In & Around the Home Aug. 2020

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In & Around




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Create a work-from-home office that works An easy – yet unexpected – recipe for the grill The 20–80 rule that slays the cluttered closet Sod vs. Turf – to mow, or not to mow

T A M P A B AY T I M E S S P E C I A L A D V E R T I S I N G S E C T I O N Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Let the sunshine in Brand-new windows are the rock stars of home upgrades


uality windows are an expense to be sure. But an extravagance? Hardly! Of the many improvements you can make to your home, upgrading your windows is at the top of the list in terms of ROI, because their benefits are so long-lasting and varied. Greater security and protection The added peace of mind during hurricane season is priceless. Impact-resistant windows will give you significant protection and strength against violent weather, strong winds, even attempted break-ins. Of course, if you lose your house key, breaking in through the kitchen window is no longer on the menu. Energy efficiency Well constructed, snugly installed windows will not only enhance your home’s curb ap-


TYPES OF WINDOWS: Double-hung windows

- Sashes tilt out for easy operation and cleaning - Traditional look - Many sizes and colors available

Sliding windows

- Larger glass area lets in more natural light - Slides open or shut - Modern look

By Sally Moe, Times correspondent -peal, they will eliminate air leaks and reduce energy costs, so your AC doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your home cool. Depending on the windows you choose, that energy savings alone could add up to as much as 12 percent a month. Additionally, some products qualify for energy company rebates and PACE funding assistance. Sound reduction Light sleepers and weekend slugabeds rejoice; Upgraded windows will soften exterior racket like road traffic, barking dogs and late night partying. Zzzzzzz… Easier maintenance Depending on the type of window you choose, they will be easier to clean, because any grids are set between glass panes, and you can easily pivot panes toward or away from

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

you, making access to the outside surface much easier. Furthermore, they help minimize the fading effects of the sun, protecting your artwork, upholstery and furnishings. Yes, new windows are pricy. Good-quality double-hung vinyl windows start in the mid-tohigh $200s, and pricing goes up from there, depending on the type, size and options you choose. With a typical house having at least 10 windows, and adding installation to that, the non-pop stars among us might be tempted to DIY to save money. But don’t underestimate the value of seasoned installers — when you choose wisely, the major time and effort they save you is well worth the additional cost. Many installations can be finished in a day or two. Plus, most installers offer financing or

Casement windows

- Opens outward by turning handle - Lets fresh air in - Modern look

Awning windows

- Made with insulated glass - Operated with a crank system - Great for bathrooms or kitchens

Hurricane windows

- Tested to withstand hurricane-force winds - Resist windborne debris and water infiltration - Eliminate the need for storm panels

payment arrangements. (Options include a payment plan that postpones your first pament for a year, 0% interest financing for 25 months, or 60 months with no interest with minimum payments.) Some installers do not require payment until the job is completed and the client is completely satisfied with the result. Before you make a decision on who and what, visit to compare value and ratings of window brands; visit the Better Business Bureau at, as well as Angies and/or to compare ratings and customer reviews of installation companies that serve our area. Compare your three or four favorites; most offer free estimates and will give you the details you need to decide if they are the installers for you.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Stressed out? Just say spa-ahhhh E

njoying the great outdoors is something we sometimes take for granted. We live in a state of many distinctions, one that boasts a warm, tropical climate and an abundance of sunshine. And while Floridians — and visitors alike — love basking in the summer sun, there’s nothing more refreshing than cooling off in a pool or spa. When you can’t hit the beach, a pool or spa can offer a great respite from the summer heat. Either choice is an ideal way to gather with friends and family, cool off, and just plain relax. It’s a Florida thing, after all!

Options for pools and spas have grown in recent years. One example are swim spas, which continue to gain popularity for several



Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

By Steve Wilson, Times correspondent

reasons, according to Cindi Magray, President of Spa Manufacturers, Inc., in Clearwater. “They’re very easy to maintain, with a locking hard-safety cover. They feature ozone purification and acrylic surfaces that never need to be refinished.” “They also have a built-in heater for yearround use,” she added.“And the installation process doesn’t take long, so they can be used the same day they’re delivered.” All the customer needs is a solid foundation, which can be a concrete slab, pavers or a patio deck. “What’s unique about a swim spa are the swim jets,” Cindi said.“The jets supply resistance to swim against, while the other end is a hot tub, complete with therapy jets. It truly gives you

a hot tub and a pool all in one, with a small footprint. Swim spas are great for smaller backyards, too.” With many travel plans canceled or put on hold this year, the pool industry has seen an uptick in customers spending more time and money on creating an outdoor paradise. The benefits are many; adding a pool or spa gives you the chance to escape, year-round, in your own backyard. Swim spas and underwater treadmills also offer a great workout, and water exercise is much easier on the joints. “And they’re fun to use!”Magray was quick to add.

“Our customers really like our patented LED waterfall, and our bar and stool packages,” Cindi said.“We’re also seeing an increase in our custom pergola and gazebos.” And what about

maintenance?“Our factory-built hot tubs and swim spas conform to UL listings, and all equipment is confill and tained under the cabinet. You fill drain with a garden hose, about every six months.” And while pools and spas are relaxing and beneficial to good health, every owner should keep pool safety paramount in their minds. Pools and spas should be secured with appropriate

barriers, and anti-entrapment drain covers are a must. If a child is missing, check the water first.

“Adult supervision,” she admonishes. “Nothing takes the place of adult supervision.”

What’s the safest way to prevent a water tragedy? With years of experience on the subject, Cindi Magray offers two words.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Organize your closet

It can change how you feel about everything By Sally Moe, Times correspondent


f there’s anything sheltering in place is good for, besides living in your jammies, it’s decluttering. Clutter in your home is a stressor. It acts as an assault, or a scold, judging you whenever you set eyes on it. You might be able to ignore it when you spend 8 hours a day or more at work somewhere else, but when you’re at home most of the time, you can’t escape it. So how do you deal with it? Where do you start? From one procrastinator to another: You start small. Start with your



master closet. And while you’re doing this, remember one important thing: the 20-80 rule. In this case, it means most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. (In a pandemic, it’s probably more like a 5-95 rule, but you get the idea.) Set up some labeled boxes or bags, whatever works best for you visually. Label them TRASH and DONATE and CONSIGN. Now remove all shoes, boots, handbags, hats, and accessories and pile them separately by type on your bed. What ha-

Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

ven’t you worn in the last year? Or five? Depending on what shape it’s in, either give it to charity, sell it on consignment, or pitch it. Allow yourself a few items for sentimenta reasons, if you’re feeling that pull; but only a few. Be brutal. The more you say goodbye, the easier it gets. Seriously. Now all the clothes on hangers. How many of these have seen the light of day in the last year? Maybe, like this writer, you lost weight several years ago, and

bought loads of cute things in a size that is now a distant memory. They go. Sorry. Don’t save them for when you lose weight again. You might lose weight again, you might not — but you’ll want new stuff anyway if you do. If they’re still in style today, they go to consignment. If you have a feeling they’ll sit in the trunk of your car for six months (or years), take them straight to charity. Now look at your empty closet. Vacuum everything, run cleaning wipes over

the structure and baseboards — wherever needed. What comes next is limited only by your imagination, and the amount of time and money you want to invest. You could have a custom-designed closet (bucket list, angels singing) professionally installed.. (Remember Karen’s closet in Will & Grace? The one Jack loved so much he ‘would never have come out of it’?) If you don’t have that kind of time or money, you can do a more low-tech refresh and set up a shoe storage rack or two (the biggest ones typically hold 30 pairs); wall hooks for bras, handbags and belts; and some labeled see-thru boxes to hold sweaters, workout gear, hats and the like. At this point in your project, depending on the configuration of your closet, you could even relocate a bureau or jewelry cabinet from the main bedroom, which would open up space out there as well. This is also an ideal time to install a wall or door mirror, a tie rack, add sachets or cedar items to keep the space smelling fresh, and attach a tap light in an area that

could use some additional illumination. Now move the remaining clothes and accessories back in. Only the things you wear now, or would wear now if life hadn’t changed so completely. Two more tips: use matching hangers and hang them in the same direction to unify the whole look of your closet, and arrange the hanging clothes by color and type. Blouses and shirts, dresses, jackets, slacks and jeans. Think that’s too anal? Think again. This way, you know exactly what you have at a glance, and you won’t end up wasting money on similar or duplicate items you don’t need. And if everything in your closet is just what you wear now, you will be amazed at how it makes you feel. A burden has been lifted. Your clothes and accessories reflect who you are at this very minute, and what’s more, they can breathe.

Knowing exactly what you have, and where to find it, is life changing. Imagine how amazing you will feel if your whole house is this organized. Hey, it could happen. Start small, and work up from there.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


From Beast to Beauty:

K Kitchen Makeovers By Lisa Schillinger, Times correspondent


wo of the most beautiful words in the English language are Kitchen Makeover. And the most terrifying. It’s a huge undertaking, but the results are usually well worth it. The first step in a kitchen remodel is to determine your budget. According to Forbes .com, a kitchen makeover can vary from $2,000 for a simple paint-and-hardware refresh to $50,000 or more if you’re remodeling with expensive countertops, cabinets and luxury appliances. Once you’ve set a budget, it’s time to start planning. Hiring a designer may save you money in the long run, but be sure to find out how they charge. If you have to order everything through them and pay a markup, it could get pricy. If a designer is not in your budget, take advantage of free advice through home improvement centers. If you hire a contractor, they sometimes offer a free design consultation.

CMK Construction, Inc. specializes in kitchen, bathroom, residential and commercial remodeling in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Manny Kavouklis is president of CMK, which has been in business since 2004 and has an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau. He tells his customers the two most important things are “have a basic layout of what you want, and research your contractor. Check to make sure they’re licensed with the state of Florida and check their online reviews.” He also says it’s important to realize you’re not going to have a kitchen for a few weeks. Some of the biggest trends Kavouklis is seeing are white or grey Shaker cabinets. “Quartz is also very popular”for countertops because it is more stain resistant and overall a harder surface. Gary LeStrange of PGT Cabinets concurs, “People used to want granite, but now it’s mostly quartz. You can get the look of marble without the headaches. It’s non-porous

and requires no maintenance.” Le Strange cabinets. “Eighty also agrees about the cabinets.“Eighty percent of what we’re doing is white Shaker – different whites, warm whites. Light greys are also becoming popular.” PGT Cabinets has been in business since 2002 and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. LeStrange said they have two locations in Carrollwood and New Tampa, where customers can come in and browse samples of cabinets and countertops. Additionally, Kavouklis said customers should embrace extras like pull-out drawers because they frequently wish they had included them after the fact. Once the cabinets are built, you can’t go back. They require special modifications, so they have to be planned ahead. Some examples of these include knife drawers, spice racks, pantry pull-outs, pot drawers, corner cabinets with lazy susans, and drawers for a trash can or recycling. Customers can see options for cabinets, countertops and flooring in CMK’s recently remodeled showroomin Oldsmar. Kavouklis is also seeing a lot of customers who want to open up the kitchen to the family room, and“take out a load bearing wall to get a larger space and a more open feeling.” In flooring, Kavouklis said the trend is for larger plank tiles (6”x48”for example) that look like wood or marble. Another trend, coming from Miami, is the“large format tiles that may be 24”x48”or even larger.” Both of these options often have very narrow grout joints so that in some cases “you may not even realize there is grout between them.”


| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

Kavouklis gave one final word of advice: when comparing price quotes,“make sure you’re seeing an apples to apples comparison as far as what products you’re getting — like your countertops and cabinets.” CMK Construction, Inc. is located at 440 Roberts Road, Suite #4, Oldsmar, FL 34677 To schedule an appointment, call (727) 800-1644 or go to PGT Cabinets has two locations: Carrollwood – 5354 West Village Drive, Tampa, FL 33624 New Tampa – 6431 E. County Line Road #102, Tampa, FL 33647 For more information, go to To schedule an appointment, call (813) 968-9605.

25 Tips for RemodelingYour Kitchen: 1) Spend more time planning than construction will take. This will avoid headaches later. 2) Set up a temporary kitchen – in your laundry room or another room (preferably one with water). A place where you can do dishes and have a small microwave or toaster oven, coffeemaker, and maybe a mini-fridge (or move your old fridge to the garage). Realize that living without a kitchen won’t be convenient. 3) Keep the same footprint – plumbing, electric and walls should stay where they are. This will help you stay within your budget. If not, you may need to hire a contractor. 4) Minimize your work triangle – make a triangle between the sink, fridge and primary cooking surface. The distance for each leg should be four to nine feet and the total should be no more than 26 feet. Make sure your dishwasher is right next to your sink. 5) Determine your island’s function – cooking, eating, or both? Do you want all one height or two? 6) Try out an island – live with a model made of plywood or even cardboard in your kitchen for a while to see if the size, placement and walkways are going to work.

7) Create wide walkways – at least 36 inches. In the cooking areas you’ll need 42 inches for one cook and 48 inches for two or more cooks. 8) Leave plenty of counterspace on both sides of the sink and landing space near the cooktop, fridge, and microwave. If you cook a lot, you’ll want more counterspace between the range and the sink. 9) If you entertain frequently, consider a second oven, sink, microwave and a minifridge for guests to use that’s outside the main work area. Or place your main fridge in an area where both guests and the cook can access it. 10) If you have children, keep the cook top away from traffic patterns and consider a below-the-counter microwave. 11) Choose appliances and sink early – these affect the measurements for your cabinets. (See our related story on choosing new appliances for a kitchen remodel in our Homes section online at 12) Don’t mismatch appliances. Some appliance colors vary widely by manufacturer.

13) If you’re not replacing your fridge, leave space for the newer, wider models. 14) Choose a flush-set or undermount sink for easier cleanup. Remember, all your design choices will affect ease of cleanup. 15) Pick one focal point in your kitchen – maybe a tile backsplash. Keep other materials simple. 16) Include some natural materials – leather bar stools, wood or stone accents 17) Carry your samples with you – cabinets, countertops, tile, hardware, paint chips – all pieces of the puzzle so you can see how they fit together. 18) Don’t scrimp on hardware and faucets.

21) Make lighting a priority – both ambient lighting and task lighting. Consider under-cabinet, over-cabi net, recessed and pendant lighting. Add dimmer switches and lights inside display cabinets. 22) Add electrical outlets to an older kitchen. 23) Order countertops after cabinets are in to avoid measuring mistakes. 24) Make space for a mini-office – just a desktop height counter where you could use a laptop works. Add internet access, and an electrical outlet. 25) Don’t trash your existing cabinets. Repurpose them for your garage or laundry room. You can give them a fresh coat of white semi-gloss. A professional spray paint job is even better. Or give them away.

19) Add storage. Cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling provide storage for rarely used or holiday items. Plus, you don’t have to dust cabinet tops. 20) Break up cabinetry with glass doors or display shelves.


Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? By Brad Buck, UF/IFAS Communications University of Florida Contractors and landscapers often lay sod in the summer because rain helps the grass grow. But you don’t necessarily have to bear the brunt of beastly heat to lay sod, says a UF/IFAS scientist and Extension specialist. Getting the grass to“take”is more a matter of preparing the soil than the time of year you put down the sod, said Laurie Trenholm, a UF/ IFAS professor of environmental horticulture and statewide turf grass Extension specialist. “I would probably usually go with spring as the ideal time to lay sod; but the most important factor is how well the ground is prepped prior to sodding or seeding.” Why spring? Because that’s when the grasses start growing due to longer days and warmer temperatures. But it’s dry, so irrigation may be necessary. Trenholm offers these suggestions to get the most out of the sod you install: Till in organic matter, remove construction debris, grade the ground or repair or replace irrigation if needed. Trenholm explains that without proper site preparation and post-installation care, sod can die almost as easily as any other newly planted area. Trenholm urges you to inspect sod carefully to ensure there are no weeds, insects or stressed areas.


| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

Establishing new sod is often the“single the “single largest usage of water in the residential setting,” said Whitney Elmore, urban horticulture agent and director of UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County.“During the first 10 days or so, you want to make sure your sod does not dry out, and you want to support new root growth,” she said.“Depending on the time of year, this can be achieved through brief applications of water in frequent, short‘bursts’throughout the day during the first few weeks of establishment.”

Artificial turf is gaining ground in Florida By Steve Wilson, Times correspondent

For homeowners in Florida, keeping up with yard work is a never-ending battle. First there’s the watering. Then the mowing. And of course, there’s always the need to pull weeds, blow grass clippings from sidewalks, and edge the driveway. Add a summer rainy season, and lots of sunshine, and these tasks can consume hours of time each week. But there’s an emerging alternative to natural grass lawns that’s becoming popular. It’s a choice that all but eliminates most yard work, and can have a positive effect on the environment at the same time. Known as artificial grass, fake grass, or artificial turf, it’s moved beyond athletic venues and is making strides in residential and commercial landscaping. But is artificial grass right for you? Like anything else, there are some significant pros and cons. On the plus side, having artificial turf dramatically reduces the need for constant watering, without sacrificing the beauty of a well-kept lawn. Given Tampa Bay’s frequent drought conditions, water conservation helps the

enviroment. Your budget also takes less of a hit, since you’re not constantly using a sprinkler system. And there are no worries about coming in contact with it; the materials used in manufacturing it are non-toxic. In the same vein, artificial grass doesn’t require herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers, making it a safer choice for families; and it can last for years. Now take the cost of lawn mowers, trimmers, and fuel out of the equation. Factoring in those considerations, the best-quality artificial grass pays for itself in just a few years. It’s durable, too, able to withstand Florida’s harsh summer sun, and is fade- and stain-resistant. Even better, no chinch bugs or gopher holes, and the newest generation of artificial grass looks so much like the real thing your neighbors might be fooled. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, even if it is commercially manufactured. Artificial turf has its downside, too. In the past, there were concerns about water run-off from the crumb rubber infill that is a part of artificial grass, but today there are alternatives

to infill material. Also, artificial turf holds more surface heat than its natural counterpart, and it can feel very warm to the touch. Some materials used in the manufacturing process can also raise that temperature. And while it’s not flammable, it can melt if exposed to intense heat—a hot charcoal, or direct sunlight reflected from a window. Despite this, it can be repaired or replaced. Do you have pets, or does your neighborhood have its fair share of dog-walkers? Like a natural lawn, if you don’t clean up messes, odors can certainly build up. How this product is made is also something to think about. Artificial turf is

petroleum-based; it’s plastic, and it isn’t biodegradable, and those are definitely some things to consider if you’re a homeowner interested in changing your lawn. Is it right for you? A case can be made either way, but it’s a decision best made in consultation with a reputable dealer or landscaper, while addressing environmental concerns and reviewing local ordinances.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Recipes for unexpected grilled sides:

Have you tried grilled watermelon? By Michelle Stark, Times Food and Lifestyle Editor


dd some sparkle to your traditional barbecue fare this summer with unexpected grillables. It's easy to get into a grilling rut. Pork chops, burgers, chicken wings — not much effort required to rub these proteins with spices and slap them on a hot grate. They're simple and fast, which is why you're apt to rely on them. So let's shake up the sides. Fruits and veggies take on a whole different flavor when they start to sweat, the heat from the grill caramelizing the


sugars in stone fruit especially — plums, peaches and the like. We know that a lightly wilted stalk of romaine lettuce makes for the bones of a killer Caesar salad. But have you ever tasted the ooey, gooey delight of a melty, slightly charred avocado? Embrace the produce aisle as you shop for your next backyard feast, and make these light, quintessential summer recipes to go along with the T-bones and baby back ribs. They'll hold up to the heat just fine.

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

Grilled Watermelon Caprese

¼ cup balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon ground cardamom ½ (5-pound) seedless watermelon Extra-virgin olive oil Fleur de sel (or any good flake salt) 2 cups organic baby arugula, washed and dried 1 cup crumbled goat cheese Ground black pepper, to taste Preheat your grill. Real wood charcoal tastes best, but gas works fine. Avoid instant-light briquettes as they make food taste like lighter fluid. Aim for medium-high heat. If your grill lid has a thermometer built into the lid, it should read about 375 degrees. Place the vinegar and cardamom in a small saucepan and simmer (on the stovetop) to reduce to a syrup, roughly 20 minutes. Do not allow to

burn. When it is about the texture of warm maple syrup, remove from the heat and strain through fine mesh or cheesecloth into a heatproof bowl. Use caution. It can stick to your hands and burn you. Meanwhile, slice the watermelon into squares, without the rind, about 3 by 3 inches and ¾ inch thick. Brush them lightly with the olive oil. Grill watermelon about 2 minutes per side, or until it is marked nicely. Remove and season with the salt. Arrange on a plate, alternating layers of watermelon, then arugula, then cheese, then repeat for a three-layer "stack" on each plate. Alternatively, arrange all stacks on a serving platter.

Drizzle with the balsamic reduction, sprinkle to taste with ground black pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4. Source:

Do look down: Flooring trends in 2020


ew things can transform the function and feel of your home like new flooring. Installed throughout, it can unify every room or space, making your home feel bigger, better built and more upscale.

Choices available are almost endless. To narrow it down, think about what is most important to you. Do you want something that can stand up to kids and pets, or are you after a particular look (elegant, traditional, urban, mid century, rustic)? Here’s a glance at what’s out there, starting with the most affordable options. Polished concrete A stylish yet economical flooring material that can stand up to Florida’s humidity, polished concrete gives a home a custom look (that can be modern, industrial or rustic), is invulnerable to mold and moisture damage, and properly maintained, can last a lifetime. It is highly versatile in terms of how it can be made to look — with dyes and air brushing, scoring, stencils, divider strips and decorative embeds. The more you customize the look, the higher the price.

Resilient flooring Have you considered resilient (vinyl or linoleum) flooring? Enjoying a leap in popularity thanks to its resistance to water, stains and sun, low maintenance and (in the case of planks or tiles) no-gap technology, vinyl flooring — which can convincingly mimic wood, ceramic or stone in appearance — will take the punishment a busy family delivers without breaking a sweat. Slip-resistant styles of vinyl and linoleum are available, a plus for anyone prone to falls. According to HGTV, a good-quality vinyl floor can last 20 years. Linoleum is even more durable, and according to DIY Network, can last up to 40 years with proper care; but tends to yellow in areas exposed to sunlight, and is less water resistant. Carpet Carpet has its detractors, but its fans love the softer feel, warmth on bare feet, and sound-absorbing effect of carpet, especially in bedrooms. Could it ever become a bathroom staple? Maybe — because 100% waterproof carpet is now a thing. It costs more, but you’re paying for the fact that mold and mildew are no longer an issue, and how spills don’t pass through the backing and can be easily blotted away. Overall, design trends in carpet include

By Sally Moe, Times correspondent

bold new colors and patterns, and interesting textures; grey is still big as a neutral. Inexpensive carpet tile, while easy to install, is not for every room — but it’s a great choice for a playroom, craft room or home gym. Ceramic and porcelain tile In Florida’s subtropical climate, ceramic and porcelain tile are always popular and practical. Both are cool underfoot, can be installed on concrete slabs (which most Florida homes are built on), and can work for every room in the house. A bonus: wood-look tile has the look of hardwood, but the easier cleanup, water resistance and greater durability of tile. Porcelain tile, a subset of ceramic tile that is harder, denser, and better resists stains and moisture damage, is more expensive; but is not recommended for DIY projects. Hardwood There’s no denying the classic beauty and warmth of hardwood. But in this climate, you might do better with engineered hardwood. Its manufactured boards are made of several recycled layers of wood (typically, 3-7 layers or more), which make it more resistant to moisture and humidity. Beautiful and long-lasting, the

material is stronger than real hardwood. With that said, real hardwood can be refinished up to 7 times, vs. engineered hardwood, which can only be refinished 1 to 3 times, if at all. Terrazzo Terrazzo flooring is making its comeback tour, whether in the form of large-format (2’x2’ or 4’x4’) tiles or poured flooring. A polished amalgam of crushed glass, shells, quartz and stone fragments mixed with a cement and/ or epoxy binder, this look in flooring exudes old Florida as well as mid-century modern. Properly sealed terrazzo is cool underfoot, impervious to water and stains, easy to clean with a neutral pH cleaner, and practically indestructible; however, it may occasionally need resealing. Terrazzo adds a very specific vibe to a home. Poured terrazzo is more expensive to install than tiled.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |


Peace, Love and HomeOffice Harmony ny By Lisa Schillinger, Times correspondent


orking from home without losing your ever-loving mind has become the new Nirvana these days. With the coronavirus pandemic and more people working from home than ever before, finding peace, love and harmony in your home office can be a challenge. At best, many people have to combat social isolation — at worst, a spouse who also works from home and three noisy kids. So, here are some tips for setting up your home office during a pandemic or anytime.

Find a dedicated space

Ideally, you have a separate room — with a door. This might be a room that was actually designed as a home office or an extra bedroom or guestroom that can serve double duty. Having a door is helpful to provide a space with quiet and privacy so you can take phone calls or participate in Zoom meetings. (See spouse and kids above.) If you have to meet clients, you may want a space close to the front of your home. If you don’t have an extra room, try to carve out a niche in another quiet area in your home — the living room, dining room or even a large closet or laundry room could work. Provided the laundry can wait until evenings. Purchasing a room divider or screen may help limit distractions from family members, pets and TVs.

“The most important aspect of setting up a home office is to pick a space where you can eliminate the most distractions. Make sure your space is quiet, away from the main traffic areas, and can be secured for privacy when necessary,” said Michael Varnadore, owner and president of Nerds to Go - Tampa.“A lot of companies are using Zoom or other video-based products for meetings now, so you want to make sure you eliminate background noise and that you have an appropriate backdrop behind you that is free of clutter.”

Choose an ergonomic desk and chair

“We’ve been helping people set up home offices forever,” said Edwin Celeiro, president and


owner of Office Furniture Center (OFC) Tampa. The company has been in business since 1987 and sells a wide variety of office furniture for both residential and commercial uses. Customers are“tired of sitting at a breakfast nook or dining room table.” They come in looking for a desk and a chair because their back hurts from working on the couch.

the highest-level operating system that their system will allow.” “Security is essential, so make sure you are running a good quality anti-virus program that detects threats in real time from both email and websites,” said Varnadore“A web cam cover is also recommended so that you can cover the camera when it is not in use.”

“We sell ergonomic chairs and height-adjustable desks or tables. If someone is 5'2", they need it lower than someone who is 5'10", said Celeiro.“You can adjust it to the proper height. ”You can also sit or use it as a standing desk. “And we’re very conscious of helping you find something in your price range.”

If you’re working from a laptop, you may be able to save your eyes by casting to a larger display or even your TV. This just requires an HDMI cable. A second display, an ergonomic mouse, keyboard and pullout tray might also be good investments. If you’re working where noise from your household interferes, you may also want headphones or a headset for phone calls or Zoom meetings.

Features to look for in an ergonomic chair include: adjustable height, backrest, armrest and seat depth, 360-degree swivel base and built-in lumbar support. “Like an incorrect desk height, an improperly crafted chair can cause you to slouch or roll your hips,” said Barb Scherer of Badcock Home Furniture & More.“Not only can this hinder focus and efficiency, but it can also wreak havoc on your back. Choose a desk chair with padding, lumbar support, and a way to adjust height to ensure your day is as comfortable as it is productive.”

Upgrade Technology

With the shift to working from home, many people may need to upgrade their computer, display or internet speeds. Talk to your internet provider about upgrading to service with faster internet speeds. According to Spectrum. com, use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi to get the best speed. “From a technology perspective, the system that you use (laptop or desktop) should be able to easily run multiple applications simultaneously with no lag time,“ said Varnadore.“I recommend a minimum of 8Gb RAM. Microsoft users should be on Windows 10 with the latest updates. Apple users should be running

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times

Consider the little things Natural lighting

will help you feel more energetic and increase creativity, and it’s good for your mental health. Try to choose a location for your home office that has natural lighting. You will also need some other form of lighting — ideally, both ambient and task lighting. Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and drowsiness. Having proper lighting will also help you appearmore professional when on video calls.

Design your space.

Add color, artwork and personal items. Red, orange and yellow create energy and foster optimism. Blue and green create a calming environment and reduce stress.

Add something green.

Plants create a relaxing environment, eliminate harmful toxins and produce oxygen. According to feng shui — the ancient Chinese art of arranging objects and space to achieve harmony and balance — green is associated with growth and decisiveness.

Embrace organization.

Clear your workspace of clutter. If space is an issue, consider floating shelves. Purchase some organizational bins, baskets or a filing cabinet. Think functional, but pick things you love to improve your happiness and productivity. Nerds To Go is a computer repair and technology company with more than 30 locations nationwide. Their Tampa location is at 19651 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33647. You can reach them at 813-321-1700 or online at Office Furniture Center (OFC) Tampa is located at 2117 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606. You can reach them at 813-254-7253 or online at

Badcock Home Furniture & More and is headquartered in Mulberry, FL and has more than 300 stores across the southeastern United States. To find a store near you, visit Sources:,,,, The,

How pure is the air you’re

breath breathing? th By Sally Moe, Times correspondent


his has been a tough year, and it’s not done yet. Mixed messaging and confusing information about the COVID-19 pandemic have those of us who are sheltering in place and wearing masks wondering if we’re doing enough to keep the virus at bay. Wondering if we even can do enough. The purity of the air we breathe at home has a direct impact on our health and well-being. According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels (even in the largest and most industrialized cities) and in some cases these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. Furthermore, high temperature and humidity levels — a Florida hallmark — can increase concentrations of some pollutants. And all of that is when there isn’t a raging pandemic going on. Air Purifiers So you might be wondering. Could an air purifier keep you safer from the coronavirus? The short answer: to a degree. It won’t give you complete protection, but it will have a protective effect. An air purifier equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air)-rated filter can technically capture a portion of airborne virus-sized particles. Once trapped in a HEPA filter, viruses cannot multiply on their own (they have to get into you to do that) or remain infectious for long. But NO air purifier can completely protect you from a virus. The role air purifiers are truly designed for is removing odors and particles that aggravate asthma, allergies and chemical sensitivities — namely, tobacco or wildfire smoke, pet hair and dander, and dust and pollen. And a purifier equipped with an activated carbon filter can also be relied on to filter out odors and VOCs (volatile organic compounds — emitted by paints, solvents, carpet, pesticides, cleaners, air fresheners, upholstery).

Regardless of their type, air filters work only as well as you maintain them — cleaning and replacing filters as necessary, having the right size for the area you want to treat (i.e. a bedroom or craft room), and running them 24/7 at the recommended speeds. Additionally, they need to be positioned away from curtains, furniture and walls so that air can circulate thoroughly around and through them. Like any appliance, air purifiers can be expensive, but there are some relative bargains. Prices start at around $150 and go up from there, depending on their size, power and features. Check for ratings and to compare price, effectiveness, noise levels and ease of use. HVAC UV germicidal lights Another potential fix for bad air is UV germicidal lights. Installed in AC units (or hardwired in their ductwork), these lights kill mold, fungus, bacteria and viruses, which are a threat to your AC’s health (not to mention your own) thanks to Florida’s humid climate. You can pay to have this done by your AC technician, or if you’re handy, you can buy and install them yourself. The lights, which are sold either singularly or in a pair, come with installation directions. Prices range from $80 to $125, and bulb life is approximately 9 to 14 months. Obviously, these solutions can get pricy. But keep reading; there are cheap fixes, too. One more use for white vinegar A buildup of algae, mold and bacteria can clog the drain line of your AC, and if that happens, water will back up into the drain pan (which can lead to water damage in your home if the cutoff switch isn’t working) and your AC will cease to cool. This can be avoided with a monthly infusion of 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar (or hydrogen peroxide if the smell bothers you). Ask your AC tech for advice on where and how to add to your particular AC.

Tampa Bay Times

| Sunday, August 23, 2020 |



| Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Tampa Bay Times