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courtesy Marina Colella, CID, Decorating Den interiors

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A Special Section of the Record-Review | April 12, 2013

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April 12, 2013

Victor, Carlos, Juan, Junior, Carlos, Jesus, Claudio, Alex, Frank, Ken, Tim, Eusebio, Galo, Pedro, Jonathan, Martin, Oscar, Cesar, Armando, Antolin and Howie. (Not pictured): Sarah, Kate, Linda, Jenny, Soraya and Christie


efore you decide to get cozy by the fire this winter, let Mr. Chimney make sure your fireplace and chimney are safe and secure for your home and your family. Since 1970, Mr. Chimney has been a family-owned residential and commercial business serving New York and Connecticut. Mr. Chimney, a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild, takes pride in putting customer safety first. They will clean, repair and service all furnace, wood-burning stove and fireplace flues, to keep you safe from silent — but deadly — carbon monoxide leaks throughout the year. The National Fire Protection Association and the National Chimney Sweep Guild recommend oil furnaces be cleaned every year, gas furnaces be cleaned every three to five years, and fireplaces be inspected and cleaned yearly, based on usage. Smoky fireplaces are Mr. Chimney’s specialty.

Chimney repair services include thorough inspections, video camera inspections, resolving smoke drafting issues, solving water leaks, rebuilding fireboxes, rebuilding brick chimneys, making damper repairs, expert masonry work, repointing, waterproofing and animal and nest removal. Installations include flue liners, standard-size caps, custom-made caps, Exhausto fans, turbine caps, fireplace glass doors, firebox inserts, custom-made chase pans, metal smoke stacks, copper flashing and top and bottom dampers. Mr. Chimney will build you a new chimney or fireplace, or install a wood-burning stove. Mr. Chimney is also an asbestos removal company, licensed by the New York State Department of Labor. Mr. Chimney offers complete asbestos removal, asbestos inspection, pre-demo inspection reports, bulk sampling and air-sampling services. Call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a free estimate or emergency service.

Mr. Chimney www.mrchimney.com



April 12, 2013

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The record-review | Page 3A

INside HOme k Garden

Home k garden

courtesy Marina Colella, CID, Decorating Den interiors

Remodeling Style: Your family, your room ..............................4A Home Energy: Windows to the world .......................................6A


Home & Garden News Notes....................................................8A Decorating k Design: Creating the WOW factor.......10A-11A Great Gardening: Trends and tips for the perfect outdoor space............................13A A SpeciAl Section of The Rivertowns Enterprise April 12, 2013

A special section of

A garden full of veggies...........................................................14A

The Record-Review

Worry-free branch and tree maintenance.................................15A

P.O. Box 455, Bedford Hills, NY 10507 914-244-0533

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Top five fence options offer outdoor solutions.............................16A EndPaper:The ups and downs of downsizing............................18A Technology: Making your house smarter ...............................19A








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April 12, 2013

Remodeling style: Your family, your room By MARY LEGRAND eople of a certain age who remember growing up in the 1950s and 1960s might think of the term “family room” differently from how those rooms are used today. Gone for the most part are the knotty pine-sided “TV rooms” or dens of old, where one or two kids and their parents might sit for an evening, tray tables holding their TV dinners, to watch a show. Now family rooms are most often the most important component of a house, allowing larger groups to eat together at the table after working to prepare the meal in a kitchen within earshot of that table if not part of the room itself. Local architects and designers are finding there’s a real push among homeowners to make as much of their family time as possible, and many homeowners are asking for help in making this possible. One way is to repurpose underutilized or completely unused spaces within the existing house. As Carol Cioppa, principal of Carol Cioppa Architects in Pound Ridge, said, “The living room has kind of disappeared off the face of the earth. If there is a quote-unquote living room in the house, the homeowners want it gone, because nobody’s sitting in it.” What people prefer, Cioppa continued, “is a hub around the kitchen where kids will be doing their homework while the parents cook dinner. Whoever’s cooking wants to be able to see everyone; they don’t want to be relegated to Siberia away from where everything’s happening.” Many people are also converting family rooms to what Cioppa called “computer central,” because parents don’t want computers in the kids’ bedrooms, preferring to monitor that activity. Cioppa begins each project by asking her clients to make wishlists of what they want to do in a new house, addition or renovated space. “For a family room, they might say they want to dine in that room, want to sit in front of a fireplace, want space to sit around a table and play board games,” she said. “So basically, you make your priority list of purposes and then we start analyzing existing spaces, even enclosed porches. Maybe that porch is right off the kitchen, and the porch, coupled with the underutilized dining room or living room, could be turned into a fabulous family room that gives you enough space to incorporate every wishlist known to man.” For many families, watching television — screening movies with friends, watching all the big games — is something they prefer to do in a group setting. Others might rather keep television out of the mix, using a separate media room instead. Again, said Cioppa, a family room should be designed and used as its family prefers. Richard Behr, firm principal of Richard Henry Behr Architect, P.C., in Scarsdale and Shelburne, Vt., said a family room could be sited in any part of the house and often put to additional good use as a space to do business. That way “people conducting business at home can have contact with the kids as well as space for late-night computer work,” he said. Some family room/offices might include televisions, while others might feature a fireplace and/or bar as well. In any case, Behr said, compared to the old family room where only the kids hung out, “It’s not that type of thing.” Of course, clients need to spend time holding important conversations with his firm’s


The Regan Kitchen is used as a family room. The big antique refectory table is used for homework, cooking and hanging out with friends. The French doors open onto a terrace that in warm weather becomes part of the space. A fireplace (not shown) makes it a wonderful spot as well.

Above, Hudson River House has a more formal family room that is not open to the kitchen. It opens onto a large terrace that faces the Hudson. Left, the Baum Project was re-designed to have a family room and dining room centered around a new fireplace so that it all flowed around it. The kitchen was open to the side of the dining room both of which faced the lake.

architects and designers to determine what the space will be used for. Linda Blair of the Blair Interiors Group, based in Scarsdale, provides complete interior design services for residential design and “design-build” renovations. “I like to get my hands in there because I know where the furniture goes, know what the end result should be,” Blair said. Blair knows of what she speaks when it comes to using family rooms: “Between my

husband and me we have four children, each born a year apart, with six grandchildren from 5 to 11. We love our family room because the grandchildren will come into it and feel comfortable enough to sit right down and start coloring with crayons.” A family room’s design can be sophisticated, but the furniture, fabrics and floor and wall coverings must be durable. “Make it so you don’t have to worry about spilling things,” Blair said. “We have two old leather chairs that are meant to look worn. They’re natural for people to sit on, and ottomans are great for putting up one’s feet.” Lighting is an important consideration, with task lighting — table and floor lamps, plus sconces on walls and near cabinets — preferable over the recessed lighting found in many houses. “The concept of the family room is great; people’s lives change every time I design space for one,” Blair said. As for the color schemes

Blair says she sees clients choosing these days, “Soft greens and grays are very strong. I see reds, yellows and that soft aqua blue coming back. The stark, modern look is leaving.” Liz Davidson is the owner of Paris Interiors, an interior design studio located in Scarsdale. She considers the family room to be the central part of the house. “People are spending a lot of money decorating and organizing this space, making it comfortable and durable,” Davidson said. “I find that the husband is usually involved in planning the family room, because that’s the room he wants to relax in. He might think it’s going to be ‘his’ room, but the whole family winds up spending time there.” In fact, Davidson’s daughter, her associate in the firm, is moving to Scarsdale with her family and, according to Davidson, “Her husband said, ‘I don’t care what you do with the rest of the house, but I want the family room to be the most comfortable room. It needs to be cozy.’” Davidson said she’s seeing lots of velour for seating, in all shades of soft gray, taupe, brown and blue. There’s also a trend in family room style. “It depends on the taste of the client, but so many people are updating their houses and becoming much more transitional and a little bit more contemporary in their family rooms,” she said. “Even if the rest of the house is country French, or whatever, the family room is more streamlined, tailored and simple. For accent pieces we use very simple fabrics, with no big patterns.” Davidson said she’s pleased many people are using common living areas for intergenerational interaction. “What I love is that this space is called the family room,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have it dedicated to and revolving around the family itself. Dedicating a space as a family room implies great respect for the family.” ™


April 12, 2013

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New tableware collection at Lola


ola in Rye has been chosen to be the only independent retailer in Westchester County to carry Fortuny for L’Objet tableware, a new line based on prints and fabrics from the esteemed fabric house Fortuny. Elad Yifrach, founder and creative director of L’Objet, with Mickey and Maury Riad, owners and directors of Fortuny, proudly unveil a collection of fine tableware, home accents and gifts. Drawing inspiration from Fortuny’s celebrated fabrics, Yifrach and his global team of master artisans and ateliers have created an exquisite collection that showcases the artistic integrity, handcraftsmanship and fervor that both companies are known for. Classic Fortuny patterns are thoughtfully reinterpreted for pieces that embrace both a modern feel and an opulent flair. Elegant, collectable and versatile, the extensive collection will be available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman and select Neiman Marcus stores. Creative synergy sparked from the first meeting between Yifrach and the Riads. Inspired by the magic of Fortuny, Yifrach knew they shared the same approach and dedication to quality and artistry. Like Fortuny, much of L’Objet’s distinctive aesthetic can be traced to Yifrach’s international background, well-traveled career, and passion for art, sculpture and antiquities spanning decades. With this commonality, they created a collection that captures the essence of L’Objet and Fortuny. Fortuny’s old world techniques mixed with L’Objet’s modern sensibility is the spirit behind the collection. References to Fortuny’s famed fashion history, a myriad of specially sourced materials and intricate metal work signature to L’Objet are just some of

The record-review | Page 5A

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the details that make the line so captivating. Each distinctive objet functions just as beautifully alone as it does paired with the group. Since 2004, L’Objet has been responsible for some of tabletops’ most innovative and exceptional designs. The concept of melding precious metals, layered patterns and sophisticated styling are synonymous with the company’s name. The home décor collections are as distinctive as they are functional, including hollowware, candles, frames and accessories. Over a century old, Fortuny remains the highly esteemed Venetian textile company founded by noted artist, inventor and fashion turned textile designer, Mariano Fortuny. Fortuny maintains its original showroom and factory in Venice, as well as their headquarters and showroom in New York City. In addition to new fabric collections, Fortuny’s recent brand extensions include furniture, glass, and pillows. ™

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April 12, 2013

Windows to the World:

Keep the elements out to stay comfy and cozy in By LAURIE SULLIVAN


any components go into maintaining your house’s curb appeal — well-maintained landscaping, walkways, appealing exterior. Some elements not only enhance overall appearance, but are downright necessary to how the home functions and can add to your own living comfort. Among those are windows. Yes, windows, because no matter what style house you have your windows should not only complement its architecture, they should look and function as well as the rest of your home. Windows with peeling paint that haven’t been maintained can attract mold, mildew and even worse, can warp and rot the frames leading to air loss — letting heat escape and cool air in during long, cold winters and the sizzling heat in summer — and can certainly detract from your home’s curb appeal. With proper maintenance, windows can last a long time, but the older they are the less likely they are to be energy efficient and the more likely they are to waste precious natural resources. Replacing windows can be tricky — there’s so much to know with so many options out there. Contractors who specialize in new and replacement windows can provide homeowners with a plethora of information to help find the right windows to fit your home and budget.

High-energy windows

Anthony Sotire, owner of Double R A Construction Corp. in Rye Brook, started working part time in high school in the business his dad founded in 1960. The mainstay of his business is installing replacement windows, both vinyl and wood replacements and occasionally fiberglass for special occasions. “Some people want decorative patterns in the glass,” Sotire said. “Today it’s simu-

lated divided light, with mullions [grids] that can be inside the glass or inserts that are inside the home and out.” Sotire explained that some of his customers go with a high-end grid system in vinyl or wood replacement where everything is high energy rated. Glass technology has come a long way from single pane glass to keep out wind to the high energy-rated windows of today. “If you’re dealing with a whole unit, the glass is the weakest part,

[which] is deemed its R-value, with single pane glass being an R-1. The higher the rating, the better it insulates; so windows, even if you get insulated glass, is the step up from single pane glass,” explained Sotire. “Separated glass, if it’s just clear with no coating, the rating is an R value of 2. Ford Motor Company came out with coated glass with silver particles, with just a coating of soft coat on the outside of the window — a little bit of a tint will raise the R-value to 3.5.” Sotire further explained that some manufacturers pump Argon gas, an inert gas similar to Krypton, into the glass but it doesn’t react with anything, and raises the R-value to 4.5. Another option is triple pane glass with two coats of low E and Krypton gas. On a zero degree day, the treated triple pane glass will make the room about 62 degrees — heat loss goes out much slower. A single pane or even a double pane with any coating with an R-2 factor will make the room 17 degrees. Brrr! Sotire noted that window insulation keeps out warmth and cold and that it works in both directions. His company can do a heat loss test to show customers how much heat loss they can prevent. “The more extreme the climate the more savings you’ll have on the better [higher] R-value in the glass,” he said. Sotire, who has a background in building science, said that it’s a fallacy that just by changing windows to Continued on the next page

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Continued from previous page triple glass you will save 50 percent off your heating bill and noted that some window replacement companies claim that; however there is a savings. If asked, Sotire will do a test for heat loss in the entire house, an energy audit including doors and windows and then do an Energy Star rating of the house on the Energy Star website to find a home’s rating, which is based on square footage and ceiling height. Part of the test includes the health and safety of your heating unit and a complete overview of where you’re losing heat in the house. “To do it right, it costs about $500$600,” Sotire said. “The attic is the biggest [area of ] heat loss. Most people need an upgrade in insulation. It’s a three- or fourhour test.” If homeowners do the improvements he suggests, Sotire will refund 50 percent of the cost of the test. He does insulation and air sealing to stop the air from moving, wherever heat can escape, what he calls “the real culprit” in heat loss in homes. His company also does roofing, siding, windows, doors, decks, etc. And what should homeowners know when looking for replacement windows? Sotire said that vinyl clad wood is still a viable solution, or wood. “If you try to do something on the low end it’s going to end up biting you in five, 10 years,” he said. Whatever type of window you buy, you don’t want to fight the style of the house and it’s important to stay conservative with the style and exterior of the house. When asked about window maintenance, Sotire said it doesn’t come up because by the time people call him, it’s usually too

late. If the lock is hard to lock it gets worse over time. The more pressure on a lock the more it breaks down. He did recommend that if existing windows are vinyl to make sure they are made well and the locks are working well. Wood windows have to be maintained on the outside. His company can also try to weather strip the window, which is made of a very high-grade material. In old houses, like Tudors, he said to make sure there isn’t heat loss around the windows before you replace them. Sotire said it was important to have good service on vinyl windows and that sometimes he has gone back 15 years after an installation. “You have to make sure the company is going to be around,” he said. “Everyone is trying to make sure they make the right choice of who to use. We let them know we’re going to be around. Many companies go out of business and won’t be around when you need them.” Double R will first measure each window, which will be custom made. “Most people only know Pella, Anderson, Marvin,” Sotire said. “There are thousands of fabricators out there. We don’t use stock size units.” Windows: taking stock

Sunrise Builders/Sunrise Solar Solutions in Briarcliff does residential remodeling, literally “anything you need in the house,” said owner Eric Messer, including kitchen and bath renovations. He said that 90 percent of their business is referrals. Messer is the chairman of the Remodeling Advisory Council in White Plains and sits on the board of the Builders Institute, also in White Plains, the latter being the largest organization of its kind in the state. Messer, who’s been in business 27 years, does a “great deal of work in Scarsdale.” He

k Garden does window replacements every day. Messer explained that windows that are wood on the inside and a no-maintenance vinyl on the outside were most popular among homeowners. The appearance of these combo windows to the untrained eye, “it kind of looks like wood, because you put wood or a composite that looks like wood outside.” The inside could be an all wood interior and trim to match the interior of your house. Window styles come double hung, casement, gliding windows that slide from side to side and “awning windows,” where there are hinges on the windows and the windows push out. Messer said he wouldn’t use the combo wood/vinyl windows on an old Tudor, say in Scarsdale, if all the windows were not being replaced. If you were just replacing some windows, “you would want to use a metal window.” Combo wood/vinyl windows are available with mullions in between the glass or snap in-grids and create “authentic divided light with the spacer bar, which is the most authentic looking window” and are comparable in price to wood windows, but without the maintenance. “Our first goal is to find a stock window that will work because they are more affordable,” Messer said. What should homeowners know about replacing their windows? According to Messer, the reasons to replace windows are the aesthetics or that they function poorly. Most of the calls he gets from customers are because they want to save money. NYSERTA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), a government agency, gives rebates when consumers buy energy-saving products. “When customers call and say their house is freezing,

The record-review | Page 7A

properly installed windows, even if they are 100 years old, it’s not the cause,” Messer said. “People think it’s the biggest reason for heat loss. Caulking is a way to reduce the drafts.” For maintenance of wood windows Messer recommends keeping them painted and in good condition. He said windows should be checked every spring to check for rot. “If you catch it early, you can stop it and fix it,” Messer explained. “Peeling and discolored paint means there’s water getting behind it.” Messer noted that a general contractor has a lot of window companies at his disposal and is not tied to one company. He said that an average window costs in the $600 range and can go up another 20-30 percent. Messer recommends insulated Argonfilled windows, also called a low E glass, which come with a 20-year warranty. “The installation of a window is really important. It’s not like taking a car off the lot,” said Messer. “Following the manufacturer’s instructions is really important. Finding someone who knows how to do it is a very important component. Make sure they crank properly.” He also said that the low E glass is best and offers high UV protection and a high U-factor as well, which stops heat from escaping and homeowners should be more concerned with high UV protection and the U-factor than the R-value. According to the Efficient Windows Collaborative website, the U-factor or U-value measures the heat loss of a window’s assembly. The lower the U-factor, the greater a window’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating properties. Continued on page 9A

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Trends in bathing and bathroom styles By PAUL BOOKBINDER, M.I.D., C.R. Why do we bother to bathe in the first place? Popular in the ancient empires, bathing fell out of favor in the middle ages, when having a layer of filth on you was considered protection against illnesses like the flu. It wasn’t until the 1700s that washing caught on again, when some intuitive doctors believed that this procedure could help keep you from getting sick. In the 1800s germs were discovered and the first thing we wanted to do with them was to wash them off. By the mid-1800s, indoor plumbing was being developed, and although a luxury for many years, it began to find itself in more and more homes as the 19th century progressed. And with the advent of indoor plumbing came the modern toilet. Often attributed to Thomas Crapper, who was a plumber in the 1800’s, the toilet was actually invented by an Englishman named Albert Giblin. With this very succinct history of the modern bathroom, we can see how all the necessary ingredients fortuitously came together just at the right time, enabling us to devote a special room in our homes dedicated to personal hygiene. But in the contemporary world, what would this simple room be, if it isn’t as beautiful as it is func-

tional? We need stylish tubs, showers, glass enclosures, tile, faucets, vanities, countertops, medicine cabinets, lights, and mirrors, to complete this unpretentious room. (Not to mention the shower body, diverter valve, shower pan and other things that you don’t even see.) A typical, modern bathroom is a conglomeration of many elements that enable it to accomplish its primary goal, and be aesthetically pleasing at the same time. Granted, a powder room (with no shower or tub, also known as a half-bath) doesn’t need quite as much, and a master bath often includes more including a Jacuzzi, bidet, steam shower, and heated floor. Couple all these parts with the labor involved in installing them and you have quite a project. As with a kitchen, you need a plumber, electrician, mason, tile-man, carpenter and painter to assemble all these components in order to create your dream bathroom. You begin to understand why bathrooms are not inexpensive. If you are remodeling — as opposed to doing new construction — you also must factor in the additional cost of demolition. Demolition, the removing of the old fixtures and tile, and preparation of the space depend on the original construction. Chances are the old tile and bathtub were

set in concrete, which needs to be removed. And, even if the new fixtures are to be placed in the same location it’s usually best to replace the old pipes Naturally, the selection of the fixtures also has a large impact on the final cost of a bathroom remodel. A toilet can range in price from under $100 at the home center to the Herbeau Creations, Dagobert Throne Toilet, which costs $9,799, shipping included. Similar price ranges are found when purchasing the rest of the fixtures. If you’re on a budget, and want to keep costs as reasonable as possible, don’t move the location of the tub and toilet, and shop around for the best deals on the fixtures. Weather a simple update, or a complete remodel, a beautiful and functional bathroom adds value to your home, and makes washing off your thin layers of dirt a pleasure. 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 Assoc., he is also a contributor to Do It Yourself magazine. He can be reached at 777-0437 or www.dreamworkkitchens. com. ™

Decorating Den achieves major milestone


ecorating Den Interiors (www. decoratingden.com), North America’s largest interior design and home furnishings franchise company — with franchises operating in Westchester County — announced that year-end sales reports from its franchisees enabled the company to achieve $1 billion in cumulative yearly sales. “This is major milestone for us,” said Marina Colella, Master License of Westchester County. “I congratulate our local franchise partners. Since we are a no-inventory and primarily home-based business model, achieving the $1 billion sales mark over our history is quite an accomplishment. We have had a presence in this market for many years and we are accepting inquiries for new franchises at www.decdens.com/marinacolella.” Colella noted that in the earlier years of the company’s 43-year history, franchisees sold primarily window treatments and wall coverings, and added its full comprehensive product line in the more recent years.

“Today, we represent more than 85 home furnishings suppliers and offer our customers furniture, case goods, accessories, lighting, floor and wall coverings, and hard and soft window treatments,” she said. “We bring samples directly to the client’s home and provide complimentary design services and installation. “Historically, our business was built primarily with women with an eye and passion for design, but often from other careers, such as teaching or sales. Today we are also attracting savvy, experienced designers who have been displaced when the furniture store or design center they worked for closed. This achievement is a testimony to our business systems and our training programs that provide the means to independence doing something one truly enjoys.” During the year, Decorating Den Interiors had the largest buying contingent at the High Point Fall Market, introduced a Dream Room winners showcase website (www.decoratingden.com/showcase/2012),

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was named a Retail Star by the prestigious Home Accents Today magazine and pioneered a new one-stop cloud-based marketing resource that puts a wide array of client development tools at franchisees’ fingertips. Decorating Den Interiors was founded in 1969. The Bugg family has provided its leadership since 1984. James S. Bugg, Sr., chairman, is former chairman of the International Franchise Association and a member of its Franchise Hall of Fame. James S. Bugg, Jr. is president and chief executive officer. Carol Donayre Bugg, ASID, DDCD, author of five books on decorating, serves as vice president and director of design. Her latest book is “Decorating… the Professional Touch.” Each interior decorator has access to thousands of samples of designer window treatments, wall and floor coverings, furniture, lighting and accessories — all brought directly to each client’s home or office. Their work is regularly featured in interior decorating magazines, journals and books. ™

April 12, 2013

Storage design:

A place for everything By LINDA BLAIR, ASII Everything in its place. Was that old adage really true for anyone? Was the Hope Chest every bride received years ago a sign that we could actually expect to have sufficient storage throughout our lives? Homes used to be smaller and consumers accrued far less than they do now. Gadgets and their cords proliferate our spaces. A paperless society and the supposed end of print media hasn’t quite hit our homes yet. Unless you like having what you own permanently piled up on the floor or piled on the furniture, consider providing storage that’s hidden, but accessible. Personally, having an acquisitive nature and growing up in a New York City apartment, I learned early on what space limitations mean. For many years I’ve tested storage solutions in my own as well as clients’ homes, finding they continue to be very effective. The best practices for storage design of dozens of years ago still work today. Good design goes hand in hand with assuring that lives function better. In nearly every designed space, I usually provide and supply storage that is built in, specially sized and an integral part of the decor. Today there are even more storage options at lower costs, although custom is extremely effective. The best part of design is the idea part — conjuring design solutions for real needs now and in the future. Safety, health, welfare and function are my major interior design priorities though beauty and comfort also play a key role. Start thinking about over, under, in the walls, below the furniture, alongside the furniture, even inside the furniture. Understand the depths needed and keep items near where they will be used if possible. Think out of the box and think about the box! Note: Make sure that mechanical equipment isn’t allowed to take away too much of your closet storage. I began overseeing contracting for that very reason — to protect my clients’ storage while respecting the equipment needed. Linda Blair is a local author and licensed interior designer who practices in Scarsdale, Westchester and New York City. Visit www.blairinteriorsgroup.com. ™

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Windows Continued from page 7A “Windows are really an important aesthetic part in keeping with the style of the home,” Messer said. “In doing their homework you’ll get it right, so it’s really important to talk to a general contractor to understand what will work best for your home and budget.” Start with new

Brendan Moran, owner of Brendan Moran Custom Carpentry Inc., located in Katonah, has been in the carpentry/contracting business for 25 years with both residential and industrial clients in Westchester and Connecticut, where he is licensed to work. He and his crew specialize in historic renovations, doing work on interiors and exteriors. Moran has a full crew that is equipped to do both large and small renovations and additions. Moran said the project is always driven by the budget. He prefers using Marvin windows over other companies, saying it’s high quality and each window is made to order. The lead time is about four to six weeks and custom windows are also available. Anderson windows and doors are another alternative. “They offer numerous options and are slightly less than a Marvin,” he said. Moran’s company has installed many other manufacturers that are on the market, including Anderson, Pella and Jeld-Wen: “We have installed them all.” “I am not a fan of replacement windows, but we will perform them when requested,” Moran said. “Replacement windows are installed with your present window frame and sill, which leaves the existing frame and


sill in place. This is a place where rot occurs first and it just puts a Band-Aid® on the issue. Once again it is all about budget and the homeowner. Although it’s a cheaper alternative, there still might be some issues of rot occurring.” Moran discussed three different types of windows, including double glazed glass that allows large amounts of energy to pass through and has a sealed space between the glass, which adds an insulation factor. He described low E coated windows as acting like a two-way mirror reflecting heat back in the house in the winter and blocking sun in the summer. Instead of air sealed in between the glass panes, gas-filled windows use inert gasses like Argon or Krypton which are denser than air so they provide better insulation. He said that many homes still have single pane glass, which is not energy efficient and can develop frost on the inside of the windows, which increases the chances of breakage and ultimately cause damage to your home. How do you know when you need new windows? Moran said if a window is failing or not performing properly, “It’s probably time to replace. The damages can be much more than the eye can see and cannot be addressed until the window is replaced. The longer it is ignored, the more extensive the repair will be.” To prolong the life of your windows, Moran recommends a yearly maintenance check-up. Doing a proper prep and paint job should be kept up to date to address any flaking and peeling paint and make sure to check for mildew. So now that it’s time for spring cleaning, check out your windows when you wash them — it may be time to open new ones! ™

k Garden

The record-review | Page 9A

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k Garden

April 12, 2013

Decorating kDesign

Creating the WOW factor By LAURIE SULLIVAN oes the mere thought of redecorating — or decorating a new space — give you the equivalent of writer’s block? Where to begin? Like looking at a blank page, staring at an empty space or one filled with furniture you might want to give the heave-ho to can certainly be daunting. Want to keep some favorite pieces and toss others, but don’t know where to begin? There are some decorating rules to follow to help put a room together to achieve a polished look — a room that has a focal point that says ‘Wow!’ when you walk into it. It could be your grandmother’s baby grand and an antique silk piano shawl that can be viewed as you pass by or are seated anywhere in the room. Understanding a room’s scale, proportion and ceiling height can help avoid decorating mistakes. Sometimes figuring it all out takes a consultation from a professional interior designer. Here’s a step-by-step guide that can save you time, money and ultimately help you achieve the look you want. Plan, plan, plan!

“Wow” can be achieved in a variety of ways, the equivalent of dressing up a room with something that can become the focal point in a room. Marina Colella, owner of Decorating Den Interiors, works mainly in Scarsdale. She said that finding the ‘wow’ can be a specialty piece — for some people it’s the wallpaper, for others it could be a chair with

crystal studs. “It’s like getting dressed — it’s your dress, your jewelry,” she said. “You can put on a diamond necklace and that’s it. Find the one thing you truly, truly love — it could be a coffee table, wallpaper on one wall. It may be too expensive to do the whole room in, but you must have it and know you’re going to love it for a long time.” She went on to say that homeowners should find that one unique story and build around it. “Wallpaper is back, so there’s lots of beautiful things out there — foils, flocked paper with a cleaner look,” explained Colella, who has been in business nearly eight years. “I call it classic, but not as stuffy. I think it’s something that would look good today, tomorrow.” At the top of Colella’s decorating tip list is PLAN. She said the No. 1 thing is to resist spontaneous buying. Buying a piece here and a piece there ends up creating a room that’s not coordinated. Colella said many times people buy furniture that is too big for their room. “They see it in the showroom and it doesn’t fit [in their room],” she said. “They buy a rug and you can’t return it but it’s not right. Together the pieces don’t work because they don’t plan it.” Colella advised picking up home decorating magazines, finding things you really want and putting them in a folder. Colella said no one really wants to talk about the “money part” and likened knowing what you can really afford with looking at cars. “When you go to buy a car, you may want a BMW, but you can only afford a Ford,” she explained. “It’s Continued on the next page

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k Garden

The record-review | Page 11A

PHOTO COURTESY Margaret Wilson & Company Inc.


The statues are Italian, part of Bill Blass’s collection. Pedestals in subdued tone keep all the attention to the statues. Art deco furniture from Hungary gives a masculine definition to the space.

Above, center and right, this project for a couple who moved from Brooklyn to Westchester highlighted their edgy/industrial style, but through a suburban lens in a traditional center hall colonial. Wanting the space to feel light and with a modest budget, the area fused a custom wool rug, darker trim, an economic splurge of a dining room table with chairs covered in a leather look-alike, along with some of the owners’ Asian art to create the space.

Continued from previous page

be happy with it.” Where to start, what to buy first? Many people gravitate to the same things. They look through magazines and go to the same type of sofa, the same colors three times. Colella said the easy part is execution. If someone doesn’t know what they want, they’re more confused. She starts with the bigger pieces first, what she calls a “layering effect” — the sofa, chairs, window treatments, the area rug and then decides on the accessories. Colella generally doesn’t do consultations, but offers her clients a range to match their budgets — “good, better, best.” Budgets have to be realistic though she noted there is some flexibility. She does do color consultations

the same way with decorating.” Colella said that having a budget decides where you want to put your money. If you want a very comfortable couch you have to spend less on window treatments or vice versa. Without a budget, it’s hard to put a room together. A client’s budget will dictate where Colella will look for furniture. She said that most people don’t know what they want to do with a room, which is why they call a decorator. “When I leave they need to feel comfortable in their own home,” Colella said. “I spend time with how they function, whether there are children, animals, etc. They should

for people, bringing with her two suitcases of Benjamin Moore sample colors. In addition, Colella offered some rules of thumb about style, noting that today’s look is going a little bit more contemporary. “There’s a bridge between traditional and contemporary. The shape of the leg [of a chair] is straighter,” Colella said. “If you have a Tudor you can’t go contemporary.” She also noted that for spring, emerald green is the hot fashion color and it trickles down to home decorating. Neutrals are popular, different shades of grays, paired with tangerine, teal blue and chartreuse leading the pack. Colella suggested using the trendy colors in accent pieces like pillows, which can be swapped out for other

colors down the line, noting that trendy colors have a short shelf life. Designing a room is like building a house. People want their room to be done quickly, but you can’t speed up the process, especially at a busy time of the year, at holidays, etc. Colella advises homeowners to wait. Her top piece of advice is to make a plan, stick to it and in the end “you’ll be happy.” Buy what you love

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k Garden

Wow factor Continued from page 11A years. She enthusiastically referred to her work as “a calling, an obsession.” Feinstein’s favorite decorating tip to homeowners is to do their research before they make any purchases. The designer, who also works in the bulk of Westchester and in New York City, advises buyers to find out what they want the space to do for them. Do they want to relax in it? Do they want a more formal space? Feinstein strongly advises devising a shopping list of all the things they need to complete a space. “People forget about lighting, paint colors, wall treatments,” she said. “Know what you already have and [then decide] what you need. Not everything has to be top of the line — some things can be from Ikea and Target. It’s more important to get a space that is fully articulated.” Feinstein encourages people not to overlook garage sales, Pier 1, furniture stores and estate sales, including Treasure Hunters in Scarsdale. “Make sure the picture is complete,” she said. Like Colella, Feinstein stressed having a budget, calling it “crucial.” “If you see a $6,000 rug, if you’re spending $20,000 in total, it’s too expensive,” Feinstein said. “Start from the list and you’ll see what you have to buy and you can back into a budget. When you’re shopping there will be less impulse buys and remember [room] scale. It’s easy to make that mistake.” So what gives a room that “wow” factor? Feinstein said it depends on the individual. “Some people like to collect roosters and display them, or a coffee table. Some people like bright colors,” she said. “Everything in the room has to support the ‘stars’ — just like in a Broadway show, there are a few stars and the rest are the chorus. You need something that says, ‘Look at me.’ Choose where the focus will be. If you have a gorgeous rug you want to keep everything else calmer. Don’t have too many interesting things that need so much attention. Everything should support that one special piece.” Other decorating hints include making sure that all seat heights in the room are within 2 inches of each other. For people who don’t want to “lose the light” in their rooms and/or can’t afford window treatments, Feinstein suggests painting window trim a darker color “to make it more interesting.” She also advised being consistent. Feinstein said that ceilings don’t have to necessarily be white, especially on high ceilings — it can be wallpapered with a subtle pattern and it can “look amazing.” Fireplace trim doesn’t have to be white either. Feinstein said to firmly establish a focal point — “usually it’s the fireplace” —

PHOTO COURTESY Margaret Wilson & Company Inc.

The bedroom was detailed in the softest of hues, from Robin’s egg blue, to the beautiful tones of the bedding. The quilted coverlet adds a softness, along with the upholstered headboard. The French bedside tables add drama, while the lamps from a Brazilian designer add hip appeal. The art work is Japanese silk drawings.

and paint it a completely different color from the rest of the room and “it’s just the cost of a can of paint.” For homeowners who want to use very expensive wallpaper you don’t have to do an entire room. Feinstein has had contractors put up wallpaper within a painted wooden frame or decorative molding. “You can get a lot of impact with using less,” Feinstein noted. She suggested mixing bedding from the online Company Store with custom pillows for bedrooms. Feinstein believes that interiors should be timeless. “You know what you like, buy what you love,” she advised. “Stay away from fads, be driven by what your tastes are. Don’t be a fashion victim or a decorating victim. If you get the scale right, you can mix styles — and make sure it’s complete. Then you’ll be happy.” Harnessing that ‘wow’ factor

According to ASID designer Margaret Wilson of Margaret Wilson & Co. in Bedford Village, she creates that ‘wow’ factor by harnessing in “one main thing — a piece of art, one piece of fabric to create layers … it could be anything.” A large room can actually have more than one wow factor, she said. In small spaces, like her 12-by-12 office, Wilson chose turquoise cabinets to create her wow factor. “Everyday it greets me and it says, ‘I’m happy to see you’ — it’s the first thing people see,” she said. “It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for people to see the ceiling, which has turquoise and gold wallpaper, which lightens

the feel and lifts up the ceiling.” Wilson explained that when you’re sitting in a room, it’s all about the texture of the carpets, the wall coverings, the fabrics, “an assembly of many wonderful details that are the counterbalance of the ‘wow’ piece.” Before she designs a room, Wilson sits down with the family to find out how they live and what the purpose of the room will be. In rooms with existing pieces, Wilson, who has been in business 15 years, is sometimes challenged with making a room work and create a wow factor where none exists. She recently designed a large bedroom with a bed that was “too petite” for the scale of the room, but the owners wanted to keep it. Wilson used a pair of night tables that were three times longer than a normal nightstand that stretched the bed and they became the wow pieces in the room. She said it’s the job of the interior designer to realize the needs of the family, what works and what doesn’t and put it all together and find out what that wow factor is going to be. Sometimes the wow can be changing the view of a room. An apartment Wilson worked on in New York City had views of Central Park on one exposure so she used some green to complement the view. Another view faced the Hudson River, which was barely seen; the view was mostly rooftops and water towers. By using tall marble sculptures as the wow factor it took the focus away from the outside view and brought it inside. Wilson, who works “all over the place,” including Westchester, Connecticut, New York City, South Beach in Florida and California, said you have to be careful about having more than one wow in one room. Depending on the seating and size of the room, like in a double wide living room, it can have multiple wow factors. “It’s really important to see what’s missing when coming into a house or coming into any room,” Wilson said. “By taking photos they can see what it looks like and makes you more objective of how things look to other people.” Pictures also show if a room is too crowded. Wilson always takes photographs of the rooms and finds out how the family lives, how they handle storage, etc. “You have to understand what will make life easier for clients,” she said. As an example Wilson related how one client had a numbers of doors to go through and close when coming in through the side door. The doors made it too difficult to carry packages into the house. She suggested taking down a wall to eliminate unnecessary doors to make the house function better and make life easier for the client, and it worked like a charm. For a big two-story family room with a

April 12, 2013

65-inch television, Wilson created the focal point away from the TV “down low to ground the space” using big wing chairs with deep chocolate brown and wine fabrics and the same chocolate brown fabric as throw pillows on the couch. “I had to change the dynamic from the TV being the wow factor to something else,” Wilson said. “You have to understand scale, scale, scale — how big are the windows? How big are the walls? What do you see when you enter a room? What is creating that dynamic?” Whether using a designer or not, Wilson suggested looking at design books in a bookstore and tearing out pictures of what you like and don’t like. She stressed it was almost more important to find out what you don’t like. And don’t forget about good balanced overhead light, lighting in a closet, a kitchen and good reading light. Wilson sometimes works as a consultant, although most people hire her to design a room, a house or an apartment. “Usually there is a favorite piece of furniture or an heirloom people want to keep in a room… that may not work in the room, but we might put it somewhere else. Sometimes it needs to be moved around,” she said. “You have to understand the ‘bones’ of a room… you have to know scale and perspective to know what to put into a room.” When asked where people should start when redecorating a room and what to buy first, Wilson said to decide where the focal point would be by walking into the room and deciding what immediate impression they want to create. The function of the room will determine what you put in it. “In the bedroom if the bed is the first thing you see you want it to be gorgeous, and not see the laundry,” Wilson said. She advised that if you’re not using a decorator to design the room, don’t be afraid to hire one for a few hours as a consultant for some professional advice. To further decide what you might like, use the photos you’ve taken of the room and get some tracing paper and add some “what if ” changes you could make to the room over the tracing paper to help you think outside the box. Think about what you want the room to feel like — do you want it bold, soft, cozy? What are the dynamics? Do you want it just for wow factor for entertaining or for comfort? She also suggested thinking about the sound absorption of the room. “Surround yourself with things you love and buy good quality,” Wilson said. “Buy what you can afford, but buy well… from flea markets, antique stores, tag sales. Don’t be afraid of those options… there are lots of sources out there. It doesn’t need to cost thousands!” ™

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April 12, 2013

k Garden

The record-review | Page 13A

Great gardens:

Trends and tips for the perfect outdoor space



eep in the woods of Westchester, the peepers (and those are frogs, by the way) are peeping their love songs, and the first intimations of spring are not robins, but pink speckled buds of skunk cabbage coming up. To anyone already spending time outdoors, it’s apparent the seasons are changing to embrace the coming warmth. Around the house, outdoor projects are gearing up. What’s in store for your garden this year? Let’s find out what’s happening and hot. Sustainability

While everyone talks a lot now about sustainability, i.e. low maintenance gardens, less turf grass and drought resistance, Mary Fennell Gerber, proprietor of Quercus Studio Landscape Architects, said that sustainability in landscaping means incorporating gardening practices to reduce air and water pollution and pesticide use. “Ultimately these practices enhance the environment,” Fennell Gerber said. “A fundamental is using native plants and other materials suited for the climate, location and conditions. For example, one can respond to drought by planting a dry garden. A careful selection would include grasses, shrubs and perennials, some native.” Low maintenance gardening, Fennell Ger-

ber said, is sometimes hard to accomplish. “Maintenance time can be reduced by using easily maintained materials like Amsonia (Bluestar), Arancus (Goat’s Beard), Chelone (Turtle’s Head), Geraniums, assorted ferns and my favorite Hydrangea (Annabelle) that can be cut down at the end of the season. As for eliminating turf grass, I suggest trying a wildflower garden. Start with a thousand feet or less. And remember, no pesticides — just weeding!” Invasive species

Many local garden clubbers are obsessed with invasive species and how detrimental they are for the native environment. But what if you live in a woodsy area and don’t want to fence in? Barberry, for example, is one of the most hated invasive species, but it is deer resistant. When it comes to invasive species, how does Fennell Gerber advise her clients? “Airborne invasive species,” she said, “have to be eliminated. They can cause problems. For example, Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) forms deep thickets and can decimate our forests. Vines, especially, should be eliminated, including the Asiatic Bittersweet and the Porcelain Berry. They’re vicious!” Edible plantings

If you’d like to eat what you grow, Fennell Gerber said edible plants can be added to the garden quite easily, especially flowering annuals like Johnny Jump-Ups, violas and petunias, and various choices of groundcover.

“Mint,” she said, “ really spreads.” She also recommends homeowners who want to plant something edible consider thyme and alpine strawberry. The most important aspect, Fennell Gerber said, of the homeowner/landscape designer relationship, is that the designer understand what it is the client wants and to help them decide what is possible within their budget. “The designer must invest time at the site to develop a sense of place,” she said. “Then she can work with the homeowner to create a landscape that will be a source of pleasure for years to come.” Rainwater harvesting

Tom Dieck of TRD Designs specializes in rainwater harvesting to incorporate fountains, ponds and waterfalls in his customized garden plans. “We are certified RainXChange professionals, as well as certified Aquascape contractors,” Dieck said. “We use the revolutionary design of the RainXChange system to capture, filter and reuse rainwater.” Homeowners, Dieck said, are reusing their rainwater mostly for irrigating plantings, for seasonal containers, even having another source of water to wash their cars, their patios, or their decks. “For homeowners who are interested in sustainability, we are conserving water and managing stormwater run-off,” Dieck said. “You do not need to have water on your property to begin with. We do that by combining a water feature or fountainscape to aerate the

rainwater captured. Recirculating water keeps it healthy and full of beneficial bacteria. That bacteria works along with enzymes to help to break down organic waste and pollutants in the rainwater. The result is a product that can be absorbed by plant life. Why not reap the benefits of sustainability while enjoying the beauty, inspiration and healing elements of a decorative waterfall or fountain?” Dieck said pondless waterfalls are his company’s most popular install. “It’s amazing what you can do with even a little space,” he said. “These water features are self contained and low maintenance. Most everyone wants a water feature. They just don’t know it yet!” Lucente Landscaping is a full-service firm specializing in landscape design, sprinkler systems, drainage solutions and masonry. They are also green keepers expert at tree removal, stump grinding, land clearing and pruning services. Dennis Lucente, the firm’s president, has extensive horticultural expertise that he brings to every commission. A special thing the firm is well known for is creating no-maintenance, weather-resistant, synthetic golf putting greens, which can include water features, night lighting, even sand traps. All sizes and shapes are available, including fringe for chipping. “Customer satisfaction is our main objective and we go out of our way to exceed your expectations,” is Lucente’s company motto. “There is no job that is too large or too small for us to handle.” ™

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Page 14A | The Record-review

k Garden

April 12, 2013

Great gardens:


Growing veggies

othing beats the taste and nutrition of homegrown vegetables from your own backyard. For a successful harvest, it is important to carefully match plants to locations with appropriate sunshine and moisture. Is your garden in full sun or partial shade? Is the soil sandy or rocky? Is the ground flat or on a steep slope? Will you be planting in a garden plot in your yard, or will your harvest come from containers on your deck? Ashley Burdick Frost, owner of Seedswell Vegetable Farm in Mount Kisco, recommends five easy-to-grow vegetables that bear good results for home gardeners. “All of these vegetables can be successfully grown in the ground or in patio pots,” she said. Tomatoes are the most popular seasonal vegetable for home gardeners. Seedswell Farm grows mostly heirloom tomatoes because these varieties have the best flavor. However, heirlooms have a shorter shelf life than hybrid varieties, and they may be more susceptible to disease. “Most varieties are best grown in the earth, with staking and tying to keep the fruit off the ground as it grows. This makes it harder for rodents to find and eat the tomatoes,” Frost said. Tomato plants love full sun and should never be wet. Frost recommended: “Once the plant sets its first flowers, prune the bottom leaves so they are not touching the ground. Tomato plants carry many diseases, and they spread fast. If you notice leaves

turning colors, pinch them off and throw them in the garbage — not into your compost pile. This will help prevent spreading and potential reoccurrence the next season.” If your yard lacks space for a sunny garden plot, tomatoes can also be grown in large patio pots. “Bush” varieties are short and perform best in containers. “Make sure your container is in full sun and keep leaves dry to promote best growth,” Frost said. “Tomatoes need lots of water, but do not over water. Choose a container with good drainage. If the roots sit in water, they will rot and sicken the plant.” Kale is easy to grow and one of the healthiest vegetables for your plate. It thrives both in the ground and in containers. Kale prefers cooler temperatures, so it can tolerate some shade. Plant kale in the early spring and expect it to yield bountiful leaves through the fall — and into winter, if the plant is covered. Kale tastes sweetest when the weather is cool. If grown during summer’s heat, it needs lots of water to prevent bitterness. “Kale plants will keep producing leaves, so harvest the largest outer leaves first (in the morning while the leaves are still filled with water) and reserve the smaller center leaves for a later harvest. You can continue to harvest from the same plant all season,” Frost said. Lettuce, like kale, thrives in a cool environment. It can be harvested in the spring and early summer — and planted again for

a second fall harvest. “Whether in a container or in the ground, lettuce needs a generous amount of water, but not too much as to rot the leaves!” Frost advised. “Water should never sit on leaves for too long, so partial sun is best.” She recommends leaf lettuce because it continues to grow after being harvested multiple times throughout the season. “There are many types of leaf lettuces. At the farm, we grow a blend of different varieties. Red leaf lettuce tends to grow slower than the green — but it is better for you!” Cucumbers: Grown in either a garden or a container, cucumber plants produce a high yield. “Plan on only a few plants to feed your family for the summer, or else you will be making lots of pickles!” said Frost. Because cucumbers are vines, plant them near the edge of your garden where they can climb a fence, or stake and tie them in a container. There are many varieties of cucumbers — such as seedless, pickling and spineless — but all need full sun and lots of water. “We use a high-producing cucumber, but any variety is good for the home,” Frost said. “Many people prefer to slice pickling cucumbers instead of the larger va-

rieties because pickling cucumbers tend to be sweeter and less ‘meaty.’ Just remember to plant more pickling variety plants, because the fruit is much smaller.” Cucumber beetles — yellow with a black stripe — are the enemy of cucumber plants. According to Frost: “They do lots of damage; so get rid of them as soon as you see them. They multiply quickly!” Garlic is one of the healthiest and easiest vegetables for a home garden. Cloves of garlic should be planted in the fall for full head harvesting the following summer. Plant each clove a few inches into the ground, 6 inches apart. They can also be planted in containers. The plants will begin to grow in late fall and should be mulched with straw or leaves to protect them during the cold season. Frost recommends fertilizing in the fall and again in the spring. “Garlic is pretty hands-off in terms of growing,” she said. “Come June, the plant will produce a flower at the top of the plant. This is called a scape. Once a plant produces a flower, the plant is getting ready to produce seeds and finish its growing process. We want the garlic to put its energy into the bulb, not the flowers, so once the scape curls to make a full circle, cut it off. This can be used in cooking, just like garlic. In July, when the first few leaves of the garlic turn yellow and brown, the new heads can be harvested and dried. We cut the top about 6 inches from the bulb and let the bulb dry for a few weeks. Once dry, the garlic can be used and stored all winter! Drying is very important in storing garlic. Just remember to save a few heads of garlic, so you can use the cloves to plant again in the fall!” ™ — Traci Dutton Ludwig

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April 12, 2013

k Garden

The record-review | Page 15A

Great gardens:

Worry-free branch and tree maintenance By MARY LEGRAND


lmost everyone in Westchester County loves the area’s signature evergreen and deciduous trees. The trees lend privacy between individual properties, often providing a sense of serenity and being “at home” when viewed from inside the house. There are ecological benefits to trees as well, including helping reduce outdoor temperatures during the warm weather months. But like people, trees must receive maintenance in order to stay healthy. The region is still reeling from a series of unrelated, but nonetheless damaging storms over the past few years, and numerous trees have had to be pruned or removed as a result, not to mention the ones that did serious damage to property when their roots were literally ripped out of the ground. Help is available to reduce the potential for future storm damage to trees, but that involves thinking ahead, as in making contact with tree care firms so trees are as healthy and safe as they can be before a storm hits. Steve Farrelly, owner of Emerald Tree Care Co., with offices in Scarsdale and Greenwich, Conn., suggests that homeowners “should have a professional arborist looking after their trees and doing a property evaluation every single year. That’s what

we do — check to see if trees have hollows in them or if there’s any decay. We can put up support cables, can prune the trees to maintain them as well, and that does wonders in a storm. We barely had any problems after last fall’s big storm with trees we’d pruned within the past year.”

Homeowners hoping to hire someone to work on their trees “should know that he or she needs to have ISA and state certifications in order to perform this type of work in New York and Connecticut,” Farrelly said. “Other tree workers might claim they can do a job for the quick dollar, but it

can turn into a disaster. A guy going into a 100-year-old tree can ruin the tree by cutting it too much, or you might have someone doing insect or disease control who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Trees are extremely valuable and you must be sure the right person’s working on them.” Once a homeowner becomes a customer of Emerald Tree Care, “We’ll come out once a year and inspect all the trees on the property,” Farrelly said. “We do this in the fall or winter so we can see the tree’s whole canopy and all the branches, with no leaves blocking the view. When a storm like Sandy is on the way, about a week in advance we’ll say, ‘Okay, this is going to be a bad storm, let’s get out there and check out clients’ properties to do whatever we have to do to reduce the risk of any wind damage.’” The type of work that could protect the trees from wind damage is done by going into the whole tree, performing selective pruning so a heavy wind doesn’t buck up against quite as much weight. If not, a heavy wind can turn an entire tree into a big kite, Farrelly said, adding, “With any kind of tree — evergreen or deciduous — you prune and thin them out so the wind can blow freely through them and they don’t act like kites or sails.” Some Westchester homeowners whose properties sustained damage during Sandy may now have a heightened sense of poContinued on page 17A

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Page 16A | The Record-review

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April 12, 2013

Great gardens:

Top five fence options offer outdoor solutions


ences are more than just perimeter enclosures. They can be used to create privacy or amplify design. Within the yard, interior fences function as architectural elements that define areas of the outdoor living space. With good planning, fences achieve a variety of practical, aesthetic and lifestyle solutions, proving the adage that “good fences make good neighbors.” Consider your needs to choose the best option for you. The most important aspect of a privacy fence is tight installation. There should be no gaps between the various sections and no gaping spaces through which curious eyes can gaze. This can make the fence resemble a wall. However, this look can be softened in several ways. For visual airiness, consider installing an open lattice-like crown on top of the solid fence. Or plant year-round greenery in front of the fence’s solid surface. Always check with your community’s building department or board of architectural review to make sure the height of your privacy fence adheres to municipal requirements. If you desire more height than your community allows, tall-growing vegetation or climbing plants might be able to compensate. 2) Pool fences: Because of safety risks associated with swimming pools, pool fencing must adhere to municipal codes. Check with local agencies to ensure that any fence

is up to current code. Because swimming pools are a prime landscape feature, fencing should be safe, durable and beautiful. Tubu 3) Natural fencing: Tall, manicured hedgerows combine the function of a fence with the aesthetic appeal of a lush, living, green wall. Ligustrum (privet), Arborvitae and Yew are good shrubbery choices for their dense, quick, vertical growth. Proper trimming and regular shearing are needed to maintain the hedgerow’s solid form and prevent bushes from becoming overgrown

and leggy. For added security, consider installing an inexpensive chain-link fence and planting an evergreen directing next to it. The foliage will grow up through the fence and hide it on both sides. For aesthetic appeal, a low stone border will nicely set off a hedgerow behind it and further define the boundaries of the yard. For demarcating walkways, seating, patio areas and planting beds, boxwood borders is a beautiful option. Depending on your needs, select lowgrowing dwarf boxwood plants or standard

height varieties. Boxwood tolerates trimming and cutting well. If individual bushes are planted in close proximity, they can easily be manicured into one continuous green edge line. 4) Garden fencing: Garden fencing is essential for home gardeners who want to grow vegetables in an environment of wildlife. To keep your tomatoes and cabbage from being eaten by squirrels, groundhogs and deer, a barrier of garden fencing is the solution. Because animals are adept at climbing, jumping and digging, keep the following considerations in mind and tailor your fence to the garden predator you are trying to avoid. Deer are expert jumpers, but they are less likely to jump into a space they cannot see. Therefore, solid fencing is a good option — but it is not always practical because of aesthetics and possible sunlight blockage. An alternative is a fence as high as deer can jump (up to 6 feet, depending on the variety of deer). Another option is a double fence around your garden plot. Install two 5-foot-tall fences around your planting area, with a five-foot-wide strip of land separating the fences. The inner fence can be used as a trellis for climbing peas, cucumbers, beans, nasturtiums and sweet peas. The 5-foot space between the double fences can be used as a walkway. Rabbits can enter a garden by hopping Continued on the next page





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Gardens: Tree care

Gardens: Fences

Continued from page 15A

Continued from the previous page

tential danger when it comes to their trees. Emerald Tree Care and other professional arborists will speak frankly to property owners about the risk. “Look, if a tree is hazardous we’re going to let the client know that,” Farrelly said. “We don’t like taking down trees, but if you’re a client of ours and we see a tree that’s a hazard we’ll let you know about it.” Any tree can be problematic, Farrelly said, especially those who have a “target — whether it be a driveway, house or power line, or if it’s blocking a view at an intersection or coming out of a driveway. It really depends on the client’s tolerance for risk.” Regularly scheduled tree care can include feeding and insect control. “We provide fertilization and disease control to keep trees healthy,” Farrelly said. “Our trees are under siege now, with invasive insects like the emerald ash borers, which are coming after the ash trees.” Patrick Parker, plant health care program director of SavATree, headquartered in Bedford Hills, agrees that one of the most important property maintenance issues for homeowners is to have “some kind of ongoing care for one’s trees.” “Generally you just call us, make an appointment and we’ll have a professional arborist come out and take a look around,” Parker said. “We go from there based on what the arborist sees.” The first assessment is done visually. “There’s a lot you can tell from that,” Parker said, specifically tree species, health and site conditions. “You can get an idea of a tree’s age, but there’s so much variability in growth rates that a lot of times we use historical features, like the age of the house, to determine how old a tree is.” Parker acknowledged that SavATree has received calls from homeowners hoping to “take down all the trees in their yards. A lot of folks get afraid of trees but truly, there’s nothing to be afraid of. If trees are well cared for they’ll be healthy for a very long time.” Tree health audits are done seasonally, with storm audits performed in the fall and early winter, Parker said. “We identify potential damage under certain conditions such as ice or heavy, wet snow. When it’s hurricane season we receive quite a few calls for us to come out and take a look at something, try to get work done before a storm hits.” Having that personal relationship with a professional arborist can be reassuring to homeowners who have no personal experience in tree care and may not understand what’s going on. “You go through storms and while you might not lose a tree, you might not notice that some damage has been done,” Parker said. “Arborists are on the lookout for all kinds of damage, big and small.” Like Farrelly at Emerald Tree Care, Parker and his associates at SavATree are tree lovers and “don’t like to take trees down,” Parker said. “But we’re realists too, and understand that damage or injury can happen. There are pruning, cabling and bracing — some of the procedures you can do to help a tree live longer — but at a certain point you have to make a decision regarding how much risk you want to assume with that tree. We’ll have a conversation with property owners about what we’re seeing and what might happen. Ultimately it’s their decision. They’re responsible for the tree and don’t want to see anything or anyone get harmed.” ™

over a fence or digging beneath it. To evade hungry bunnies, select a 3-foot-tall wire fence and bury approximately one foot of it beneath the ground. Keep the mesh tight. Openings should be no bigger than one inch. Raccoons and groundhogs are best discouraged from climbing into your garden by constructing a wire fence with a floppy top. Since these animals need sturdy support for climbing, they will avoid loose

fencing that fails to hold their weight. Make sure the fencing material extends into the ground and out like an apron so raccoons and groundhogs will be discouraged from burrowing under. In particular, raccoons do not like materials sticking to their feet, so, bird netting spread on the ground outside the garden can act as an extra deterrent. 5) Fencing with gates: Gates are a necessary component of fencing, providing egress at driveways, front entrances, pathways and junctures to side and rear yards. Gates also function as decorative elements and boost curb appeal. Spanning the range

The record-review | Page 17A

of a simple wooden farmhouse-style gate to an elaborate wrought iron masterpiece, options are as limitless as your creativity. Single gates should have a minimum breadth of 3 feet wide. Double gates can be wider, but should be in proportion to the overall scale of the house and property. In order to welcome guests to your house or yard, gates should swing inward. For visual appeal and extra drama, consider painting a wooden gate in a bright or contrasting color. Hardware should be top notch. Not only is high quality hardware the jewelry of your gate and fence; its durability will last a lifetime. — Traci Dutton Ludwig


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Page 18A | The Record-review

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April 12, 2013

Endpaper The ups and downs of downsizing



have the biggest editing assignment of my life — downsizing from a 4,500-square-foot house in Scarsdale to a 2,100-square-foot apartment in Manhattan. I not only have to get rid of the stuff accumulated throughout 34 years of marriage, one child and four household moves, I’m getting rid of the paper trail that tells the story of me. It’s a process that takes time. Before being able to separate and detach, the emotions that get stirred up have to be resolved. I’m sitting in the basement going through the papers in an old desk and getting nostalgic finding my PTA and Junior League membership lists from 25 years ago. The epic rains that flooded my basement in 2007 destroyed my classic LP collection of Stones, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but those papers survived without so much as a spot of mildew! I toss out the PTA papers, the dinner dance programs, the Princess Diana commemorative calendar from 1998, but I can’t throw out the decades-old birthday card from my Nana, a newspaper article on my great-uncle the professional wrestler and my confirmation certificate signed by the bishop with my confirmation name “Paula” after my favorite Beatle Paul McCartney. But what do I do with these “treasures”? They go into a pile for the second edit. My new Manhattan closets are generous,

but no longer will I have the luxury of seasonal closets. I finally toss out a maternity T-shirt from 1982 (what was I thinking?), but I’m still hanging on to that Irish wool cape that I bought at the Harvard Coop in 1975. It cost a lot of money back then and miraculously, the moths haven’t touched it — but neither have I since 1976. My longest-held piece of clothing is an authentic dirndl dress I bought during a high school trip abroad with my aunt in the late ’60s. Seeing the dress reminds me of my fraulein days, but alas, the frock no longer fits the frau. I haven’t had the emotional fortitude to go through my only child’s relics, the boxes of baby clothes. I may need to call Dr. Phil to help me through that. Stuffed animals, action figures and toys crowd the shelves in my son’s room along with his college textbooks, Ramones bobble heads and Kurt Cobain poster. Not touching any of that. That’s for him to deal with. The Christmas decorations, if I may say, Oy! Plastic bins are piled to the basement ceiling full of Santas and snowmen, ornaments, angels and carolers and nutcrackers, garlands and lights. I have Christmas mementos from the year my home was on a holiday house tour when I lived in Canada. I’ve decked too many halls for too many years, but now I have to trim the trimmings. I will have a holly, jolly Christmas next year, with a lot fewer tchotchkes to pack up and store.

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My house becomes a sea of big black garbage bags. I separate mounds of stuff — for a tag sale, charity, stuff to give to family. It’s overwhelming! I have 10 muffin tins, a springform pan I used once, an angel food cake pan I bought at a tag sale and never used, a cabinet full of Tupperware that falls out every time I open the cupboard door. Am I ever going to make a jello mold again? I don’t think so. My husband has kept every electrical wire and plug, every old telephone and phone cord and every piece of computer equipment we have ever owned. I have an IBM Selectric typewriter and stand with dust cover. Why, oh why, didn’t I get rid of it all sooner? My friend Gillian was smart. Her house isn’t on the market yet and she has pared her house down to the bone. “Nothing has any value except to you,” she told me. I learned this to be true when we called in a few “estate” sale outfits to see if they could run a tag sale for us. My spirits sank and my ego got bruised to find out we’re not worth their while. The new buyers of our home have also purchased a lot of our furnishings, and we don’t have any antiques or pieces of great value, so what’s left would be chump change for the tag sale people. What’s been harder to think than editing our stuff has been leaving behind the beautiful home where we’ve lived the longest in our marriage, the easy suburban life of hopping into the car and going wherever — to the grocery store or Lord & Taylor on a whim.

I’ll miss puttering around in my garden, the joy of finding crocuses and snowdrops in the spring, watching the lilac bush planted after my mother died grow and bloom, shooing away the adorable, but hungry rabbits that trample my flowerbeds and munch on my lilies. I’ll miss going to the plant nursery in the spring and filling up my outdoor pots. I’ll miss cooking on the grill, eating breakfast and reading the Sunday Times outside on a warm summer morning with the birds singing in the trees. I’ll miss the Scarsdale Pool. The luck of having a lane all to yourself under the summer sky? Pure bliss! I’ll miss the convenience and coziness of the Scarsdale Library, where you can pop in and out easily or stay as long as you like, and, unlike some communities, there is no parking meter to worry about. I’ll miss the village shops, the merchants I’ve come to know. When I moved to Scarsdale I thought it was a cold and unwelcoming place, but I’ve made some very dear friends here in the community where I’ve lived and worked and accumulated for 13 years. Luckily, when it comes to the heart, no downsizing is necessary. There’s always room to expand. I’m not done with my “editing.” I’m still working on the first draft. I’m on deadline with the closing date looming, but I know when I’m finished, I’ll feel unburdened and will look forward to the next chapter in the book of my life. ™


April 12, 2013

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The record-review | Page 19A


Technology to make your house smarter



f you think attaching a timer to a lamp is high-tech, be warned: the smart house is here. Manufacturers of everything from burglar alarms and climate control systems to lighting and window shades offer automated products with “set it and forget it” technology that tells your stuff what to do and when to do it. Some smart house gadgets use principles of artificial intelligence to learn how to operate more and more efficiently over time. And most systems can be accessed remotely, so that even if you’re in Paris, you can close your garage door in the Rivertowns, Bedford or Scarsdale. Smart house automation falls into a few general categories: security, lighting, home entertainment, climate control, window treatments and surveillance. There’s a lot of overlap in these categories. For example, many contractors whose primary business is burglar alarms also install automated lighting systems. Automated lighting systems can be programmed to turn the lights on and off in a house to give it a lived-in look or to suddenly illuminate an outdoor area when motion is detected. Smart window shades (either separate shades, or micro-sized shades sandwiched between double-paned window glass) can be programmed to go up or down on schedule, or opened and closed from your smartphone. And some systems are a boon for snowbirds who are away several months of the year and need to be notified immediately if an alarm is tripped or if a hot water heater or sprinkler system springs a leak. Then there are “smart” surveillance systems that let you monitor what’s going on in your house from your computer or iPad. Some of the newer systems capture sound as well as video. Homeowners use these systems to monitor “latchkey” kids, keep

Virtually anything that’s switchable can now be done automatically. It can be done in a way that’s linked to schedules in a calendar or time of day. tabs on their babysitters or to look in on an elderly or disabled relative who is alone in the house. Is the idea of monitoring your loved ones while you sit in your office a bit creepy? Could be, but it could also be a lifesaver. Live Wire Security in Irvington installs a system called “Total Connect.” It allows you to see what’s going on in your house from any computer or mobile device. The system will also alert you if your alarm is armed or disarmed, if a liquor cabinet or safe is opened, or if a valuable object such as a TV or painting is removed. According to Bedford architect Carol Kurth, the big leap forward in smart house technology has been the ability to operate everything from one device rather than from many different keypads or bulky remote controls. Most large companies that make automated systems for the home have an app that can be used on various smartphones, tablets or computers. “Everybody wants to control everything from their Apple gear, and the ability to do it remotely is really quite phenomenal,” Kurth said. “But,” she added, “there really is a good premium to that.” Kurth said that even in houses she designs that aren’t completely smart, “I would say there’s some ‘smart’ piece, like landscape lighting.” As smart house technology has advanced, so have the applications for it. “When smart home technology was starting in the early ’80s, it was limited and expensive,” said Gary Kallman, Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing at Scarsdale Security Systems.

“Today, with so many technologies, especially cellular technology, there’s the ability to move massive amounts of information that people can control with their apps.” Kallman said that over the years, standards have been developed to make products work together, so your computer or smartphone and your lights, intrusion alert control system, thermostat and other devices can “talk” to each other. “Virtually anything that’s switchable can now be done automatically. It can be done in a way that’s linked to schedules in a calendar or time of day. When you get more complex applications where you’re using sensors, you can preset a room so when an individual goes into a room at a particular time of day, the light goes on.” An average-size house can have 20 windows or more. If you live in the woods, you might not care about closing 20 window shades at night, but if you can see what your neighbors are eating for dinner, you might. And if you love the sunshine, but hate what it does to your antique carpet, you might want to lower the shades when the sun makes its way to that side of the house. For all these reasons, automated window shades could be the solution, especially if you’re away for long hours. Lutron, a maker of automated light systems that can be programmed on a schedule or operated remotely, also makes automated windowshading systems. If you prefer the clean, uncluttered look of unadorned windows, or you have a skylight that sometimes lets in so much light that it overheats the room, your home may

be a good candidate for “smart windows” that allow you to control the amount of light that comes through the glass simply by pressing a button or flicking a switch, turning the window from clear to opaque in seconds. Other types of smart glass are useful for semi-privacy, turning the glass from clear to frosted. Dow Corning, a maker of smart glass, explains on its website that the molecules within the glass can actually be rearranged to admit different amounts of light. These special panes can be sandwiched between regular window glass. One of the companies offering residential smart window technology, SwitchLite Privacy Glass, makes smart panes that can go from clear to frosted and can also be programmed to switch back and forth to music or to transform into a video screen, making it possible to actually watch TV in your windows. SageGlass can be programmed so that whatever it’s like outside, the amount of light in the room stays constant. Smart glass technology is still new and sometimes quite expensive, but in a few years it may be as common as windows with built-in shades are today. Samsung showed a prototype of a smart window touchscreen at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. The idea is to turn a windowpane of your home into a giant touchscreen that functions like a tablet computer, but that looks like a one-way mirror from the outside. Just as smart window shades and glass can help save energy, so can smart thermostats. A very nifty gadget from a California company called “Nest” replaces your regular thermostat with one that actually learns from the way you set it over time, and constantly reprograms itself to be more energy efficient. Smart house systems are only as reliable as their power supply. That’s why the ultimate smart house product is a standby generator. ™

Page 20A | The Record-review


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April 12, 2013

Profile for The Record-Review

Record-Review HOME 2013  

An annual special section of The Record-Review all about the care of your home and garden. Articles include decorating trends, tree care, wi...

Record-Review HOME 2013  

An annual special section of The Record-Review all about the care of your home and garden. Articles include decorating trends, tree care, wi...