Spring Home & Garden - 2023

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Inside: SPRING 2023 ALL CONTENT PROVIDED BY METRO CREATIVE A Special Supplement to The Daily Advance, Chowan Herald and The Perquimans Weekly • renovations • spring cleaning • landscaping • interior design
Home & Garden
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The kitchen may be the heart of a home, but when it comes to entertaining, a dining room — if one is present in a house — tends to be the prime gathering spot for meals. Dining rooms may not be top on the list of spaces to renovate, as they tend to be used infrequently. But a dining room makeover may still be a worthy endeavor. Here are some simple ways to make the dining room more elegant and functional.

● Clear out the clutter. The rst step toward improving a dining room eating area is to remove any extraneous items from the space. If the dining room table is not used very often, it likely has become a catch-all for other items, such as bills, newspapers or kids’ homework. Rather than using the dining space as a makeshift of ce or homework station, invest in a rolling cart to store those papers and other items. Simply roll it into a closet or another room when it’s time to host a party.

● Hang a statement light. Few decorative items add as much drama and ambiance to a dining space as a new overhead light. People hear chandelier and think a bejeweled or crystal design. But various chandelier styles can t the aesthetic of a home. The light will be a focal point and instantly make the dining area more elegant. Install the light on a dimmer to adjust the illumination as needed to set the mood.

● Invest in new linens. Purchase coordinating table linens that will be used for special occasions. A decorative table cloth or table runner coupled with cloth napkins and placemats helps to set the scene of the dinner party.

● Add a piece of artwork. Many modern homeowners have eschewed

the China cabinet that once was standard in dining rooms. Rather than a bulky piece of furniture, a large piece of statement-making artwork or framed photos over a more minimalistic buffet table or small service bar is preferable. Choose artwork that complements the colors in the space. ● Include a centerpiece. Center-

pieces add sophistication to the table and tie into the event. Floral arrangements, a bowl or basket of fruit, pine cones or greens from outdoors, or collectibles like shells in a tall canister can serve as centerpieces. There are many simple ways to dress up dining spaces and make them more elegant.

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Make a dining room more elegant

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Popular trends in home exteriors

Certain homes have an undeniable wow factor. That instant appeal tends to be noticeable the moment visitors pull up to the curb, and it might be a byproduct of homeowners’ willingness to embrace the latest exterior design trends. Trends come and go, but recognition of the current fashions can help homeowners create that highly sought-after wow factor. The following are some recent trends in home exteriors that have helped homeowners set their properties apart.


Natural wood has undeniable appeal, and it hasn’t only found newfound devotion among home interior decorators. Natural wood garage

doors create a sense of warmth and can set a home apart from others with steel doors, which tend to be the most popular garage door material. In addition to the garage door, natural wood entry doors and wood decks are popular ways to impart this classical, warm look to a home’s exterior.


Like natural wood, brick is a traditional material that’s both sturdy and classical. But homeowners can add character to brick with a coat of paint, which has become a popular trend in recent years. Light tones tend to be most popular when painting bricks. The experts at Better Homes & Gardens note that this could prove a long-term commitment if

homeowners so desire, as a properly painted brick exterior could last as long as 20 years.


Hardscaping isn’t a new trend, but it has been trending in recent years. Hardscaping is an umbrella term that includes everything from outdoor living rooms to incorporating natural stone into a landscape. Outdoor living rooms are one hardscaping trend that has become increasingly popular of late. These spaces serve as an extension of indoor living spaces. The home improvement experts at HGTV note that recently homeowners have looked to create covered outdoor rooms that can be enjoyed more frequently than patios or decks that are not

protected from the elements.


It makes sense that individuals looking to spend more time enjoying their properties outdoors would want more lighting outside. Ambient outdoor lighting can be utilized throughout a property. Such lighting can light up walkways

and driveways and be used to light up landscaping features like trees and gardens. Home design trends tend to be ckle. But recognition of the current trends in exterior home design can set homes apart and turn properties into awe-inspiring places to enjoy the great outdoors.

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Five simple landscaping strategies that can transform a home’s exterior

The interior of a home may be where homeowners and their families spend the majority of their time, and there’s no denying that a well-planned interior goes a long way toward making a house a home. However, the exterior of a home, including its landscaping, can serve as a source of pride and catch the eye of prospective buyers when the home hits the market.

It’s easy to walk past a home with an eye-catching exterior and assume the homeowner has a green thumb or has spent lots of time and money working on the landscaping. Though that may be true, oftentimes it’s the simplest strategies that make all the difference. Homeowners can keep these strategies in mind as they look to transform the exterior of their homes.

➊ Dress up the walkway. A longer walkway can give guests a strong rst impression of a home and won’t break the bank. Create new planting beds and plant bright plants and owers along each side of the walkway. If it’s necessary and within budget, lengthen

the walkway to create the feel of a more grandiose entryway.

➋ Make things more symmetrical. A messy landscape can give a poor rst impression, even if the area features some beautiful plants. In such instances, a little effort to make things more symmetrical, with equal parts grass and vegetation, can create a cleaner, more inviting look.

➌ Mulch your flower and

tree beds. Mulch is a relatively inexpensive but effective way to add aesthetic appeal to a landscape. Freshly mulched beds beneath trees and owers creates a clean and organized look, and the mulch also serves a practical purpose, as it reduces weed growth and helps the soil retain moisture so plants stay healthy and look better throughout the warmer months when rainfall may not

be steady or signi cant.

➍ Plant shade trees. Shade trees can be especially useful when selling a home. The shade provided by trees can shield grass from blistering summer sun, potentially helping it stay green. A lush green lawn appeals to buyers and gives the impression the home has been well maintained. In addition, shade trees can be used to create the look of a

backyard oasis. A well-placed bench beneath a large shade tree can entice buyers who want a relaxing spot to enjoy warm summer days outdoors without getting a sunburn.

➎ Consider maintenance. The more exotic an exterior landscape is, the more maintenance it’s likely to require. Lawn and garden enthusiasts may not be turned off by landscape features that require steady maintenance, but homeowners who don’t have much time for such work should keep things simple. A poorly maintained landscape, even if it includes exotic plants and elaborate designs, will adversely affect curb appeal. Another feather in the cap of low-maintenance landscape features is they could prove more appealing to prospective buyers, who may view elaborate, exotic landscaping as a lot of extra work they won’t want to do.

Some simple landscaping strategies can help homeowners transform their home exteriors without requiring a signi cant investment of time or money.


Though plants might not seem like the first thing individuals think of when they ponder long-term investments, perennials can be just that. The home and garden experts at HGTV note that some perennials can live for a very long time. For example, according to HGTV, the colorful flowering plant peony, despite a blooming sea-

son that usually lasts just seven to 10 days, has been known to survive for 70 to 100 years. Hostas are another popular perennial because they require little maintenance, and that extra free time can add up over the course of the hosta’s life, which can exceed 15 years. Long-living perennials are not necessarily unusual, but gardeners should know that many perennials, and particularly those characterized as “short-lived,” tend to live around three years.

Home & Garden SPRING 2023
Thursday, April 6, 2023 5

Shedding some light on residential solar

Consumers shopping around for home improvement projects may be leaning toward overhauls that can reduce energy consumption and save them money in the long run. This is a driving factor behind a growing number of homeowners investigating solar energy for their residences.

• How does solar power work?

Solar power harnesses the sun’s energy and converts it into electricity that can be used in homes. Many people are familiar with photovoltaics (PV), which are the panels that absorb sunlight and create an electric eld across their layers. Another solar technology, known as concentrating solar power, is primarily used in large power plants and is not appropriate for residential use, according to Energy.gov.

According to the Of ce of Energy

Ef ciency & Renewable Energy, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have

been put in use across the United States since 2008.

• Costs associated with solar

The upfront expense of solar panels is signi cant, costing anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 for initial installation. However, comparatively speaking, homeowners can spend $1,500 or more per year on electricity, so solar panels will pay for themselves over

time. Keep in mind that costs may vary depending on energy needs and how many panels will be required to service the system.

• How much electricity can I expect?

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Advice says that the amount of power generated from a solar energy system depends on a few factors:

1. The average number of hours of

direct, unshaded sunlight your roof gets each year;

2. The pitch (angle), age and condition of your roof, and the compass direction it faces;

3. The size and strength of your system; and

4. Environmental factors such as snow, dust or shade that may cover the system.

• Save even more money

Consumers can contact their utility companies to nd out if they provide homeowners who produce solar power with “net metering.” This program pays the homeowner money or gives credit for excess power the system produces and returns to the electric grid. Individuals also may be eligible for energy tax credits or other bene ts. Homeowners may nd it worthwhile to explore solar energy, particularly if they consume a high amount of electricity.

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Easy ways to give your kitchen a new look

Kitchens are often described as the busiest rooms in a home. Kitchens are where meals are prepared and tend to be go-to gathering spots on holiday get-togethers and during other events when homeowners host family and friends.

With so much time spent in the kitchen, it’s easy to see how homeowners might grow a little bored by these rooms. The cost of a kitchen remodel won’t be cheap, as the home improvement resource Angi.com notes that the typical cost of such a project in the United States is between $13,000 and $38,000. Angi.com estimates even indicate that a high-end remodel could cost homeowners as much as $61,000. That’s beyond many homeowners’ budgets. But the good news is that there are many quick and easy, not to mention less expensive, ways to give a kitchen a new look.

● Repaint and restyle the cabinets. Cabinet space is an undeniably precious commodity in a kitchen, especially as more and more homeowners embrace their inner chef and cook more complicated meals at home. After all, the more expansive a home chef’s culinary repertoire, the more space that person needs to store all the tools of the cooking trade. A full cabinet replacement is unnecessary if the cabinets are still functional and not overcrowded, so repainting them can be a great way to give the kitchen a new look while keeping costs reasonable. During the painting project,

homeowners can install new cabinet knobs and/or drawer pulls to freshen up the style of the cabinets even further.

● Install under-cabinet lighting. Another inexpensive way to give a kitchen a new look is to install under-cabinet lighting. Under-cabinet lighting serves both an aesthetic and practical purpose. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, under-cabinet lighting can make a kitchen feel more warm and keep the kitchen illuminated when meals aren’t being prepared and homeowners don’t want to have their overhead lights on but still want

to be able to navigate the kitchen safely. During meal prep, under-cabinet lighting can illuminate counters so it’s easier to chop, peel and perform other prep tasks.

● Replace existing backsplash. Replacing backsplash is another simple, inexpensive and effective way to give a kitchen a new feel. Homeowners can opt for something neutral that won’t upset their existing decor or go with a more bold backsplash that immediately draws the attention of anyone who enters the room. This simple job can be done by the average do-it-yourselfer and the cost of new

backsplash won’t break the bank. ● Replace existing seating. Whether you have an island countertop with bar stools or a breakfast nook with cushioned seats, replacing the seating is a budget-friendly job that can create a new look when entering the room. Countertop bar stools come in many styles, so giving this area of the kitchen a new feel can be as simple as shifting from classic, high-back stools to more modern swivel stools with a chrome base. For the breakfast nook, replacing a light-colored bench cushion with a bolder alternative can instantly transform the look of the space.

Home & Garden SPRING 2023
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How to create more privacy on your property

An inviting backyard can serve as a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life. After a long day at the of ce or an exhausting day spent transporting kids to and fro, it’s hard to resist the allure of a peaceful outdoor space in which to unwind.

Privacy is a key component of any backyard oasis. Some homes may be so remote that privacy isn’t an issue. But many suburban homeowners recognize they might need to tweak their landscapes if they hope to create a private oasis outside.


Most homeowners looking to create more privacy on their property will have to choose between fencing and planting. Fencing provides immediate privacy because, once it’s installed, no one can see into the yard. Fencing also doesn’t require watering or other immediate upkeep, which will be necessary when planting to ensure tree roots can establish themselves.

But planting has its bene ts as well. Planting for privacy is essentially creating a living fence that can grow over time and provide even more privacy as trees reach maturity. Plants also tend to be less costly than fencing. The home renovation experts at BobVila.com estimate that fencing projects typically cost between $1,667 and $4,075. However, fencing projects can cost considerably more than $4,000, especially for homeowners with large properties they want to enclose. Large, mature trees can be expensive, though it’s unlikely they will cost as much as fencing. In addition, fencing

requires more maintenance and will potentially need to be replaced, while native trees won’t require much upkeep and can last for generations.


Homeowners who choose to plant for privacy will next have to decide which type of plants to add to their properties. Evergreens provide year-round privacy because they don’t shed their leaves, so these are the ones most often chosen when creating a living fence. A number of varieties of evergreen trees can do the job, but it’s important that homeowners consult with a landscape architect prior to choosing trees so they can ensure the trees will thrive when faced with the growing conditions on their properties. During such a consultation, homeowners may discuss the following popular privacy trees.

• Leyland cypress: The Arbor Day Foundation® notes that the Leyland cypress is popular for hedges and

boundaries, likely because a typical tree reaches a mature height of 60’-70’ and can spread as wide as 25’. The Leyland cypress grows fast, which may appeal to homeowners who don’t want to wait to establish privacy.

• Green Giant Arborvitae: There are different varieties of the arborvitae, but the Green Giant tends to be the go-to

option for privacy. The ADF notes that Green Giants will grow up to three feet per year until they reach maturity, providing a fast-growing option for privacy planters. The Green Giant can spread as wide as 20 feet at maturity, which is another attribute that makes it so popular among homeowners desiring privacy.

• Eastern White Pine: The ADF notes that the eastern white pine, which can reach heights as high as 80 feet, is favored in spacious yards. That’s likely due to its height and its potential spread, which can reach 40 feet. Homeowners who choose the eastern white pine might like it for its resemblance to a Christmas tree, and in fact it is widely used for that purpose. The privacy provided by the eastern white pine is signi cant, but it might be best suited to especially large properties.

Whether it’s fencing or planting, homeowners have many options to consider as they seek to create more privacy on their properties.

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How to prepare soil for spring planting

Spring is a season of rejuvenation, and perhaps nowhere is that rebirth more noticeable than in the yard. Each spring, grass begins to grow again as inviting landscapes beckon people outdoors. Extra sunlight and rising temperatures make spring a great time to plant owers, grasses and trees. To ensure successful planting, homeowners must take steps to prepare the soil. Healthy soil can provide the ideal conditions for roots to take hold, helping plants establish themselves before potentially harsh summer conditions arrive. Preparing soil might seem like an extensive job, but a simple approach may be all that’s necessary to create conditions that promote plant growth this spring.

• Clean up the previous months’ mess. Whether homeowners live in regions marked by year-round warmth or places where winter typically features heavy snowfall, it’s a good idea to clean up an area prior to spring planting. Fallen leaves, rocks, grass clippings, and other debris can contribute to compacted soil that makes it hard for plants to establish strong, healthy root systems. Clear away any debris prior to planting before taking the next step in your soil preparation routine.

• Loosen the soil. Once debris has been cleared away,

loosen the soil. Depending on the size of the area where you’ll be planting, you may need to invest in tools like a shovel, spade, spading fork, and/or a lawn edger. If you’re planting in a small area, such as a deck planter box that still has soil from last year’s planting inside it, you can either clean the box and replace the soil entirely or dig around with a handheld trowel, cultivator and/or weeder. It’s important to loosen all of the soil around where you will ultimately plant prior to planting to ensure water can reach the roots and help them establish themselves once planting is completed.

• Test and, if necessary, amend the soil. A simple pH test can help determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. This is an important step as soil that is too acidic or alkaline can decrease the availability of nutrients the plants will need to thrive. In addition to conducting a pH test, which can be purchased at little cost at a local home improvement store, homeowners can contact their local Cooperative Extension Service to test their soil quality. These tests will reveal soil pH, but also can shed light on the texture of the soil and other components. Once the test is conducted, the local Coop Extension Service may recommend amendments to improve the nutritional quality of

the soil so new plants can thrive.

Soil conditions go a long way toward determining if new plants will thrive. Preparing the soil prior to spring planting can ensure a successful season.

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Home & Garden

Spring cleaning tips

Spring is a time of year when change is in the air. Trees are budding, plants are owering, and homes laden with dark or heavy fabrics and clutter could use some lightening up.

Spring cleaning projects are popular this time of year as residents take inventory of their living spaces and aim to declutter, clean and increase ef ciency. Some people nd the prospect of getting organized overwhelming. Here are some tips that can help anyone master spring cleaning.

■ Create a plan. Make a checklist and establish a cleaning plan of attack. Focus on areas that are not regularly cleaned, as they probably need a little attention.

■ Assemble your cleaning kit. Spring cleaning can be slowed down considerably if you don’t have all of your equipment at the ready. Items to have on hand include an all-purpose cleaner, concentrated cleaner, micro-

ber cloths, paper towels, mop, vacuum, dusters, and a squeegee. Adjust your equipment based on the task at hand.

■ Curate your cleaning playlist. Create a playlist with songs that will get you moving and motivated to clean.

■ Work from top to bottom. Work ef ciently by cleaning shelves, ceiling fans and other elevated items rst, as dust and debris will trickle down and need to be cleaned next.

■ Purchase or rent a carpet cleaner. According to the experts at Clean That Up, carpets help lter indoor air by trapping debris and allergens. By deep cleaning carpets, homeowners can improve the indoor air quality of their homes. Use a carpet cleaner on a warm, dry day so that windows can be opened and cross breezes will help dry the damp rug.

■ Clean windows. Wash windows inside and out and utilize their screens

to help brighten indoors spaces.

■ Deep clean the kitchen. Clean out and disinfect the refrigerator by wiping it down with warm water and baking soda or a vinegar-and-water solution. While in the kitchen, set the oven to the self-clean function so it becomes cleaner as well.

Homeowners also can focus on cleaning curtains (including shower curtains), steam-cleaning upholstery, removing clutter from closets, cleaning out the dryer vent and duct tubing, wiping inside kitchen drawers, and vacuuming under beds and other furniture.

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The role of nature in home design in the years ahead

Outdoor living spaces were prioritized during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when public gatherings were greatly limited and individuals were urged to stay home as much as possible. Such demands have had a ripple effect on various industries, including home design. According to a survey conducted by the New Home Trends Institute in collaboration with Pro Builder, 58 percent of the more than 300 residential architects, designers and design-minded builders who participated said connection to the outdoors/nature will be an important in uence on their design choices in the years to come. In addition, 45 percent of respondents indicated increased attention will be afforded to outdoor entertain-

ing spaces.

So what might the outdoor spaces of homes built in the not-so-distant future look like?

Respondents to the survey anticipated a growing demand for various built-in outdoor features, including:

• Firepits or fireplaces

• Outdoor kitchens

• Gazebos or pergolas

• Pools

• Spas or hot tubs

Though trends and consumer demands are ever-shifting, architects and designers are anticipating that future homeowners will want more developed outdoor living spaces and greater access to nature, which is something current homeowners can keep in mind when renovating their properties.

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