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MAY • JUNE 2015


Rachel Ford Reclaimed wood provides canvas for unique designs

Custom design PROS WHO KNOW

4 area experts offer tips to tailor tastes


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Erinn Figg Sarah Matheny Gordon Emily Adams Keplinger Matt Woo PHOTOGRAPHY

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FIX Magazine 495 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103 FIX is a magazine that comes out once every two months delivering essential local information on home design, remodeling, repair and restoration. It is published by The Commercial Appeal. Opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors are not those of FIX. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.

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May • June 2015

Custom design




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From floor plans to landscaping, area professionals can help tailor your home to your vision FEATURES Garden Fix 6-7 Custom Built 8 Pros Who Know 14

Artist Spotlight 18 — Rachel Ford Hospitality Fix 21

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in containers By Rick Pudwell Director of Horticulture, Memphis Botanic Garden


ere are five colorful plants to use in large containers on a sunny deck or patio. Some tips for success: Be sure all pots or containers have one or more drainage holes. Use a lightweight commercial potting mix. Check daily and water thoroughly as needed. Use a water-soluble fertilizer every 10 days to two weeks throughout the entire growing season.





Codiaeum variegatum

Large, colorful, waxy foliage in hot shades of red, orange and yellow. “Petra” and “Mammy” are two cultivars that are readily available.


Mandevilla Dipladenia x amabilis

Large, trumpet-shaped flowers on a free-flowering vine. Good on a small trellis or other support. “Alice du Pont” is a bright pink. Red and white selections are on the market.


Coleus Coleus blumei

Fast-growing, heart-shaped leaves. Many to pick from in a wide array of colors. Some varieties have scalloped or fringed foliage. Some cool, newer varieties are “Alabama Sunset,” “Fishnet Stockings” and “Redhead.”


Chinese Hibiscus Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis

This heat-loving plant actually is a tropical shrub with glossy foliage and large flowers that can be single or double in almost any shade of red, gold, yellow or pink you can imagine. In full sun, it will flower all summer.


Dragon Wing Begonia Begonia x hybrid

Fast-growing, arching stems and free-flowing red or pink blooms with wing-shaped leaves. Both green and bronze foliaged forms available. 6


| MAY · JUNE 2015



Perennial perfection By Rick Pudwell Director of Horticulture, Memphis Botanic Garden

H 1

ere are five perennials that will withstand the Mid-South heat. Perennials live for a number of years. Tops die in the fall with a heavy frost. Plants will come back from the roots the following spring.

Stoke’s Aster Stokesia laevis

This is an improved variety of a native species. The variety “Blue Danube” has large, deep lavender blooms for more than a month in early summer.


Purple Cone Flower Echinacea purpurea

Large daisy-like blooms with a prominent, cone-like center. Even though the name is purple, there also are white, peach and yellow varieties available.


Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis

This a native plant for moist places, like next to a steam or perhaps where the downspout leaves a puddle after rain. It will reward you with spikes of brilliant red flowers in late summer.


1 2

Becky Daisy Leucanthemum superbum

This is a large, white daisy with a yellow center. A big improvement on the old Shasta daisy.


Cat Mint Nepeta faassenii

The cultivar “Walker’s Low” has aromatic, grey-green foliage on low-arching branches. Flowers are a blue-lavender.


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on the cover

Custom BUILT I Story by Emily Adams Keplinger Photos by Nathan W. Berry

t was like a dream come true for Chris Martin and her husband, Steve, when they built their home in the Wickliff neighborhood in Eads.

“Having a custom-built home was something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Chris. “I first discovered my passion for decorating when we started having children. Decorating their rooms was a creative outlet for 8

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me, and I really like it. Since then, I’ve wanted to build a home.” For the last 14 years, the Martins lived in an older home in East Memphis. “I was constantly changing it, from the floors up. I like staying up-to-date with new products. At some point, we realized that we had done all that we could do to change and update our East Memphis home. That was the signal that it was time to start again. But this time, we wanted to build our home, not just renovate it,” Chris said.

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When asked if she had any concerns about building a custom home, Chris said no, she didn’t feel hesitant at all. Her husband’s only concern was if they could stay within their budget and not overbuild. Those concerns were quickly alleviated when they began working with Darin Halford as their builder. Halford, who started his own company, Darin K. Halford Builder 17 years ago, had the experience to understand how to take the couple through the custom build process. “It is so personalized, every client has their own style and taste. I have to be able to meet all of their expectations, knowing that preferences change widely from one customer to another,” said Halford. Being easy to get along with is certainly a plus, but both builder and client agree, things move ahead quicker when the client can be decisive and has a clear vision of what they want. 10

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For the Martins, that vision included a very open floor plan with lots of windows and hardwood floors. Not just any hardwood floors — Chris was dead set on having 7-inch wide wood plank floors. This dimension is much wider than standard hardwood floors and requires additional work to ensure they won’t buckle after they are set. That acclimation added an extra six weeks to the overall building process, but the Martins could not be more pleased with the results. “Those floors stand out. They are really beautiful and are the first thing that most people comment on when they come to our home. We stained them their natural color and love the variation in the wood,” said Chris. Halford added, “The Martins did not have a desire to have a certain look, a certain bathroom, etc. They were more focused on the common areas where they would be together as a family with their three children, like the kitchen and the den.” MAY


JUNE 2015 |


Chris continued, “We started with a simple loor plan and a goal of having all of the views center on the swimming pool and the backyard. It gives a very relaxed feel to the home. We splurged on a few things, like top-of-the-line Thermador kitchen appliances. ... Future resale was a consideration, so we kept that in mind to help us stay in budget.” Ofering a step-by-step general outline, Halford worked with the Martins to achieve their dream home. First, they had to ind a property that suited their needs and their house design. Then, Halford consulted with the couple to learn how they wanted the house to it their needs. After that, it was time to hire an architect. Next, the conversation turned to pricing — what were their tastes and how did they want to spend the bulk of their budget (e.g., high-end items like a pool, appliances, etc.). Now it was time to make decisions, selecting cabinets, countertops, colors, loor12

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ing, bath ixtures, lighting ixtures, windows, brick, rooing and paint. When asked if supplies and products are more diicult to locate for a custom build, Halford said he inds everything is readily available locally. He works with Ferguson for appliances, lighting and plumbing ixtures and is able to have selected items available in a couple of weeks. “It’s hard for most people to look at a set of blueprints and understand exactly how the end product is going to look. Usually, during the framing, people start making changes and minor modiications. For me, as a builder, the process becomes constantly managing diferent subcontractors and tradesmen to ensure quality control,” Halford said. “The inal step is completing the last details and inishes.” When asked if they would do it again, Chris said, “I would so do it again! I loved picking out everything and the way it all came together. It turned out great. I wouldn’t change a thing!”

Builder Darin Halford (left) worked with homeowner Chris Martin to achieve her dream home.


Kitchen conundrum Compiled by Matt Woo


Choose a designer How will you use your kitchen?

Before renovations begin, it’s important to know how you plan on using the space. How often do you plan on eating in your kitchen? How many people will be cooking meals? “The more we know about the client and how they live, it helps us guide them to the different companies we carry,” Henry said.


The designer is the person who will take your ideas and turn them to reality, so picking the right person is key. “First and foremost, seek out a qualified kitchen designer. At Kitchens Unlimited, we’re not only designers but we’re also licensed contractors.”



hen it comes to home renovations, kitchens are usually one of the last rooms to receive an overhaul, said Eileen Henry, a designer with Kitchens Unlimited. With new counter tops, cabinets, flooring and lighting fixtures, renovation costs can add up quickly, and, Henry said, renovating your kitchen can be a daunting task. So, before you decide to pitch out your dated counter tops and cabinets, here are some helpful tips on creating your dream kitchen.

Pick a style, any style


Only you know which kitchen style fits you and your family best. Henry advised homeowners to go online and look at pictures of kitchens that appeal to them. Some of the hottest trends continue to be granite or quartz countertops, while concrete counters are also gaining popularity.

Set your budget

Know how much you are willing to spend. “It’s very important to have some budget from the beginning. It has to be talked about up front,” Henry said. “Also, have a realistic idea about the time frame it will take to do the kitchen remodel.” 14

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Functional Compiled by Matt Woo

Do you homework


“Research on the Internet — research the styles, colors and trends. All markets will vary, but in this market, it’s casual, transitional style with neutral colors with splashes of pastel.”

Know the space you’re working with

“Size really does matter. You don’t want your furniture to overpower your room. Sometimes people don’t come with the measurements of the room. If you bring measurement to the store, the customer can communicate with the sales person and they can help you buy furniture that’s the right size for the room. It helps the associates.”


urnishing your home isn’t always easy. With a variety of furniture stores and a nearly-endless selection of couches, chairs or tables, picking out the perfect piece for your home can be a challenge. But before you buy, Ron Becker with Great American Home Store shared four tips on how to select the right furniture for you and your family.

Choose the right furniture store

“Choose carefully who you do business with. Do business with a local retailer or a brick-and-mortar company in the community. Try to buy from local people who are good stewards in your community.”





Cost versus value

“Understand the difference between price and value. In today’s industry, we can make anything look identical to the other. Ask what’s the difference. Is it the quality of fabric, foam or quality of construction? Do homework, ask questions. You shouldn’t buy on price alone.”



JUNE 2015 |



Outdoor living A



s temperatures warm, more homeowners are seeking fun and functional ways to reinvent outdoor spaces. “Outdoor living has really stepped up its game lately,” said Michael Christie, whose family-owned business, Christie Cut Stone Company, provides a variety of natural stones and bricks for indoor and outdoor projects. “People are moving beyond the standard swimming pool and adding outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, pizza ovens — they want it all.” If you’re thinking of creating your own outdoor oasis, Christie offers these tips:

Have a vision

“You can get the same thing built with the same square footage and same structure for ‘X amount’ or you could spend three times more,” Christie said. “It all depends on the materials you pick.” Knowing in advance what you’re willing to spend will save you time during the purchasing process.


Photos, floor plans or even rough sketches are the most effective tools for helping a cut stone supplier make your patio, porch or paving dreams a reality. There are a wealth of inspirational ideas on websites such as Pinterest and Houzz, and Christie said many of his customers use them to find photos that illustrate their design aspirations.

Set your budget

Get materialistic


The color and style of the materials you choose are the most important decisions you’ll make, so ask yourself these questions: Do you want modern and trendy or a more traditional feel? Which colors will complement the existing stone or brick work on your home? Christie said lighter shades and bluestone are trending this year, while the more economical Arkansas Fieldstone has a timeless quality. Brick also is an excellent choice.

Compiled by Erinn Figg 16

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Put your project in the right hands

Christie said about 50 percent of his customers already have a contractor or mason in mind when they come in to select their materials. But if not, it’s no problem; he’ll suggest a great one. “We can definitely steer people in the right direction and say, ‘Here’s the right product and here’s the right person for the job.’”




f you’re thinking about giving your yard a major makeover and adding some color, shade and scenic details, landscape professional Jason Budinsky, owner of Summit Landscapes, offers the following tips:

A good consultant is key


“A good landscape designer will do a lot more listening during the initial consultation than talking,” Budinsky said. “We’ll want to hear about your goals for your space, ... things you like and, just as important, things you don’t like.” He said most people in Memphis are looking for low-maintenance, attractive, shady spaces for outdoor enjoyment.

Scenic settings Compiled by Erinn Figg

Communication is key

Think ahead

If you’re planning a phased landscape renovation over a period of several years, be sure to discuss your long-term plans up front. That way a landscape architect can still create a road map to get you to your ultimate design destination.



Budinsky said he can’t stress enough the importance of communication throughout the landscape design process. “For instance, people are often reluctant to give an initial budget because they’re afraid a contractor is going to spend every penny,” he said. “But just figure out what you’re comfortable investing in your property and tell us. That way, we won’t design something way out of your budget.”

Prepare for some chaos

“When a project starts, there will be machines tearing things down and digging things up. Sometimes people get stressed out,” Budinsky said. “It’s always going to look worse before it looks better. Just take a deep breath and know it will be great when it’s finished.”

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RACHEL FORD gets down to the Nitty Gritty


ust eight months ago, native Memphian and emerging artist Rachel Ford, 26, launched her home decor business, Nitty gritty, from her garage. It all came together for Ford when her hobby and creative outlet turned into a career. “I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. I had been making gifts for friends and family, monogrammed items for baby showers, paintings and name plaques. I started getting requests for customized items. As the orders continued to come in, I realized I could make a business from this work that I loved,” Ford said. “I was looking for a unique medium and became inspired by things I saw in architectural magazines. I love the industrial chic look and wanted to make something that had clean lines in a simple look,” Ford added. “I chose reclaimed wood as my canvas because I prefer the character of weathered wood that comes with age. About half of my labor is spent looking for materials. The wood is disinfected and cleaned, then cut with a miter saw and a table saw, followed by sanding with a planer and a hand sander. The designs are then painted in acrylic, and some are accented with gold leaf.” Going back to Ford’s organic beginnings, her father was a general handyman and used to “lip” houses. According to Ford, he did a lot of the wood work (i.e., cabinets and moldings) himself. Hoping to encourage her sense of self-suiciency, he taught her everything she knows about power tools — and made sure she wasn’t afraid to use them. Ford’s family had other inluences that contributed to her artistic choices. Her maternal grandmother 18

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Mustang II, equus ferus caballus, 23” x 12”, $100. was a proicient quilt-maker in East Tennessee. Many of the geometric shapes Ford recalls in her grandmother’s Appalachian-patterned quilts have found their way onto Ford’s wooden canvasses, as images from nature are overlaid with geometric shapes. Nature themes were prevalent at her irst solo show, held March 26 at Phillip Ashley Chocolates on Cooper Street in Midtown. A percentage of her proceeds were donated to the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. She has developed a Memphis-themed series, too, that features many area landmarks. Other popular orders are for monograms and pet silhouettes. Most items are priced at $150 or less. “Making my art my career was terrifying at irst,” Ford said. “It took a few months to get on my feet — but it was completely worth it.” Ford’s original project was a “States” series, but not wanting to repeat herself, every piece now is oneof-a-kind. Many initial orders were from friends who were getting their irst homes and developing their per-

sonal styles. Her circle of contacts expanded through word-of-mouth. Ford shared her advice to others who are considering launching their own business. “Be prepared,” she said. “Have some backup capital because it is easy to follow your heart, but you have to make sure that your wallet can back it up. If you really believe in what you’re doing, if you love it, then it becomes your passion and that fuels your eforts.” Ford accepts custom orders through the Nitty Gritty page on Facebook, and her website is currently under construction. Her turnaround time for orders is about three weeks. As for continuing to grow her business, Ford hopes to open a small retail shop in Midtown that will feature her art, as well as works by other local artisans. “I’m so happy to have found my niche and I’d like to bring others into a collective place that truly nurtures the local art scene as a whole,” Ford said.

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger • Photos by Nathan W. Berry

Rachel Ford, displaying her artwork at Phillip Ashley Chocolates, creates one-of-a-kind designs using reclaimed wood.

HOSPITALITY FIX Recipes by Sarah Matheny Gordon




he arrival of summer in Memphis means it’s time for lighter, healthier meals. The best summer dishes come together quickly, require little stovetop cooking, and take advantage of excellent locally-grown produce. Quinoa salad is the perfect dish to serve and eat this time of year. Quinoa salads are healthy and light, yet satisfying. They are robust enough to be a stand-alone lunch entrée or a standout side to grilled fish or meat. Quinoa salads are easy and quick to prepare and are endlessly customizable to personal taste. This recipe for red quinoa and avocado salad with sweet corn and to20

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matoes has a Mexican-inspired taste profile, but swap out a few ingredients and the flavor profile totally changes. For instance, use cucumber, tomatoes, black olives and mint for a Greek-inspired quinoa salad. Use this recipe as a guide to create a custom signature dish. Be sure to include fresh, ripe produce, any type of citrus juice, any type of vinegar — red wine, white wine, sherry, rice, apple cider — and one or two fresh chopped herbs For home cooks unfamiliar with quinoa, it will quickly become a go-to ingredient. Quinoa is a tasty, healthy grain and is simple to prepare. It keeps in the pantry and cooks with just boiling water, similar

to rice or grits. This versatile grain is a good source of dietary fiber and a cholesterol-free source of protein. It is perfect for vegetarian and glutenfree. Serve this red quinoa salad with sweet corn and avocado as a side dish at your next backyard barbecue or block party and it will be an instant hit with friends and family. Or, try it as a light lunch accompanied by a traditional margarita. Its fresh flavors pair delightfully with the bright, balanced flavor of this margarita recipe. It is strong but not too sour and not too sweet. The recipe here for a basic traditional margarita can be customized into a flavored frozen margarita.

Basic Margarita Recipe This recipe makes four, strong, traditional margaritas served on the rocks. It is important to stir the mixture thoroughly with ice until the pitcher is frosty. Customize this recipe to make frozen or flavored margaritas using a blender and frozen or fresh, ripe berries.

e r e H s i Spring ! y a d o T Come in

INGREDIENTS ½ ¼ 1 ¼ 1 1 4 ¼

cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons) cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes) lime cut into wedges cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange) cup triple sec cup good Reposado tequila cups ice cubes cups kosher salt or margarita salt

Directions Pour kosher salt into a saucer larger than the diameter of the margarita glasses. Use a wedge of lime to sweep around the rim of four margarita glasses, then dip the rims into the salt. In a pitcher, combine citrus juices, triple sec and tequila. Add 2 cups of ice to the pitcher and divide remaining 2 cups among four margarita glasses. Stir the mixture vigorously for 2-3 minutes until the pitcher is frosty on the outside and most of the ice is melted. Pour the margaritas into the four glasses, garnish with a wedge of lime and enjoy!

Prefer frozen? To make frozen flavored margaritas, substitute frozen berries for the 4 cups ice, add ½ cup simple syrup, and blend until smooth. Or, use 2 cups fresh, ripe berries, 2 cups ice, and ½ cup simple syrup. This variation will make six margaritas.



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Red Quinoa and Avocado Salad with Sweet Corn and Tomato Red quinoa and avocado salad with sweet corn and tomatoes calls for seasonal ingredients grown in abundance in the Mid-South. Avoid the tasteless, mealy tomatoes found in supermarkets and opt for

INGREDIENTS 1 2 1 1 1½ ½ ¼ 3 2 1 ¾ ¼


cup red quinoa whole avocados, pitted, halved lengthwise cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped cup ripe grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise cups sweet corn kernels (from 2-3 cobs) cup thinly-sliced green onions, white and light green parts only cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons) Tablespoons red wine vinegar Tablespoons olive oil teaspoon white sugar teaspoon kosher salt teaspoon ground black pepper

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fresh, ripe, flavorful tomatoes. Fresh corn is best, but fresh-frozen corn kernels, thawed, may be substituted. For even more flavor, use kernels cut from grilled corn.

Directions Cook red quinoa according to package instructions. Place in a large heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Add corn cobs to a large pot of heavily-salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice-cold water to stop cooking. Once cobs are fully cooled, use a knife to cut vertical strips of kernels from the cob. Cut avocado halves into ½-inch dice. Use a spoon to scoop pieces out of the hull. To the quinoa, add cilantro, tomatoes, sweet corn and green onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix until wellcombined. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour over mixture and toss to coat. Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and toss again. Add avocado and toss gently. Serve immediately at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.


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