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Southern Home Complimentary

may 2009

Magazine

Homes, Yards and Gardens of Lake Norman

Davidson’s White House Evolution of a Local Landmark President’ s House c irca

Second Hand Treasures

Whimsical Containers

Window Treatments

Save Thousands on Decor

Thinking Outside the Pot

Framing the View

1850


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Southern Home Magazine

Bethany Hauf

Clyde Owens

Lisa Nobles

Justine DiMauro Ginese Wilmont Christine M. Lisiewski Kristi Linauer Marta Carlson

Lori Dalton

Dennis Rossello Jason Smith Erin Cantrell Tosha Smith We welcome your comments, questions, article ideas, or any suggestions to make Southern Home Magazine even better. Write us at 20914 E. Catawba Ave. Cornelius NC 28031 or email to comments@southernhomemag.com To contact any associate you may email them directly by typing their first name@ southernhomemag.com or call 704-777-0334 and speak with a live representative. This magazine is published by Southern Home Magazine LLC. and distributed twelve times a year to selected households in the Lake Norman area. All rights are reserved and no part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent by the publisher. Southern Home Magazine does not necessarily endorse the views or perceptions of contributors or advertisers. Southern Home Magazine has the right to refuse any content based on the publisher’s sole discretion. Our office is located at 20915 E. Catawba Ave. Cornelius NC 28031 Publisher Southern Home Magazine LLC

S

editor’s notes by Bethany Hauf

pring is in full bloom

and the Lake Norman area couldn’t be more beautiful. I was at Birkdale Village a few days ago and the tulips were amazing, they really do a wonderful job with the landscaping down there. It inspired me to plant some tulips of my own this fall so I can enjoy them next spring in my own garden. As the editor of Southern Home Magazine, it is my hope that the articles, help full tips and vivid pictures in Southern Home Magazine will inspire you to plant your own garden or tackle some of those home improvement projects you may have been putting off.

This months issue was a lot of fun. I personally love history, especially when it relates to architecture. I had the privilege of touring the Davidson College President’s House and getting an insider’s look. What amazed me is all the transformations this house has been

through and how differently people lived 175 years ago. In upcoming editions of Southern Home Magazine, I’d really like to see similar stories about older homes in the Lake Norman area that have some sort of historic significance. The Historic Society is a tremendous resources; however, if you know of any hidden gems I’d love to hear about them. Before closing, I’d like to extend a special thanks to Clyde Owens our Art Director and Lori Dalton our Sales Manager for their dedication and inspiration they have brought to this magazine. Additional thanks to all our advertisers. Southern Home Magazine is solely supported by the businesses and organizations who advertise in the magazine. I encourage you to patronize them and let them know how you heard of their services. Best regards, Bethany Hauf Editor


Southern Home Magazine

MAY 2009

cinco de mayo

6

setting a spread may 5th

treasure hunt

8

8

saving thousands on eclectic home decor

davidson’s white house

12

evolution of a local landmark

mortgage relief

16

homeowner affordability and stability plan

save energy, save money

12

18

making houses energy efficient

southern charm remodel

20

european conversion

bye, bye blackbird

22

backyard nature

whimsey containers

20

24

thinking outside the pot

perfect landscape

26

what makes good design

26 May 2009

Southern Home

5


Cinco De Mayo

The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, is commonly mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day, rather it is a celebration that commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. Today, this holiday has become more of a celebration of Mexican culture, food, music and beverage unique to Mexico. Americans have taken Cinco De Mayo as a fun way to do just that…Celebrate Mexican traditions and enjoy delicious food and drinks! Here are some easy recipes that anyone can do in their own kitchen to turn May 5th’s dinner into a Mexican Fiesta!

Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. To prevent the avocado from browning, immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper. Set out a basket with corn tortilla chips along with some salsa and your homemade guacamole and you have an appetizer that is sure to please!

Nothing beats homemade guacamole and it only takes a few simple ingredients! The key is to have perfectly ripe avocados, firm but able to dent with a finger push and darkened green in color.

Main Entrée:

Ingredients • 4 ripe Haas avocados • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon) • 8 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion) • 1 large garlic clove, minced • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and smalldiced

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Side Dish: Beans are full of protein, very healthy and economical, usually less than $1 per can. They are easy to prepare just open a can and heat. Try Refried Beans, Black Bean or Pinto Beans with a little cheddar cheese on top! You can zest up your “Mexican Beans” by adding a little garlic and Tabasco to your preference.

Don’t Forget the Drinks: To complete your Mexican Fiesta ad some “South of the Border” beverages. Margaritas are a classic Mexican choice or try some of the many quality Mexican beers with a little lime. For kids, make a simple kiddy cocktail (sprite with some cherry juice) and stick an umbrella and lime in it!

Start with an appetizer:

Homemade Guacamole:

Slice meat in small strips and assemble your fajita with the ingredients above.

Marinated chicken and steak create super, flavorful meat perfect for the grill. While your meat is on the grill, sauté onions and bell peppers, chop tomatoes and lettuce, set out flour or corn tortillas and prepare some shredded cheddar cheese. Fajita Marinade: • (For 1 lb. Chicken or Beef) • cup oil • 1/3 cup Lime Juice • cup Red wine vinegar • 2 cloves garlic (or jarred garlic) • 1 tsp sugar • 1 tsp oregano • tsp salt • tsp pepper • tsp cumin Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add meat and let marinate for at least 4 hours then grill.

You can take your Cinco De Mayo celebration even further by decorating your table in bright colors with bold accents. Check out your local party supply store for inexpensive decorations to add that special flair to your Mexican Fiesta!


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treasure hunt Mary Bidelman’s lovely, traditional home in the Peninsula is decorated beautifully with fine hardwood furnishings and unique accessories. Although it may look like she shops at the finest retailers or was blessed with heirloom pieces passed down from generation to generation, almost all of her treasures actually came from garage sales, second-hand stores, auctions, consignment shops, eBay and the Charlotte Observer Classifieds. 8 Southern Home

May 2009

Mary is on the leading edge of a growing trend. Reclaimed treasures are becoming all the rage for a number of reasons: they are ecoconscious, budget-friendly, and often one-of-a-kind pieces of the past. There’s also much to be said for the thrill of the search and the pure exhilaration of getting a great deal. When you approach the process with a discerning eye such as Mary’s, you can also ac

complish a designer look for a fraction of the price. From her foyer, you can see her striking dining room, which is open to her living room and beautiful music room. When asked who her decorator was, Mary told us she didn’t use one and said, “I simply buy what I like, know where I will put an item before I purchase it; and I have fun doing this.” On Mary’s Queen Ann style dining room table, which opens to


saving thousands on eclectic home decor by Justine DiMauro three glass shelves is just large enough to display a delicate cup and saucer. These items, as well as two buffet lamps, which cost $250, were purchased at the same consignment shop and were all part of the same collection put on consignment by their previous owner.

wood cabinets topped with black granite set the stage for more of her treasures. Keeping to her practice of buying the best for less, Mary purchased her kitchen

In a Fix

seat sixteen, is a stunning, silk floral centerpiece she purchased at an outlet store in Gaffney for half price. A wide, gold-framed, beveled mirror hangs on the dining room wall above the buffet and reflects the image of the chandelier. Purchased for $150, this mirror retails for $1,000. In front of the floor-to-ceiling window is a unique cart, which she purchased for $75. Among other treasures on the cart is an adorable, black and gold, standalone china cabinet. Each of its

A key consideration when shopping for treasures is knowing what can be repaired or refreshed. In her living room, Mary pointed out a red leather ottoman. Retailing for over $1,000, its original price at the consignment shop was $400. The ottoman was missing a leather button and had not sold in the first 30 days, so it was further marked down to $250. Mary bought the ottoman and had it repaired. The repair shop was able to snip a piece of leather from the underside and use it to cover a new replacement button. Mary also had the repair shop add four wheels for a total of $80. A $1,000 value was now hers for just $330. Mary’s eye for style and design flourished when she remodeled her kitchen. Spectacular cherry

faucet on eBay for $1,200. The same faucet retails for an astonMay 2009

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ishing $4,000. A spacious eating area adjacent to the kitchen is home to a glass-top table by Link Taylor. Mary purchased the table for $250 along with six, white-washed chairs at a cost of $1,200. She left the chair’s finish but painted the base of the table black and had the chair cushions reupholstered at a cost of $800, including fabric and trim, for a total price of $1,500. Mary estimates the retail price for the set would have been upwards of $6,000.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask It doesn’t stop with furnishings and plumbing fixtures. To dress her three, master bedroom windows, Mary found two single cornices and a double cornice at a large discount fabric store in Gastonia. She fell in love with the print and the light brown background of the Italian tapestry. The original price of these cornices was $4,000. Mary was aware these cornices had been in the store for some time, and without much hope, she offered $400 for the lot. To her surprise, her offer was accepted! She also purchased some beautiful brown side panels at a great price. Mary took the double cornice to the man who repaired her ottoman. He charged her $90 to cut the double cornice and fashion a single cornice, giving her the three single cornices 10 Southern Home

May 2009

she needed. The final outcome is a stunning, custom window dressing for under $500. In her daughter’s bedroom, Mary purchased an entire bedroom suite for $1,200, including the armoire, two tall side pieces with shelving, the bed and dresser. Mary reported that the Kirchner Armoire alone retails for $4,000. The only thing missing was a nightstand; however, Mary was able to buy the nightstand directly from the manufacturer. Originally selling for $800, Mary bought it for $250, due to the fact that this ensemble was discontinued. The bedding is also gorgeous and purchased on eBay for a great deal. The guest room theme is “fox and hounds.” In this room is Mary’s absolute favorite piece, an antique sleigh desk, which she purchased for $800. Hanging over the desk are two fox and hound scenery pictures. She knew the true value of these pieces and purchased them immediately when she saw them in a consignment shop for a steal. In dismay, the co-owner of the shop told Mary, “My associate does not like anything

with fox and hounds, so he tagged these two pieces at this give-away price of $70 for the two.” The owner went on to say, “These pictures came from one of the largest homes in Myers Park and just one costs a fortune.” Mary furnished the room, including bed, box spring, mattress and bureaus, all with consignment shop pieces. Fearing that she will fall into the trap of impulse buying, Mary does not particularly care to buy at auctions. Auctions can be a great Retro popcorn popperone of Mary’s many finds


Bar Stools • Crystal • Dining Groups • Curious • Bookcases

source for good deals, but impulse buying or getting caught up in the bidding and spending too much for a particular item is something to be cognizant of. During the afternoon of an evening auction, most items are displayed and tagged with a number. Stop in and look around. If you see something you like and wish to bid on it that evening, write down the item number and the maximum bid you will make. In the evening, when the item comes up for bidding, you can keep bidding until you reach the amount you set earlier. If you are able to keep your cool and stick to the plan, you can really get some great buys at an auction. Ultimately, shopping for secondhand goods doesn’t just save you money. Oftentimes the items you purchase are priceless treasures that are not available in retail stores at any cost. There is also the nostalgia of owning a piece of history -

A Treasure Hunting Paradise

Mirrors • Clocks • Crystal • Bookcases • Bedroom Groups

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whether it’s an antique piece or a Explore unique knick-knack, Our Incredible there is a story behind Values! every item. When buying pre-owned, you can truly get Fine Pre-Owned amazing deals withFurniture and Decor (704) 663-0905 out sacrificing quality Something GREAT to sell? 350 West Plaza Drive. or style. “Know what Call for Consignment Procedures Mooresville you want to buy and Exit 36 Between Kohls & Belk Visit us at shoplakenorman.com for a peek into our 15,000 sq ft showroom where you will put it; know the retail price, they have just as much interest in know how much it will cost to repair getting the best price but also know or refinish, and always have fun what is realistic.” Say Scott Harris of with it!” Mary advises. Upscale Resale! A furniture consignment Shop in Mooresville. Consignment Basics: When the piece is sold, the split If you have something you wish to varies from shop to shop, but it’s not sell at a consignment shop, you can unusual to get a 60/40 split, with e-mail or call in and give a descrip60% going to you. If the item does tion of the item. Ultimately, the con- not sell in 30 days, the price is resignment shop determines the price duced and after the contracted time of the item. “Trust the consignment is up the item is donated to charity shop when they price your items, or returned.

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Davidson’s Whitehouse evolution of a local landmark

I

n 1837, Davidson College’s first president, Robert Hall Morrison, his wife Mary Graham Morrison, and their six children moved into the newlyerected president’s house. Hardly the impressive house it is today, it was a farm house, no better than that of a small planter’s home. Morrison House, as it is still called these many years later, began as a brick, five-room house. The 18’ x 18’ square foot house was only

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by Justine DiMauro one room deep and two rooms wide, consisting of the present day study and foyer. The front door entered directly into the study and a staircase, leading upstairs to three rooms, ran across the back of this north room. Common in 1837, the kitchen and dining room was located in a separate outbuilding. Other outbuildings included a smokehouse, carriage house, outhouse and well house. The


President’s residence front lawn c. 1850 “The Louisiana,” built on the site that now occupies the Visual Arts Center

Morrison’s lived in the house until President Morrison resigned four years later. With six children and two adults, space, or lack of space, must have been the subject of malcontent. Imagine eight people living in a 648 square foot house! In 1841, Samuel Williamson was the second president to reside in the Morrison House; however, after a four year stay, the house was deemed incommodious and plans to build a new home were on the way. Through a fund rais-

ing campaign, the College was able to raise $2,100, the cost in 1850 to construct, “The Louisiana.” Built on the site that now occupies the Visual Arts Center, it was home to President Williamson for his last five years as president as well as succeeding presidents for the next 62 years. During these years, Morrison House served as a faculty

home and was added onto, from time to time, to better serve its occupants. In 1855, Maxwell Chambers, who was a member of the building committee which directed the construction of the campus, bequeathed Davidson College a quarter of a million dollars, equivalent to $5,499,942.00 in today’s money. A portion of this May 2009

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money was used to construct a two-story addition on the south side, which is the present-day foyer and a small living room, of the Morrison House. Furthermore, a one-story addition was added behind the living room, which is presently used as a dining room. Born in 1780 in Salisbury, NC, Maxwell Chambers entered the business field as a planter and cotton trader in Charleston, SC. The source of Maxwell Chamber’s fortune remains a mystery. Some suspect he entered the slave trade and prospered from this enterprise. Even though he did purchase his own slaves, he freed about 150 upon his death. During the 1880’s, a second story was added over the dining room and pantry, and a firstfloor guest room was added behind the study on the north side. In 1912, the Morrison House, once again, was used to accom-

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modate the president of the college and in the subsequent years to follow more renovations and improvements were made. In the winter of 1940-1941, $3,000 was spent to practically rebuild the interior. Despite all the additions and improvements, as late as 1958, there was still a debate as to the suitability of the house to accommodate the college’s first family. That year, President D. Grier Martin became President. He was adamant that the house would not be destroyed and a year later, in 1959, the house underwent a major face-lift. Careful attention was given to the architectural style of the 1830’s in this region. The addition of a neoclassical portico, a new roof, and a one-story wing was added, in order to enlarge the living room. These additions reflect the grand style home we see today. In the late 1990’s, a solarium, family-room, study and kitchenette additions to the upstairs private living space, as well as handicap accessibility and the

widening of corridors and doorways were undertaken. The end result is a home within a home. The second floor serves as a private residence for the president and his family and the first floor is used for public functions. Current President, Thomas W. Ross and his wife, Susan Ross, added a screened-in porch at the northeast corner behind the guest room. Thomas and Susan


was born in Morrison House. Throughout the years, there were weddings, four in all. From the ages of four thru eight, Mary Anna Morrison lived in this house and in 1857, at the age of 25, became world famous, when she married Stonewall Jackson. Yes, if walls could talk, we would hear stories of visiting dignitaries, the concerns of its

residents during difficult times in our country, as well as the celebration of good times. Today, we are fortunate to be able to witness a piece of architectural history that has survived the wrecking ball and stands as a proud and graceful example of innovation, craftsmanship and historical preservation.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10

Ross enjoy this tucked-away porch which provides them privacy in their everyday lives. Fortunately, the Morrison House was not destroyed and has survived all these many years, evolving from a small farm house to the grand house it is today. Susan Ross graciously invited Southern Home Magazine into Morrison House on a recent afternoon. The interior of the house is bright and cheerful. The décor is traditional with furniture and lovely knick knacks collected over the years. Mixed in with the lovely antiques are contemporary pieces that help to make the house feel like a home. If walls could talk, imagine the historical, humanistic, stories they could tell. Any 172-year-old house will have experienced tragedies as well as the happiest of times and Morrison House is no different. In its second year, two of President Morrison’s little girls died in the home, Elizabeth Lee, age one, and Sarah, age four. In 1912, Eloise Martin, daughter of President William J. Martin, Jr.

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mortgage relief

Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

P

resident Barack Obama has launched the Mortgage Relief Plan, formally called the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, which is aimed at helping nine million borrowers qualify for more affordable mortgages and ultimately stay in their homes. The program is designed to work with lenders to modify the existing loan terms of up to four million homeowners and to refinance as many as five million homeowners into more affordable, fixed-rate loans. Under the program, homeowners who have stayed current on their mortgages but haven’t been able to refinance to a lower interest rate because their home’s value has decreased now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30- or 15-year, fixed-rate loan. Through the program, which is limited to loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the lender will allow the refinancing of loans with a loan-to-value ratio as high as 105%, which is much higher than traditional guidelines normally allow. Because borrowers cannot

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take additional cash out, the banks are not necessarily taking on new risk; they are essentially readjusting the note. The program also will encourage streamlining the application process, and, in some cases, a full physical appraisal may not even be needed. To determine what your loan-tovalue ratio is, take the amount you owe on your existing loan and divide it by what your home is worth (the appraised or fair market value).

Example: Amount you owe: $275,000 Divided by the value: $350,000 Equals your loan-tovalue ratio: 78.6% The objective of the plan is to help borrowers refinance into safer, more affordable fixed-rate loans.

Refinancing will not reduce the amount you owe to the first mortgage holder or any other debt you owe. However, by lowering the interest rate, refinancing should save you money by reducing the amount of interest you repay over the life of the loan. Borrowers, whose mortgage interest rates are much higher than the current market rate, should see an immediate reduction in their payments. Borrowers who are paying interest only, or who have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future, may not see their current payment go down if they refinance to a fixed rate; however, they will secure a fixed payment for the future and will save a substantial amount over the life of the loan. When you submit a loan application, your lender will give you a “Good Faith Estimate” that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount that you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms to determine if a refinance would benefit you. To get more information, go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov. As a government site, it provides unbiased information and is not a solicitation to obtain your business. If you decide to refinance, you can apply through a traditional mortgage broker or by contacting your current lender.


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save energy, save money! By Pete Villari, President Energy Doctors of the Carolinas

Heating and cooling systems are by far the greatest energy guzzlers in a typical home, accounting for 45% to 60% of the average home’s energy consumption. They may also be the systems that homeowners are most reluctant to address, since many fear that altering them would entail a major expense. It may surprise you to learn that you can help your existing systems run more efficiently and slash your energy usage by as much as 10% just by reducing air leaks in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s also relatively simple for a savvy homeowner to do on his or her own or with minimal assistance. You’ll want to begin with the places where your changes will have the most impact. Generally, 50% of air escapes from a home’s structure (windows, walls, doors, floors and ceilings); 35% from ducts, vents and fireplaces; and 15% from pipe penetrations and electrical outlets. Some air leaks are easy to feel or see. Try holding an incense stick next to a window edge, door threshold or other suspected leak on a windy day and see if the smoke travels horizontally, indicating a leak. Other leaks may be hidden and require professional assistance to indentify. Here are a few inexpensive and practical ways to reduce air leaks without taking on a second mortgage: 18 Southern Home

May 2009

The Structure: • Caulk and weatherstrip exterior windows and doors. • Replace window seals and upgrade door thresholds. • Reapply or add insulation in the attic and attic door. • Look for dirty spots on visible insulation,

which often indicate holes where air is leaking. Repair using a low-expansion spray foam designed for sealing insulation. • Likewise, dirty spots on ceilings or carpet may mean that air is leaking at interior wall and ceiling or wall and floor joists, which can be caulked if they are exposed in an attic or crawl space. • Add solar screens or shades to keep excessive heat out in the summer. • Line drapes to further insulate windows. • Plant a tree near a troublesome area for strategic shading.

• Check around canned lights and ceiling fixtures and add or adjust insulation as needed. Ducts, Vents & Fireplaces: • When not in use, close the fireplace flue and check for tightness, and consider adding tempered glass doors to the fireplace front if advised by its manufacturer. • Turn off exhaust fans after use. • Consider a kitchen exhaust fan cover, which keeps air from leaking out when the fan is not in use. These are typically attached with magnets to simplify removal and replacement. • Prevent duct leaks in attics and crawl spaces. Ducts can be wrapped in insulation that is secured using a heat-resistant tape. Penetrations and Outlets : • Install foam outlet insulators on exterior wall outlets and switches. • Fill gaps around pipes coming in from the attic, crawl space or exterior. A spray foam insulation sealant works well for this application. The goal of these changes is to allow your systems to heat and cool the air inside your living space and not, as my dad would say, “the whole neighborhood!” Combine these simple steps with other energy-saving techniques, and you can make a positive impact on both your pocketbook and the environment. For more energy-saving tips, visit the Department of Energy at www.energy.gov or email requests to comments@southernhomemag.com.


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Give us a call at 704-896-7546 20915 East Catawba • Cornelius, NC 28031

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May 2009

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southern charm remodel European conversion: outdoor living in casual elegance

L

ake Norman’s Crawford Outdoor Living Area, by Urban Building Group is the 2008 recipient of a prestigious Contractor of the Year (COTY™) award, presented by the National Association of The Remodeling Industry. Each year, the COTY awards are given to contractors who have demonstrated outstanding work through their remodeling projects.

cottage. The homeowners did not need additional heated or cooled spaces; therefore, the focus was on creating a two-story veranda addition that would give the client the high-end, European conversion they desired. The addition provided 2,000 square feet of entertaining and recreation area and enhanced the home’s lake-side views, both from the interior and from the lake.

The Objective The goal of this project was to transform an ordinary house on the lake into an elegant French

Unique Challenges This project posed several challenges. Adding a structure without obstructing the view of the

lake, adhering to watershed guidelines, and creating a sense of openness despite a relatively low interior ceiling, were just a few obstacles to contend with. Designing for function without compromising architectural authenticity and beauty was of the utmost importance. The interior ceiling of the main house was set at 8 feet, so to gain more volume in the outside living area, the grade of the floor was lowered, which created a step down from the main house. This created a sense of openness that is imperative in a luxurious space of this caliber. Increasing the ceiling height of the outdoor space allowed for arches that span from column to column and gracefully frame the spectacular lake view. This is just one of the many details that set this project apart. It’s in the Details The new space includes a den with an outdoor fireplace, television and ample room for seating. The fireplace warms the outdoor living space, making the area welcoming year-round. To give an authentic, aged, European look to the fireplace, handpicked stones with a covering of moss were transported by hand and installed with great care to keep the moss intact.

Porch view 20 Southern Home

Before

May 2009


The ceiling of the veranda is constructed of decorative coffers, which hide the structural members, and tongue and groove bead board for texture, which creates a finished look. The exterior veneer and flooring is pre-cast concrete that beautifully mimics the look of limestone, a material that was deemed too heavy and cost prohibitive for the project. The new living space is equipped with an outdoor kitchen that includes a sink, ice maker, refrigerator and grill. The outdoor bar is perfect for entertaining and provides the homeowners with extra seating for large gatherings. Private Space The second-story addition provides additional outdoor living and is used as a sun porch for potting

and sun bathing. This space adjoins the intimate, master bedroom retreat, making it the perfect setting for morning coffee! Inspiration The homeowners took inspiration from their travels and applied particular elements that complemented their needs and desires. The combination of arches, columns, railings and pre-cast concrete completely transformed the rather ordinary façade of the home into a stunning, Europeanstyle home. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is appreciated and recognized by the homeowner, NARI and Southern Home Magazine. It is our hope that it will serve to inspire the creation of your own outdoor living retreat.

John Morgan, President Urban Building Group “This was an extremely challenging project. Anytime you are working with a roof tie-in, multiple level construction and of course pre-cast materials, there is little room if any for error. I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of our teams’ efforts and we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked on the transformation.” Contact him at: www.urbanbuildinggroup.com Have an interesting project? Let us know at: comments@ southernhomemag.com May 2009

Southern Home

21


bye bye blackbird

Backyard Nature By Joe Kaestner, Owner Wild Birds Unlimited of Huntersville By this time every year most of us are totally fed up with the blackbirds (family Icteridae) that have invaded our backyards. The largest and most problematic of these is the common grackle. Grackles are really quite beautiful, with their bright yellow eyes and iridescent plumage; and they’re not particularly aggressive. The problem with these birds is two-fold: they arrive in large flocks of twenty to thirty birds, which will frighten all of the smaller birds away, and they will eat almost anything. Another annoying Icterid is the brown-headed cowbird. Although the cowbirds don’t usually arrive in

22 Southern Home

May 2009

flocks as large as those of the grackles, and they are smaller and less intimidating to other birds, they do manage to gobble up quite a bit of bird food from our feeders. They are also our only native parasitic nesters. That is, the female cowbird will go around to the nests of other species, push out one of the eggs and deposit one of her own. Cowbirds don’t build their own nests and don’t feed their own young. They leave that up to the surrogate parents, usually a much smaller species who will, nevertheless, work tirelessly to feed the “adopted” offspring. Another member of the blackbird family that you may see in your backyard is the red-winged blackbird. The red-wing is more aggressively territorial than other Icterids, and, therefore, is far less likely to be flocking at this time of year. This blackbird is generally not too bothersome when visiting our feeders. Another species worth mentioning here is not actually a blackbird at all, but is generally lumped in with the Icterids because of its behavior and tendency to flock with blackbirds. That would be the European Starling (family Sturnidae). The starling was introduced to North America from Europe and has become quite a nuisance. Large flocks will descend on our feeders and clean them out in a matter of hours. They are also known to bully other native species,

like purple martins and woodpeckers, out of their nesting cavities. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single sure-fire method of removing the blackbirds and starlings from your yard.

The best way to deal with flocks of blackbirds invading your feeders is to take a four-pronged approach. 1. Blackbirds generally prefer to eat on the ground. Put plenty of bird food directly on the ground or in a ground feeder twenty or thirty feet away from other feeders. 2. Have at least one feeder that the larger blackbirds can’t get into (e.g., a caged-in feeder or a small feeder designed for small clinging birds, only). 3. Keep suet (a favorite of blackbirds and starlings) away from your other feeders or use a starling-proof suet feeder cage. 4. Have one feeder that contains only safflower. Blackbirds lack the beak strength to crack open this hardshelled seed. Blackbirds and starlings are also quite skittish and can be easily scared off by a couple of sharp hand claps. Once scared off, they will generally take longer to return to your feeders than the other smaller birds. At least we can all take some solace in the knowledge that the blackbird problem is usually a springtime-only phenomenon. So, take heart. They will be leaving us alone in just a few more weeks.


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thinking outside the pot

whimsey containers Bring a sense of fun, charm and character to your garden by adding an unexpected touch with unusual containers. Take items you already have and give them new life by adding colorful plants for a fun, eclectic look to your garden. Items that aren’t traditionally used as plant containers can often be transformed with little effort; however, there are a few points to consider.

Preservation of the Container Anything that can hold dirt and 24 Southern Home

APRIL 2009

water can be used as a container; however, if your chosen container is not necessarily designed to hold water or be outside in the elements, you can take measures to protect it. Lining the inside with plastic will help to keep sitting water from rotting the inside walls. Keeping the container under a patio cover to shield it from sun and rain will help to prolong its life. In some cases you can prime and paint the container with an oil base paint to help maintain the integrity of the container


when exposed to the elements. Plant Selection It is important to consider the types of plants you will be using. Slow growing succulents, cactus and colorful annuals tend to be less needy of space and can tolerate a shallower bed. Perennials with deeper roots are more prone to become root-bound, when the roots of your plant outgrow the container. Root-bound plants will have slower or smaller blooms and will begin to look “leggy” and wilt. If you are incorporating a variety of plant species, make sure they are all compatible regarding their sun, water and temperature requirements. Most nurseries will have labels to instruct you on the basic needs of the plant. In most cases, when choosing plants, trial and error will be required to find that perfect balance between form and function.

breeding ground for mosquitoes, mold and mildew so it is critical, especially if your pot is deep, to provide proper drainage. Drilling several holes at the bottom of your container allows excess water to flow out

ken clay pots or other non porous materials to provide a buffer between the soil and standing water.

Drainage Most plants do not like to sit in water. Standing water is also a

and prevents root rot. If you are not able to drill holes, apply a layer of small rocks at the bottom of the container so roots won’t be sitting directly in water. In larger containers you may want to have as much as 3 inches of rock at the bottom. You can also use pieces of bro-

Inspirations Choose an item that flows with the theme and feel of your garden. For example, if you have a natural, country feel, old-fashioned antique pieces might compliment your area. If you are more the clean-cut gardener, a more sleek option will suit you better. Galvanized buckets, tubs, wheelbarrows and watering cans have been a popular choice in the garden in recent years, but don't stop there. Inspirations can come from items you already have in the potting shed or laying around the house or yard. Old shoes can easily be turned (continued on page 27) APRIL 2009 Southern Home

25


perfect landscapes What makes good design? by Jay Henson Good design is creating a plan with multiple components or influences for a single purpose. To prepare a commercial site plan, mixed use plan or single family residence; one must investigate as many possible influences as possible to define the final product. A landscape architect is an excellent choice in providing a plan for a single family residence. Landscape architects, like other professionals, vary with specialized skills and experience. In the residential arena, a landscape architect would be involved in the early stages of locating the home site, researching the local codes (lake buffers, setbacks, impervious cover), developing a grading and erosion control plan, coordination of utili-

ties, assisting with permits, understanding soil conditions, identifying personal needs of the homeowner, acknowledging budget constraints, etc., to provide the best design possible. In addition, the Landscape Architect must be able to effectively collaborate with other professionals such as horticulturalists, architects, contactors, and product representatives to effectively implement the design. With the completion of a “Plan” the design does not stop. Now, the task of providing “Detailed Design” for assurance the plan is implemented per the original vision. Attention to details for materials, sizes, shapes, furnishings, and colors are critical for items such as, fences, pavers, pool decking, railings, and artwork.

Lastly, comes the finishing touches: identifying irrigation limits and preparing a lighting plan to accent special architectural or natural features. Henson Design, Inc. provides complete site design service including Landscape Architecture. Visit our website at www.hensondesigninc.com You may contact us at jay@hensondesigninc.com or by phone at 704-875-1615. Jay Henson is a registered Landscape Architect with over 20 years of experience and is currently licensed in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. A Landscape Architect is trained through education, experience, and an examination for certification. To read more about Landscape Architects, please visit our National Website at www.asla.org.


(continued from page 25) into planters. Make holes in the bottom for drainage through the sole. You can plant anything in these that are shallow-rooted and doesn't need a lot of depth. Cowboy boots can be adapted for indoor plants by placing a tall, plastic cup down in the boot to support the plant. Other articles of clothing that might double as creative planters include discarded hats. Use an old gardening hat with a wide brim for a country feel. They are usually made of straw so you don't have to make holes in them for drainage. Take broken clay pots and turn them on their side and partially bury them in the garden to give them an uncovered, ruin feel. An old vintage suitcase or trunk is better suited indoors or under shelter and can really add flair to any space. Add a liner for better results.

paying someone to pull it up or dig it out.

vider.

Paint cans, using several in a row, gives a sleek, modern look or you can use some various sized, rusty ones for a more rustic look.

Large, 5-gallon paint buckets can be painted copper or black for a more sophisticated look. Overstuff these with some annuals or lush greenery.

Use a keg or barrel if you need planters with some height. Cement blocks, with their perfect amount of space for a flower and no bottom to inhibit growth, can be used to line around a garden bed or set them in a row as a di-

Displaying your potted creations on your patio or amongst other plants and shrubs in your yard will give your garden a whimsical appeal that is unique and personalized. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.

It’s Time For a Change “I am so glad I switched. I was paying so much mor moree for a pool and basketball court that I wasn’t even using.” using.” Gold’ss Gym Member Gold’

Porcelain tubs can add interest to your garden and provides tons of room and space for deep growth. After the kids have outgrown their wagon, stick it in the yard and use it as a gardening tool tote. An old fashioned bird cage may be a challenge to find, but if successful, it will add beauty and charm to any yard or garden. Hang from a tree over the garden with some trailing verbena for a romantic touch. If you have cut down a tree and are waiting for the stump to rot, turn it into a planter. Use an ax to cut a deep hole into it, fill it with potting soil and add some sun-loving plants like ivy and colorful flowers. It’s an easy way to make an old stump look special, not to mention it's less expensive than

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Southern Home Magazine May 2009  

Homes, Yards and Gardens of Lake Norman

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