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A SPECIAL SECTION OF

THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER APRIL 17, 2015

Getting Organized INSIDE: HARDSCAPING:

GOING SOLAR:

PEST CONTROL:

Recovering

The sun is rising

Dealing with

from winter

on energy

uninvited

weather...2A

options...4A

guests...8A

Your Designer, Her House Decorators get personal..12A

GROWING IVY:

SPRING AWAKENING:

The good,

Lawn revival tips

the bad, the

for green, green

alternatives...20A

grass of home...22A

PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA CLOSETS

Rediscover your home’s most useful spaces


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APRIL 17, 2015

Winter weather takes toll on your hardscaping Stone & Masonry Supply Corp. in Bedford Hills, provided more information and some good tips for homeowners who want to protect the hardscaped parts of their property. “Definitely over the past couple of years there’s been a lot more repair work going on,” Tomlinson said. “Many of the contractors have customers who are trying to match existing materials needing repair or customers looking to change out what they had and go with products that might be more durable. They’re thinking more long term.” Whereas limestone used to be a “very popular” product, according to Tomlinson, “now people are leaning more toward granite materials. Granite is much harder and, in theory, basically the harder the stone the less porous it is and the lower opportunity for water to get in there and freeze, expand and then even ruin, stain or break the product.” There are different kinds of granite, Tomlinson said — some local to the northeastern United States, while others are imported from countries all around the world. “Because of our harsh winters it’s important to find a product that has been tested in a similar environment,” he said. With its outdoor showroom, Bedford Stone

BY MARY LEGRAND

A

re people designing and purchasing different hardscape elements than traditionally used in the past because of generally harsher winters, with more rain and snow? That seems like a pertinent question, particularly following the now-legendary winter of 2015, but Joe Cabrera, whose business, J&C Masonry and Landscaping, is located in Port Chester and includes clients throughout Westchester County, says he has not seen any changes so far this year in terms of what customers want to install on their properties, whether they’re trying to repair damage or hoping to put in something new. Agreeing for the most part with Cabrera is Edson Paiva of Avalon Pavers & Masonry in Mount Vernon. He says that each year brings a certain amount of repair work that his customers call him about, but not too much. “That’s the normal thing, nothing different from other years,” Paiva said when asked in early April how many of his customers need repair work after such a harsh winter. Peter Tomlinson, a co-owner of Bedford

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& Masonry Supply gives prospective buyers an up close and personal look at just what kinds of wear and tear take place on certain natural stones and other products, whether they’re intended for use on walkways and steps, pool decking or coping. “It’s funny, because you will see over time in the outdoor displays that some products wear more than others,” Tomlinson said. “You get to tell a customer that this is a great product, but you do have to take on some maintenance, while another product is the same age, but looks much newer. This is a good test to tell the customer how something is going to age, because just seeing a product on display inside a shop won’t show them that at all.” Cold weather alone isn’t necessarily the cause for breakage, Tomlinson said, but also “how much moisture and ice will sit on the stone, or whether the sun will beat down relentlessly all summer long.” Returning back to the topic of winter damage, Tomlinson said ice melt products, when used day after day for months at a time, like they were this winter, can cause stone to degrade over time. That has promoted a shift in purchasing habits among some homeowners. “We’ve seen more environmentally sound ice melts, and there are some treated products where sodium chloride is not the main ingredient,” he said. “A lot of people are switching — they’re asking for alternative products, for the safety of pets, durability and protection of their hardscape elements.” One word homeowners may never have heard before is “spalling,” or the breaking down process, chip by chip, of a variety of hardscape products, including concrete and

natural stone, often as a result of wicked winter weather. Similar to what happens when potholes appear in the roadways, spalling is caused by a freeze/thaw cycle and can attack pool decking, walkways and driveways. Experts suggest that regular winter maintenance can break the cycle, or at least reduce the damage. Sealing hardscape products can prevent water from penetrating and causing cracks. But, even more importantly, it’s always a smart move to get a head start on clearing driveways and other hardscaped areas so the small amount of snow or ice can melt and dry off before doing too much damage. Stormwater management — in other words, how to most effectively keep heavy rains from deluging grass and flower beds on one’s property — is another concern by homeowners that Tomlinson and other professionals at Bedford Stone & Masonry Supply are seeing. These kinds of “100-year” storms seem to be happening more frequently, and some homeowners are planning proactively instead of simply reacting to them. “We’ve gotten in a number of permeable paver jobs, which we never used to see in the past,” Tomlinson said, referring to the setting of pavers in the middle of otherwise grassy areas to provide parking spaces without completely paving over an area. (These are legal in some towns, not legal in others.) “Some are doing this as an environmentally friendly option, while others want to put additional parking on their property, but are limited in doing so by the municipality,” he said. “We’re seeing side paving to whole driveways and commercial parking lots.”

Insurance for your home and the people who inhabit it. You’ve got lots of choices for insurance in our neighborhood. But the best choice is working with knowledgeable, service-oriented professionals who are your neighbors and treat you like friends. Plum Insurance Agency LLC, over 65 years as a family run, independent insurance agency, is that place.   For all types of risk protection (home, auto, boat, umbrella, business, life, long-term care, long-term disability, professional liability including cyber, construction, etc.).   No risk is too small or too large for us to discuss with you on a no-obligation basis. We look forward to speaking with you about your home and any other forms of insurance!


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Organize this! Rediscovering valuable space in mudrooms, laundry rooms, garages

L

BY TODD SLISS

et’s face it, they aren’t the centers of our lives, but mudrooms, laundry rooms and garages are important parts of our houses and we need to keep them not only functional and organized, but looking

good, too. Linda Blair of Blair Interiors Group Ltd., Mary Zipkin of Knack of all Trades, Jody Froehlich of Solutions by Jody and Valentina Herrera of California Closets, offered their expertise in getting the most out of these three overlooked spaces. Let’s start with the mudroom because, of the three rooms, it’s the part that we see every day, as do our guests, as we enter the house. If you have a mudroom, there’s less tracking of dirt and things throughout your house, quite the blessing in the warm weather and the cold. “Keeping the residue from inclement weather out of your home’s interiors is often solved by a mudroom,” Blair said. “When there are places and spaces for easy access to winter boots and open storage for knapsacks, sports equipment and coats, the clutter issue and the how-to-find-it dilemma can be easily solved.” She added, “The back door often

conveniently leads directly into a mudroom, the first place feet touch when they enter. The concept of having an organized built-in is followed logically by organization.” Froelich said it’s important to “always keep in mind the needs of the family” when it comes to mudrooms, and she came up with six simple things to remember: • “A cubby with coat hooks for each child to store their own things; knapsack, coats etc. It helps kids keep track of their own things if it is in their cubby.” • “I like a large decorative piece or possibly antique bucket, as a catch-all for sports equipment — lacrosse sticks, soccer balls.” • “Bench. Always great to have somewhere to sit down to put on shoes or a place to set down a briefcase or grocery bags when coming in.” • “Bins and baskets to keep hats and mittens, shin guards, lacrosse balls in one spot.” • “Small hook to hang and easily retrieve house keys or car keys.” • “Great place to hang kids’ framed artwork.” California Closets recommends baskets, drawers, open shelves, individual lockers, ample hooks, a bench and a mail sorter for the various needs met by a mudroom, which Continued on page 6A

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GOING SOLAR: The sun is rising on energy options BY VALERIE ABRAHAMS

W

hen John Mancuso and his wife Renee Coscia decided eight years ago to renovate their home, they attended a home show at the Westchester County Center to look for ideas. Solar power options presented at the show intrigued the environmentally conscious couple, but the cost was prohibitive at $20,000, even after incentives. They renovated without adding solar power. Five years later, while visiting a local net-zero home that consumes roughly the same amount of renewable energy as it produces, Mancuso met a representative from Sunrise Solar, and was pleased to hear the cost of residential solar had dropped drastically to roughly $7,000 after incentives. He asked the company to determine whether his residence would be suitable for solar power. Based on the home’s location, orientation, shading and size, it was fine. Within a few months, Mancuso had 16 solar panels on his 2,200-square-foot home. “Sunrise Solar made the process of putting solar on our home as seamless and worry-free as possible,” Mancuso said. The company made sure the house was suited for solar installation, arranged permits, filled out forms, assisted the family in obtaining tax incentives from New York State, helped get a net meter from Con Edison and set up a monitoring system through the web. The couple got all the updates, signed the forms and paid what was due. Mancuso estimated his net cost came to about $7,000, which was $17,000 up front, minus $7,000 from federal and $3,000 from state tax rebates. The credits were immediate upon filing his taxes that same year. He created a financial analysis and chart of installation costs to assess his return on investment. Based on system life expectancy of 25 years, he anticipates he will have paid his investment off after five years, and predicts 20 years of “free electricity” thereafter. Not only has solar power proven to be a good investment, Mancuso said he’s also pleased with the proof of their residence’s positive impact on the environment. Sunrise Solar partners with Enphase Enlighten to provide a monitoring service that reports daily and monthly solar energy production, with projections of the amount being produced over the lifetime of the system. “At first we looked at the data every hour,” Mancuso said, referring to his excitement following installation. Now he relies on email reports showing how much energy the home produces and its “tree equivalence.” On a recent sunny day, for example, his house generated enough energy to power 319 houses for a day with a carbon off-

M

set equivalent to 171 trees. According to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of solar panels has dropped 63 percent since the third quarter of 2010. As solar becomes more affordable, homeowners can consider whether to finance, lease or purchase the system. Many solar companies offer only the lease option, usually with a 15- to 20-year term. With a lease, a third party bills the customer for monthly use of the system. Leasing makes sense for retirees and anyone who doesn’t qualify for federal tax credits, or those who don’t have cash for the upfront costs of a solar array. If they choose to purchase a system, homeowners may do so by means of a home loan or cash. James Sperling, operations manager for Solar Maximum in Nyack, said buying is the best way to go solar, if the purchaser can take advantage of tax credits, because as soon as the system is paid off, the customer gets “free power.” He said it’s important to consider how much you currently pay to the utility company for two things: delivery and supply. “You save by going solar because the sun doesn’t charge anything for delivering power,” Sperling said. Utility company incentives such as net metering, which allows utility customers to receive credits on their monthly electric bills, and federal and state tax credits help make solar affordable. Currently in place through 2016, tax credits rebate about 55 percent of the cost if you have enough tax liability to claim them: 30 percent from federal and 25 percent, up to a $5,000 max-

imum based on the size of the system, from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Various mechanisms are available for people to finance the cost of a solar installation, including on-bill financing via the NYSERDA Green Jobs-Green New York Program. Through that program, customers receive a low-interest loan to pay the upfront cost of solar equipment that will reduce energy consumption and lower monthly energy costs. A portion of the monthly savings is applied to repaying the loan, which will appear as a line item on the customer’s utility bill. Once the initial costs are paid off, the customer’s bill goes down even further. As an additional incentive, the loan is transferable if the homeowner sells the house. Chris Hale, president of Sun Blue Energy in Sleepy Hollow, said solar is “one of the most reliable investments out there,” better than the stock market or real estate, because “electric rates have gone up an average of 4 percent per year for the past 20 years. So you’re saving money by producing your own electricity. That’s how you get the return on your investment.” Powered by the sun, a system will create more electricity than the home consumes each day. The excess “gets pushed back into the utility grid. Your meter spins backwards. The feeling of independence is very exciting. And Con Ed is paying you for that electricity at the same rate they are charging you,” said Hale. Ultimately, “You’re not paying for your electricity — or at least you reduce your bill — and they pay you for any excess

created.” Hale said the goal in designing a home system is to cover 60 to 100 percent of the customer’s electric bill by the solar energy. “We engineer it so what you use at night and what you generate during the day even out,” he said. Barrett Silver, vice president of sales and marketing for Sun Blue Energy, said demand has doubled each year as installation costs decline and people realize the benefits of solar. “The advantage from solar is that you can generate your own electricity from the best cleanest source available for as much as 30 percent less than most utility customers are paying now,” he said. “Solar is a clean source because the fuel is sunlight and it’s not necessary to dig wells, burn fossil fuels or kill wildlife to create the power.” Occasionally, solar panels have sparked conflict between neighbors or homeowners and property associations. Among the first to sell and install solar panels in Scarsdale, Silver recalled a project 10 years ago that raised concerns with the Board of Architectural Review and among neighbors there. “Things have changed, thankfully, and solar has become more mainstream,” Silver said. “The early knee-jerk reactions have diminished and people are becoming more hip to the idea that we really need it.” Aesthetics used to be an issue, said Nina Orville, program manager for Solarize Westchester, because “solar panels were viewed as being strange and odd and unattractive by some members of the community.” Today, panels are much more visually pleasing. They were blue and aluminum — now they’re available in all black. “The reality is they produce beautiful, clean, free energy,” Orville said. One frustration in going solar can be the time or regulations required for a project. New York State regulates the industry and must approve applications for the financial incentives. Each project requires building permits, electrical permits and Con Ed approval. “We deal with four different agencies and the local municipality,” Hale said. “Although there are fewer and fewer obstacles over time, the difficulty is the nature of the regulations, and you are depending on another party to approve every next step. It’s not your own timeline.” After spending about two months gathering approvals from all the agencies, a typical installation takes about a week, then another month of waiting for post-installation approvals results in a three- to four-month project, start to finish. Through the New York Sun Initiative, New York State is working to streamline the inspection and permitting process and reduce upfront costs of installation across the state by 2016. Continued on the next page

SOLAR OPTIONS FOR YOUR HOME

ost residential solar projects are customized. “We can design a system that best meets the customer’s needs and offsets the electric bill,” Silver said. “There are a lot of similarities, but each design is individualized. Every home is a little different: the roof could be pointing in different directions, the amount of shading by trees or other objects, and the size and orientation that are unique to each house.” Other considerations are orientation and age of the roof: less than 10-15 years old is best. And the roof cannot be cut up in too many sections. Climate is also a factor, Sperling said, not-

ing it takes at least 4.5 hours of sunlight per day on average over a year, to make solar viable. “In this area of New York, in the summer we have eight or nine hours of sunlight; in winter about three hours,” Sperling noted. Some homes are not suited to a solar installation if trees are shading the house or it’s not oriented the right direction — east, south or west, not north or northeast. In some cases, ground mounted panels, although more expensive, may be the best option if the roof isn’t that great or a homeowner wants a larger system. It’s essential for solar customers to learn about their options and how solar power

works. “Don’t be pressured into a deal or pushed to buy a system,” Sperling said. “Be sure that your installer is certified by NYSERDA and is a licensed electrician and is board certified in solar. Read your contract or 20-year lease and know your obligations.” Sperling dispelled several myths about solar: • If there is a blackout you will have power. “Not true,” he said. “The system must be set up so it will shut off whenever there are power issues. It’s the same principle as switching off when using a generator as soon as the power comes back on.” • A home can be self-containing. “Not al-

lowed,” he said. “If you are part of the grid, you must remain on the grid. Your system must be net-metered. When you are sending power, the utility credits you during the day. At night you use up the credit as you consume power.” • Is there battery backup? “Not yet,” he said. “It’s a few years away, but researchers are working on a residential-grade battery solution for short-term back up of solar installations during a power outage.” Visit the NYSERDA website for information, and ny-sun.ny.gov for answers to frequently

asked questions.


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APRIL 17, 2015 Continued from previous page Albany earmarked $1 billion over a period of 10 years to accelerate the rate of solar adoption in the state through initiatives such as Solarize Westchester, a program involving several organizations and industry partners in Westchester County. Orville said Solarize Westchester is working with municipalities to develop “solarize” campaigns for consumers and to encourage local governments to adopt practices that will break down existing barriers for people, businesses and communities to invest in solar. The Solarize team partners with municipalities and with a solar installer selected from a pool of companies that submit proposals. Each installer is chosen on the basis of price, experience, reputation, credentials and qualifications as required by the state. Now in the middle of the first of two rounds, Solarize Westchester is planning four campaigns each four months long. Orville said the intent is to make it more affordable and easier for people to decide to install solar panels on homes and commercial properties, mostly through arranging a bulk purchase for solar panels. “We can offer a lower price through the installers as we aggregate interested people in a community, which makes it about 15 percent cheaper for the consumer,” she said. “We also make it an easier process because the installers we use have been vetted.” The program includes outreach to let people know how solar works and the economics of it as well. “We help people get the relevant information, whether they might have a good roof for solar panels, for example, and then gain access to the system at a competitive price,” Orville said. While hardware costs have been falling over time and driving down the costs associated with solar, Solarize Westchester aims to reduce the

soft costs. “The soft costs include the marketing effort by a solar installer to get customers, getting building permits from municipalities and other processes such as working with an architectural review board — typically costs that an installer would pass on to the customer,” Orville said. Public response has been positive, she said, with more than 600 requests for information or site visits and 50 contracts signed since the program began in January. The goal is to complete 200 contracts during the first round of campaigns. “We have heard from a host of people that they have thought for some time about [opting for solar power], but they didn’t know where to start,” Orville said. “They are grateful that this program is making it easy for them to understand the opportunity and make a decision. It’s better [to go solar] sooner than later, because New York State offers incentives for people who want to install, but the per watt incentive amount is declining. You can get lower prices through this program and make the decision to do it while the incentives are as high as they are going to be. For people who have appropriate roofs to install solar, oriented in a good direction, with long life left on their roof, it really is a wonderful time to install solar.” Solarize Westchester chooses participating communities based on a level of support. “Chief elected officials have to express support for the program and then identify people who will help get the word out to the community about the opportunity,” Orville said. Currently, residents in Ossining and Briarcliff, Bedford, Mount Kisco, Cortlandt, Croton, Larchmont and Mamaroneck may participate in the program and should sign up for a no-obligation site visit before the local campaign ends June 1.

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ORGANIZE THIS! Continued from page 3A

includes keeping the outerwear for the current season, footwear and sports equipment. “Mudroom storage problems can be fixed with custom solutions designed specifically for your family’s unique needs,” the store’s website says. “We specialize in crafting a range of mudroom storage solutions that accommodate the range of spaces in which mudrooms are designed, as well as the messy items that live there.” Zipkin said her best mudroom advice is this: “Get everyone in your house a nice size basket and put their name on it so they can throw their shoes and boots and sneakers in it instead of having a shoe nightmare in your mudroom. This alone, if you do nothing else, will make it look better.” Instead of making the mudroom the clutter room for things you have no other (good) place for, make sure “If you don’t use it, give it away, sell it or donate it. If you haven not used it in a year, you most likely won’t.” And once you have it organized, keep it that way: “Put things back after you use them. You are putting it in the same room, so why not put it where it belongs? It will keep your organized space… organized!” A car in the garage?

Garages have a purpose, but there is so often no room for that car or two or three that you want to park in there. That may never change, but at the very least the space could be well organized so you can find what you need and it doesn’t make your head spin when you walk in there. “So many people can’t park their cars in their garage because their ‘stuff ’ has taken over,” Zipkin said. “Do you know how happy you would be to have your car back where it belongs? There is a sense of calm that comes with organizing. Knowing where things are is a time saver. “To begin, start with one item and start a pile, then continue putting like things together. Tools with tools. Winter sports items all together. Gardening/planting items all neatly on one shelf. When like things are grouped together it is so easy to put things where they belong because you know exactly where they go.” Froehlich is a proponent of shelving in the garage because it not only helps you sort things into categories, but it keeps things off the floor. Bins on shelves are even better for smaller items like gardening supplies, tools, sports equipment and items for your car. Here are six more solutions from Froehlich: • “Peg board with assortment of hooks and

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY ZIPKIN

Professional organizers recommend shelving units to keep things off the garage floor. Storing similar items together, like extra bottles of water or pantry items, makes finding things easy.

“Do you know how happy you would be to have your car back where it belongs? There is a sense of calm that comes with organizing. Knowing where things are is a time saver.” — Mary Zipkin of Knack of all Trades small pails or recycled cans. Keeps frequently used items handy and within reach. • “Baby jar bottles to separate all those screws, nails, nuts & bolts, washers.” • “Bike rack to get the bikes off the floor. • “Shelf by door to keep dirty boots, cleats, sneakers. • “Trashcan to hold bird food, or sand and salt for driveway. Keep a cup inside for easy use.” • “Rack to hold shovels, rakes, brooms. Use the walls.” Blair urges use of a shed outside as your first alternative for keeping your garage in order by eliminating the mess in one place and organizing it in another. Whether you have a shed or not, a well-thought storage plan for the garage is important, and they are easily afforded, obtained and installed.

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“Invest in a counter or ledge and you will forever be thankful,” Blair said. “Store taller items below as well as above. If you add a myriad of wall hooks, you will find that many important, and necessary, items can be within easy reach and out of harm’s way.” If you have the space, an extra refrigerator is a common item for the garage and great for the overflow of food and drinks, especially if you’re entertaining. For California Closets, the garage doesn’t have to be that dirty place you avoid unless you need something stored there or are getting your car: “With the right storage solution, your garage can become an extension of your home and the perfect place for your favorite activities. Utilizing wall space frees up the floor for parking cars. California Closets offers a wide range of custom storage solutions that can help you get the most out of your garage.” California Closets specializes in uniform cabinets with interchanging shelves and storage; cabinets with locks to store hazardous or dangerous items; heavy duty drawers that glide; and durable workbenches. There are also storage bins, wall hooks and heavy duty brackets for larger items. Even the color options are plentiful to take away that drab garage look. Lovely laundry

And finally the room no one truly wants to spend time in, the laundry room. Because,

APRIL 17, 2015 ya know, you have to do the laundry. Chores aside, this is another room where it’s common to find a mess within a mess. And again, it doesn’t have to be that way. “Laundry rooms rarely get their due,” according to California Closets. “As the site of most people’s least favorite task, the laundry room labors day in and day out with little thought given to how it can best function. That said, an organized and functional laundry room makes all the difference in streamlining one of life’s essential domestic tasks. “As families grow, so does the pile of weekly laundry; it’s easy to let that pile get out of control, creating unnecessary clutter and stress. A laundry room that has space for folding and sorting, as well as storage for clean and soiled clothes alike, will ensure your laundry is a quick and easy task to get through.” California Closets recommends having a built-in sorting space. Among the options are “drop-down tables installed in the wall or sliding surfaces that conveniently tuck away provide a work surface that saves time, frustration, and your back.” Hanging spaces to avoid wrinkling and “drip-dry spaces for delicates and active wear ensure your garments’ quality lasts through many successive washes.” Ironing is also important, so a dedicated space should be part of the plan. Blair has seen the various stages of placement for washers and dryers over the years. It always used to be the basement, no questions asked. Then the laundry was moved closer to the kitchen, seen as a convenient move. There were also years where the machines had a dedicated room on the second floor. No matter where the washer and dryer are in your house, things like an iron, ironing board, cabinets, shelves, a hanging rod and cubbies are perfect to work into the area. “Those few items make a huge difference in efficiency and space utilization and make laundry rooms truly effective,” Blair said. “The access panel to the plumbing is often an eyesore; these days the new machines are taller and often, if short, one cannot fold clothing on top of them as in the past The trick, I find, is compartmentalization. Long runs of anything, from counter to clothing rod, are great, but not so much. Dividers help keep everything in order.” Creating more efficient space is something that can be done throughout the house. “Get a list started of like things you cannot find a place for — with pencil and paper, a measuring tape and a little time thinking you can figure it out,” Blair said. “If not, call a designer.”

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APRIL 17, 2015

Aging in place or if you’re not moving, consider improving BY PAUL BOOKBINDER, M.I.D., C.R. By the time you read this article, I’ll have been aging in place for weeks. Now, just what does the catch phrase “aging in place” really mean? It refers to the choice that many homeowners are making to stay in their existing homes as they get older, rather than packing up and moving to a new location. Whether it be an emotional decision or a financial one, it brings us to our second phrase: “If you can’t move… improve.” Whether you choose to age in place because you want to or you cannot afford not to is of no concern. The point is you’re staying put. Now, the trick is making your existing kitchen or bathroom more beautiful and more user-friendly at the same time, while the clock is ticking. Both the National Association of Home Builders and the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (yes, there really is such an organization) have noted increased consumer interest in Universal Design. This is a philosophy that encompasses all aspects of a home: designing for the young, the old and people with disabilities, while recognizing that the aesthesis of the environment and its contents are equally important. Basically, it’s designing with comfort for all, easy maintenance and visual attractiveness. Open floor plans, with wider interior doors and countertops at different heights are some of the structural considerations when doing a complete renovation, however, even if you are just refacing your kitchen you can incorporate accessories to make your life easier.

Installing roll-out trays in cabinets, or changing cabinets with doors to drawers, makes it much easier to reach whatever you’re reaching for. Additional ceiling lighting and task lighting over the countertops is usually a relatively inexpensive way to make our lives a little better. Consider also easy to grab knobs for your cabinets and decorative grab bars for your bath and shower. And, while we’re in the bathroom, how about a taller toilet with a softer seat that doesn’t slam when you put it down? Not only do these design elements improve the quality of your life, they will also help you to retain your independence as abilities recede. Even if you’re a Millennial, it pays to plan ahead, so that when it’s your turn to be old, your home will be more comfortable. And in the meantime, it will be easier on your parents when they come to visit. Whether you’re considering incorporating Universal Design in your home because you are a senior or planning to be one someday, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. The moral of this article is, “Today is the first day of the rest of what’s left of your life.” And there’s no reason that we all shouldn’t be as comfortable as possible with the rest of our lives. Paul Bookbinder, M.I.D., C.R., is president of DreamWork Kitchens Inc. located in Mamaroneck. A Master of Design (Pratt Institute), and E.P.A. Certified Remodeler, he serves on the Advisory Panel of Remodeling Magazine. A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, he is also a contributor to Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached at 777-0437 or www.dreamworkkitchens.com.

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THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER | PAGE 7A

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DEALING WITH PESTS

and other uninvited guests in and around your home BY ANTHONY R. MANCINI

N

ow that spring is upon us and snow is out of our minds, homeowners around Westchester might soon be dealing with another environmental problem: household pests. Pest problems in the form of insects and rodents seem to occur randomly and could potentially cause an issue for any homeowner. Some pests might be a simple nuisance within the home, while others could pose health and sanitary problems or damage a house’s structural integrity. One such damaging insect are termites, a fear for many homeowners, that start to become prevalent in spring and are a common problem in the area. Termites are colony insects that live in the soil and feed on wood, which could include portions of a house. Ryan Kelly of Kelly Exterminating, based in Hastings-on-Hudson, said that it is hard to miss a termite infestation. “They swarm. It’s like a horror movie,” he said. “They come out hundreds at a time.” Kelly said that other evidence of a termite infestation could be noticeable wood decay and mud coming into the wood. He said that he had noticed that if one home in a neighborhood at-

tracts termites, other homes could soon follow. A termite infestation could boil down to chance, but certain factors could contribute to a swarm, such as stacking wood directly on soil next to a house, as termites living within soil can find the wood and migrate to a house. Kelly also said homes built with wood that touches the ground could also attract termites. “I do a lot of houses that get termites that’ll have this big pile of wood right on the dirt and right pushed up against the house,” Kelly said. “It’s almost like you’re begging them to come in.” To kill termites, Kelly recommends traps — as a more eco-friendly method — which are buried about a foot beneath the ground and contain wood at one end to attract the termites and poison at the other. The poison is brought by termites back to the nest, spreading it to the other colony members. He said that another method involves pumping chemicals within the entire perimeter of a house’s foundation. He said this form of termite management could cause some adverse effects. “I did that once when I was younger and I saw the grass turn blue, so I really stopped using that method,” he said. Termites can be confused with another type of common pest, carpenter ants, which also burrow into wood, but live in it rather than

!

eating it. Ryan Hall of Ehrlich Pest Control in Elmsford said that one way to tell the difference between termites and carpenter ants is that the ants have segmented bodies while termites have a smooth body. He said that termites leave jagged, rotting holes in wood, while carpenter ants leave smooth holes. “Termites will eat the wood,” Hall said. “Carpenter ants will destroy the wood. They won’t actually eat it. They’ll just break it. They will literally drop the wood outside of a hole to excavate the wood and make further galleys into the wood.” Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants only burrow through wet wood, so any home that has pieces of wood that routinely become drenched could see a problem. “When somebody has a leak or a backed up gutter where their wall has been collecting a ton of moisture, they’ll get carpenter ants in the walls,” Kelly said. “Usually people will freak out and think it’s as bad as termites, but it’s nowhere nearly as bad as termites. They can’t damage any wood that wasn’t previously damaged by water.” Kelly said the best way to rid a home of carpenter ants is to attempt to find their nest and remove the affected wood. He said if removing pieces of a house is too big a project, people

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Bedbugs

Bedbugs, which are very tiny parasitic insects that feed on blood, are a rising problem for the area. They can be picked up anywhere where humans are still for a long period of time, such as on the bus or in a movie theater, and carried into a home or workplace. Kelly said bedbugs are not microscopic, which is a common misconception, but are the size of an apple seed. Bites from bedbugs leave several bloody

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could also use baits or poke holes in the wall and use aerosol insecticide spray. Hall said carpenter ant baits work similarly to termite baits, as carpenter ants will share poisoned food with their colony. Not every ant that infests a home is a carpenter ant. Kelly said a smaller species of ant known as a sugar ant typically invades kitchens searching for food. “You find their ant hills right outside of the house usually and they march in a little line going right into your kitchen,” he said. “They’re the type of thing where you leave one little crumb out and the whole swarm will show up.” Kelly recommended spraying problem anthills with insecticide along with areas ants might commonly march through.

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marks on a person, which can stain bedspreads. “It’s horrible. They absolutely eat people alive,” Kelly said. “There’s blood marks. They leave blood all over the bed. It looks like they have the chicken pox because they’re bitten from head to toe.” Kelly said there are all-natural powders marketed toward eliminating bedbugs, but these are largely ineffective. He said he treats bedbug-infested homes by thoroughly spraying a house with an insecticide, which is apparently safe to breathe a half hour after spraying. The exterminator said another method that might help is by filling a small spray bottle with rubbing alcohol to treat surfaces and beds, but he said this will only affect an isolated area, killing only the bedbugs directly sprayed. Hall said his company also treats bedbugs through heating up a room to 120-130 degrees, which harms bedbugs, and rearranging furniture to evenly distribute heat throughout to leave no surface unturned. Hall noted bedbugs are not an indicator of a dirty home and people should not be embarrassed and not tell anyone, as that could lead to more infestations. “It’s not a filth pest,” Hall said. “It’s not like a roach where if your kitchen is dirty and filthy, you’re going to get roaches. It’s nothing really to be ashamed of. I find some people, they don’t share or tell someone when they have a problem like that, which continues the problem actually.” Regarding cockroaches, Kelly said that save for an isolated incident, you typically don’t see them in smaller dwellings. “You never really see cockroaches in a single-family home,” he said. “For the most part, when there’s a cockroach problem, it’s going to be in a large building or a multifamily home.”

Mosquitoes and ticks

Mosquitoes and ticks are typical pests that are encountered in yards, rather than inside the home. Mosquitoes, which feed on blood, which in turn allows them to lay eggs, need water to successfully reproduce. Phyllis Dellacamera of Mosquito Pros, based out of Thornwood, said that to prevent a mosquito infestation, areas of standing water around the home must be eliminated. “We urge homeowners to empty water from potential breeding grounds, including children’s sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys, underneath and around downspouts, as well as in plant saucers and dog bowls,” she said. “Clogged gutters or gutters that don’t drain properly are also common breeding sites for mosquitoes to emerge.” Ticks also suck blood, but do so by latching onto a host for what might be days. Dellacamera said to help deter a tick presence, homeowners should remove leaf litter, clear tall grasses and brush, and put a 3-foot barrier between lawns and wooded areas. Hall said that to deter mosquitoes and ticks, his company could apply an insecticide to the underside of leaves along the perimeter of a property to keep them from taking hold on vegetation. “It doesn’t hurt the plants at all in any way,” Hall said. “You put a barrier around your home and then we would make more applications throughout summer.”

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Creating characterful interiors with hardwood molding Just as tasteful, well-chosen jewelry can turn an unexciting outfit into a stylish, eye-catching ensemble, carefully applied hardwood moldings and trimwork can transform a plain-Jane interior into an interesting - even beautiful - space. Today’s newly built houses often lack any sort of carvedwood ornamentation. Many older homes have lost their traditional decorative details through successive modernizing renovations. To transform stripped-down to charming, and ordinary to characterful, homeowners are incorporating decorative millwork to enhance their interior design. While there is an almost infinite variety of hardwood moldings and trims, the pros at the American Hardwood Information Center, www.Hardwoodinfo.com, and most design experts, recognize the following most basic categories: • Baseboards, which run at the foot of walls and act as an elongated pedestal, are both aesthetic and practical. They visually anchor the wall to the floor and at the same time protect it from everyday low-impact abuse such as kids scooting around in toy cars. • Crown moldings, which run between the walls and the ceiling, soften the abrupt transition between wall and ceiling. • Casings, the trim surrounding door and window openings, define a wall opening and help connect the spaces being joined. “Our clients are attracted to the enduring quality and ageless appeal of hardwood molding,” says architect Jeff Murphy, principal of Murphy & Co. Design, a Buffalo, Minnesotabased firm. “For them, it’s the heart of the home - something they see and touch each day. Done right, it will last forever and always be in style.” For architect Tim Button of New York City-based Stedila Design, hardwood moldings are appropriate in any room in the home, but he also says, “I think wood trim often makes its biggest impact in an entry hall where high ceilings allow for large-scale crown moldings.” And he’s a fan of using stainedwood moldings in bathrooms, “because it brings warmth to what can be a somewhat clinical space.” Edina, Minnesota-based architect Meriwether Felt agrees,

The hallway in a newly constructed house by Murphy & Co. Design, Buffalo, MN, features birch crown moldings, baseboards, casings, and column trim painted the same color as the walls, while the floor is rift-sawn white oak. Photograph by Susan Gilmore

having installed stained-cherry moldings, trims, and casings in the master bath of a home she renovated. “The client asked for a luxurious yet elegant feeling and the cherry fit the bill perfectly. The stained wood warms up the bathroom and provides richness.” The size of the trimwork and the complexity of its profile will be determined by the size and style of the space in which it’s being installed; the larger and more traditional the room, the bigger and more ornate the trim. Crown moldings in particular have a profound and sometimes unexpected effect on how people perceive the scale, proportions and character of an interior, so they must be chosen with great care. If too small and plain, they’ll look skimpy and undernourished; too large and ostentatious and they’ll overwhelm the space. If in doubt, consult a design professional. Before the Civil War, American hardwood molding was made by hand, so it tended to be simple, elegant and expensive. In the later 19th Century, methods of mass production enabled builders to deck out even modest houses with affordable wood trim in ever-more-complex profiles. The 20th Century saw decorative simplifications of the Arts and Crafts style, emphasizing clean lines, unfussy forms and the inherent beauty of natural wood. This was followed by the Art Deco and Modernist movements, which further streamlined or completely eliminated applied architectural ornament such as moldings and trims. Today, tastes tend to be eclectic, and whether you install an elaborately carved crown molding featuring acanthus leaves and egg-and-dart detailing or an elegantly austere profile comprising nothing more than a graceful S-curve, will depend on personal preference and the overall style of your home. No matter what your architectural preferences might be, you can transform a plain-Jane interior into a distinctive, characterful environment by incorporating hardwood moldings and trimwork into your home’s design. Visit the American Hardwood Information Center, www.hardwoodInfo. com, and be inspired. —Brandpoint

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THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER | PAGE 11A

OUR DREAM HOME: We bought a fixer-upper walk-in closet and then a new kitchen, a family room, a bathroom on the first floor, a threestall garage, and finally a newly designed second bathroom on the second floor.

BY LINDA BLAIR

Thirty-seven years ago, my husband and I purchased our first home together in Scarsdale. We moved in around Christmas time in 1978 with our four kids — two each from previous marriages — with plenty of optimism for the future, but short on cash flow. We had dreams on how we could fix the place up and, with the help from my mother and grandmother, also interior designers, early on had visions of creative and practical design ideas to give the place more of “a today look.” Most of those ideas, however, were put on the back burner as we concentrated on merging two families and focusing on education for the four kids.

Downstairs/upstairs

It always seemed that the downstairs or main floor rooms were what we designers were meant to decorate and fix up and what was going on upstairs did not need much attention. More often than not, Scarsdale was a town that proudly whispered, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” But over the years, the notion became popular that our own comfort could and should be prioritized. Designers like me and everyone else moved on upstairs. The new master bath

A bedroom for everyone

The Brady Bunch, as we called ourselves back then, had to wait for the upgrades, though the two boys and two girls did have their own bedrooms. The den

Another bedroom on the second floor, with two doorways and lots of windows, became our small family room. I purchased an armless sectional with sofa and a pullout queen-size mattress. We added music, a tall bookcase and, like many families, we all crowded around the TV. A large lacquered linen-wrapped table held six pairs of feet. The dining room

Bill’s company gave us a large dining table. My grandmother’s storage armoire, which she made from an ornate Chinese screen and a builtin window seat, held us all — and still does. I remember teaching a history of interior design class at Pace University during a fam-

PETER KRUPENYE PHOTO

ily disagreement. My husband disliked the orange toile wallpaper that came with the house. I rather liked the scheme. It came down and was never missed. I reminded my students that listening to other opinions from clients and family was a skill to be cultivated as they protected the intent of their overall design. In the kitchen

We purchased a small kitchen table and chairs for the small kitchen area and settled in, hoping at some point the cash flow would improve and we could do the upgrades and expand the living area of the house. 2 decades in the making

Twenty years later, we did some marvelous renovations after we had saved enough and new construction and designs were put in motion as we first added a new master bath and a

I tried to emulate a spa look while giving Bill a magnificent shower. When we started to plan, Bill only wanted two sinks. He got that and much more. Discovering a hidden, unsafe structural condition during construction necessitated a change in design layout and produced an unexpected closet. I rescued deco tiles made in Japan and England from demolished homes in India and used glass wall tiles for the first time, creating an inviting and original bath and closet and a handsome addition to the restful and simple master bedroom. It’s colorful and enhanced by great views of all seasons all the time. And those heated floors were the best choice I could have made! A kitchen for entertaining

As a kitchen cabinet representative affiliated with a Canadian cabinet company, this was fun to do. Enhancing and organizing storage capacity firmly became part of my design tricks of the trade. My kitchen holds an enormous

“Let’s stay in tonight.”

BLAIR INTERIORS GROUP LTD. Linda Blair, ASID blairinteriors@aol.com 914.319.8422 | 914.472.8159 www.blairinteriorsgroup.com

amount of things, aided by my trademark floor to ceiling kitchen storage cabinets with glass fronts and shirred panels. The huge island destroys the old kitchen rule of a triangular work area and instead provides an unusual amount of counter space for buffet style entertaining and all kinds of mini and maxi eating and cooking activities. The family room

We wondered how we lived so long without it. Imagine the largest TV, surrounded by chintz flowered drapery panels (actually not that dated) and lots of pecan bookcases, a pair of extra large worn brown leather chairs and half of that old armless sectional (somehow it has survived as has the linen coffee table), a little person’s farm table and three chairs and a grown-up farm table and banquette. Old exterior corbels from upstate New York and a collection of rusted farm threshers add extra character — and everyone who comes is comfortable. Maybe it’s the large amount of windows flooding the area with sun more often than not. We started out as six people and now we need to make room for 16 (spouses and grandchildren) at birthdays, sit-down dinners, holidays and many other occasions. Best of all, as a member of Scarsdale’s Board of Architectural Review for 10 years off and on, I appreciate the fact that the large addition, including a three-car garage tucked neatly below, were added on without changing the appearance of the 112-year-old house or its neighboring ambiance. Linda Blair, ASID is a third-generation interior designer practicing design and renovation.


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BARBARA FEINSTEIN OF B FEIN INTERIORS

Your Designer, Her House

I

BY TODD SLISS

nterior designers are among the most passionate about what they do for a living. Working with clients is both challenging and rewarding, but what about when they are their own client, when they are designing the spaces that surround them on a daily basis? Four designers — Barbara Feinstein of B Fein Interiors in Scarsdale, Margaret Wilson of Margaret Wilson & Co. Interior Design & Decoration of Bedford, Susan Lifton of Susan Lifton Fabrics & Design in Bedford and Susan Anthony of Anthony & Olanow Design Group in Rye — offered a look into their own houses.

Decorators get personal at home With Barbara Feinstein, Margaret Wilson, Susan Lifton and Susan Anthony Photos by John Meore

Fine home with Feinstein

For Feinstein, it all starts with a painting in her entry foyer. Just about every color that’s in her home is in that painting. The rug in her living room? A similar impact on the rest of the house. “I really like when a space — and by that I mean a whole house — feels familiar,” Feinstein said. “One piece can inspire a lot of ground. You don’t want to move from room to room in a home and do it like every room has its own personality, like every room has nothing to do with the others. It isn’t as homey when the space doesn’t have the consistency and the harmony. One piece can actually inspire an entire décor for a home. Not that everything is matchy-matchy the same, but there will be some resonance as to why you’re using a color scheme. It’s that one inspiration.” When she’s out shopping for clients, Feinstein takes the same approach, looking for that painting that resonates or that rug that provides the color palette. From there, it’s about finding what inspires them to make the vision complete, whether it’s “a recent travel experi-

SUSAN LIFTON OF SUSAN LIFTON FABRICS & DESIGN

Continued on the next page BARBARA FEINSTEIN OF B FEIN INTERIORS

BARBARA FEINSTEIN OF B FEIN INTERIORS


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ence or a trip to a gorgeous museum exhibit that creates an inspiration and provides an overall feeling for a project and puts you in that mindset. Sometimes it’s mostly a single element that’s the impetus for a design scheme.” Feinstein plans to move soon and took advantage of a trip to Morocco, where she “did pick up a few things.” She noted, “I have been inspired again.” “It’s just finding those things that really inspire you and your client and really resonate with you and your space and keeping it harmonious relating back to whatever that initial inspiration was,” Feinstein said. “Just as in a piece of music you’re going to come back a chorus. In the house it’s the same thing. Everything works together to be one song and then there are certain things that are repeated, which are like the visual chorus.” Design isn’t just furniture, fabric and colors: “When I have time, my favorite thing to do to brighten up a space is get a ton of flowers and put flowers in beautiful vases on just about every end table,” Feinstein said. “There’s nothing like bringing in something natural and real to make a space feel more alive. To redecorate, go to the forest.” For designers, the more things stay the same, the more they change. “If I wasn’t working, I would change things every year, but because you’re involved in working for your clients you don’t necessarily have time to keep stirring you own pot,” Feinstein said. “If I was going to change something I would probably add another painting, move things around, not necessarily dispose of anything or bring in anything that’s new. It’s more moving things around to keep it fresh. I still like my collection and I like it for the same reasons I bought it 8 or 10 years ago. It’s just nice to see things in a new place because placement is also part of the surprise and the pleasingness of a design.” Wilson works magic at home

Wilson knows it when she sees it — if it doesn’t hit her right away, it’s probably not happening. Her decisions are “instantaneous” and she does not “deliberate.” “I don’t hem and haw because I’m in a field where the decisions are critical and I just get used to making those decisions,” Wilson said. “Sometimes the pieces are perfect, but the space isn’t ready yet, but I know it’s going to be fabulous.” Sure, it’s tempting to make drastic changes all at once, and when you’re buying a house that hasn’t been touched since the previous owner moved in decades before, an overhaul is necessary. But once you’re settled in and time passes, there is less need to make major changes. “Most interiors take years to pull together their entire look. It’s not just a matter of this, this, this, this and it’s finished,” Wilson said. “It’s years of referencing from traveling, from activities, from styles, from auctions. It’s a developing and forever changing palette, especially in my house. Things go in and things go out, but very often there’s little indecision. It’s an evolution, an evolution through life. I leave people with a foundation and tell them to travel the world and bring their own taste into it.” Art is a big part of the puzzle. “Buy as much art as you can afford, the best art you can afford,” Wilson said. Ironically, two of Wilson’s best finds she keeps in her office. One is a signed glass handetched Viking ship vase that she recently bought. It struck her based upon a crystal chandelier in the shape of a Viking ship she saw in a church in Copenhagen. “It looked like it was ethereally floating

SUSAN LIFTON OF SUSAN LIFTON FABRICS & DESIGN

through the sky,” Wilson said. “I thought it was brilliant. In the U.S. we think a chandelier should be this eight-armed object and here they had literally crystallized an entire Viking ship.” Wilson found her prized piece in an antique shop. “I acquisitioned it for myself knowing it will remind me of a trip I took to Copenhagen,” Wilson said. “It became that treasured piece for a moment in time I had years ago.” For her it’s more of a display piece than a holder of flowers. “I stare at it every day because it’s so beautiful,” she said. “It hasn’t left my office yet to make it to home. It worked instantly in the office and it will be instant at home.” The second piece is the one people really notice, partly because it’s hard to miss. In the dining room section of a showroom, Wilson saw a turquoise cabinet, about 8 feet by 9 feet. “I looked at it and it was making me so incredibly happy, this color,” she said. “I thought I didn’t need it in the dining room. I don’t display china. To me that’s a very silly thing to do, but I used it as a library case and I eventually moved it from the house to my office.” She gets many comments on the stunning piece, and many more surprised looks when she tells people the original use. Thinking outside the box is a key to design. “We’re stuck in labels we put on everything,” Wilson said. But we don’t have to be. Another centerpiece Wilson repurposed in her home is a 10-foot dining room table made of chunks of white oak. When she bought the “absolutely spectacular” table, she knew it was for what would be her next house, a cottage, not the house she owned at the time. “I bought the piece knowing I wanted it and then found the house to fit it into,” she said. “It became the game table. It took over half the living room. It’s the most spectacular game and reading table in the world. It’s breathtaking in the room with a 13-foot ceiling with lots of windows.” Want to refresh a room? Wilson can do that with pillows. Yes, pillows. Wilson looked at the pillows on her sofa and said, “Done!” With a new style she was able to “spruce up the entire room.” “I went specifically with the intention of selecting a fabric, placing the order and doing my own pillows,” she said. “It refreshes the room and people are like, ‘Wow, it’s so different.’ And all I’ve done is changed the pillows. You move the furniture around and change the pillows.” House design is not always about what, but who. As in who is living there and what age are they? “Houses evolve constantly,” Wilson said. “The kids come in, the house changes. The kids grow older, the house changes. The kids move on, the house changes again. Life

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is constantly changing and a house should be constantly changing. It should never be static.” Wilson recently converted her daughter’s bedroom into a guestroom, a typical empty nest repurposing. “I took special pride in going to the auction in Bedford Village,” she said, and there she bought an 18th century English chest and from another dealer a bright red, modern side table, and topped it off with a traditional bedding, throwing in a “modern twist” of an upholstered headboard. “Life had changed,” she said. “It’s not a teen room anymore. It’s now the guest room.” Wilson suggests a mix of antiques and modern styles and pieces that speak to the inhabitants. Historical pieces can be made to fit in with anything, so while you might not want to keep everything from your parents or grandparents, there’s always that something special to build around. “My house is an amazing collection of antiques, modern furniture, interesting pieces, sculptures and art,” Wilson said. “All of those woven together give the house a beautiful tapestry of the people living there.” A lift from Lifton

You don’t need to redesign your house all the time. Just ask Lifton, who went 22 years without doing anything major. Just over two decades ago she did a “major renovation.” The living room featured dark floral chintzes and dark rugs and “it was very cozy.” Fast forward to today and a “new” living room led to the master bedroom and the guest room. The living room project was sparked by a fabric — she loves fabric — she saw in New York City a little over a year ago. It’s a Colefax & Fowler hand-screened linen print in pale beige and gray with greens and creams, very light and airy. “The color scheme just spoke to me,” Lifton said. “I took this fabric home

THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER | PAGE 13A and redid my whole living room around this fabric, mainly with the colors that are in the fabric.” Lifton left the lettuce green walls from 22 years earlier. The rug was now hemp, whereas it used to feature green floral vines. The new fabric was used in some of the furniture and the “metamorphosis of changing from dark and cozy to light and airy” took hold. “By merely slip-covering the sofas in a neutral colored linen and redoing the curtains in a heathery beige, the room was completely transformed, in spite of the walls remaining the lettuce green faux finish that was done 22 years ago,” Lifton said. “Two chairs were slipcovered in this same print to complete the transformation. “It has never been my belief that a room needs to be totally redone in order to look new and fresh. Upholstery can be slip-covered, furniture can be rearranged in a new way, accessories can be replaced and/or added. A new paint color is an easy and inexpensive way to transform a room. “I did not get rid of anything. I was able to maintain what was in the room, but just by changing the coloration of the furniture, it made a whole change in the room. I am a very big believer in repurposing things. Everything now looks sleek and elegant. I don’t think you have to get rid of anything and you don’t have to start from scratch.” The master bedroom was inspired by a Benjamin Moore color, vale mist, which is an airy, pale, watery color. A painting by Barbara Wilson formerly of Lifton’s living room is now in the bedroom. “It has kind of oxidized, so it looks fabulous in my bedroom now,” she said of the painting. “I have a bamboo mirror I’ve had for I can’t even tell you how many years. I never knew what to do with it. It’s in my bedroom now and it looks wonderful.” Why didn’t she do anything with the dining room? She still loves the fabric — it makes her smile. “I do love fabrics,” Lifton said. “I think prints are like works of art, like a really nice, hand-screened fabric. It either grabs you or it doesn’t. The same fabric I have in my dining room I had in my store for 14 years when I had one in Bedford Village. And I still love the fabric after 22 years.” Anthony’s amazing areas

Life’s constant changes make for different living spaces. Anthony started out in an apartment. Then she got married and moved to a bigger one. Then her first house. Then a bigger house. You either stay there or get your dream house next. And then you’re ready and you downsize. Finally, maybe you move to the beach somewhere and have a great place for your kids and their kids to spend time with you. Anthony hopes that’s her next step. “Eventually I had my dream home and it was big and beautiful and filled with stuff,” Anthony said. “Then once the kids grow up you don’t want that burden. Ownership is responsibility. I wanted to downsize so I did way before the crash. I totally loved it. Kids are all out and grown and I’ve moved a couple of times since then. Each time you kind of reinvent your next step. “You take with you the things that are most important and between Chuck and I we have five children, so there’s plenty of people to give stuff to. Whatever they needed for each one of their apartments I decorated it and what we have here it’s everything I really love. Every time you move you move things around and then fill in the blanks.” Anthony is now in a 2,200-square-foot townhouse with three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a fireplace, a guest fireplace and a patio. Continued on page 15A


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Raise your rooms to new heights with eye-catching ceilings

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ant to infuse your home with architectural interest? Start at the top. “The ceiling is the most overlooked design element in a space, hands down,” said Brian Patrick Flynn, whose interiors are regularly featured on HGTV.com and often showcased by his own company, FlynnsideOut Productions. Consider this: The largest solid surface in a room - besides the floor - is the ceiling. Instead of leaving it bright white or builder beige, convert this blank canvas into a decorative canopy of color and texture. Flynn and other influential designers are forecasting a ceiling “revival” in 2015. Fresh interpretations of vintage styles - such as gleaming metal tiles and textural wood beams - are helping inspire that trend, along with new, easy-to-install products that put these ceiling projects well within the reach of today’s DIY-ers. “Just like people, rooms need different layers to be one-of-a kind,” Flynn said. “That includes a ceiling that makes people look up and scan the entire space.” Here are some hot ceiling trends to take your rooms to new heights: • Layer on the luster. Stamped metal ceilings have contributed shine and sophistication to American homes since they were introduced in the 1880s. Besides beauty, metal ceilings offer practicality. They resist mold and mildew, offer sag resistance and last longer than plaster or drywall. Metallaire metal ceiling tiles from Armstrong are available in 12 patterns, and a variety of finishes, including chrome, copper, brass, white and lacquered steel. The lacquered steel panels also

can be painted to accent or blend with the rest of the room. Regardless of the finish, the texture of the tiles creates a tactile top layer to the space. • Mix and match ceiling styles. Some room designers are combining different decorating elements at the top, such as inlaying the recesses of coffered ceilings with gold or copper tiles. Flynn said he’s also a fan of tongue-andgroove ceilings accented with beams. “This

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adds a ton of visual interest to the room, and can make it feel much larger,” he said. • Create character with wood. From rustic timber to sleek teak, wood hues help set the tone in a room. Besides imparting a sense of warmth, the grains and knots in wood panels add a textural layer that contrasts nicely with smooth surfaces like painted walls and granite countertops. • Add architectural depth. Coffered ceil-

ings first appeared in Roman architecture, and their geometric elegance has graced grand buildings ever since. Today, the cost and complexity of building coffered ceilings have been reduced by lightweight materials and easy-to-install prefabricated systems that boast features like mold, mildew and sag resistance. Flynn recommends homeowners start thinking about their ceiling by exploring websites for ideas. A good place to start is www.armstrong.com/residential-ceilings, which offers hundreds of examples, including some interesting before-and-after photos. —Brandpoint


APRIL 17, 2015

DESIGNERS Continued from page 13A

“Maybe in one space you needed a big chandelier and in another space you need sconces,” Anthony said. “Each time you have the ability to go out and see the world answer. It’s fun. I like it. I like the change.” When Anthony moved into the townhouse, she redid the kitchen and bathrooms and made the fireplace from wood to gas, which is better for the environment. They put in insulation, repainted and reconfigured closets. “When we did all that I wanted it to be as green as possible, so we upgraded the electric, put in a new panel,” Anthony said. “I just don’t like to waste energy. My last house was completely green. It was a raised ranch and we made it green. We would do that again, maybe somewhere on the beach. Long term we could say we’re conserving energy and water. With my other house I got rid of most of the lawn because lawns take so much water.” Between traveling, going to trade shows, two trips a year to High Point Market in North Carolina and talking with her peers, there are no secrets when it comes to design. “I like to pick things that are really timeless and I like a mix of modern or tradition,” Anthony said. “I’ve always had more modern things because I’ve always lived in traditional homes.” Anthony took a Kozo lamp, a Biedermeier short bookcase with her great grandfather’s books and put them together. “Who would think they go?” she said. “But they are classic. If you pick classic things you can mix them with anything classic. You don’t want it to look like a mishegoss all over the place.” One design centerpiece Anthony finally caved in on is the big screen TV in the liv-

HOME ing room. But with no wires showing and the perfect piece of furniture to display it on, it’s turned into a design-plus in her own home. Electronics aside, “I use a lot of texture in my designs,” Anthony said. “I have big shutters, wool chalet drapes that are cream, white paneling and cream walls. I have two big chandeliers for my dining room and game table. The floor space is open and that’s the way we entertain now.” From the dream house to the townhouse, some things did not transfer over, like some lights, but Anthony ordered pendant lights from Italy to replace the older, bigger ones that weren’t going to work. They were a conversation piece. “You have to re-envision the space,” she said. “You look at the architecture. You always have to obey the architecture. Then the space tells you what you need. You look at your things and whether they are classic or modern.” When you know what you like and you’ve seen it all, it’s hard not to be the perfect client for yourself. “I change things all the time,” Anthony said. “You go and you find a piece of art and you fall in love with it. I fell in love with a beautiful photograph when I was at High Point last time. I didn’t get it and I think I’m going to get it this time. It’s beautiful. It’s two birds in flight and it’s really kind of surreal looking. She prints it on metal, on stainless steal. Then she lacquers over it so it looks like a painting.” Anthony is ready for whatever arises next for her own living situation and for her kids, too. “There’s a lot of furniture in my garage,” she said. “I could probably furnish an entire house right now.”

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POT OR PLOT? ‘Right-size’ picks for gardening success

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ave you ever walked into a room that was so full of over-sized furniture it made an already small space feel miniscule and unusable? Or tricked your tummy into being satisfied with less food by using a small plate to make a modest portion look huge? Scale makes a decided difference in many aspects of life, and gardening is no different. Whether you’re gardening in containers or have a big plot in your backyard, right-sizing your plant picks to coincide with your available garden space can yield a more productive and pleasurable gardening experience. More than a third of all American households now grow some type of food themselves, making food gardening the third largest yard activity after landscaping and lawn care, the National Gardening Survey shows. Whether you aim to trim grocery bills by growing your own produce, add your own fresh herbs to your summer cooking, or just plain love to garden, choosing the right plants for your gardening space - pot or plot - is your best bet for great success. Get your garden growing

Veggie and herb gardens need plenty of sunshine and water, no matter what you’re planting, or growing them in. Six to eight hours of bright light every day is best, so choose a sun-drenched spot in your yard for raised beds or larger gardens, and place pots and containers on sunny porches, decks or patios. Use a good potting mix for containers and raised beds; it should be light weight and provide fast drainage. For garden plots, till soil, test for quality and work any necessary amendments into the soil before planting. All food plants need to be fed. Consistent and frequent water-

an ornamental touch. • Tomatoes like Bonnie Plants’ popular Husky Cherry Red, Patio, Bush Early Girl, Bush Goliath and Better Bush. For larger varieties, use a large pot, at least 5 gallons for each plant and support plants with a cage. • Smaller eggplants such as Patio Baby Mini Eggplants. • Peppers, like Lunchbox Sweet Snacking Peppers, that are smaller in size and high in yield. • Cucumbers if you add a trellis to the pot and train them to climb. Raised beds can host bigger veggies like Beefmaster Tomatoes, or varieties that require more room to spread on the ground like zucchini. They’re also great for greens like collards, lettuce, mustard and Swiss chard, and a variety of peppers, beans and eggplants.

ing, good drainage and a quality plant food such as Bonnie Plant Food are needed for good plant health and harvest.

Planting plots

In-ground gardens allow you much more room for larger plants. Even if your plot isn’t huge, it can accommodate plants that require more room, like watermelon and corn. In addition to staples for your table like greens, tomatoes and peppers, a garden plot allows you to incorporate a greater variety of veggies, like beans, peas and squash, in your garden plans. No matter where you live or how much or little space you might have, you can enjoy growing your own food. Be sure to right-size, according to your space and need. Once you get growing, you’ll love the homegrown flavor of your harvest and the enjoyment gardening brings. For more gardening tips, how to’s, trouble shooting and to learn about plants that fit your garden environment, visit www.bonnieplants.com. — Brandpoint

Cultivating in containers and raised beds

Gardening doesn’t require a huge plot of land for hefty harvests and good success. Planting in containers can solve space problems and raised beds allow you to enjoy a garden if you’re short on space or have poor soil quality in your yard. Place containers in a sunny spot, whether it’s an apartment balcony or backyard patio. Make sure the pots are large enough for the plants you’ll put in them and have good drainage holes. Consider container color; dark containers will absorb more heat, so try using lighter colored containers. Plants suited for containers include: • All herbs. • All greens. Add flowers to the same pot for

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DEER WARS: Protecting your yard and garden

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hen you think of deer, do you envision a shy doe hiding beneath forest foliage? Or perhaps you imagine a buck bounding through a field along a quiet country road. The reality of where deer like to live is much closer to home than you think. Humans aren’t the only species that thrive in suburbia. Today, more deer live in close proximity to humans than ever before in our country’s history. “Hunting has reduced deer densities in large, wooded open space areas across the country over the past decade,” says Dr. Scott C. Williams of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “Many deer remain, however, and are now largely concentrated in residential areas where they have abundant ornamental plants to browse and where little or no hunting occurs.” With ample food sources and no natural predators, suburban areas - your backyard have a lot to offer deer. Deer are extremely adaptive and living in close proximity to humans, they have learned to associate people with food. Many will learn the habits of humans in their area, and adjust their browsing times accordingly to munch on residential landscapes while people are not around, or asleep. Nationally, deer cause millions of dollars in damage by devouring residential landscapes and through vehicle collisions. Estimates range around $1 billion, annually, including damage to property, crops and timber. Problems aren’t just linked to a high number of deer in an area. Even just one or two in an area can cause significant damage; a single deer can consume a ton and a half of vegeta-

tion per year. If you’ve seen signs of deer damage around your home, you’ll need to combat the problem to keep deer away from your lawn, trees, shrubs and garden. Options include: • Physical barriers - Although sometimes unsightly, high fences can keep deer out, but with many suburbs and homeowners associations placing restrictions on fence height, you may not be allowed to build a fence high enough to be effective.

• Deer-resistant plantings - Hungry deer will eat just about any type of foliage, but there are some plants that don’t appeal to them, such as French marigolds, foxglove, boxwood, ornamental grasses and rosemary. Incorporating these plants throughout your landscape might help deter some invasive deer. • Motion deterrents - Deer are skittish around unexpected motion, so windsocks positioned near your garden might deter deer

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from dining there. You may also try motionsensing sprinklers, lights or even a radio to startle deer away. If these deterrents occasionally work, you’ll need to reposition them so deer don’t become acclimated to them. However, the most effective deterrent to keep deer out of suburban areas is a scentaversion repellent, according to Williams. “Our research has proven that this kind of repellent works to protect plants from damage by deer and other animals.” Test results are available online at www.bobbex.com/ct-agpartial-study. Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell for feeding, so using a scent-aversion repellant like Bobbex Deer can be an effective, long-lasting and safe way to keep deer away from your home and landscape. The product’s ingredients combine the scents of rotten eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil and vinegar (among other things) to ward off deer, moose and elk from browsing on ornamental plantings, shrubs and trees. Even if a deer can get past the smell, it makes plants taste unpleasant so they likely won’t take more than one bite before moving on. Bobbex Deer is safe for use on most sensitive plants, is harmless to all wildlife, humans, pets, birds and aquatic life, and won’t wash off in rain or from watering. In testing, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found Bobbex Deer to be 93 percent effective, second only to a physical barrier for preventing deer damage. To learn more about Bobbex Deer and Bobbex-R, for small animals, visit www.bobbex.com. — Brandpoint

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ceives calls about stink bugs, but that insecticides are ineffective against them. “The pesticides we spray are extremely ineffective against them,” Kelly said. “The reason for that is they fly, so short of literally spraying every inch of the inside and outside of the house, which no one would want to do, you can’t get them to land on what you’ve sprayed.” Kelly said that stink bugs are a seasonal problem and will eventually go away on their own. He recommends not squishing stink bugs, as their odor could attract more of them, but instead flushing them down the toilet. He said power washing a home is one method of ridding them from eaves within a house. He said that trying to trap stink bugs in a soda bottle, often described as a method to deal with them on the Internet, would only serve to attract more of them into a house. Furry things

Rodents, mice and, to a lesser degree, rats, are a problem for many homeowners. Kelly said traps are a good way to start out dealing with mice, but with larger infestations, the mice will eventually figure out to avoid any traps once they notice other mice being caught. He said intentionally leaving food out is a good way to tell if you still have a mouse problem after trapping. “If you think your problem is done and you’re not sure, leave a little food out for them,” he said. “Take a Snickers bar or peanut butter cup and unwrap it and put it right where you know they’ve been going. If it survives for a couple of nights, you can feel confident that your problem is gone.” Kelly said with larger infestations hiring an exterminator to set up poison is an effective op-

tion. He said that cruelty-free mousetraps, which trap a mouse in a cage without injuring it, are not the best method for reducing an infestation. “After you’ve caught the mouse, you need to drive a couple of miles away and let them go,” he said. “Not even just one mile and he will come right back into the house. Generally I don’t think that’s a very effective method, but it’s really your only option if you’re trying to be as pleasant to the mice as possible.” Flying squirrels are a common nuisance for this area as well. They are smaller than the typical squirrel and possess flaps of skin underneath the arms allowing for gliding. They tend to get into a home through someone’s chimney and take up residence in the attic. Hall said one method of getting rid of flying squirrels or similarly mobile animals like bats and birds is to install a one-way door that allows the animals to exit a homeowner’s attic, but not re-enter. “When the door is pushed, they’re able to move it, it goes up, but when they come back, they can’t pull it out without falling off the house, so they won’t be able to get back in,” he said. Creepy crawlers

Hall said some creatures commonly seen as pests, such as spiders, could be beneficial to a home because they prey on other pest species. He said ladybugs could play a good role by eating aphids, which are highly destructive to plants, and that praying mantises, centipedes and millipedes share a similar function. Kelly said that apart from highly destructive creatures such as termites and bedbugs, many insects commonly regarded as pests could be tolerated and lived with. “When they become a pest, it’s up to the individual,” he said. “If you decided this thing is a pest, then it’s a pest. Pest is just a made up word by humans. None of them are really pests.”

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The good, the bad and alternatives to growing ivy BY PUCCI MEYER “Tell me why the stars do shine, Tell me why the ivy twines, Tell me what makes skies so blue, And I’ll tell you why I love you.” Isaac Asimov’s version of why ivy twines got a little more intense in the second stanza, but it’s certainly an interesting topic to explore. When ivy, that familiar clinging vine, grows vertically, it is not primarily because it’s looking for the sun. According to the National Garden Book (Sunset), it will climb almost any vertical surface by sending out aerial rootlets. Of course, we think of ivy for two major reasons: 1) Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs and 2) when we envision the walls of those 300-plus-year-old Ivy League institutions. (Records show that ivy planting in Princeton was already part of the 1866 graduating class’s final Class Day celebration. The Class Day exercises also included band music, the singing of an Ivy Song and an Ivy Oration, all of which accompanied the planting of ivy.) But in fact, the plant is not native to North America, instead to western Asia, as well as most of Europe, which may explain why it was climbing the walls of Oxford and Cambridge long before it arrived in the upstart Northeast. The origins of the moniker Ivy League are disputed. A theory that was never proved attributes the name to the Roman numeral IV, stemming from a conference of Northeast sports powerhouses Harvard, Yale, Princeton and possibly

Dartmouth. More likely, it was coined in the 1930s in the Herald Tribune when a sportswriter — who had attended Fordham — was covering a Columbia/Penn game and used the term “Ivy League.” Hedera, commonly called ivy, is a genus of 12–15 species of climbing or ground-creeping evergreen plants. English ivy (Hedera helix) is one of the varieties that Charles King Sadler, owner of King Garden Designs in Irvingtonon-Hudson, often uses. He said it is one of the most popular ivies in the northeastern United States. One of its virtues, in addition to its being evergreen, is that it’s also very hardy. “That is why you’ll often see the walls of houses even in confined urban areas covered with the vine; it creates the feeling of a healthy natural landscape in places where the landscape is often not at its best,” Sadler said. English ivy is also easy to grow. It favors shade or partial shade. It needs some moisture, of course, but not a lot. It can live for years. Its main requirement is that it needs to be trimmed regularly to keep up a tidy appearance. “We cut our ivy back once a year starting in July and continuing into the next growing season,” the former head gardener at Princeton told the American Ivy Society. James W. Consolloy, Princeton’s manager of grounds from 1989-2010, said it’s best to cut ivy in spring, so that the new growth will cover any

trimmed bald spots. As with most good things, English ivy does have its disadvantages. Its berries are toxic to humans, though appreciated by birds. But its primary drawback is that it can be extremely invasive and detrimental to the vertical surface on which it is thriving. The roots can get into the mortar joints in brick or stone walls and trap moisture, slowly destroying the mortar and causing the brick to crumble. Because of this, the rampant ivy traditionally growing on college walls may be a thing of the past. In fact, some colleges, including Yale, have removed the offending green cling-on from many of their buildings. “It can be destructive to masonry,” Eric Uscinski, director of the university’s facilities operations, told the Yale Daily News in 2009. He couldn’t pinpoint a date when the campaign to remove it began, but said, “It goes back a long time.” Architecture professor Alexander Garvin was in agreement, according to the article, that “ivy can cause stone and brick to crumble where it

clings to the façades of old buildings. But Cesar Pelli, architect and former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said the damaging effects of ivy are vastly exaggerated. ‘I believe it is well worth the small maintenance bother ivy provokes to achieve the lovely look of ivy growing and waving in the breeze on a stone wall,’ he said in an e-mail.” On the other hand, the great ivy debate hardly seems to have concerned Robert A.M. Stern, current dean of the architecture school. “We have such beautiful Continued on the next page

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buildings, we don’t need to hide them with ivy,” he told the Yale Daily News. Sadler cautioned that brick isn’t the only surface to be wary of with ivy: “Stay away from clapboard or painted surfaces as well. The vine will get underneath the wood and if you try to yank it off, the wood and the paint will probably come with it.” He pointed out that Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), a highly popular evergreen plant not actually in the ivy family, is “probably the most detrimental to buildings. Over time it will attach itself to the mortar, and can do great damage.” The designer said as a citizen he feels it is his duty to try to educate his customers about long-term effects of certain plants, but in the end, the decision is theirs. They may want the front of their house to have the dramatic scarlet color that Boston ivy turns in fall. To remove ivy from brick or wood, sever the trailers from the plant that you don’t want to remain on the wood or stone and then apply an herbicide. A nontoxic way to kill ivy is by using white vinegar, but be careful only to put it on the ivy you want to kill; it will also kill any other plants nearby. There are, of course, climbing plants that are less invasive to buildings. Sadler said one good choice is native honeysuckle, which produces beautiful coral flowers that attract humming birds and insects. Another pretty flowering vine is the climbing hydrangea. Sadler described it as a moderately aggressive climber that usually blooms with white flowers. Of course neither of these is an evergreen; both lose their leaves in winter. Ivy will also grow happily up the trunks of trees, which isn’t particularly healthy for the tree. In order to discourage the vine, never pull it off from the tree; you risk pulling off the bark as well, and might even damage the living part

Ivy facts you probably never knew • The “bad” ivy, poison ivy, turns out to be a very important plant. It produces yellowish waxy berries in fall, berries that provide birds with late autumn food. Poison ivy is so important in the bird’s food cycle that landscaper Charles King Sadler is nearly missionary in his plea not to cut it down. “Like Virginia Creeper, it’s a native plant, not harmful to the tree,” he said. “If it’s in an area where humans do not come in contact with it, try to leave it alone. Birds that are migrating may not be able to find any other food but those berries on their journey south.” • “I was sometimes called ‘poison ivy’ — and that was no fun,” admitted Broadway and screen actress Dana Ivey, when asked what it was like growing up with her name. “And, of course, because of my name, I have always been partial to the plant! So many of the tree beneath the bark. If you want to kill ivy that is growing on a tree, you have to keep cutting back the tendrils at the base of the tree trunk, disconnecting the vine from its roots. Eventually, it will die. The wonderful thing about ivy is that it grows horizontally as well as vertically. While it has now virtually disappeared from the walls of Yale’s buildings, it still thrives in many places on the campus’s grounds, where it can do no harm. As ground cover, it can provide shelter for birds and small animals, discourage weeds and hold soil, limiting erosion on slopes. If you are about to plant ivy as a ground cover for the first time, prepare a good bed for it, said John Acerbi, who owns Litchfield Hills Nursery

varieties — I love English ivy,” added the actor, who lives in Manhattan and has surely played more character roles than there are kinds of ivies. • One of the hardiest, 238th Street ivy, hails from the Bronx. “It was named for where it was found growing on 238th Street,” said organic grower Al Krautter, owner of Sprainbrook Nursery in Edgemont. “The problem with it is that deer eat it.” Its advantage is that it’s a great ground cover. Krautter said it is slower growing than English ivy, but will grow on steep slopes because of its long vines — so it will often grow where other ground cover won’t. • Frank Lloyd Wright offered yet another use for ivy: “The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines,” he wrote in 1953. — Pucci Meyer in Connecticut. “It used to be they’d say, ‘If you buy a $5 plant, you have to prepare a $10 hole,’” he said. “You can’t buy a plant anymore for $5, but you’re still basically prepping the soil that your plant is going to live in. Prepare the soil with peat, compost, some dehydrated cow manure and bone meal, all organic materials to help the plant establish itself.” Tom Dieck of TRD Designs in Katonah said he considers at least four varieties of ivy in his garden projects. “We like the wide-leafed English ivy for its hardiness and because it’s a good climbing vine that will grow just about anywhere,” he said. Dieck often chooses English ivy for trellises

THE SCARSDALE INQUIRER | PAGE 21A because it creates a wall of privacy. Baltic ivy (Baltica) is a variety he admires for its whitishveined leaves that take on a purplish tone in winter. Baltic ivy differs from English ivy primarily in the size and shape of the leaf. Its leaves are smaller and a darker green, with more prominent veining. While both types are considered hardy, Baltic is more tolerant of cold, harsh weather. Dieck said that Needlepoint ivy (Hedera helix Needlepoint) is a miniature ivy whose light green pointed leaves and cascading form make it an excellent choice for use as a ground cover. While many people also use Needlepoint in planters, the designer said he prefers the white or cream-colored variegated leaf of Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensisis) for hanging baskets. It is especially practical for containers that are put outdoors in summer, because it’s drought- and bug-resistant and is more adaptable to warmer temperatures than its “English” counterpart. You will find Algerian ivy in deep green and greenand-white variations. It grows well in outdoor summer plantings mixed with annuals. Another favorite among garden designers for hanging baskets is something called Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis), which has a heartshaped leaf. Truth be told, Swedish ivy does not come from Sweden, nor is it a true ivy. Swedish ivy plants, however, did become popular as a houseplant in Sweden and they do have long cascading stems like ivy. Its nickname is Creeping Charlie; it’s a lush succulent-like trailing vine with thick, glossy green, scalloped leaves. When it gets enough light, it will produce delicate white, pink or tubular-shaped flowers on stems that rise above the foliage. Pruning this plant is important: When the flowers fade, nip them off to encourage new growth and new flowers. But take care; outdoors, this Swede can’t take too much sun, or the leaves will burn.

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BY LAURIE SULLIVAN

uous shrubs and protect with a layer of mulch for the winter.

o one can debate what a long, hard winter we’ve had — the worst combination of cold, snow and ice that indeed made the winter seem endless. The polar vortex brought us sub-zero temperatures and record snowfalls and wreaked havoc on lawns and plantings. The freeze-thawfreeze cycles we had caused plant cells to freeze and crushed grass blades and “lead to [horticultural] death” in some instances, according to an online article on Houselogic.com. Now that spring is finally here it’s time get outside, enjoy the warmer weather and assess what damage winter may have brought to your lawn and plantings. With the ground unfrozen, it’s more malleable… time to get started on your spring cleanup and think about how you might get your lawn and plantings on the road to recovery. As you look around, don’t despair if you see brown or dead grass and plantings that may look unsalvageable. Areas of your lawn may still be “sleeping,” while other parts may actually be dead. Either way there are some simple fixes that can revive most lawns and plantings, but it will take perseverance to get it back in shape now that the winter is finally over, and ongoing maintenance to keep it that way. There’s nothing like a beautiful (crabgrassfree!) lawn that says it’s been well cared for, offering curb appeal that speaks volumes about its owner. After all, they may be looking at your lawn, but they’re really seeing you. And a beautiful lawn is something you’ll enjoy all summer long. The garden pros can do it and so can you. The choice of whether to tackle your lawn and garden on your own is up to you — but the pros have advice you’ll need either way to make your home the envy of the neighborhood.

Spring, summer ready

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Waking up your lawn

What should homeowners do to revive their lawns after the harsh winter? We put the question to Al Krautter, co-owner of Sprainbrook Nursery in Scarsdale, an all-organic garden center which Krautter’s parents opened in 1944. His answer? He explained that snow mold tops the list of enemies that cause grass damage. “Getting out there with a metal rake to get any of the binding cover [off the grass] that would suffocate the lawn” is a first step. After that he recommended fertilizing with an organic fertilizer like milorganite, which he said is a lot healthier for the family and pets. There are other advantages of using organics as well. Chemical fertilizers kill the microbes in the soil that are important for grass growth. Microbes clean out the toxins and organic fertilizers feed the microbes. And at the same time chemicals weaken the grass and make it more susceptible to disease and pests. Organic fertilizer also produces very green grass. Krautter noted that golf courses have been using milorganite for years — and no one can dispute how green and manicured those courses are. Once the fertilizer is down, your grass also needs mineral rock dust that adds minerals not found in fertilizer. Krautter said that in early spring “gypsum breaks up hard, compact soil which gives you more aeration that gives you better growth.” Lawns need corn gluten to prevent crabgrass, the bane of homeowners everywhere! Add the corn gluten when the forsythias are in bloom in early spring.

SPRING AWAKENING

Lawn revival tips for the green, green grass of home Krautter’s advice on the care of plantings is to “feed the soil and the soil will feed the plant.” He recommended Holly-tone for acid-loving plants and Plant-tone for alkaline-loving plants. When moss is present, it indicates that the soil is acidic. According to the garden guru, maintaining beautiful lawns is a step-by-step process, with “something to do each month to ensure the healthiest, greenest grass and garden.” Krautter said that by doing maintenance each month, eventually your lawn will be so thick you won’t have to do as much. For complete advice on lawn and garden care, Krautter’s book, “12 Steps to Natural Gardening” is available at Sprainbrook Nursery and also available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble and other locations. A wealth of gardening information is also available on Krautter’s website, naturalgardennews.com/ krauters-korner. Revive, reseed

Mary Ann Amodio, owner of Amodio’s Garden Center in White Plains, agreed that now is the time to get out your rake and clean out your beds of leaves and your grass of the dead thatch to wake up your garden for spring. She said to remember to lime your lawn and feed it with a spring fertilizer. And don’t forget feeding all those evergreens, especially all ilex and hollies with an organic Holly-tone. Amodio also recommended organic fertilizers, which “are always slow release to lawns and gardens” and good for the environment. She stressed that these fertilizers are highly recommended. Amodio recommends the Espoma line of or-

ganic fertilizers, including Holly-tone and Planttone, and for the lawn Jonathan Green fertilizer and Scotts Professional Lawn Care products. When asked whether salt damage to plantings and grass along driveways, walkways and curbside could be reversed she said unfortunately it could not. “The homeowner might need to replace them with new plantings,” said Amodio. “It’s important to amend the soil that might have salt in it by adding compost and new topsoil.” And her preference to sod or seed lawns? She said sod gives you instant gratification and seed takes longer to establish. “Whether seeding or sodding, the process of preparing your soil to make it receptive to the seed or sod is basically the same as well as the long-range upkeep,” she added. “It is less expensive to seed.” Go it alone or have a professional prepare and maintain your lawn and garden? Amodio said the size of the project and the existing condition of the lawn should be the determining factors on whether or not the homeowner would like to attempt the project. “With the introduction of easy lawn products, your lawn, once established, is easy to maintain,” she said. “Fertilize in spring and fall and use a weed control and insect control products in the early summer and that is all it takes.” Amodio’s advice on guarding against damage to landscaping next winter? To protect lawns and shrubs for next year and minimize damage, make sure to do fall and winter fertilizing, and spray with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf to protect evergreen shrubs against moisture loss in the winter. Make sure you fertilize shrubs in fall too. Prune back perennials, roses and decid-

Lawn expert Matt Lindner, the service line director of SavaLawn, a division of SavATree, had plenty of advice for homeowners on reviving lawns after the ravages of winter. He recommended gypsum, a natural, pet-safe product, to use on salt-damaged areas because it flushes the salt through soil particles and allows the grass to recoup on its own. The same holds true for salt-damaged plantings — Lindner advised using gypsum and some fertilizer on them and inspect for bark chewed away by animals toward the bottom of the plants and any damage caused by freezing. Damage to plantings may not show up for two months, according to Lindner. Plow damage is another problem Lindner said they’re seeing. That requires reseeding, but it’s not the time to be putting down weed killer. Lightly raking matted brown grass, an indication of snow mold, will fluff it and allow the sun and air to get into the root of the plant, “Allowing Mother Nature to take its course,” he said. As the grass wakes up, Lindner recommends using nitrogen as a good spring fertilizer, but only a little to “get things jump started. Mother Nature tends to get going in the spring anyway, but you need nitrogen to help it get going… You would have to use a combo of 10-0-4,” Lindner explained, which translates into the ratio of nitrogen, representing the first number, the second number being phosphorous, which Lindner said is banned in New York State except under certain circumstances, and the third number being potash. Salt damage to plants

Salt damage on plants is a different situation. Lindner said if there was wind desiccation you will see a lot of cracks near the soil. “A lot of the plants got stressed by deer, rabbits and snow,” Lindner said. “Some damage won’t show up for two months, more than we’ve seen in the past because it was such a severe winter.” And for lawns, does he recommend reseeding or resodding? Lindner said sod looks good in the short term, but needs a lot of aeration. With seed it doesn’t give you the quick gratification that sod does, but Lindner said it will last longer. “Sod needs more intense cultural practices than seed,” he explained. With lawn preparation and maintenance being SavaLawn’s area of expertise, how easy or difficult is it for homeowners to do the work themselves? Lindner said lawn preparation and maintenance is an ongoing process, emphasizing that anyone can do it, but you don’t do it once and walk away from it. Some homeowners don’t fertilize and “a lot of time homeowners don’t see problems a professional will see and by the time the damage is done it’s too late. Beautiful lawns add to the value of homes and add curb appeal.” With branches in Mamaroneck, Bedford Hills and Buchanan, SavaLawn, in business 18 years, does complete lawn and shrub care. Services include fertilizations, insecticide applications, reseeding, soil analysis and aeration, weed control, lawn disease treatment, lawn reseeding, turf management, irrigation and fungus treatment — everything but mowing. For tree care, SavATree does anything and everything to preserve the integrity of your property’s plantings and trees to make them optimally healthy and appealing, including tree trimming.


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This is Henry.

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