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HOME A Special Section of The Record-Review • April 13, 2018

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CREATING YOUR OWN

INSIDE

Backyard Paradise IMPROVE YOUR HOME: A week’s worth of quality work goes a long way......................................................... 3A

INNER CLIMATE: Efficient heating and cooling is key to inner climate..................................................8A

KITCHEN MAKEOVER: Plenty of choices for long-lasting kitchen design.................................................. 4A

DÉCOR TRENDS: Color, comfort, and clean lines................10A

OUTDOOR LIVING: Creating paradise in your own backyard........................................................... 6A

GARDENING: From roots to canopy, spring is essential for tree care ................................................. 18A


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CO U N T R Y

APRIL 13, 2018

———— NEWS & NOTES ————

W I L LOW

CLASSIC, COUNTRY & CONTEMPORARY STYLES

FU R N I T U R E F O R L I F E M O R E C H O I C E S • B E T T E R Q U A L I T Y • G R E AT V A L U E

Add fun décor with unique furniture finds The Dark Horse in Scarsdale has a unique antique, a Javanese wedding bed, which is carved for a specific couple and is only slept in on the wedding night. After that the beds are a hang-out place for family, used to have meals or takes naps, and offered to gods and goddesses are made there by the women of the family. “It is truly one of the most amazing

pieces that we ever found on our buying trips to Indonesia over the many years that we had our stores in Greenwich Village, Soho and Scarsdale,” owner Sharon Williams said. “The carving relief is about 4 inches thick, and the bed is like a giant multi-colored, four-sided raised couch.” The piece costs $12,500. Visit thedarkhorseny.com.

Spring cleaning: think storage rotation Why do people always assume that spring is the best time for cleaning? The reason is simple — storage rotation. In many parts of the world, the seasons are about to change dramatically and that means pulling stuff out of your closet, everything from seasonal wardrobes to seasonal tools such as lawnmowers and gardening tools. At the same time, you may have a lot of things that you’d like to put into storage: snow blowers, sleds, winter sports gear, holiday decorations that never got put

away. For seasonal belongings, oversized items or accessories you haven’t found a home for, renting a storage unit can be a space-saving and accessible way to store your things. Self Storage is now easy, convenient and affordable. Tarrytown Self Storage, a Gold Key facility, brings a brand new state of the art storage facility to the heart of Tarrytown. You’ll find a wide selection of individual heated/ air conditioned private storage rooms to choose from. Free pick-up service included. Visit tarrytownselfstorage.com.

Creative new kitchen from start to finish KBS/Kitchen and Bath Source in White Plains is more than just a cabinetry showroom. In addition to offering Westchester’s largest selection of fine cabinetry and countertops, KBS provides a complete concierge service comprising creative design, project management and remodeling services — from start to finish — to deliver

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the beautiful new kitchen you desire and the personal service you expect. Innovative designers guide you in selecting the right materials and services for your home and your budget. The project management team and professional remodelers bring the project from concept to completion. Visit www.kbskitchen.com.

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THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 3A

Improve your home. Improve your life

A week’s worth of quality work goes a long way BY TRACI DUTTON LUDWIG

T

he wonders a week can bring. Focused home improvement projects go a long way, especially when quality workmanship combines with smart design and efficient planning. Rather than tackling an extensive and disruptive renovation, savvy homeowners benefit from concentrated projects that achieve measurable results in short periods of time. Projects may be scaled according to budget, but they should prioritize making the home more livable, functional and enjoyable. Improving the homeowner’s quality of life should be the truest result of home improvement. Ready to get started? Here’s a to-do list of high impact projects, each able to be completed within a week, but poised to bring many years of enjoyment through a better home. Two Days

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Paint works magic. Two coats of flat, matte or semi-gloss are the easiest way to instantly freshen up a space or change the character of a room. White walls may have seemed like a safe choice, but it’s now time to experience the power of a tonal neutral or a statement-making hue. Be brave, be bold — you won’t regret it. Colorful walls not only add personality to individual rooms; they can also create relational

rhythms throughout the house. Think of wall color as an essential part of total room design. Coordinate paint with furnishings, artwork, window treatments and rugs. Proper preparation is essential to achieving a beautiful finish. Surface blemishes and small holes should be patched with putty or compound to re-

store wall integrity. Light sanding ensures a smooth, flat base, ideal for accepting color. Diligent taping ensures clean edges and precise lines. An alternative to paint is wallpaper. Modern, adhesive versions make DIY projects easy, if that’s your thing. Try adding wallpaper to unexpected spaces for

punch and pizzazz. For a joyful surprise, use a favorite wallpaper pattern to draw attention to the inside of a closet, cupboard or bookshelf. For drama, play with bold designs in intimate spaces, such as powder rooms or architectural niches. Continued on page 14A

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Kitchen Makeover

Plenty of choices for long-lasting kitchen design

I

BY TIMOTHY MALCOLM

t’s no secret the kitchen has become the focal point of home life. It’s where kids come to snack and talk about their day, where friends convene over wine and cheese, and where lasting memories are made over big family meals. Because of this, it’s become common to open up the old-fashioned kitchen, making it part of a flowing floorplan, or expand it to fit more people and furniture. So, if you’re hoping to leap into the present by opening up your all-too traditional kitchen, there are a few things you have to know right off the bat. First, maybe you shouldn’t be doing the job yourself. “I’ve heard war stories,” said Rich Mucci, owner of Euphoria Kitchen & Bath in Bedford Hills, which offers consultations and estimates, steers homeowners through the design process and has a showroom with cabinets, countertops and more. “People try to do it themselves. You see them get their own electrician and their own plumber, and sometimes its tough scheduling these people, and all of a sudden it takes six months to do a kitchen.” Mucci and other kitchen design experts recommend people starting any big build or renovation hire a general contractor who knows how to plan and execute a massive project involving multiple subcontractors. But before you even get to that point, have an idea for what you want to do. Do you want a centerpiece, like an island, that becomes the kitchen gathering spot? Do you want a modern kitchen with smart appliances? Are you interested in being as environmentally sustainable as possible? And, most important, what’s your budget? Once you have a general idea, measure out the room so you can come to your design professional or general contractor with some basic information. “The best measurements would be starting in one corner of the room, working around, and come back to the same corner,” Mucci said. “Measure to a window, to a door; in other words, measure where I have obstacles and where I don’t have obstacles.” Of course, there’s no obstacle to opening a kitchen quite like the load-bearing wall. Knowing your kitchen is bounded by a load-bearing wall may stop some homeowners, but there’s an easy fix: putting up either a header (or beam) at the wall location, or putting up a reverse header above the room. This could cost a couple thousand dollars, estimated Niall Cain, an architect and owner of NCC Studio in Dobbs Ferry, but in the grand scheme of a kitchen renovation, it’s not a major cost and goes a long way.

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Plenty of choices Once space is finalized, the fun really begins, though make sure you stay within your budget parameters and start in the place you feel is most important. Do you want a gray slate floor? That’ll help you decide how your counters and cabinets look. Do you want to highlight your cabinets above everything? Do that first, then the floors and counters will respond.

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Most people today are opting for contemporary transitional kitchens, sticking with solid base colors like white and gray, while the adventurous add a third color that pops off those bases. “A lot of people are looking for multicolor kitchens,” Cain said. “You’ll have

bright red cabinets on one side, and sort of gray cabinets on the other.” Everyone agrees cabinet style is frameless wood painted in solid colors, typically white or gray. Floors may be slate or hardwood — though bamboo and cork are exotic choices — and preferably locally

sourced. Tile isn’t as popular for flooring, but it’s still quite en vogue for backsplashes, especially subway tile. You can store tile outside if it’s kept dry and unharmed from elements, but give it a little more time to acclimate it to room temperature. As for countertops, manmade quartz is in. “It simulates marble very well without the inherit dangers of marble — staining and scratching and the etching,” said Sam Owen, owner of Garth Custom Kitchens in Scarsdale. “Of course granite is always going to be popular, too.” Owen said trending kitchen appliances include six-burner ranges; double wall ovens; and wine coolers or auxiliary, underthe-counter refrigerators to store beverages. And some folks are getting away from one of the most traditional kitchen appliances. “I see that people are also looking at Continued on the next page


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THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 5A

COURTESY OF EUPHORIA KITCHENS

Continued from the previous page

steam ovens right now as an alternative to gas or electric,” Owen said. “They claim that you can do anything in a steam oven that you can do in a conventional oven with fewer calories and less grease.” Environmental considerations As much as people are thinking about personal health in their kitchens, they’re also thinking about environmental health, said Cain, who is LEED-certified and helps homeowners ensure their new kitchens are as sustainable and responsible as possible. Among the most important factors to consider are what kind of insulation you’re using (Cain opts for soy-based materials) and the amount of VOC (volatile organic compounds) used in the remodeling process. “You don’t want to use pressed wood that has formaldehyde in it,” said Cain, adding that you’d want to steer away from particle board in cabinetry. “It’s relatively

easy these days to specify an appropriate product just because manufacturers have come around to the realization that so many people are concerned about VOC contents.” If you’re renovating you’re likely going to have plenty of old material that you might consider waste. Cain said there are demolition companies that will take your old materials — like cabinets — and reuse them appropriately, instead of throwing them in the dump. There’s a lot to consider when building a new kitchen, but no matter what you do — whether you want to go full green or follow the latest trend — Cain said the most important thing is to do what you want. “A good quality kitchen will last the test of time, so you don’t have to worry about things falling out of fashion,” he said. “Do what looks good and what you’re happy with.”

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Outdoor living

Creating a paradise in your own backyard BY TRACI DUTTON LUDWIG

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arm weather calls. Spring and summer beckon us outdoors. Make your backyard a destination. Whatever your priority — fun, relaxation or tranquility — a well-designed and expertly appointed outdoor space can satisfy your goals to create a fabulous backyard oasis in the suburbs. You may never want to leave home again. Love your living room, en plein air Nothing is more livable than an outdoor room, especially when it features comfortable and stylish outdoor furniture. Outfitting porch or patio space for relaxing and socializing gives you a reason to move daily activities outside during the warm weather months, and actually works to extend the season. Patty DeFelice of Patty’s Portico Outdoor Furniture Restorations in Port Chester specializes in metal furniture restoration, finished with a durable powder coating. Using customer supplied heirlooms or treasures found at estate sales, the process begins with sandblasting all of the layers of old paint and rust so the furniture is completely clean. Then pieces are primed, baked in special ovens, painted with a topcoat color and baked again. Colors can be realized in glossy, satin or matte finishes, including patinas, verdigris, natural steels and bronzes. “We recycle, repurpose and bring a breath of fresh air to family treasures,” DeFelice said. “We restore many pieces over 80 years old that have been handed down for generations. The older the furniture, the better made it is, and our prices are a fraction of buying good quality new furniture. Home centers sell patio furniture, usually made in China, that only lasts a couple of years.” Based on DeFelice’s advice from almost 25 years in the business, it is advisable to restore quality furniture. This translates to true vintage and antique pieces, as well as modern, brand name furniture — such as Brown Jordan, Tropitone, Salterini, Woodard and Homecrest — that is at least 15 years old. Salvaging many gorgeous finds, DeFelice has a warehouse full of lovingly restored vintage patio furniture. Matching unique tables, chairs and settees to clients’ tastes, needs and outdoor spaces is the secret formula for irresistible, show-stopping spaces buzzing with character. Along with refinishing metal furniture, Patty’s Portico replaces outdated vinyl strapping and worn out mesh slings. Another specialty is welding broken pieces, such as cast iron bench legs. “It’s so much better to recycle than throwing old furniture in the landfills,” DeFelice said. Based on DiFelice’s experience, the ideal outdoor space needs to be inviting, comfortable, relaxing and conducive to family gatherings. “It is wonderful to enjoy an outdoor sanctuary after a long day, and weekend gatherings for barbecues or celebrations are always more desirable outdoors,” she said. But how to design and outfit the perfect

outdoor space suitable for dining, conversation or listening to music under an awning, an umbrella or the stars? DeFelice recommends choosing furniture with a consideration for comfort: “Shorter and taller people have different needs regarding how seat bottoms fit for optimal leg comfort,” she said. “Some chairs are just too low for some people, making it hard to get in or out of them. Likewise, chaise lounges without arms are much easier to settle into and stand up from compared to chaise lounges with arms. Dining table shapes are also a consideration. A large family may lean toward oval tables to seat more people. However, smaller round tables feel cozy and fit into tight spaces.” Furnished outdoor porches, patios and decks really extend the living space of a house. When comfortable refinished furniture combines with outdoor rugs, votive candles, hanging lanterns, music speakers and potted plants or flowers, your outdoor oasis will become your favorite room in the house. Grill in the great outdoors An outdoor kitchen is the anchor of gracious outdoor living. Influenced by the enduring “staycation” culture, consumers are focusing on enhancing the home experience and making their backyards into their own personal paradise. According to Jonathan Giannettino, known as Senor Smoke and owner of Curto’s Appliances & Grills, on Central Avenue in Yonkers, “The outdoor kitchen allows adults and families to socialize by preparing and sharing meals together. Kids and their friends think it’s cool to hang out in an outdoor kitchen, and parents appreciate knowing where their kids are. Instead of being glued to their phones, on Snapchat or Instagram, your kids can enjoy roasting S’mores over an open fire pit or helping dad smoke a 12hour brisket. In this way, I see a great outdoor kitchen as a healing space of sorts that encourages family time.” Curto’s, and its soon-to-open The Grill Store, sells and builds outdoor kitchens,

smokers and grills. According to Giannettino, proper planning ensures the best results. “In terms of selecting the grill or components, we first need to know the space the customer is working with,” he said. “Then we need to understand how they cook. We are passionate about this category and look to serve all of our customers’ needs. Are they using the space just to grill up some burgers and hot dogs from time to time, or are they seriously invested in outdoor cooking year round? As for fuel preference, I personally prefer cooking over solid fuel — charcoal or wood. But if this is too time consuming for you, the convenience of gas can’t be beat.” Recent trends in the northeast include a rise of pellet grills, also known as smokers. These products appeal to people who are not satisfied with cooking over gas and want the experience and taste of grilling with live fire and smoke. Another trend is the expansion of the outdoor cooking season in the northeast. “With the grilling season now running from April through Thanksgiving, plenty of my customers cook year-round,” Giannettino said. “After a snowstorm, they make sure one of the first paths shoveled leads from the kitchen doorway to the grill. Just make sure to invest in better equipment that will hold up in the elements.” In order to keep any grill or smoker in good working order, proper care and maintenance are recommended. Any outdoor cooking device should be kept covered when not in use. After each cook, the grill should be cleaned for a minute or so. This means simply scraping down the grates while the heat is still active. It’s also advisable to have your grill professionally cleaned once or twice per year. “Grilling or smoking food outdoors is intrinsic to our DNA as homo sapiens,” Giannettino said. “Being outside, with the smell of food being cooked over a live fire, or even over gas, is an activity that takes us back to our primal nature.” For him, the perfect summertime out-

door meal would be “a large Greek-style salad, skirt steaks grilled over lump charcoal with Argentine chimichurri sauce and a nice glass of Malbec.” His outdoor kitchen is more than just a cooking space. It is “an escape from life’s day-to-day vagaries and a place of relaxation, smiling and healing.” Who knew the path to Nirvana was paved with smoldering charcoal, charred beef and fire-roasted corn? Birds, bees and birdies For some, golf is a hobby. For others, golf is an obsession. Imagine the fun of putting that passion to practice in your own backyard. For approximately 20 years, Michael Lehrer, president of Home Green Advantage, based in Armonk, has been designing and installing putting greens on clients’ properties throughout the United States. Lehrer describes the customized greens as “playgrounds for adults, almost like mini country clubs.” To ensure satisfaction, his company customizes all installations according to the client’s budget and the property’s specific yard space. A backyard green may be the size of a ping-pong table and take a day to install. Or, it could be a three to four week project encompassing several thousand square feet, including multiple holes, challenge areas and landscape features. “These putting greens are a convenient family practice tool and an entertaining highlight during parties and get-togethers,” Lehrer said. “The greens bring people together in a relaxed setting outdoors, and they offer an opportunity to really improve skills. Over the years, I’ve seen clients’ kids turn into phenomenal golfers.” A creative visionary, Lehrer finds inspiration from features unique to each property and each client’s wishes and needs. His greens are synthetic with natural turf grass surrounds, so they maintain structural integrity over time and reduce or eliminate maintenance issues. He installs tee boxes in appropriate places on each property to Continued on the next page


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maximize versatility and challenge, while respecting safety with regard to the client’s house and neighboring properties. “I look at each property as if it were my own,” Lehrer said. “I’m excited to create something spectacular, regardless of size or budget, and I want people to be blown away when they see the final product. Often, I’ll do the main design and give clients a chance to have a say in it, which works to add in a special idiosyncratic character. I understand my clients’ passion for the game and they see my creative passion for what I do, so this is where the magic happens.” Lehrer has created some show-stopping greens to satisfy clients’ imaginative requests. These have included greens shaped as a turkey and a trout for a client who enjoys hunting and fishing, an illuminated, “hidden” green in a cleared-out section of wilderness on a client’s multi-acre property, rooftop greens in New York City and the famous floating green of the Bedford Hills GlenArbor Golf Club 19th hole, located in the middle of a lake. When the game is over and GlenArbor golfers typically head inside for a drink, golfers can take one more fun shot from a tee near the clubhouse. “It’s the coolest shot in golf… There’s also nothing more satisfying than watching your opponent’s ball splash into the lake after yours lands safely on the green,” GlenArbor’s former head professional, Brian Crowell, told Golf Digest in 2015. Lehrer has also built home greens for golf-loving celebrities such as Jimmy Buffett and Kenneth Cole, and on occasion, he has constructed greens as surprise gifts for golfloving husbands, from their wives. Having a putting green in the backyard

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extends the golf season to year-round. “If you’re dedicated enough and don’t mind clearing snow from the green, you can even get out there and hit balls in the middle of winter,” Lehrer said. He even has a photo of his own green, clean and pristine, but framed by trees and gently fallen snow to prove it. “It’s absolutely addictive to hit shots at your own green,” Lehrer said. “I’m out there, and I can’t leave until I hit a hole in one.” Lehrer’s obsession is shared by most golfers. He explained it as “chasing the elusive ultimate shot… One time you’ll make a par or a birdie and then you’ll hit the next shot into the woods. The difference between hitting it on the sweet spot and hitting it so poorly that you want to throw your clubs in the woods may only be only one or two degrees difference. That’s the challenge of it, and that’s what makes golfers so passionate.” Golf is more than just a sport. It’s meditation. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It’s a religion in your own backyard. Birdies framed with bird song… what could be better than that? Prioritize play Remember the days when screen doors slammed and kids spent entire afternoons playing outside? Making up neighborhood games, digging in the dirt, organizing lemonade stands and swinging so hard and so high that the metal swing set legs would momentarily pull up from the ground? It’s time to reclaim childhood adventure and dedicate space to outdoor play. According to Taka Andrews, the affable kid-at-heart who owns Miller’s, a 70-yearold family toy emporium, with his wife Brooke, in Mamaroneck, “The absolute most important way to encourage outdoor play is by being committed to playing with

your kids and showing them how to play outside. They don’t just figure it out on their own. You can’t simply throw money at your backyard and assume your kids will frolic outdoors all the time.” Having a well-planned, versatile outdoor play area should appeal to and involve the entire family. This supports outdoor interaction and creativity, thus building a culture for play, rather than just a space for play. “Being able to enjoy your own property with activities and objects that stimulate all ages is important,” Andrews said. “At my own house, we invested in an amazing fenced-in raised-bed irrigated garden so we can garden while the kids play. They move from the garden area, where they each have their own pea trellis, to the trampoline, to the playset to their bikes. Being able to enjoy your yard with hobbies that are great for kids and adults together is important.” When planning an outdoor play space, families should consider their children’s primary interests. Are they into imaginary play, such as pretending to run a lemonade stand or playing house? Or are they more active? In this case, look for a playset that addresses gross motor skills, strength and coordination through equipment like monkey bars, climbing walls and rope-rung ladders. With regard to playsets, Andrews recommends scaling the equipment through modular components to accommodate children’s growing needs. He said, “We believe in making play spaces safe and stimulating, initially for a family’s younger kids and toddlers. Little kids should be able to enjoy a playset without the risk of falling off a tower or being bumped out. Our playset designs are safe and arguably simple at first, but their modular design allows for

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THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 7A additions and ‘challenge features’ as kids grow.” Safety is paramount, especially since adults need to be able to do things like manage a household, attend to an infant or prepare meals while kids play. “If you can create a space that allows the security of knowing your kids are safe, stimulated and perhaps even appropriately challenged, that’s a win-win for the entire family,” Andrews said. Because Andrews, his wife and colleagues see customers repeatedly over the years, they recommend appropriate upgrades when the time is right. “We never over-sell to a customer,” Andrews explained. “That is what most swing set dealers do, as they know they’re likely never to see you again.” Recent trends in outdoor play spaces follow the influence of “American Ninja Warrior,” an action-packed, competitive television show. Recently, Andrews has been getting many requests to recreate the Ninja environment in families’ backyards. Miller’s satisfies by installing custom zip lines with braking systems, slack lines and popular ninja lines. These features incorporate much of what you see on TV, but in residential scale. “Kids have many tasks and chores they need to do each week. But their only job is to play — to learn, question, stumble, answer, fail and succeed,” Andrews said. “We believe children should play in the manner that interests them, not in a way that parents believe will get them into Yale. If your child plays young, then embrace and enjoy that. If your child feels too old or cool to play young, then let your child play up. But it should be up to the child.”


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Efficient heating, cooling key to inner climate BY DEBORAH SKOLNIK

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hen you hear the word “efficiency,” what do you think about? How much you can accomplish in a workday? How far your car can go on a full tank of gas? You probably don’t think about your home’s heating and cooling, but you should. They’re all that’s keeping you from freezing on cold wintry nights or sweating it out on long, sizzling summer days. And improving the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems doesn’t just keep you more comfortable, it also can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in energy bills over the long haul. Get a professional home energy audit. “During a home energy assessment, we don’t just look at your heating and cooling equipment. We look at everything in the house, and how each part affects the others, from your heating to your windows to your attic to your exterior walls and crawl spaces,” says Vince Hannigan, the home performance coordinator for Bruni & Campisi in Elmsford, which provides plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services throughout Westchester, Greenwich and Stamford. The energy audit team is expert at zeroing in on a home’s problem areas. “If the windows are leaky or drafty we have equipment that shows us where the leaks are,” Hannigan explains. “We use infrared cameras, similar to the technology the

military uses, to show us the differences in temperatures in these areas. We can see through the walls with our equipment to assess what is going on, and can make recommendations and come up with solutions for your to fix those problems.” And best of all, an energy audit doesn’t have to be expensive, thanks to funding

from The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the state agency that oversees statewide energy efficiency. “If someone is making two hundred thousand dollars or less per year they can get a free energy audit through the state,” Hannigan notes. Bulk up your insulation. One problem

an energy audit frequently identifies in homes is inadequate insulation, generally in the attic or the walls. “When you have good insulation in the walls and the attic, what you’re doing is making your house retain heat in the winter. And the reverse Continued on the next page

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is true in the summer — it helps retain the coolness better,” Hannigan said. “Most people complain that they can’t get their house cool enough in warm weather and it’s because they have poor insulation in their home. Why does a soda stay cold in a cooler? It’s because the cooler is insulated. It’s no different in your house.” If an energy audit reveals that your house is inadequately insulated, don’t panic. Rectifying the problem doesn’t have to set you back a fortune. “There are a lot of rebates available through Con Ed and NYSERDA,” Hannigan said. Increase your thermostat’s IQ. Upgrading to smart thermostats will help to maintain your home’s temperature at more efficient levels. You also can program them for when you’re not home, and, depending on the model, monitor them from your phone or computer. “Low-end models typically start at $250,” Hannigan said. Change your furnace filter regularly. Have your furnace cleaned and inspected every year, preferably in the fall before the cold sets in, by a professional. He or she can replace any parts that may be wearing out, and also make sure the furnace isn’t producing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. In between these visits, “filter maintenance is key,” according to Steve Mohr of Sila, a heating and cooling company in White Plains. “What goes through the filter is what we call return air — air from the house that passes through. The air gets heated and then put back out. If you don’t maintain the filter, airflow is restricted to the heater. And the other

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issue is that the heat exchanger, which is the part of the furnace that exchanges the heat from the gas to the air, gets dirty, and that all decreases efficiency.” So don’t forget this crucial piece of maintenance. “You change your air filter in your car, and it’s the same thing,” Mohr said. As for how often to change the filter, “That’s a tricky question,” Mohr said. Partly, it depends on the filter being installed “and then it depends on your lifestyle,” he said. If you have animals, “All that dander gets sucked up into the air filter,” Mohr said. “I’d suggest changing the filter every 30 days if you have pets.” On the other end of the spectrum, someone in a pet-free, meticulously cleaned home might only need to change the filter every six months. Rule of thumb: eyeball it to see how dirty it is. And another thing to note is that maintaining your furnace filter may just affect the quality of your air conditioning too, depending on your system. “If you have central air conditioning with a gas furnace, the blower in the furnace circulates the air for both heating and cooling,” Mohr said. “The filter change influences both.” Baby your boiler. If a boiler provides your home’s heat, Hannigan recommends an annual maintenance visit — typically in the fall — from a professional. “As the boiler gets dirtier, its efficiency goes down,” he said. “When you have us come out, we run a health check on the boiler, and clean and tune it. We make sure it doesn’t have dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, we adjust the gas valve if necessary, and then we do a combustion tests on the system, to gauge its efficiency. The test involves a computer printout. And

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from there we can better identify to you if you need to replace your boiler or not.” Consider a boiler upgrade. Is your boiler on the older side? It may be time for a replacement. “Typically they can last between 15 and 20 years,” Hannigan said. “We insert a probe into the flue pipe to see how well it is operating. If it’s, say, 15 years old and running at 80 percent efficiency, you may want to think about swapping it out for a high efficiency unit.” While people’s furnaces operate at about 75 to 80 percent efficiency on average, Hannigan estimates, a high-efficiency boiler will operate at between 85 and 95 percent efficiency, using less fuel. The cost of a boiler varies widely, depending on factors like how many heating zones you have in your house, whether the pipes have asbestos and how hard it is to physically maneuver the new boiler into the house and remove the old one. “Someone might have a boiler we can roll right into their garage, while someone else may need us to chop up the old boiler and disassemble the new one in order to exchange them,” Hannigan said. Afraid of sticker shock? Many heating and cooling companies, including Bruni & Campisi, will come to your house to provide a free quote. Prices generally start at around $7,000 and go up from there. Give your boiler an inside line on the outside temperature. “If someone has recently installed a boiler, something they can do immediately is install an outdoor reset control,” Hannigan said. “It’s a wire from the boiler to the outside of your home, typically on the north side. It tells the boiler, ‘Today’s a really cold day — I need hotter water to heat the house.’ Or

THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 9A it tells it, ‘You don’t need the hottest temperature to heat the house today.’” While it costs around $800-$850 to install an outdoor reset control, the savings are significant: “It reduces your utility bill by at least 10 percent per year,” Hannigan said. Attend to your A/C. Just like your home heating system does, your air conditioner, which has a natural lifespan of about 15 years, needs some TLC now and then. Mohr recommends an annual checkup by a pro (this is most commonly done in spring — just about now, in fact). “If you have central air conditioning with a gas furnace, there is an air conditioning coil sitting on top of your furnace and if the filter [in the furnace] isn’t maintained, then the coil gets loaded up with dirt,” Mohr said. “It’s something that you don’t realize as an average owner.” A professional can troubleshoot other problems with your air conditioner (and, for that matter, your furnace or boiler), according to Mohr. “There are certain electrical components in the systems that we can diagnose that the consumer can’t,” he said. “We can tell you, ‘Something is wrong here — it hasn’t failed yet, but we would like to replace the part as a preventive measure because it’s showing signs of wear.’” Ignore that advice at your peril. You know how people’s heating systems always seem to fail in the dead of winter, and their A/C’s have a way of konking out right in the middle of a heat wave? “That’s when these systems are taxed the most and that’s why they fail then,” warned Mohr.

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Décor trends

Color, comfort, and clean lines

T

BY LAURIE SULLIVAN

oday’s design runs the gamut from new, contemporary clean lines to still giving a nod to tailored classics. For first-time homeowners looking to revamp their homes or those just looking for inspiration to make updates, the range of ideas are almost endless for what’s trending now in home design. While some homeowners are comfortable living with muted tones, others are choosing to add punches of color to mix up the look of their homes. Home and Garden’s Houzz online site’s take on today’s trends see more color in the kitchen where we so many of us spend so much time. Replacing all white, todays kitchens are infused with rich colors that include warm wood tones such as mahogany and neutrals like grays and blues to give kitchens a warm, fresh, up-to-date look. Some are opting to refresh kitchens and baths with more contemporary tiles that look like wood, concrete, resin, fabric or even wallpaper rather than plain subway or hexagon tiles. Houzz and other online sites offer so many fresh looks to give you food for thought. Rich, warm colors such as gray throughout the house, paired with camel, rust as well as earthy reds and yellows to edge out cooler neutrals are being shown paired with rich colors not likely to date quickly and offer a soothing and diverse mix of colors and textures.

Some homeowners seek to personalize their spaces and are bored with white sinks. While the popularity of farmhouse sinks continues, there will be more concrete, stone, copper and granite composite sinks in darker hues of gray, bronze or black. For lighting, “Today Show” style expert Elizabeth Mayhew prefers vintage fixtures, which she said are better made than new fixtures. Mayhew prefers their patina and distinctive one-of-a-kind quality they add to rooms. Other current trends to watch for include low maintenance trough or bucket sinks in laundry rooms and kid’s bathrooms and can help create a rustic aesthetic and maximize minimal space. Concrete is now stealing the spotlight from white marble that can be more affordable and provide a high-impact design element. This versatile, accessible material is now not only being used just on floors and countertops anymore — look for concrete being used in unexpected ways, including home accessories, pendant lighting and furniture. Some home décor experts look to the runway for inspiration, with home design sometimes taking its cue from what clothing designers are showing. A Glamour Nest expert predicts that although the minimalist looks will never completely go out of style there is a new wave of playful, decadent and over-the-top trends on the Continued on the next page

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horizon, with vibrant colors, embroidery, patterns, appliques and embellishments. InStyle’s online site predicts a more is more approach to designing one’s home with a rich, layered look. Animal-inspired furnishings offer wit and surprise to spaces with animal likenesses on accent pieces. Look for Tromp L’oeil draped forms, including lamps and even chandeliers, which are making a comeback, in addition to drapes to add an elegant warm look to a home. For tabletop, there’s a return to pretty with mismatched antique plates and platters and serving pieces. The varied design options available today offer homeowners so many ways to be inspired to transform a house into a home that is uniquely their own. And oh so comfortable. Though one designer’s approach may be in direct contrast to another’s, what

works for an individual homeowner is what is most important. High end, simple, affordable Dennis Anderson, the owner of Bedford House in Bedford Hills, sells a mixture of antiques and new furniture and accent pieces, a little bit of everything he said. Anderson described his store as very eclectic, fairly high end and high styled, yet priced well. Most of everything in the shop is neutral, very organic with an earthy feel to it, he said. Though Anderson formerly did product design for a “couple of different companies,” he now focuses his attention on the consignment pieces in his store. While design trends are not an exact science, Anderson said, “I think modern has cooled down a bit, [though] it’s hard to say, but I think it’s going to a more individualized look, more eclectic.”

Anderson still sees clean spaces as an important trend: “People want to have less clutter in a more modern way.” Though he doesn’t see design dramatically shifting, Anderson does think there seems to be more color — “more saturated color” — which includes a lot of jewel tones. “I hate to use that term because it’s been so overused,” Anderson said. And not just more color in design, but he also sees more unusual pairings of color, which he said you have to be good at doing. When asked what he would tell a client who just wants to update, Anderson advised getting away from white or beige walls and kicking it up with a color. “It’s a great way to get a fresh look,” he said. In terms of using bright colors, Anderson recommends splashes of color mixed with more neutral ones. Customers come to Anderson for the basics. His upholstered pieces and accent pieces, which are well displayed in the shop — “Like you could live here” — make it easy to visualize how one could decorate a home. Anderson sees a “pull back” on animal prints. “People don’t even want anything that resembles animal prints, even fake leather and fake fur,” he said. People are looking for a little bit of everything: “I don’t carry things you’ll find in every store. If I had to guess, people want to freshen things up so their homes don’t get stale.” Eye for design that lasts “Each space has it’s own character and use from the point of view of designers and we get the character from the existing architecture and the way the sun and light comes in,” said Linda Blair of Blair Interiors in Scarsdale. Those who are going to live or work in that space have requirements and needs and they need to be met, so all those things have to be taken into consideration. “Getting it right for the spaces and [a client’s] needs is more important than a trends,” Blair said. For upholstery, carpet, paint and mattresses, Blair said there is a 12-year life cycle. She has clients from years ago and they come back to her and want to update their homes or they’ve moved and want to

know how to recreate what they’ve had or to update. According to Blair, design is a very personal thing and there are a lot of things to know when designing a space. She explained you have to look at a room in it’s entirety to understand not only how the furniture will look in the room, but also the placement of accessories, art, sculpture and the height of chandeliers and other lighting as well. The height of ceilings, windows and doors play an important role in placement, too. Another trend Blair sees is an open design flow of rooms, where the kitchen is open to the family room that is open to the living room, etc. Blair said ergonomically designed, comfortable furniture is important. Rooms with open space and natural light are also a plus. While the spotlight has been on modern furnishings in recent years, she said traditional was “sneaking its way in,” in chintz and patterned fabrics, even patterned wall coverings. “People are coming back to a more romantic look,” Blair said. “I think the coldness of mid-century furnishings are fading and are bare and cold. People want comfort and a little bit of tradition and a little bit of richness in their furnishings.” Another new trend Blair sees is a change in accent hardware in bathrooms and kitchens, changing from silver to gold along with bronze and black are coming back. Octagons in wallcoverings and tile are also losing favor: “They’ve been overdone.” For wall coverings, Blair likes white for walls in kitchens. She said lighting is extraordinarily important, that it affects everything else in the room and can often open up a room and highlight things like paintings and objets de art. She emphasized how much using LED lighting changes the atmosphere. She uses under counter LED lighting in kitchens not just for aesthetics, but for safety, too, because the light illuminates things like knives as well. Blair also uses small high hats in kitchens and other spaces. “People are going to quiet things; carpets are almost without patterns,” said Blair. “In terms of color it’s important to go with colors that make you feel good.” Blair said that mixing dark woods like mahogany with light woods creates an eclectic look. “It’s good to add an element of surprise to a room, a little tension,” she said. “Things can hang on the wall that aren’t paintings.” Blair’s advice, before you start with color and trends, is that you really have to think about what you want. “If you choose well you can have a space you’ll be happy with for years to come,” she said. A move towards modern Scarsdale architect Cal Petrescu of Cal Petrescu Architecture and Design does all aspects of residential design for new homes, renovations and remodeling, additions, interior and exterior lighting, kitchen design, windows, baths, interior design, built-in cabinetry design in addition to finishes, tiles and flooring for clients. In terms of design, Petrescu said people are getting into more modern lines. “There’s a difference between modern and contemporary,” he said. “A lot of younger people want a transition of what they had in Manhattan — less panels on dishwashers and refrigerators, which is very traditional.” He said pewter counters and other metals are coming back, with fewer stone, quartz and concrete counters, a move away from the very traditional. “The younger Continued on page 13A


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Décor trends Continued from page 11A

generation of homeowners wants more technology in appliances with more integration they can connect to with a phone app,” Petrescu said. “This generation that is looking towards the use of robotics in the not too distant future.” He added that this generation wants anything to do with technology, including fireplaces that go on and off. Petrescu said he was seeing more gas fireplaces, noting they use a lot of European ones. He uses fireplaces as room dividers, which allows the homeowner to view it from either side. Petrescu said people want more open space, rather than small rooms. One trend he’s seeing is more freestanding tubs in bathrooms, which he said is sexier, rather than the old ones that take up so much space. For tile work on backsplashes glass tiles are a “smarter tile.” “Everyone wants to be transitional, [with] a contemporary, younger look in couches,” Petrescu noted. “I see more integrated systems, more functional, more open spaces. He went on to say the color du jour is now gray, with clients going to more expensive grades of paint than in the past because they have more shades and offer tonality. “People are paying more attention to white. Everyone knows there are many whites,” the architect explained. “Color has to be coordinated with the lighting.” With all LED lights, people are saving a lot of money and Petrescu said the color is as good as we get from traditional bulbs, emphasizing the importance of lighting. Now a 6-watt bulb can do the job of a 60-

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watt bulb. In general, Petrescu sees more natural tones of wood, lighter, not as dark as what has been used in the past, such as mahogany. At the higher end he sees more radiant heat, but prefers it under stone and not wood. Other trends he sees are more people wanting pools; home gyms, especially if they have space to tuck them in their basements; three-car garages, not two; and mudrooms and a washer and dryer on the second floor where their living space is. There’s also an absolute trend to use a second washer/dryer in another location in the house, perhaps using stackables. “Of course everybody wants high ceilings,” he said. “And for outside, decks made of synthetic wood [such as Trex and others] provide less maintenance.” Petrescu also recommends renovations if the “bones” of the house are good enough. “You’re challenged, but you don’t get a cookie cutter effect,” he said. Big design, small budget According to Betsy Helmuth, owner of Affordable Designs in Dobbs Ferry, there’s no need to do custom pieces anymore. “It’s really obsolete,” she said. “When your lifestyle changes or your kids grow up, they don’t want to invest that kind of money. People don’t want to wait six months for their sofa. We don’t find it a practical way of life.” Helmuth’s designers meet with client at their homes to get an idea of their tastes and budgets. From there, the designer will develop a floor plan and mood board, which is basically a collage so the client can see the way the room(s) will look. The next step is giving the client a shopping list of what to buy and where to find it. Helmuth doesn’t mark anything up.

THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 13A

You’re basically buying a design package and floor plan based on the either a single room (priced at $799 per package or two rooms for $999). The designer will also give the customer a call back to see if the customer has any questions or want to share their “after” pictures. “We’re trying to make design as accessible as possible,” Helmuth said. Helmuth’s company also offers a shopping service that will buy what’s on her customer’s lists, saving them between an average of $800 to $1,200 a room, depending on their original budget. The service is also open to people who are not their customers. “We will work with your budget… Some might say [it’s] $3,000 and we try to work with that budget,” she said. “If the budget is very low we will tell them it will be difficult to accomplish for what they want.” Helmuth noted sometimes it’s easier with a smaller budget because it limits what you look at. Her designers, who have all worked for high-end design companies, don’t work on commission, so they can work within budgets and client’s never feel pressured because they don’t have a stake in what they’re going to spend. Some of the looks trending now include more brass and gold finishes on light fixtures and end tables. Another new look for tables and lighting bases that hasn’t been seen for a while and has gained popularity is agate and marble in tables or lighting bases, which Helmuth said provide a timeless look and add another dimension to a room. Every year there are color trends that people may or may not want to gravitate towards, including this years in color, a deep, saturated color called ultraviolet. Helmuth noted that trendy colors are OK in small ac-

cents because sometimes these colors are fine if you want something fresh, but later you can swap it out when you get tired of it. Helmuth doesn’t recommend dark colors for walls, because it’s a big commitment and likes going with light colors, which feels more timeless. “It should seem like the backdrop to your pieces,” she said. For fabrics, this design maven said people used to be “a little more bashful” with fabrics, but stores like World Markets and Pier I are showing bold florals and large designs. She also likes basket weave fabrics for upholstered furniture, chunky woven weave fabrics, even woven jute, which she said has lots of applications. According to Helmuth, velvet has made a big comeback, but in lighter weights than in the past. “Velvet is everywhere; everywhere I turn there is velvet,” she said. The new lighter weight velvet is perfect for drapes, sofas and other pieces. Another new look is burn out velvet that has patterns in it to make it look a bit more contemporary. Curved couches are trending now for a more formal effect that shows the front an back of the sofa, however, Helmuth said most people don’t want that formal a room, people want a more relaxed effect. “It’s too big an investment if it’s not going to work for your lifestyle,” she commented. A new trend comes from the Japanese a philosophy called Wabi Sabi, which translates into the beauty of imperfection, seen in unevenly glazed hand-made pottery and hand-sewn pillows to name a few. Look for statement lampshades that inject energy into a room and add another source of color and pizzazz. A great way to marry small bursts of color that can work with simple aesthetics. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Another favorite upgrade, achieved with paint and imagination, is to reinvent the front door. Use a color you love, perhaps one too intense to use anywhere else, and your house will shine with your personality. Europeans have long appreciated the personality of a bright and vibrant entrance. In the Netherlands, Great Britain or France, shiny front doors in poppy red, azure blue, golden yellow, tuxedo black and persimmon orange are eyecatching and memorable. For greatest impact, colorful doors should be bright and glossy. To achieve this look, professionals recommend the Hollandlac Brilliant line of paint from the Fine Paints of Europe brand. This paint is much glossier and more impermeable than the high gloss varieties of other brands’ exterior paints. Thermostat tune-up Stop paying inflated heating and cooling bills due to unnecessary output, especially during hours when no one is home. Smart thermostats can be programmed or controlled remotely through Wi-Fi, thus allowing for the fine-tuning of HVAC systems, even from afar. It is estimated that homeowners who shut down their heating and cooling systems during working hours, when the house is empty, can lower utility bills by 10 percent. If this isn’t reason enough to complete this home improvement project, the ease of smart thermostat installation is. Upgrading thermostats can be accomplished in less than a day, and savings begin immediately.

But that’s not all. A smart thermostat enables much more than temperature automation. Smart thermostats “learn” human schedules and preferences, making energy efficiency easy. Because the thermostat automatically regulates changes in the house’s temperature while occupants come and go, human error is taken out of the equation. Remember the last time you left the A/C running all weekend while everyone was away? Never again. Another convenience is the ability to control the thermostat from anywhere. With a smart phone app, you can increase heating or cooling to accommodate a variety of circumstances, such as traveling back from the airport, coming home early from work or simply staying in bed without having to get up to adjust room temperature. A smart thermostat can also send email alerts to warn you if your house temperature unexpectedly rises or falls out of the normal range, indicating a

possible power outage. An additional bonus of smart thermostats is their often sleek and modern design. Nest brand offers an appealingly clean and simple model. Its circular disc shape features a rotational perimeter dial and a disappearing digital screen. Energysaving “leaf” motifs, which appear when certain temperature and energy criteria are selected, provide visual reminders that you are saving energy and money. With smart thermostats, utility bills become a pleasure. Increase insulation The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can lower your heating bill by 10 to 50 percent. Coupling this possibility of saving money with the added comfort of a warmer house, there is no reason not to tackle this weekend project. In the summer, insulation also works to your benefit by stabiliz-

ing interior temperature. This keeps cooling needs under control and preserves energy efficiency. The first step to a properly insulated attic involves adding floor insulation. In a finished attic, this means pulling up the plywood subfloor and adding loose fill or blanket insulation between beams and joists. If old insulation is in place, you can either pull it out or simply layer new insulation on top. Of course, if the old insulation is water-stained, moldy or compressed, get rid of it. It’s no longer effective and could be a health hazard. Once the new insulation is in place, you can replace the plywood flooring and return any storage boxes to their proper places. For safety, make sure to professionally box out any recessed light fixtures installed in the attic floor to project through the ceiling below. Since various types of insulation are available, it’s best to understand the options. Fiberglass insulation is made from recycled glass or sand that has been melted down and spun into fibers. It’s inexpensive and commonly used. However, it can irritate skin and lungs, and it’s less effective at blocking air leakage than other varieties. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled, post-consumer paper that has been treated for insect- and fire-resistance. Similar to fiberglass insulation, it has the added benefit of not irritating skin and lungs, but only a limited number of manufacturers produce it. Two more costly alternatives are mineral wool and cotton insulation. Mineral wool is made from rock or recycled slag Continued on the next page

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weekend. Dimmers used throughout a house allow you to modulate lighting for nuanced effects. Just make sure the dimmer switches are compatible with your fixtures and bulbs. Replacing an outdated chandelier above a dining table or in a hallway is another home improvement project capable of achieving maximum oomph. Visit a specialty lighting store for best selection, and don’t be afraid of scale and nontraditional materials. Most people err on the conservative size and choose fixtures that are too small. A larger fixture makes a statement and can be the focal point of a beautiful room. Good lighting brings your house to life.

from blast furnaces. It is naturally fire resistant. Cotton insulation is made from recycled denim cloth. It blocks airflow and sound transmission better than other varieties, and it is natural. However, its high cost can be prohibitive. Also remember to weather-strip and seal around common air leak locations throughout your house for maximum efficiency. Commercial foam sealers are effective in leaky areas around attic windows, chimneys and flues, pipes, wires, exhaust fans and ducts. Insulation banishes drafts and means a cozier home. Hello hardware The devil is in the details. The easiest way to upgrade your kitchen’s look is to switch out the hardware. Modernize cupboards by replacing outdated or factory-issued handles and knobs with spectacular accessories. Classic finishes in nickel, brass and bronze add a wow factor to cabinet and drawer hardware, as they shine like jewelry. Other luxurious materials, such as glass, resin and wood or interesting shapes exude polished design. Popular now are drawer pulls fashioned out of long, thin rods, knobs in square and hexagonal shapes and enamel coated hardware in eye-popping colors. Black and white kitchens remain ever popular, but why not upgrade this classic combination by adding black hardware to white Shaker-style cabinetry? Or go for powerful color, such as a fire-engine red range hood paired with red-tipped, brass hardware. While you’re at it, you may want to upgrade your kitchen faucet, too. With so many elegant designs available at

kitchen and bath specialty stores, you’ll have plenty of choice. Go for something practical and stylish that matches the finish of your new hardware for a clean and cohesive look. Luxe lighting Never underestimate the power of lighting. It’s the reason everyone smiles on a bright and sunshiny day, retreats inside when skies are overcast and illuminates a terrace with candlelight for a romantic dinner for two. A similar mindset should apply to everyday lighting inside your house. You can spend thousands of dollars on elegant decorating, but if your lighting is either dim and dreary or too harsh and bright, the results will be ruined. Since lighting is essential to creating mood and ambience, it’s best to understand how to manipulate it for beautiful effect. Task lighting, such as lighting above or near desks, kitchen counters, read-

ing nooks, makeup tables and other work spaces, should be clear and bright. Accent lighting is focused lighting, used to spotlight artwork, plants, or decorative objects in the house. Mood or ambient lighting is the light that fills the room. Depending on its color, its intensity and its directional source, this lighting has the power to create different characters and moods. To easily upgrade lighting in your home, make sure you have various sources of light in each room. Rooms with overhead or recessed fixtures should be complemented by table lamps, floor lamps, sconces or up-lights placed on the floor, depending on your needs. Three-way bulbs allow you to intensify or dampen the brightness of lamplight, in a similar way that dimmers work. In fact, replacing regular on/off light switches with dimmer switches is one of the most impactful home improvement projects you, or a qualified electrician, can perform in a

Molding makeover Rich architectural details make houses memorable. They bring a sense of elegance to nondescript spaces and elevate simple rooms into destinations. Articulated crown molding and high baseboards look distinctive in both turnof-the century homes and contemporary classical houses. When installed consistently throughout a home, crown molding and baseboards unify the rooms and enable the house to breathe with consistent design. What about wall surfaces? Beadboard and the more casual shiplap are currently popular architectural wall coverings. Beadboard, installed on the lower half of walls, is a classic upgrade in a power room, office, mudroom or den. Shiplap, which contributes a modern, rustic, casual look to many homes, can be used in Continued on page 16A

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Home improvement Continued from page 15A

family rooms, family dining areas and play areas. Wall molding, installed in repeating square or rectangular designs, adds instant elegance to an entrance hall, living room or dining room. A ceiling medallion in a formal living space or bedroom is another dramatic addition. Ceiling medallions, more than anything else, add a certain old-world interest to even contemporary homes. Look for an antique or vintage example and consider maintaining its raw wood state, in order to achieve a curated and collected vibe. If all of this ornamentation sounds too fussy, you might be living in a mid-century modern home. If so, your hesitation is correct — mid-century moderns and clean contemporaries eschew surplus. Instead, these Zen beauties celebrate clean geometries, natural materials and smooth, flat surfaces. There is often an overriding sensitive balance between planes of wood and glass. Detail is often emphasized through material contrasts and the implementation of linear matte metal trim. Maintain these integrities by restoring your house’s original details or by choosing period-specific upgrades. Entrance elegance

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Love the house you come home to every day of the year. Enhancing curb appeal is not just for selling your house. It’s also for the people who live there. Devote a week, or a weekend, to making your entrance the best dressed on the block. Invest in some beautiful planters, scaled to fit the architecture of your house, and flank your

front door with verdant treasures. Greenery — such as trimmed boxwood, topiary trees or ferns — project elegance and formality, while being easy to care for. Hydrangeas, in shades of blue, pink or white, thrive in the Hudson Valley region and are another popular, low-maintenance choice. Flower lovers, however, may prefer to plant their containers with a variety of annuals. In this case, create combinations that visually represent variety and texture. An example of a successful floral mixture would include spike greenery for height, vine structures that trail over the side of the pot for softness, bright, fragrant flowers in a variety of sizes, shapes and corresponding colors, variegated green leaves and a few white flowers added in. The use of white flowers is a secret tip known by expert gardeners. They brighten other colors in the mix, and they make the planter more visible at night. In addition to entrance planters, consider upgrading your mailbox and outdoor light fixtures. Choose statement pieces that complement your architecture and exude personality. Don’t be afraid of scale, and take a chance on adding something larger than you think you need. The next time you drive around the neighborhood, notice your neighbors’ exterior light fixtures. You’ll most likely encounter sconces and pendants that look way too small. Don’t make the same mistake. To finish your entrance upgrade, include a stylish doormat and a beautiful outdoor bench. Doormats made from a flexible, thick, black, rubber-like material are popular and practical, especially when adorned with geometric or lyrical

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APRIL 13, 2018 Continued from the previous page

cutouts. A bench — in weather-resistant teak or powder-coated metal — makes your outdoor space inviting and sets the scene for what’s to come inside. Organization opus A better day starts with expert organization. Clutter brings your down your mood, and not being able to find a favorite pair of socks can start off your day on the wrong foot. On the other hand, wellorganized spaces offer immense benefits, like personal assistants. They help daily routines run efficiently. They keep everything in its place, poised for service at your fingertips’ reach. They protect the home’s calm and quiet by reducing disorder in rooms, which translates to eliminating unnecessary disorder in the mind. With so many positives, you’ll want to tackle organization as your next homeimprovement project. Of course, the first step is to edit and reduce possessions. If this project is daunting, hire a professional organizer or follow the guidelines established in Marie Kondo’s accessible book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” After all, you don’t want to invest time and space organizing things you don’t want, things you can no longer use and things that no longer bring you joy. The second step, then, is to create an organization system that fits your individual needs, customized to your home, which means you’ll never lose track of those favorite socks again. Are you excited yet? California Closets, with over five locations in the New York area, has been in

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business for over 30 years, doing much more than just organizing closets. Serving clients interested in office spaces, pantries, wardrobe units, garages and even commercial spaces, California Closets has the experience to satisfy any need. According to Hannah Rodriguez, director of marketing and trade development, “When working with us, one of our highly skilled design consultants comes to the space, measures and works with you to design your ‘dream space,’ using proprietary 3D CAD software to design onsite.” Installation takes place at the client’s home for seamless customization in only a few hours, depending on the job size. “It’s a quick and efficient process and our clients appreciate the white glove service and reputation when working with California Closets,” Rodriguez said. The benefits of installing a California Closets system are significant and tangible. “Most of our clients use more of their closets’ contents, find better uses for clothing pieces once they become more visible, save time and increase efficiency each morning,” Rodriguez noted. “Our clients also report feeling reduced stress from a more organized and orderly home.” One of the best aspects of adding organization systems to your home is that upgrades can be scaled to accommodate a variety of budgets. “California Closets design consultants are skilled experts in this area and can tailor any vision to a client’s budget,” Rodriguez said. More than home improvement, expert organization facilitates quality of life improvement — and nothing is better than that.

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THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 17A

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APRIL 13, 2018

From roots to canopy, spring is essential for tree care

P

BY VALERIE ABRAHAMS

eople are not the only ones feeling battered after this winter’s wicked weather, which brought four nor’easters and two early spring snowstorms. The trees on many properties were hard hit as well. With the spring awakening on the way, experts say now is the time to head outside to clean up the debris and fallen limbs littering the yard and to assess the damage to trees. Homeowners can do a visual inspection on their own, or hire a tree professional to help examine trees from bottom to top. The International Society of Arboriculture, treesaregood.com, advises hiring an arborist who works for a company that is a certified member of the ISA, the Tree Care Industry Association or the American Society of Consulting Arborists. Bellantoni Landscaping, Emerald Tree Service, SavATree and Almstead Tree and Shrub Care are all certified arborists serving the Tri-State area. Their professional arborists can assess the severity of the damage to the trees, and then prescribe treatments to preserve the health and future growth of one’s trees. George Sermier of Bellantoni Landscaping Services said a homeowner’s first task for tree care is to remove any burlap wraps, deer fencing, netting and holiday lights, then rake away leaves and debris and look for rabbit, vole or deer damage around the roots or trunk. “It can cause the death of a tree if deer rubbed antlers on the trunk or if a rabbit or vole nibbled all the way around the base of the tree,” he said. “You can put up barriers

to keep critters out… Use netting or trunk protection materials to prevent that from happening.” Next step is to look skyward. “Consider if pruning is needed,” Sermier said. “If you see trunk or branch cracking, vertical cracking, depending on the value of the tree, we may need to repair the crack with rods to screw it back together — or remove it if there is a risk due to the location of the tree or branch being close to the house.” Kate Flanagan, marketing director for Emerald Tree and Trunk Care, said, “After the bitter cold and bad nor’easters this year, even if you had trees inspected last summer, we are urging [customers] to have an arborist come reassess every tree on the property.” Spring fertilization is even more important for trees this year than other years.

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“Because it was such a harsh winter, it depleted nutrients entirely and the trees are really running on empty, especially the larger trees, which are not as strong and vital year over year if you don’t fertilize” Flanagan said. To stay healthy and live long, trees benefit from added nutrients beyond what they absorb from the soil. “When we fertilize, we are taking a giant needle-like syringe to shoot amazing nutrients right into the root zone of the tree,” Flanagan said. “It is the best way of feeding the tree.” Michael Almstead said his company takes a similar approach. “We inject mycorrhiza fungi to help grow additional root hairs for better nutrient uptake,” he said. “It’s a good fungus that grows in association with the roots, so there’s a symbiotic relationship — the roots need it and it needs the roots. It

helps with soil biology and connects the nutrients in the soil with the awakening plant’s ecosystem.” Then, as the temperatures rise and pests emerge, a professional arborist can help keep pest activity at bay. Flanagan suggested having an arborist come look for any pest activity by the end of May, and then arranging for periodic spraying to prevent insects from coming back over the summer, using organic pest treatments whenever possible, depending on the type of pest being treated. Several experts said horticultural oil is best; it has a very low toxicity, is safe for pets and kids and it smothers the bugs and insect egg sacks to prevent them from making a home on the tree or plant. Almstead said it is especially important to inspect the soil around the base of the tree this year due to the harsh weather. “With the storms we have had, there may be shifts that you are unaware of,” Almstead said. “The root plate could start to lift and the soil might be cracked away from the stem of the tree. Trees will put on additional weight and load as the leaves come in, so homeowners may want to think about the full leaf expansion and do some thinning of the tree canopies.” Almstead recommends deep root fertilization as well. “It’s better to use a high quality fertilizer that will feed the tree well into the summer, rather than push growth with cheap fertilizer,” he said. “Slow release over time is better for the roots of the tree.” Continued on the next page


APRIL 13, 2018 Continued from the previous page

Almstead uses mostly organic compost and fertilizers in his business. Trees and shrubs have remained dormant over the winter, but soon will be breaking buds and growth will resume. Once the bud break happens, it’s time to consider fungicide treatments — the earlier the better, because fungus will be less of a problem if it’s prevented rather than treated. Certain types of fungi that are common in this area require fungicidal treatment, such as apple scab or cedar apple rust on apple and crabapple trees, or dogwood anthracnose on American Dogwoods, or brown rot of leaves on Kwanzan cherry trees. Evergreens and conifers showing needle cast should be treated as well. “We know the species affected and can recognize when a problem exists,” Almstead said. “If we can see last year’s damage on the tissue of the needles, fungicide can prevent it from coming back this season.” Pruning in early spring helps keep the canopies thin to promote air circulation and allows more sunshine through, which will reduce the dampness that promotes fungus growth. Almstead recommends destroying the branches off site to avoid spreading any fungal spores. Tree experts recommend pruning branches a few inches from the collar, which is the bulge where a branch meets the trunk, being careful not to damage the collar or tear the bark of the tree. They also say it’s not necessary to apply tree dressing on any cuts, cracks or wounds, because such products are not proven to protect trees, and may even cause problems by keeping too much moisture in the tree trunk. If a tree is bent over, experts say to avoid

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using wire or nylon string, which can cut into the bark, and large or heavy limbs should be professionally cut down and chipped. The wood chips make great mulch for garden beds around the property and mulch can help protect tree roots as well. Proper amounts of water and mulch can help trees as they come out of dormancy and become more active in springtime. But experts recommend no more than a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to keep soil moist and protect the roots from heat or draught in the summer. Sermier of Bellantoni Landscaping said most tree problems are caused by improper planting or over-mulching. “People want to create mulch volcanoes, but that is harmful to the plant,” he said. “Mulch should never touch the trunk of the tree. It will become water logged and the tree could develop cankers or open wounds, which allow pests in. And if the mulch is too high, it can sour and create anaerobic activity in the layers, or build up toxic gases that are harmful for the plant. Sunlight causes the gases to volatize and damage the trunk, so it’s ideal to turn the mulch or peel it back if it’s been there too long.” Too much turf or mulch piled up can also cause girdling roots, which pose a problem as they grow around the tree and start to choke it. Sermier also recommends looking to see if the tree has appropriate depth: “If planted too deeply, they look like a telephone pole. But happier trees flare outwards from the base about 16 to 18 inches wide beyond the diameter above the ground. If not, the top of the tree will suffer.” Experts said mulch beds around ornamentals and feature trees can go a long way to protecting the health and integrity of the

THE RECORD-REVIEW | PAGE 19A

plants. Sermier recommended using limited amounts of natural hardwood mulch, but never stone or gravel. “Mulch will protect the tree to retain moisture for the tree,” Sermier said. “It also will break down and help soil chemistry by adding organic matter to the soil, and it protects the tree from mechanical damage from lawn mowers and trimmers.” He also encourages homeowners to use soaker hoses to make sure they water appropriately, especially ornamentals. “Water the tree’s roots, not the leaves or the trunk, which can cause leaves to get fungal pressure and it can spread.” For Almstead Tree Care, a family-owned business that has a contract with Central Park Conservancy, mature tree preservation is foremost. “In this really stressed-out climate and urban environment, we focus on finding the real issue and trying to change the nature of the tree itself — roots need water, air and nutrients, so we try to see what the trees are not getting and then supplement,” Almstead said. Various diseases and pests can cause trees to decline or die. Bellantoni Landscaping uses an approach called Integrated Pest Management to prevent such problems. “Not all plants are created equal,” Sermier said. “Every plant always has something going on with it; it’s a question of when that problem escalates… then we discuss with the client the plant type and condition, such as an apple tree in bad shape due to lack of care. Depending on the extent of the damage, where it is located… all of that determines the course of action. We assess if we can help it — or if it’s too far gone, we take it down and or plant a new one... If it’s a sentimental [specimen], we nurse it back to health. Every plant is unique and every client is unique.”

Nicholas Bomber, director of safety, training and general tree care for SavATree, which has more than 500 employees in 31 locations, said there are many jobs to be done as the weather begins to warm up: “Early pruning is critical, especially for shrubs just after they bloom and before the buds are set for the next year, and pruning [trees] to make them healthy by removing dead branches in the crown… For young trees, you do structural pruning. Two or three cuts when young can make a big impact on how the tree grows later on. It’s not labor intensive — just use a hand pruner or lopper — and it helps to reduce the risk of limbs falling or hanging over a path.” To avoid more disease on one’s landscape, Bomber recommended spraying saws and clippers with Lysol to sanitize the tools between cuts. “That will prevent spreading the pathogens,” he said. As a safety precaution, Bomber recommended against using ladders for pruning. “Any time I see ladders being used by homeowners, it’s very alarming,” he said. “I read a lot about... injuries from working off a ladder. So it’s better to work from the ground with an extender or a pole saw.” Bomber agreed with the other experts that spring is a good time to begin fertilization as plants are absorbing nutrients to use throughout the growing season, and then supplementing the treatments with deep root watering and relieving any compaction of the soil by turning it over. In every season, it’s important for property owners to be aware of their trees so they are not taken by surprise. “Open your eyes to look down and up,” Sermier said. “And if you need help, call a tree company.”

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APRIL 13, 2018

Let us turn your Landscape Drea ms into a Reality! Come meet the team at our Open Houses! Sunday, April 22 and Saturday, April 28. 11am-3pm

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Meet our highly knowledgeable and professionally trained Landscape Designers Matthew B. McMillan Matt@poundridgenursery.com

Matt left a successful career on Wall Street to focus on his true passion for garden design as an art form. He holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Design from Columbia University, a BA from College of the Holy Cross (Economics, Studio Art), and had extensive coursework in Landscape Design and Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Matt specializes in New Perennials and natives-focused design layouts as well as large tree plantings and more traditional formal arrangements.

Michele Langone Michele@poundridgenursery.com

Michele Langone holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture from the University of Vermont. She got her start working at both retail and wholesale nurseries in her home state of Massachusetts, and has been designing landscapes in Westchester and Fairfield Counties since 2013. Michele is an Instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, where she teaches classes on topics ranging from container plantings to designing with perennials. She is passionate about sustainable gardens, and loves finding creative design solutions to craft beautiful, useful spaces for her clients.

Laura McKillop

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Laura has been in the landscape design profession in northern Westchester since 2003. She is a 2007 graduate of the Columbia University Masters program in Landscape Design, and she holds a certificate in Landscape Design from the New York Botanical Garden, where she has been an Instructor since 2008. Laura is knowledgeable about all aspects of landscape design, including hardscapes such as terraces, walks, and driveways as well as many styles of planting. She enjoys researching and implementing the newest design techniques, materials and plants. Creating beautiful, functional gardens is Laura’s goal for each client.

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Manager & Head Horticulturist - Trees & Shrubs John has been sourcing unique & uncommon specimen trees and shrubs from around the country for over 40+ years. He is extremely well known in both the landscape and local communities and loved for his kind and patient demeanor. If you are looking to source plant material, whether traditional or hard to find, stop in and see John and visit our expansive nursery grounds.

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Denise’s exceptional attention to detail and customer service will give you the peace of mind you need. Her gift is in creating beautiful custom arrangements that evoke sentiment. From the in-season floral selections and unique greenery choices to the presentation in the wrapping, her creativity, keen eye, and design bring an aesthetically pleasing sense of style to weddings, memorials and special events.

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