant is the color and usually a lot of it. There are a rare few that will amp up our family rooms to this extent, so go nuts in the playroom.

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

Enjoying outdoor spaces in all seasons is one of the greatest benefits to living in Charlotte. “As society moves toward a focus in making memories at home, more people see the value in finishing their patio or deck to create an outdoor living area,” says Gregg Setzer, owner of Porches & Yards, a company who offers garden and patio furniture and accessories.

But how do you choose the right outdoor furniture for the space? There are three main types of furniture to consider: natural or synthetic wicker, aluminum or wrought iron, and teak or Brazilian cherry. In general, “Outdoor living rooms are usually close to the home, so wicker would be appropriate,” Gregg says. “The further from the house, swings and chaises are more popular, and on a deck, aluminum or wrought iron looks best.”

Placement of the furniture is key to preserving the look. “Though coated with outdoor primer, natural wicker is made from all organic material and should be under covered porches,” explains Gregg. If you want the look without the worry, “Synthetic wicker is made of vinyl and durable enough to take a beating from the elements.”

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

Call Porches & Yards at 704-987-3544 or visit the showroom at 20623-23A Torrence Chapel Rd. in Cornelius to see a variety of products from Laneventure, Lloyd/Flanders, Tropitone, O.W. Lee, and Kingsley Bate. Please visit our website at for further information.

A new exterior door is opening the possibility for Charlotte homeowners to achieve both affordability and environmental responsibility.

FiberLast™ exterior doors, the next generation of fiberglass technology from JELD-WEN, combines a certified level of eco-friendly recycled wood, durability, style and energy efficiency at a reasonable price.

The 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 unique recipe of technological advancements adds up to an affordable door that offers homeowners the durability benefits of fiberglass, peace-of-mind with a limited lifetime warranty, along with great style.

“FiberLast is a breakthrough in bringing eco-friendly features into fiberglass doors,” said Craig Weaver, JELD-WEN product marketing manager. “The added benefit is that these doors can be customized to fit any homeowner’s taste, so environmental responsibility and great curb appeal are both well within reach.”

Eco-friendly Takes Front Seat

Perfect for new construction or remodeling projects, FiberLast’s eco-friendly aspects introduce new achievements for fiberglass doors. For starters, the doors are Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)-certified to contain at least 35 percent pre-consumer recycled wood for the door slabs. In addition, the proprietary mix of recycled wood fibers and fiberglass combined with the engineered door construction   adds strength and durability, which is important in sustainable architecture. Other green qualities of the new line include:

  • Energy efficiency: As a 2010 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year, JELD-WEN has a strong history of producing energy efficient products. FiberLast is engineered to save energy and meets 2010 ENERGY STAR requirements for a tax credit of up to $1,500. (Energy performance ratings will vary with glass selection).
  • Green building certified: FiberLast may help achieve credits and points or satisfy criteria for many local and national green building programs such as the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standard.
  • Fewer VOCs: FiberLast’s solid wood stiles are made with the JELD-WEN® AuraLast® process that releases 96 percent fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than traditional dip treatment processes.

Durability Tested

To ensure long-lasting performance, FiberLast has successfully passed some of the building products industry’s most stringent durability tests. Before their introduction, the doors performed flawlessly in six straight 48-hour test cycles that included being baked at 210 degrees, frozen to 10 degrees, submerged in water for hours at a stretch and exposed to steam and water vapor for long periods of time.

“Durability is paramount in FiberLast doors because the skins are so tough, they’ll protect the units from warping and cracking.  FiberLast is also more stable in extreme temperatures compared to standard fiberglass and steel units,” said Weaver. “These doors require normal maintenance and will stand up to the test of time.”

As for style, homeowners can customize FiberLast to fit their personal taste. The line offers dozens of glass types, sidelights and doors styles, including seven- and eight-foot doors, and stainable options.

The Design Center is located in the Ballantyne area at 9484 Old Bailes Road, Fort Mill, SC, 29707. The phone number is 800-276-0411. Please visit our website at for further information.

The Bauhaus movement had a huge impact on art and architecture trends in the first part of the 1900s. Its modern design and functional application paved the way for experimentation in home décor. Nearly a century later, its sustained influence weaves its way into our homes over and over again…

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

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 or call 704-408-0055 to schedule a style session.

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