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design ✦ improve ✦ garden ✦ live

make it merry ON DISPLAY holiday decor hardware trends

SEASON OF GIVING community service gifts from the kitchen

WINTER FUN christmas cookies game night


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“From the first time I met with them, I knew I would trust them to build my dream home. They have a wonderful staff that was extremely helpful throughout the process. They made excellent recommendations and the quality of work is outstanding. I really enjoyed getting to know this team! The end product has exceeded my expectations. Highly recommend!” ~ Diane V. – Mathews, VA “We LOVE everything about our home from Virginia Building Solutions! This was our second time building a new home and the folks at VBS made the process easy and smooth. They took us through each step and brought our vision to life!! We highly recommend them to anyone looking to build their dream home!” ~ Allison & Matt S. – Hanover, VA


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CONTENTS Roanoke Valley HOME Holiday/Winter 2020

17 41

78 features

showcase home

HOLIDAY HOT SPOTS Festive decorating strategies for your home

HILLSIDE HOLIDAY Making memories in a renovated Colonial in South Roanoke






THE SEASON OF GIVING Local organizations help neighbors in need BY RORY RHODES


THE HOME OFFICE Tips and tricks to make your space work BY JESSIE THOMPSON LIKE US ON FACEBOOK HOME Magazine

48 Cover photo by Jared Hall at the home of Heather and Jerod Greer.

r vhomemaga zine .com 9

H O L I DAY/ W I N T E R 2020




Metallic hardware adds sparkle to your spaces BY KATE ERICSSON


Give beloved pieces a new look BY KENDALL ATKINS LIVICK



Animal hides and prints add flair to any interior BY AMELIA POORE



What to know about replacing your water heater BY PAULA PETERS CHAMBERS


Organize your space with great displays BY JANE RENNYSON




Conifers offer a variety of trees and shrubs BY BECKY CALVERT


Holiday plants make delightful presents BY MARGIE LIPPARD



Spice up the holidays with infused spirits and vinegars BY SLOANE LUCAS


Deliver big batches of fun BY MARSHA GALE


Unplug and relax with old-school pastimes


24 R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

Don’t just pick a contractor


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LOCAL EDITOR’S note When crafting my editor’s note, I always start the process by reading the previous year’s note. But looking at what I wrote for the Holiday issue in 2019 made me realize Holiday 2020 will look quite different from all angles! Not to worry; HOME will have you embracing the seasonal traditions and thinking outside the box to celebrate and make new memories as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Our Holiday Showcase Home is a family home with a traditional feel, but the modern accents and conveniences will inspire. The home, decorated in its holiday finery, abounds with natural greenery throughout. Homeowner Heather Greer has collected silver bells through the years and featuring the entire silver bell collection on the Christmas tree is absolutely stunning. Animal prints and hides are gaining in popularity. Learn how best to use them in your decor as well as how to care for and maintain them for optimal longevity. Also trending: gold hardware finishes. Options include brushed gold, champagne bronze, satin gold, copper, honey bronze and more. There are so many choices; HOME will help you make the most of this accent color. Evergreens are the stars of the winter garden and this issue offers an overview of favorite conifers for your yard. The holidays mean gift giving even through COVID-19 restrictions. Plants are the perfect gift to give and to receive. Amaryllis, paperwhites, and succulents bring cheer and fresh greenery (and zero calories) to friends and family, near and far.

Homemade gifts are always appreciated any time of the year, but it seems at holiday time, we are in high gear to make something wonderful to share with neighbors and friends. This season try making infused spirits or vinegars. Try easy recipes for gifting such as mint-infused bourbon or pepper-infused vodka (think quick Bloody Marys). Looking for an activity during a break from Zooming and online learning? Big-batch cookie baking may fit the bill! One big batch of cookie dough can be transformed into many different cookie/dessert options, sure to tempt your taste buds. After the cookie baking, why not bring game night back into rotation? We’ve all had enough screen time, so revisit the board games of your childhood as well as games that are new to the table. And the snacks—don’t forget the game night snacks! Our feature article on local non-profits providing food and housing for Roanokers in need and transition provides program information and ways we might be able to give our time, talents or financial support during the season of giving. We can all play a part in the change we want to see in our region. As we wrap up a turbulent 2020, together, let’s look forward to a new year, a healthier year. Unquestionably, ready or not here comes 2021! Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday, and as always, thank you for reading.

Anne Marie Poore annemarie@westwillowpublishing.com

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VOLUME 13 ISSUE 5 PUBLISHER Julie Pierce EDITOR Meridith Ingram ART DIRECTOR Edwana Coleman LOCAL EDITOR Anne Marie Poore




CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Becky Calvert Paula Peters Chambers Kate Ericsson Marsha Gale Katherine Fulghum Knopf Margie Lippard Kendall Atkins Livick Sloane Lucas Noelle Milam Amelia Poore Jane Rennyson Rory Rhodes Christy Rippel Jessie Thompson PHOTOGRAPHER Jared Hall GRAPHIC DESIGNER Donna Collins OPERATIONS MANAGER Marianne Schatvet ADVERTISING SALES Julia Belvin Lisa Bowers Anne Marie Poore SUBSCRIPTIONS

Celebrate this year in a new home with a loan from Virginia Mountain Mortgage!

Roanoke Valley HOME is published five times annually by West Willow Publishing Group, LLC. For an annual subscription, please send $20 and your name, address and telephone number to: Roanoke Valley HOME 2003 Graves Mill Road, Suite B, Forest, VA 24551 For advertising information please call (434) 386-5667 or sales@westwillowpublishing.com. To discuss coverage of an event relating to home or garden, please contact Roanoke Valley HOME at info@westwillowpublishing.com.

WEST WILLOW PUBLISHING GROUP, LLC (434) 386-5667 westwillowpublishing.com


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Copyright 2020 by West Willow Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from West Willow Publishing Group, LLC. All pictorial material reproduced in this magazine, whether in a produced ad or by itself, has been accepted on the condition that it is with the knowledge and prior consent of the photographer or the artist concerned. As such, West Willow Publishing Group, LLC is not responsible for any infringement of copyright or otherwise arising out of publication thereof. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, West Willow Publishing Group, LLC makes no warrant to the accuracy or reliability of this information. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN MORTGAGE Readers’ Favorites Platinum Winner: Mortgage Lending Companies

Buying a home is one of the biggest—if not the biggest—financial transactions people will encounter in their lifetimes, says Nikki Griffin, head of mortgage lending at Virginia Mountain Mortgage. The mortgage group was launched as a full service home mortgage division of Bank of Botetourt in February 2016; the bank has been serving the region since 1899. Griffin attributes success to her strong team of lending officers, located in 10 branches throughout the Roanoke Valley area including Lexington, Salem and Smith Mountain Lake. Virginia Mountain Mortgage offers a wide array of products and services, such as multiple mortgage options, various refinancing options, construction loans and investment property loans. She says she and other officers enjoy the personal aspect of helping customers achieve their objectives. “Every situation is different, every situation is unique, but in the end, you are helping customers get into a home—whether it’s their first home or 17th,” says Griffin. Griffin says that although she values face-to-face interaction with customers throughout the mortgage process, Virginia Mountain Mortgage has been able to transition to a remotely run, mostly paperless process to accommodate pandemic restrictions. “You have to be able to change and have the capability to make it work,” says Griffin. “It’s a good thing that has come out of this.”


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make your home sparkle indoors and out BY C H R I S T Y R I P P E L

If your holiday travel plans have been curtailed by the pandemic, it’s the perfect year to create holiday magic at home with spirited decor. If you target a few key areas inside and out, you can have a ho-ho-holiday without breaking the budget, saving plenty of green for what goes under the tree, instead of just on it. Read on for tips on readying your home for the upcoming season and squeezing joy out of a challenging year. r vhomemaga zine .com 17



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Mailbox: You’ll be venturing to your curb at least once a day, gathering the mail and holiday cards, and with a little effort, you can make your mailbox festive. Companies like Grandin Road offer a swag made of faux greenery specially for mailboxes, held in place with a strap and buckle that won’t budge on windy days. If you want to DIY a real arrangement for a few dollars, ask the attendant at the lot where you buy your Christmas tree to give you a few cuttings from the bottom of your tree, and tie a bow on it. Use fishing wire or a pretty ribbon to tie it in place on the mailbox. If you have a street of willing neighbors, consider coordinating mailbox decor for a stunning effect, brightening up the entire street. Lamp post: If you have a lamp post, it’s a great spot to glam up, and you have a few options. First, you can coordinate with the mailbox and use the same decoration, such as the DIY swag, or a coordinating faux set. A garland wrapped around the pole, with or without lights, is pretty, and a bow, small wreath or holiday sign can be the focal point. A sign might say “Merry Christmas” or “Santa Stop Here,” or even feature a monogram or last name. Shop Etsy online for custom signs, or find one for a steal at a craft shop. Front door: If you are looking for maximum bang for your buck, the front door, lamp post and mailbox in a coordinated scheme looks like you went to a lot of effort. However, unlike complicated holiday light arrangements, these are easy areas to take down when the season is over. The front door begs for a great wreath, and do go larger than you think you need to. A real wreath with a pretty bow only lasts the season, but is less of an investment. A large faux wreath with cordless lights will cost more, but last for years. A spotlight to show off your wreath at night is a nice touch, and one can be found at local hardware stores, big box stores or online. Simply stake it in the yard, trained on the door, and use a timer to save you from remembering to unplug it before bedtime. If you really want to dress up the door, a swag or garland framing it that coordinates with the wreath scores points. If you don’t want a wreath this year, a monogram sign in holiday colors can also dress up your entrance.

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Front porch: Your ability to accessorize on the front porch will depend on how large it is, but there are so many options, you can easily put a personal spin on your decor. If you have a very large front porch, consider putting an extra tree or trees on it, and add lights. If you opt for ornaments, plastic ones ensure that you aren’t dealing with broken glass. Urns that once held summer flowers can also be planted with evergreens and lit up with

lights. Or, empty the urn and create your own affordable filler. Evergreen branches, magnolia branches, holly and some thin birch logs may be all your need for an organic look. If you have porch chairs, swap the summer throw pillows for holidaythemed pillows and put a new holiday doormat in front of your door. Fill outdoor lanterns with plastic ornaments, or wrap the candles in cordless fairy lights for added glow.



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Dining table: A dining table can be the perfect spot to dress up for the season, and the options are endless. A runner on the table can be festive, and you can top it with long-lasting, live flowers of the season, like an amaryllis, paperwhite or poinsettia. If that doesn’t suit, a dough bowl or clear glass vase full of colorful ornaments is festive and affordable, or simply change out the candles in your candlesticks for ones that match your R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

holiday scheme. A real rosemary topiary (check the grocery store produce section) wrapped in burlap is minimalist but pretty, and you can snip off rosemary when you need the herb for holiday cooking. Chair backs: You can also dress up your chairs to be as festive as your tabletop, either for a special meal or throughout the season. Start with a big, thick bow for each chair. If you’d like, tie a small piece of greenery, faux pinecone or berry stalk into the bow. A small wreath can also be hung by a swath of ribbon. You can also opt for funny chair covers like elf legs, Santa beards or Santa hats, which are more kitschy, but fun. Mantel: If you are lucky enough to have a mantel, this is a classic zone for Christmas cheer. If you want to hang your stockings by the chimney with care, stocking holders prevent you from putting nail holes in your mantel. Add in a garland of greenery and plenty of lights (cordless if you don’t have an outlet—dangling wires spoil the mood) and you can call it a day, but you can also add in more if you wish. Try attaching photo holiday cards to your greenery as they arrive in the mail. Small clothespins will secure them. Ornaments are also pretty here; just be sure they are secured well. Add in some height with candlesticks or small faux trees (try cone shaped) of different sizes for some nice height variation and interest.


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Powder Room: The easiest way to make your powder room feel holiday-ready is to add in some seasonal hand soap (a winter scent is nice) and towels that reflect the season. Inject some humor with a “naughty” and “nice” towel set, or simply update your towels for new ones that feel more luxurious for a holiday splurge. If you don’t replace your go-to towels, consider disposable hand towels that are holiday-themed. If you are having guests, this is a sanitary way to be sure germs aren’t shared on a common towel. If you have the space, a slender tree, lantern or figurine in the corner of a powder room is unexpected. Try a faux pre-lit birch or twig tree from Restoration Hardware or Amazon, a modern twist for a small space. Guest room: The guest room is a place to make visiting friends and family feel welcome and cherished. A holiday frame with a favorite memory you’ve shared with your guest is a nice touch, as is a basket filled with some snacks they can nosh on between meals. Special magazines or books you know they’ll appreciate are thoughtful bedside treats. For example, your





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father-in-law the golfer might appreciate Golf magazine, while your mother-in-law reads Good Housekeeping or British murder mysteries. Knowing you’ve gone to the effort will brighten anyone’s holiday. Holiday-themed sheets are a mood booster as are holiday throw pillows or decor like a small Christmas tree or scented candle. Staircase: The staircase is another showplace for holiday decor. A garland wrapped around the banister is classic, and decorative bannister ties are both attractive and shield the bannister from scratches. If you lack a mantel, or want to keep stockings from getting too close to the fire, a

staircase is another great place to hang stockings. Consider adorning the sides of the staircase with poinsettias on the risers, or adding a large one at the base of the newel post—it can hide the unsightly end of a garland and impart extra pizzazz. If a tree is not your style, a staircase and/or mantel can be the stars of your holiday season. There are so many areas of your home that beg for a little holiday love, and by choosing a few of your favorites, you can create a style that is uniquely yours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with something fresh and new this year. ✦

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LIVE gifts from the kitchen



There are few things as wonderful to receive as a homemade gift. In a time where we are all looking to feel closer to the people in our lives, be they near or far, taking the time to create something tailored and unique can go a long way toward letting friends and family know just how much they mean to you. Some skills, like knitting or crocheting, take years to master. Not everyone is a natural baker, not everyone 2 4

can sew, and not every gardener has the experience (or equipment) to be able to can the fruits of their labor. If that’s you, no worries. There’s an easy, lowbudget project idea that allows for creative use of upcycled materials and results in tasteful and tasty gifts for multiple occasions. (Or—just make them for yourself!) Consider making infusions as your crafty contribution. R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

Some of the easiest infusions to make are infused spirits and infused vinegars. Base ingredients are simple to acquire, and the method for infusing both is very similar. Both are easy, fun and allow for flavor creativity to flourish. The process for creating infused spirits and vinegars is, at its core, simple. Choose your base spirit or vinegar, add ingredients to create your flavor profile, leave it be for a while, strain, and enjoy. Stock up on supplies

To start, you’ll need some basic supplies that you can probably already find in your home. Collect large, wide-mouth containers, such as Mason jars with plastic or other airtight lids, or upcycle some empty glass containers from your pantry, like large pickle or spaghetti sauce jars. Prep them just before use by washing them in your dishwasher on a sanitize setting. You will eventually need to strain your finished product, which you can do with coffee filters or cheesecloth, and a kitchen funnel or fine-mesh colander. Infusions will look wonderful in beautiful decorative bottles. But you don’t need to buy them. Start saving nicely shaped spirits bottles or unusually shaped wine bottles to showcase your finished gift. Save any and all cork toppers like those from spirits bottles, which can be used to stopper various types of glass bottles. Again, you will want to wash and clean them well just before “bottling.” Selecting ingredients

To begin making infusions, you’ll want as blank a canvas as possible, such as plain vinegar and simple spirits. For vinegar, look for basic white wine, red wine or apple cider varieties. While you can certainly flavor balsamic vinegar, it tends to already have a strong taste, so your newly infused flavors might not stand out. When choosing spirits, aim for plain vodka, plain light rum, plain white tequilas or basic bourbons and whiskeys. (While you can certainly create your own infused gin, that spirit is already flavored with botanicals like juniper, so it isn’t a blank canvas. However, if you or a gift recipient love flavored gin, start with as basic a gin as possible, and aim to add only one additional flavor.) As for how much to spend, when it comes to spirits, aim for middle of the road. Don’t buy the least expensive r vhomemaga zine .com 25

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alcohol, hoping your infusion will make it better, and don’t buy an expensive, aged brand, because your infusions will override any subtleties in flavor that make expensive brands worth the cost. With vinegars, aim for better than distilled white vinegar, but don’t buy products like expensive aged balsamic either, the flavor of which will be impacted by your infusions. Mid-priced options will get you a quality base, but nothing extraneous that you don’t need. For flavors, think about what you like, or what the recipient of your gift might enjoy. While it might be tempting to layer many flavors, you might want to keep it simple, with one or two dominant flavors, so they stand out. Herbs and fruits will work equally well with both vinegars and spirits. You could make oregano-lemon vinegar, perfect for Greek salads. Or raspberry-blackberry vinegar for summer salads. You could make mint-infused bourbons to kickstart your homemade juleps. Or lemon vodka for Lemon Drops. Want to kick your Bloody Mary up a notch? Make spicy vodka by infusing with hot peppers. R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

Getting started

The process couldn’t be simpler, and it’s also very flexible and forgiving. After sanitizing your wide-mouth jars, add your preferred flavor-inducing ingredients, then cover with your spirit or vinegar. Seal and agitate a few times daily. It might look nice steeping on a windowsill in the sunlight, but don’t. Instead, store in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Plan to infuse for at least a week, knowing you can taste it after the first few days to see how it’s progressing and leave it longer if needed. As for what volume of fruits or herbs to add, there’s no set ratio or recipe. It depends on flavor intensity desired. Some amount of trial and error will be needed to achieve the ideal flavor for each person. However, you can always start with less and add more. Once the liquid has the desired intensity, strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth and funnel into clean bottles. There is an endless array of options—whatever suits your recipient’s fancy (or your own). However, here are some general suggestions for prepping your ingredients: Buy organic, and wash well before use: No matter what you buy, aim for organic if possible, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted chemicals. Wash everything with soapy water and rinse well, even the outside of citrus fruits. Citrus fruits: Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime peels provide rich oils that will infuse spirits especially with a lovely, deep flavor. Using a sharp peeler, remove only the outer layer of the peel, leaving the pith behind. (Squeeze the insides and save the juice for other uses.) Strain with a mesh sieve instead of coffee filters, which will remove much of the citrus oil.

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Herbs: Use only the leaves and not the stems of herbs, to prevent a woody taste. Some classics include mint, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary—strong flavors that can stand up to both spirits and vinegars. Berries: Muddle before adding your spirit or vinegar. Peppers: Slice in half to increase surface area and speed up the infusion process. For milder flavor, remove the pith and seeds—which hold the most heat—before adding.

Gift-giving inspiration

There are some fun ways to showcase your creations. You can make multiple batches of each, creating gift sets of different flavors. Tie bottles with twine and add decorative labels. Print out cocktail or salad dressing recipes on nice stationery to include with your gift. Wrap bottles with cellophane or cloth, tied with colorful ribbons. Your infusions will impress friends and family with their unique, one-of-a-kind flavors. More importantly, they will charm recipients by showcasing your true gift—time and creativity. ✦ R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

GARDEN all about conifers

winter’s landscapes Conifers offer majestic trees and shrubs B Y B E C K Y C A LV E R T

While many conifers are evergreen, not all evergreens are conifers. Nor are all conifers evergreen. Confused? It’s easy to be, at first glance. The name “conifer” stems from Latin and means “cone bearer,” a nod to how conifers reproduce via cones, not blossoms. The cones contain seeds that allow the plants to reproduce without pollination. In addition to cones, conifers tend to have needles or scale-like leaves. Evergreens like firs, pines, spruces, junipers, cedars and hemlocks are conifers, but hollies, boxwoods and azaleas, also evergreens, are not. However, not all cones are easily identifiable as such. Take, for instance, the ginkgo tree. What are often referred to as “berries” produced by ginkgo trees are, in fact, cones. In a similar vein, the yew, an evergreen, is a conifer because the red “berries” it produces are actually cones as well. Now you know! r vhomemaga zine .com 29

Planting to thrive

When considering adding any tree or shrub to your landscape, it is of utmost importance to consider the conditions of the area as well as your reasons for planting it. Are you working with full sun versus shade and in what type of soil? How fast and how big will the end result be? Do you want the tree to provide shade or privacy from a road, or do you just want something to break up the landscape? When planting a conifer, consideration must be given to the type of cones they produce; while conifers can be a dramatic addition to the landscape, they can also be considered messy for the cones they shed. The ginkgo is an excellent example, as well as the Eastern white pine. Thankfully, this is not true of all conifers; junipers have much smaller cones that don’t make quite the same mess as their conifer relatives. You’ll also want to ensure whatever you plant will thrive in our geographical area. Native trees are best suited to withstanding our weather patterns, and also fit into the local eco-system, where birds and other wildlife are adapted to utilize them. It is recommended to purchase whatever you plant from a reputable local nursery and ask if it was propagated from local stock. Ensuring a tree was propagated locally means it is adapted to our climate. For instance, a tree grown in Alabama will be able to withstand our summers better than a tree grown in Maine, but it will struggle with some of the colder winter weather our area sees. The Eastern red cedar is a native conifer that can withstand most soil types and has almost no serious pests or diseases. Reaching a height of 30 to 60 feet with an 8 to 25-foot spread, the tree has small purple blooms that become a small pale green to dark blue berrylike cone. Its scale-like foliage ranges in color from gray to blue to dark green, with scented bark that ranges from an exfoliating gray to red-brown. The Eastern white pine, the Table Mountain pine, and the Loblolly pine are among the numerous native conifers to our area that reach heights of anywhere from 30 to 100 feet in height, but many take up only a few feet in diameter. Another native conifer is the bald cypress. A deciduous tree, it prefers stream banks, swamps and river bottoms. The soft, needle-like leaves resemble feathers, turning from 3 0

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yellow-green to orange, cinnamon and coppery in the fall before dropping. With a height of 50 to 70 feet and a spread of 20 to 35 feet, these trees need a large space, but are fantastic in areas that see a lot of water. Small but mighty

Not all conifers are so tall. There are any number of dwarf conifers available that can be used to add texture and interest to the garden without needing large amounts of space. Often used as foundation or border plantings, these shrubs either don’t grow large or are well suited to being pruned and maintained at a certain size. There are creeping junipers that don’t get above 18 inches in height that act as groundcovers, while spreading junipers may only achieve a height of 2 to 8 feet but will spread to 5 to 8 feet. Other dwarf conifers include shrubs like the bird’s nest spruce which grows to be about 3 to 5 feet tall with a width of 4 to 6 feet while slowly forming a rounded mound. The dwarf Alberta spruce is another shrub for consideration; the classic Christmas-tree shape combined with its fuzzy, densely packed short needles doesn’t grow over 13 feet tall, making it a popular foundation planting or specimen tree in many landscapes. With such a wide variety of shapes and sizes, conifers offer a wide range of trees, shrubs and even groundcovers for the landscape. There is certain to be a conifer for every yard. ✦

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DESIGN hardware trends




etallic hardware is striking gold in the design world. But forget about the shiny gold and glossy brass finishes that were popular in the 80s. They have taken a back seat to today’s softer tones. Gold, copper, brass and bronze hardware with various finishes have taken center stage. Whether it be oil-rubbed, matte, brushed or antiqued, gold metallic hardware can add a touch of elegance to any space. These warmer tones are updating the brushed nickel and chrome finishes that have dominated the market for years.

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Emily Mangus of Emily Mangus Interiors uses metallic hardware in her designs. “For a while it was solely gold, but mixing metals with gold is a strong trend right now,� she says. She likes the look of contrast when using metallic features; for example, she might pair matte black oil-rubbed fixtures with natural-looking white walls. Warm metals like brass, gold, copper and bronze come in different finishes, and it is helpful to be familiar with some terminology when selecting hardware. These finishes are produced

in much the same way as jewelry is crafted. A polished finish is created by using polishing compounds and a fast-spinning brush to smooth out the gold surface. Brushed finishes are created by brushing a fine-grit surface in one direction against the gold. The varying applications of buffing and grinding result in the subtle difference of the finishes. Oxidizing and patinating occur chemically in copper and brass. Oxidized copper and brass are typically blackish, green or blue, and harden like a thick crust.

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hardware finishes So just how do you decipher manufacturers’ hardware finish descriptions? In addition to getting a sample, it’s helpful to know: Brushed gold is a dull polished metal that has a unidirectional finish. Satin gold will appear more matte than a polished finish, but will lack the texture that a brushed finish offers. Vintage brass, or antique brass, is a metal that will naturally patina with age, giving it depth and history. Polished lacquered brass is shinier and has taken a back seat to vintage brass. In the copper family, champagne bronze is a brushed copper tone with more yellow than an antique bronze; it is a deeper version of gold. Honey bronze has a finish reminiscent of brass or gold, but it tends to be a softer, lighter shade. Oil-rubbed bronze is a chemically darkened surface designed to simulate aged bronze. It is very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones. Copper hardware has a distinctive reddish hue. It is malleable and supple and makes for beautiful cabinet hardware. Sometimes it comes with hammered indentations.


On Trend

“Natural elements are big right now,” says Mangus. She likes the look of the natural aging of unlacquered brass. She might incorporate subtle touches using it as a base of a lamp or for finials. She says it is showing up in a bathrooms as well, finishing off tile edges with a strip of brass as opposed to using bullnose tile. Mixing metals is a wonderful way to add depth and layers to a space, but it should be approached with caution. It should look intentional rather than haphazard. Using too many similar metals can look poorly planned. 34

To accomplish this, choose a metal you love for the most prominent finish in your space, then select metal accents to complete the look; just make sure there is contrast. For example, if your kitchen hardware is in an oil-brushed bronze, copper accent pieces will add a warm glow. If you have a modern, stainless steel kitchen, choosing a chandelier or vintage piece with gold can add charm and texture. Or if you love the gold and white look, add a chrome table, mirror or pendant light for metallic balance. A general rule of thumb is to mix one dominant metal with two or three accenting metals. R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0




Elaine Stephenson of Elaine Stephenson Interiors, Inc. incorporates gold-toned hardware in her interior designs with moderation. She loves the look of the soft brushed gold finish that is trending right now. She uses such gold hardware in satellite areas like mudrooms, book cases and powder rooms. “I would avoid using it in a kitchen or master bath because it might not have staying power,” she says. “However, gold hardware can definitely be fun and dressy in a powder room.” Playing with hardware is an easy way to transform a look without breaking the bank. Trying out some of the goldtoned hardware pieces trending in today’s design world is much easier than switching out countertops, replacing cabinetry or repainting walls. Like wardrobe accessories, they can easily be switched out if you want a change. ✦

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sugar cookies

LIVE cookie time



Cookies are the quintessential holiday treat in many homes—especially sugar cookies. There is something special about making cookies at home because you end up making memories as well. Recently I was looking back at photo albums and was struck by the fact that every year there are pictures of us baking and decorating cookies together as a family. As our children got older, we moved from buttercream icing and sprinkles to royal icing and more elaborate designs. Even if you feel like sugar cookies are a bit ho-hum or too time-consuming, a few flavor substitutions and frosting options can make them unique and delicious, and the methods can be as quick and simple as a bar or a drop cookie. 36

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Correct measurement is key in baking success. To measure granulated sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder, scoop out with the proper measuring cup or spoon, mound it up, and then use a knife edge to level it off. When measuring flour or confectioners’ sugar, spoon it into the cup, then level it off. Always use a liquid measuring cup for liquids. Place eggs in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to bring them to room temperature.


Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

You can also cut the recipe in half and use a 13-by9-inch pan; baking time should be about the same. Makes about 30 bars. 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 2 cups granulated sugar 4 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon almond extract Optional for decorating: gel food coloring Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13-by-18-inch half-sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until it’s very lightcolored and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix well. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients into the batter and mix until well combined. Spread

the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12-16 minutes or until set. The edges should be a light golden brown. Don’t overcook! They will set up as they cool. Once cooled completely, frost and cut into squares. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5 days. CREAM CHEESE FROSTING 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 4-5 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and creamy, then add vanilla and mix. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, with the mixer on low speed. Mix well until smooth. You may not need all of the powdered sugar; add enough to make a nice spreading consistency and taste to see if you need more sugar or maybe a little bit more salt. If desired, add sprinkles before the frosting dries. Store bars in an airtight container for up to 2 days or refrigerate up to 5 days.


To elevate the everyday, make lemon rosemary sugar cookies by adding 2 tablespoons of lemon zest to the sugar and work it in with your fingers to release the oils. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice when you add eggs and vanilla. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary along with the dry ingredients. Use lemon extract in the frosting instead of vanilla. For spiced sugar cookies, add a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to the basic recipe.

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Make chocolate mint cookies by adding mint extract in place of the vanilla to the chocolate cookies, as well as the frosting.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies For those who don’t consider anything without chocolate worth calling dessert. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup cocoa powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar 3/4 cup vegetable oil 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar, and mix until just combined. Add oil, eggs, water and vanilla extract. Mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl. Using a cookie scoop or large spoon, scoop out golf-ball-size portions on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Roll each cookie dough ball until it is smooth and round. Slightly dampen the bottom of a drinking glass. Dip it in sugar, then press down on each dough ball until the center of the cookie is flatter than the edges. Repeat on all cookies. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until edges are just slightly starting to brown. It is important to not overbake the cookies. Undercooked is better than overcooked here! You want the cookies to remain soft after they cool, not turn dry and crumbly. CHOCOL ATE FROSTING 2 cups confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted 1/4 cup whole milk 1/4 cup butter, melted In a mixing bowl, blend all ingredients using a hand mixer or stand mixer. Spread over cooled cookies.


Rolled and Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen mediumsized cookies, depending on the size of cookie cutters. You can cut the recipe in half, but I wouldn’t recommend doubling it, as it would be too much dough for most mixers. 5 1/2 cups flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups butter, room temperature 2 cups granulated sugar 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste 1 teaspoon almond extract Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until it’s very light-colored and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Beat at high speed until well combined, about one minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until well combined. If your mixer came with a plastic shield, you will want to use it, or place a dish towel over the mixer and bowl, as flour seems to fly a bit at first, due to the large batch. The dough will be soft but not sticky. At this point, it is too soft to cut out shapes, but you can roll it out. Many recipes call for chilling the dough before you roll it out. Unfortunately, the dough is then difficult to work with, and by the time it’s rolled, it’s warm again. This is my favorite way to roll and cut sugar cookies: Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Place each portion on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness.

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Continue with all 4 portions. Picking the dough up by the parchment or baking mat, stack the rolled out portions of dough on a baking sheet, making sure there is parchment between the layers to prevent sticking. Cover the stack with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to two days. Once the dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top piece of dough from the refrigerator by picking it up by the parchment. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Arrange cookies on baking sheets three inches apart. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting out shapes until you have used all the dough. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges, rotating the baking sheets after six minutes to ensure even baking. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing, or use your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting.


Instead of icing or frosting, dip part of the cookie in melted chocolate. This works well with geometric shapes like circles and stars. Lay the cookies on a rack to dry and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy or festive sprinkles.

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Royal Icing

Royal icing has a reputation for being difficult. Don’t be afraid to try this icing; this one is great for beginners and advanced bakers alike. The results are dependable, it sets up quickly, and has a lovely taste and texture—not dry and grainy like many store-bought types. 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring 3 tablespoons meringue powder 9 tablespoons room temperature water 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon almond extract Optional for decorating: gel food coloring In a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix ingredients until combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl’s sides. Beat together on high speed for about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir the icing with a spoon and drizzle back into the bowl to test the consistency. A ribbon should remain on the surface for 5–7 seconds. You can beat it another 30 seconds if it’s too thin. If it’s too thick, add a little water; just be careful to add a teaspoon at a time. If it’s still too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.

If desired, separate the icing into bowls and stir in gel food coloring. You can use this icing for both outlining and flooding your cookies (flooding is the step where you fill in the cookie with a base color, giving the cookie a glossy, smooth surface). The outline doesn’t have to be completely dry before you do the flooding. I usually outline all the cookies and then go back and flood them. Draw tight zigzags within the outlined area to fill it in. You can use a toothpick to help the icing fill in spaces on the cookie. If you are layering details on top of the flooding, you will want the cookies to be dry to the touch so the colors won’t bleed. It usually takes about two hours for the icing to be completely dry. While you work, keep a damp paper towel on any icing that you aren’t working with, as it will harden when exposed to air. You can find cookie decorating supplies at your local craft store or online. Most people use pastry or piping bags, which can be disposable or reusable. You’ll also need decorating tips and couplers to attach to the bag. Instead of piping bags, I like to use plastic squeeze bottles to outline, flood and add details. I find them to be easier to fill and not as messy to use. You can find them online. ✦

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We are all too familiar with how challenging 2020 has been. If you’ve got your health, a job, a roof over your head, and food on the table, you may be feeling especially thankful this year. What better way to express gratitude than to give back to our own community? Here, Roanoke Valley HOME magazine would like to share some of the many hardworking organizations in town that focus on something near and dear to our heart: housing and food assistance. If you are looking for opportunities to give this season, here are just a few local nonprofits who would love to hear from you. r vhomemaga zine .com 41

TAP (Total Action for Progress)

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Total Action for Progress (TAP) is one of the largest community action agencies in Virginia, with over 300 employees working to help those in need. “We’re different from most nonprofits in that we have such a multi-focus operation,” says Sarah Reid, marketing coordinator. In addition to helping people at risk of homelessness and losing their homes, Reid says TAP can provide assistance for first-time home buyers and homeowners in need of basic features and repair, including roof leaks, weatherization, and plumbing. They can connect clients with zero-cost loans to repair failed septic systems, and they also have a real estate development program to help provide affordable housing and revitalize neighborhoods. “Our hotline calls for assistance have increased dramatically since April of this year,” says President and CEO Annette Lewis. Goals for transitional housing, meals, groceries, and other family services were all surpassed by August 2020, and Lewis says community support has been vital to their operations in this, their 55th year.

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Donations can be made via their website, and as part of the Virginia Neighborhood Assistance Program, donors can receive a 65 percent tax credit against their state income tax. TAP also has opportunities to donate books and vehicles, and to volunteer in a variety of programs. “We have received thousands of face masks for our clients due to the generosity of churches, businesses and individuals,” says Lewis. “Donations from individuals, companies and board members demonstrate that people care about others and are willing to partner with TAP as we help bring hope to those who have lost hope and seek a self-supporting way of life.” tapintohope.org; 540-777-HOPE R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

Feeding Southwest Virginia

“We had an initial shock to our system in March, where we only had two weeks’ supply of food when the pandemic hit,” says Lisa Uhl, director of marketing and communications. “It was a real emergency, but the community came through, and grants allowed us to purchase food.” The pandemic required Feeding Southwest Virginia to revamp their food distribution program, and social distancing requirements meant that a lot of volunteers were lost early on. In addition to running their food bank, the agency operates a “Cafe To Grow” mobile food truck which provides meals and snacks for school children at various locations around the city. Uhl says they’re anticipating even higher need in the months to come, and have implemented comprehensive pandemic safety procedures. “We could really use volunteers, especially in the holiday season,’ she says. “You could give your time, a donation, or food.” Financial donations can be made via their website, and food donations can be accepted at their Salem distribution center. They are always looking for shelf-stable items such as peanut butter, canned proteins, soups and

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vegetables. “If it’s a small donation, we have a box outside of our Salem distribution center. If it’s a neighborhood or office food drive, call us and we can unload it for you at the loading dock.” While gearing up for increased demand in the days ahead, Uhl is grateful for the help they’ve already been given. “We want to thank everyone for the support we’ve received during COVID-19,” she says. “A lot of companies and individuals and nonprofits are working together to help our neighbors.” feedingswva.org; 540-342-3011 Habitat for Humanity in the Roanoke Valley

The Roanoke chapter of this global nonprofit, which builds and rehabilitates homes for community members in need, has several areas that could use your help. “We would love for people to volunteer at or donate items to our Habitat ReStore,” says executive director Karen Mason. “And we are always looking for groups to come out on our builds. Churches, businesses … we have a day sponsor program in need of groups and sponsors.” Niki Voudren, director of resource development, echoes this sentiment. “We welcome construction volunteers and

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community sponsors,” she says. “With over 92 cents of every dollar going directly to construction costs and family services program expenses, donors can rest assured that their donations will directly support our efforts to provide homes for our neighbors in need of decent affordable housing right here in the Roanoke Valley.” Donations can be made and volunteers can sign up through the local Habitat for Humanity website. Voudren says that people can also help by shopping at and donating to the Habitat ReStore. She notes that the store is particularly looking for appliances, doors and windows. “This holiday season while you’re in your warm, safe home decorating the tree and hanging lights with friends and family, please don’t forget about the underserved, vulnerable families in our community who are working toward their goal of a Habitat home where they can make memories, grow and thrive,” says Voudren. habitat-roanoke.org; 540-344-0747 LEAP (Local Environmental Agriculture Project)


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“Our mission is to nurture healthy communities and local healthy food systems,” says director of programs and operations Sam Lev. “We work to connect the dots between local farms and food producers and Roanoke Valley consumers. We’re really trying to ensure that good, healthy food is accessible and affordable throughout our community.” LEAP runs the Grandin Village and West End farmers markets, in addition to a mobile market that brings fresh food to neighborhoods and seniors without good access to produce. They partner with multiple healthy food incentive programs, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid Match, Fresh Foods Rx, Healthy Start Collaborative, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and a Senior Incentive Program that works with certain senior living facilities. Thanks to various local partnership programs and grants, LEAP is often able to increase or double the buying power for shoppers who might not ordinarily buy at farmers markets. “If you receive benefits such as SNAP EBT [Electronic Benefits Program], Medicaid, or WIC, for every dollar you spend we can give you an additional dollar,” explains Lev. To support these initiatives, LEAP’s website has a PayPal donate button and R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

gratefully accepts checks as well. Though produce and farmers markets are seasonal, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions begin enrolling in January, and Lev says, “We have year-round options, and there’s always something that people are able to purchase or invest in.” leapforlocalfood.org; 540-632-1360 Presbyterian Community Center


“We are a social service agency that provides aid for low-income families who need help,” says executive director Karen McNally. “Rent, utilities, non-narcotic medication, even a tank of gas. Anything that keeps them from becoming homeless.” McNally says they receive referrals from many services throughout town, and that they informally “split up” the city with Roanoke Area Ministries. “They take the west side, we take the east side—people who live in northeast and southeast city, eastern Roanoke County, and Vinton.” The center also runs a food pantry and Pathways for Youth, an after-school program whose offerings include tutoring, enrichment, and community service opportunities.





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Family Promise of Greater Roanoke

“We’d appreciate anyone who’d like to do food collection for us,” says McNally. She says that nonperishable items such as canned meats, breakfast cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix and syrup are always in demand. Additionally, school supplies and warm coats are appreciated. The center asks that people call to schedule a drop-off time. And of course, they are grateful for financial donations, which can be made via check or directly on their website. McNally says that once eviction and cutoff notices resume, “We foresee an avalanche of requests for help with rent and utilities.” pccse.org; 540-982-2911 RAM House (Roanoke Area Ministries)

Roanoke Area Ministries is an interfaith nonprofit which began in 1971 and provides a variety of services, including the largest day shelter in Roanoke, meals, a clothes closet, a day labor program, and emergency financial assistance. “Last year we helped over 1,500 people who were homeless, and have given over $200,000 in financial aid to families and individuals,” says Molly Archer, marketing director. “We do a lot with very little, and are primarily donor-funded. Our administrative costs are very low, at 17 percent.” Archer says that COVID-19 has changed the local landscape significantly, and that even with eviction moratorium mandates in place, RAM expects that homelessness will rise and more people will need help with rent. “A lot of people—people from all different walks of life, who have never been in this situation before—are coming in and asking for help,” she says. RAM’s website has a donation page with several easy options. The Needs List shows which items are most in demand. There are links to Kroger and Amazon programs that donate a portion of your purchases to RAM. And there’s an option to make a one-time or recurring donation. “Even five or ten dollars a month is really helpful,” Archer says. raminc.org; 540-981-1732 Family Promise of Greater Roanoke

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“We provide shelter and meals for families with children in the Roanoke Valley,” says Marie Muddiman, executive director. Family Promise relies on a network of faith communities and volunteers who partner to offer assistance with housing, meals, employment, education, and child care for families in need. They can support four families at a time, and their goal is to develop a comprehensive plan to help get them back on their feet and into permanent housing. “We do intensive case management that addresses both physical and emotional needs,” says Muddiman. “We look at what may have caused this incidence of homelessness and tailor the program so that they can lead a self-sufficient life. Once they have housing, we also provide case management as they move forward.” Applicants must be sober and have no violent criminal history. Families in the program often stay on a temporary week-long basis with local congregations until better R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

accommodations can be found. Congregations frequently partner to provide shelter in a Sunday school room, meals, and volunteers who stay with them. “They have help getting up and getting the kids to school, and parents to work or back to the Family Center to look for jobs,” Muddiman explains. The center, Family Promise’s home base, offers families a place to keep some belongings, receive mail, and use kitchen and laundry facilities. It’s also where they can access computers and work with case managers. “We would love to have more congregations be involved—it’s one of our biggest needs,” says Muddiman. Though the organization owns a duplex where families who have struggled to obtain housing can stay for up to six months, COVID-19 has decreased available shelter options within the community, and they are seeking more housing options. “We have a continuous capital campaign to try and own more property,” says Muddiman. familypromiseroanoke.org; 540-444-7374

necessities. CCC also runs St. Francis House Food Pantry, which is stocked by Feeding Southwest Virginia and supplemented by donations from local parishes, business and individuals. “Commonwealth Catholic Charities has served in the Roanoke Valley since 1967 and is committed to feeding the hungry,” says marketing manager Katie Dillon. “Through St. Francis House Food Pantry, we help thousands of individuals and families each year.” CCC’s website has a link for monetary donations and also links to several Amazon wish lists which will send supplies directly to their office. St. Francis House also accepts food donations such as canned meat, fruits and vegetables, and instant meals such as rice and noodles. Other needed items include soap and cleaning supplies. “We ask that donors please call ahead to schedule an appointment so that our staff is available to assist. At this time, we are only accepting new items for health and safety reasons,” Dillon says. cccofva.org; 540-342-0411. St. Francis House Food Pantry, 836 Campbell Ave SW, 540-268-0044 ✦

Commonwealth Catholic Charities

The Roanoke branch of Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) offers a variety of human services to vulnerable people, regardless of faith. Those in need can receive assistance with housing, refugee resettlement, workforce development, and other


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he home of Doctors Heather and Jerod Greer is built into the lush hillside above the Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The location was a selling point for this two-physician family when they purchased it in 2013. A traditional whitewashed brick two-story Colonial built in the 1950s, the home exudes gracious charm, set back on its lot with a meandering brick stairway to the front door. The Greers have spotlighted the front of the house for the season, highlighting a stunning seasonal fruit arrangement over the front door and calling attention to the living room window where Christmas tree lights twinkle.

Heather and Jerod, and their three daughters, aged 10, 13, and 17, have lived in the house since their move from Birmingham, Alabama in 2013. According to Heather, the house had been a rental for a few years, and was ready for some updating. “When we first looked at it,” recalls Heather with a laugh, “I remember telling my husband that I really never saw myself falling in love with a house with chain link fencing and window units!” But fall in love she did, and Heather saw potential in the home on the hill. Though there were things about the house the Greers knew they wanted to change when they moved in, they decided to live in the house for a while before they started an extensive renovation that changed the layout and flow of the home without changing the footprint. “We lived in the house for three years before beginning renovations, which I really couldn’t recommend more—living in the space for a while—because then you really know what it needs,” says Heather. The renovations took seven months, and the Greers used the combination of Steve Morris of Classical Design and Walt Derey of Pitman Construction to bring to fruition an efficient space for a growing family. “I sing the praises of Steve Morris’s concept and layout,” says Heather. “I didn’t need an architect for this job. Steve’s design expertise and custom cabinetry, along with Walt’s top-notch construction,

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made a great team.” Combined efforts of Elaine Stephenson Interiors and Magnolia Furnishings, who collaborated with Heather on interior design, brought the project to completion in a way the Greers love. “This house has really been a group project. Working together has gotten us here,” says Heather. With the holidays rolling around, it is not uncommon to find the Greers preparing to entertain. Between work, the girls’ schedules, and a large social group, the house is usually a hive of activity and preparation. There are little holiday touches in each room. Heather does most of the holiday decorating herself, combining fresh greens from Roanoke’s Townside Gardens with high-quality artificial greens, and natural accents gathered from the yards of generous friends and neighbors. Conspicuously absent are swaths of artificial snow, tinsel and Christmas figurines. “I prefer clean and simple Christmas decorations, and really love the festive look of greenery,” says Heather. “It doesn’t all have to be fresh, but if you combine fresh and quality artificial greenery, it’s hard to tell.” Natural-looking garlands festoon several windows, thresholds, mantels and the dining room table. The Greers’ concession to popular holiday decor, the family’s pair of “Elf on the Shelf” elves, named “Peppermint and Lackey,” do tend to move around, but today, they frolic amidst the upper branches of the Christmas tree.

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One of the most dramatic changes the Greers made when renovating their home was to expand the kitchen and several smaller rooms to give themselves a generous eat-in kitchen with an attached family breakfast area/dining nook. The room features acres of white quartz, including an expansive kitchen island, and has almost an impossibly uncluttered look for a family of five. “I always wanted a white kitchen,” says Heather. “I love the clean, white, classic look.” She has found that this U-shaped layout is surprisingly easy to keep clean thanks to good design. “There’s actually not a lot of family traffic behind the island,” Heather says. “The cook’s work triangle is separated by the island.” Heather learned from experience in the couple’s previous home that it was challenging to get a lot done in a kitchen with three little girls underfoot, so when she sat down to plan the space with Steve Morris, she asked to keep the work triangle away from the main traffic of the kitchen, and he delivered. The kitchen area is a study in uncluttered beauty. There is nothing on the counters at all. In fact, to keep the clean look, as Heather points out, there are no plugs and only a single light switch visible in the backsplash which is also made of the same gray-veined creamy white quartz as the countertop. The outlets have been cleverly hidden under the countertops. Other than the 60-inch Wolf range, all other kitchen implements, including the refrigerator and a large flatscreen TV, are enclosed in the cabinetry, so that the kitchen exudes a clean, uncluttered feel. Thanks to a custom mudroom just inside the back door which absorbs most of the family clutter, and the breakfast area, which is outfitted with stocked refrigerator drawers, the kids have everything they need without invading the kitchen’s work triangle. r v h o m e m a g a z i n e . c o m 51

Much of the homework in the Greer household gets done in the breakfast area, and it’s also where the family has most of its meals. Mirrored paneled walls reflect light out from what could have felt like a dark corner. A stunning holiday wreath, purchased at Weston Farms in North Carolina, hangs on the mirrored walls as a festive reminder of the season. On the adjacent wall hangs a triptych of colorful oils by David Kessler, entitled “Luminous Patterns 1, 2 and 3.” The table and chairs reflect Heather’s own blend of traditional and contemporary: The table has a traditional wood top above a funnel-shaped metallic base, and the chairs are upholstered in blue velvet with nailhead trim. Heather explains that she spotted the chairs online and instantly fell in love. “Unfortunately, it was just a picture though,” she says. “No link. No designer… Nothing to help me find them. I searched for ages, and then finally found them. It turns out they were designed by one of my favorite designers, Julian Chichester.” Heather, a practicing OB-GYN, has both a passion and a gift for good design. “It is just something I have always loved,” Heather says. “I even teased Steve [Morris] that when I give up my day job, I’m coming to work for him!” Though giving up medicine is not in the cards any time soon, Heather can indulge her hobby and passion in her own home and she brings a not-insignificant amount of expertise to the table when sitting down with the interior designer teams that helped her with this


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house: Elaine Stephenson, Katie Stevens and Jessica Durham. “I think that it definitely helps to love design,” Heather says. “It makes me truly value the professional designers that I work with.” Additionally, Heather’s father made a career in the furniture business and she credits his connections as they decided on furniture for their home. “It really came in handy when furnishing a home like this for a busy family.” Heather and Jerod enjoy entertaining and decided early on that the home’s dining room, adjacent to the kitchen, was a little cramped. Careful thought and consultation with Steve Morris led them to use the space that was once a screened-in porch as a dining room and convert the original dining room to an open bar area. It worked out beautifully. “It truly opened up the space,” Heather says, gesturing around toward the French doors overlooking a slate patio beyond. The bar boasts a wall of custom cabinetry, quartz countertop and backsplash that mirror the kitchen and create cohesiveness, while at the same time providing extra entertaining space. The addition of two refrigerators, one for wine and the other for beer and mixers, mean that guests don’t have to run to the kitchen to refresh drinks. “It’s a house that ‘parties well’ now,” laughs Heather. “Moving the dining room was a great idea. Thankfully, Steve is really cognizant of things like flow, and discouraged what he called ‘dead end rooms,’ which is what we originally had.” The dining room, thanks to its earlier incarnation as a porch, is a space flooded with light. Two more sets of French doors flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the green of the back yard. Flooring is white marble tile, and the walls are a quiet neutral. The large traditional table is set to entertain. Heather designed the center decorations herself from a combination of manufactured and fresh greenery. “The gold-leafed garland came from my favorite store ‘Table Matters’ in Birmingham, Alabama, where we used to live,” says Heather. “My husband used to joke that my car was on autopilot and would take me there every Friday afternoon.” Heather and Jerod make several trips back to Alabama each year, and the store is always on the itinerary. r vhomemaga zine .com 5 3

Off the dining room is what the Greers call the family room. Originally, the room was a dark wainscoted study, and Heather envisioned it as a sort of “man-cave” for the lone Greer man, Jerod. “I really saw this as a masculine den,” Heather says. “I wanted it to have a darker, more moody feel.” Nevertheless, she opted to paint the wainscoting a light grey, and added a soft geometric-pattern carpet. Window treatments are plantation shutters, which, when closed, give the room a darker vibe. A leather couch and pair of upholstered chairs arranged around the wood-burning fireplace complete the look. Over the mantel, holiday decorations are simple and natural: a garland of dried cedar embellished with pinecones. Across the room, a magnolia branch adds a splash of green in a treasured piece of art: a sculpted vase by artist Ian Craven, whom Heather actually had the chance to meet. Ironically, though Heather designed the room especially for Jerod, it happens to be where his all-female family likes to hang out. “Yes, it really is the family TV room,” says Heather, gesturing to the large flat-screen TV mounted about the fireplace. “We love a cozy evening together with the fire going.” The living room beyond has a large bay window overlooking the street below that lets in ample light. It’s also the perfect spot for the family’s Christmas tree, a large spruce, tastefully decorated with dozens of engraved silver bells. “My maternal grandmother started collecting

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these bells years ago,” says Heather. “When I was growing up, she gave one to me and one to my sister every year. Then my mother picked up the tradition for our children. Every Thanksgiving she gives one to each girl so that one day they’ll be able to use them on their own trees.” Other than the tree, the holiday decorations are, as elsewhere, mostly greenery with small additional touches. A live garland over the doorway was purchased from Townside Gardens, and the boughs over the mantel were made by combining an artificial garland with fresh magnolia leaves and nandina berries from her parents’ home at Smith Mountain Lake. Heather has taken care to design a room that does not feel formal by choosing comfortable, family-friendly furniture, a plush Oushak carpet, and walls of gray grass cloth by Philip Jeffries. Elaborate window treatments are not Heather’s style, but she loves the simple, neutral silk-sateen panels embellished with decorative tape. The metal rods and rings are custom made with striated gold leaf by Brian Lawrence at Artistic Metals. The room has several antiqued gold-tone accents, from the starburst mirror, to the metallic frames on the coffee table and side tables, to the threesome of museum bees selected by Elaine Stephenson. Two large oils by John Lloyd Jones came from Heather’s hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee, and others were purchased on the Greers’ 20th-anniversary trip to Croatia.

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Indeed, much of the artwork that hangs in the Greers’ home has special significance. Some, like the oils in the living room, were purchased to mark special occasions or to remind them of stages of their lives. Others they just fell in love with, such as the colorful Ted Turner oil that hangs in the foyer, or the Stella Hart commissioned portraits of the girls that hang along the wall of the stairway. Regardless, it took a long time for Heather to decide where to hang each piece. “Some of the rooms in this house are still the old plaster, and I just couldn’t bear to put holes in the walls until I knew exactly where things were going,” she says. Since the Greers have lived in Roanoke, they have begun to collect some popular local artists such as Diane Patton, Brent LaGue, Peyton Klein and Maria Driscoll. In addition to the four bedrooms upstairs, the Greers’ home has a bonus room on the ground floor. Originally a mother-inlaw suite, complete with sitting area and bath, the Greers have broken the space up differently since their renovation. They kept

the bedroom and en suite bath, which they use as a guest room, but the sitting area has been completely rethought. The new space provides a home office/study with a lovely view out front for Heather and a much-needed first floor powder room. “I love having a study on the front of the house,” she says. “I enjoy being able to see the neighborhood activity, even when I’m working.” The half bath, for an active young family, was an absolute necessity. The tiny space is enhanced with an Asian-inspired wallpaper by Osbourne and Little. The Greers have transformed their hillside home in ways that were both practical and meaningful for their growing family. All together, Jerod and Heather could not be happier with the home they’ve created in Roanoke. Careful planning and design have paid off in a home that the whole family enjoys. “We love this house,” says Heather. “It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m proud of all we’ve done in making it a great house for us.” ✦

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Holidays in Bloom

GARDEN gift plants



Fall’s cool and shorter days herald the holiday tradition of decking our homes with fresh greenery and winter-blooming plants. Some favorites for seasonal displays and gifts include paperwhites, amaryllis, Christmas cactus and cyclamen. Festive presents for teachers, friends and family, these showy plants are simple to grow and maintain, but they require a little planning so that your home will sparkle and shine with resplendent Yuletide blooms.

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Forcing paperwhite bulbs

Forcing paperwhite bulbs is the art and science of coaxing them to bloom indoors and out of season. Indigenous to the Mediterranean, paperwhites differ from their daffodil relatives because they aren’t frosthardy. They thrive indoors in potting soil, water or pebbles but languish outdoors in cold climates. The delicate, white blooms of the Ziva bulb variety—popular because they are easy growers—make outstanding centerpieces and windowsill adornments, especially when planted in impressive clusters of seven to 10 bulbs. Care: Forcing paperwhite bulbs in small stones with constant watering and bright sunlight is an easy and effective method. Nestle the bulbs in three to four inches of pebbles in a watertight container, point side up. Water to the top of the pebbles, then set the container in a warm, sunny spot. Rotate the bulbs every couple of days to keep the stems straight as they lean to the sunlight. If the stems grow leggy, stake them with bamboo sticks and twine. After Care: Since paperwhite bulbs bloom in three to five weeks, force them in early November for beguiling Yuletide blooms. When the flowers fade, add the bulbs to your compost pile as they won’t rebloom. Growing amaryllis bulbs

Native to the tropics of Peru and South Africa, amaryllis bulbs boast exuberant trumpet flowers in variegated, saturated colors of red, burgundy, rose, pink, salmon and apricot. The amaryllis bulb flowers in six to eight weeks, so plant it early in November for holiday blooms. Care: The bulb contains everything the amaryllis needs to grow, once planted in a container (with drainage) half-filled with potting mix, placed in a warm, sunny spot, and watered sparingly. Amaryllis thrive in soil that is steadily warm; however, when buds appear, move the plant to indirect sunlight. Fertilize the plant with a houseplant fertilizer at each watering. After Care: When the flowers die, cut the stem to one-inch high, water sparingly, and feed it with a houseplant fertilizer. After spring’s last frost, plant the bulb or move the pot outside into indirect sunlight. Green leaves will grow, infusing energy for the next bloom. Before September’s first frost, bring the bulb inside, trim its leaves, and store it in a cool, dry and dark location for three to eight weeks. Repot the bulb in fresh potting soil, water sparingly, and place it in warm, indirect sunlight for a revived bloom. r vhomemaga zine .com 59

Nurturing Christmas cactus

Indigenous to the tropical rain forests of Southeastern Brazil, the Christmas cactus produces exotic flowers in red, purple, pink, orange or cream. Like other cacti and succulents, they don’t require lots of care or water. Care: Plant the Christmas cactus in a pot (with drainage) containing potting mix with sand and peat moss. Set the pot in bright, indirect sunlight and maintain a cool temperature. Keep them moist in the summer and early fall, then water only when the soil is really dry.

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After Care: Christmas cactus grows yearround. When flowers fade, prune the plant to encourage branching. As long as it enjoys indirect sunlight, cool temperatures, and spare watering, the cactus should flourish with ravishing blooms.

Caring for Cyclamens

Native to the Mediterranean, cyclamens are tuberous perennials that bloom from fall through spring but lie dormant in the summer. Surging in popularity as a holiday gift, cyclamen plants (distinct from the hardy cyclamen planted

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outdoors) are easy to care for and bloom long-lasting, colorful flowers amidst interesting, variably patterned leaves. Care: Plant the cyclamen in a pot (with drainage) containing potting soil. Place the pot in a cool, draft-free spot with indirect sunlight. When the soil is dry, water the cyclamen beneath the leaves; excess water on the stems and leaves encourages rot. Fertilize the plant once every two months with a half-strength, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. After Care: When the blooms die and the leaves turn yellow, stop watering and place the cyclamen in a cool, dry location for its dormant months. When September’s new growth emerges, take the cyclamen out of storage, soak the soil, and drain it. If the tuber has outgrown the pot, repot it in a larger container and follow standard care instructions for beautiful holiday blooms. âœŚ

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LIVE game night

game night! Bringing back old-school fun B Y K AT H E R I N E F U LG H U M K N O P F

Winter evenings often call for cozy nights staying in. Consider hosting game night, popular with all ages these days. Great stories come from these gatherings, and games develop their own family legends over the years. Kids discover competition as personalities emerge; adults model how to win and lose—gracefully we hope. This season, pull out an old favorite from your game closet, or try something new. 6 2

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Remember the classics

Tackle the challenging

Sorry starts by each player choosing their color—red, blue, green

Scrabble teases all brain levels as you compete to make words

or yellow—with four pawns each to move around the board. Follow the cards’ directions and travel the path to the center. First one to get all four there wins! Life is full of laughs, and, just like life, this game has lots of rules. Spinning the wheel gives instructions on where to go on the board; then there are the choices—college, career, marriage, children. The plot always changes, just like in real life. Chutes and Ladders makes any child smile. For the younger set, this adventure board moves you quickly up ladders and down chutes as you pass from square one to finish on square 100. Old Maid keeps kids fascinated for hours. Deal the cards to two or more players, then start matching sets. Don’t get left with the old maid! Monopoly melds math skills with marketing and risk taking. Roll the dice to send your token piece off on an adventure to rent, buy, sell and trade real estate holdings. Round the board spaces again and again until someone is wealthy and others are bankrupt.

from wooden tiles each featuring one letter. Keep the dictionary handy as challenges arise and everyone learns new vocabulary. Battleship started on graph paper then moved from plastic boards to electronic versions. It’s a simple premise: Each player owns five ships—an aircraft carrier, a battleship, a cruiser, a submarine and a destroyer. Place your ships on the ten-by-ten grid of squares. Now attempt to “sink” your opponent's ships by taking turns calling out a square’s coordinates. Can you discover where your enemy's ships are hidden? Gin Rummy requires two or more players and a deck of 52 playing cards. The dealer shuffles and gives each player ten cards. Try to make melds—three or more of a suit in order or of matching numbers. First one to turn all their cards into melds wins. Keeping score keeps the game going for hours, maybe days. Spades is played with a deck of cards and four participants. Dealing out all 52 cards, players bid on tricks they expect to take; a trick is one four-card hand. Spade suits always trump, so this is another game that combines skill with the luck of the

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cards. This old favorite from the 1930s offers a game that can be played all evening. Be strategic Backgammon demands concentration.

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One of the oldest games known, it dates back 5,000 years to Mesopotamia. A set contains 30 small disks to set up on 24 triangles on the board. Each player rolls the dice and moves their 15 pieces around the board until they get to the other side. First one to bear off (remove their disks by rolls of the dice) wins. Chess boards range from antique wooden ones with 32 intricately carved pieces to stone modern designs. Even simple models offer the same test of skill. Made for two players, each have 16 black pieces and 16 white arranged in specific order across a checkered board. Players take turns crossing the board and capturing the opponent’s pieces. Mahjong, an ancient Chinese game, requires four players with skill. Mahjong makers created modern variations, but the basic set contains 136 tiles displaying characters, racks to hold your tiles, a board and a pair of dice. A mahjong— collecting all 14 of your tiles into four sets and one pair—wins. Pairs are identical tiles; sets are either pungs (three identical tiles) or chows (three consecutive numbers) of the same suit. Learn something new Uno is a specialty deck of cards that

derived its name from the Italian and Spanish word meaning one. Grab a pack of these colorful cards and prepare for a fast-moving game. Seven cards are dealt to each player and the goal is to quickly discard them until your hand is empty. Consider “Spicy Uno” using the same cards with some extra-fun added rules. For example, throwing a seven means all players must be silent at the penalty of drawing more cards. Throwing a zero allows you to switch hands with anyone. Play to 500 and the one with the lowest score wins. Exploding Kittens is a family-friendly card game for 2 to 5 players with card illustrations by The Oatmeal (comic Matthew Inman’s website). Cards are dealt to each player and what you receive is pure luck. To succeed, and survive, don’t draw an exploding kitten card without holding a defuse card. It is a challenge to avoid those bad cats. R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

Code Names is a game of word association. You’re a spy and other players (your fellow spies) feed you hints. As the Spy Master, you must hit the target word and reveal the answer by assessing your teammate’s one-word clues.

Game night is a success when you choose the right game for your players. Young children need simple games that allow them to catch on to the rules quickly. Older adults want selections that invite laughter and competition while conversing with others. Teenagers usually like varieties that make them think and offer a fast pace. Plan snacks and beverages so there are short breaks for fellowship, especially if you have several groups playing different games. Tables keep everything steady and allow room for drinks to rest nearby. Bringing back game night can beat the winter blues. Everyone learns new skills and you get to know family and friends in a different way. Designing an evening of family activities is as enjoyable as planning a party. It can feature a theme or be a simple, relaxing time together. It may be so rewarding that you find yourself looking forward to the next one. ✦

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DESIGN upholstery tips

upholstery magic



Is it time for an “out with the old, in with the new” change? If you’ve been spending lots of time on the home front in recent months, you may be tired of looking at the same furniture and wondering if it’s time to switch it up. Let’s face it, though: New furniture isn’t always cheap. It’s a long-term commitment that can feel daunting. The magic of upholstery is that it can make your existing, functional furniture look and feel like new, giving your home an extreme makeover without paying a pretty penny. Here, local upholstery experts dish upholstery details and offer a few secret tips. 6 6

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How do you know if reupholstery is worth it?

“In my opinion, the older the furniture it is, the better quality it is, so it's best to reupholster than to buy new,” says Ralph Chumley, owner of Citizens Upholstery and Furniture Co. in Vinton. At age 81, Chumley, who has been in the upholstery business since 1962 and operating his own business since 1968, has no plans to retire anytime soon. Suffice it to say, he’s seen his share of furniture throughout his decades in the industry. If a piece was built between the 50s and 70s, the quality is typically top-notch, he says. In fact, he recommends that folks scope out old, discarded furniture from Goodwill, rather than buying new. If a piece happens to be from that golden era of furniture, it could be a perfect choice to reupholster, with durability that continues to stand the test of time. Along similar lines, Phyllis Kerr, owner of Phil’s Upholstery in Lynchburg, says well-made furniture is definitely worth recovering. A piece with eight-way hand-tied springs as a foundation, for example, can be an indicator of stamina and good quality. According to the experts, a few other situations may call for reupholstering. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you have a piece of furniture that is super comfy and fits your space, for instance, why not give it a fresh spruce up and hang onto it? Or if your furniture has unique lines and character, you may not be ready to say goodbye. Most of the midcentury and antique furniture that remains popular to this day can’t be replicated. If you’re lucky enough to have ever snagged a one-ofa-kind frame, it can be worth recovering. If your furniture has been handed down in the family or has sentimental value, you may be committed for the long haul. Another big reason to go the upholstery route? Options, options, and more options! If you want to choose from thousands of unique fabrics instead of the basic colors and designs that you see in the store, reupholstering an existing piece may better accommodate your taste.

A common question is: How often should a furniture owner reupholster a single piece? Chumley says the norm is three or four times throughout the lifespan of the furniture—every 10 or 15 years or so. “Sometimes the fabric will last longer than that, but people get tired of looking at it,” he says, sharing that many customers prefer to switch it up more often over the years, for the sake of style change. Tips and terms

DIY’ers, pump your breaks. Upholstery may not be for you to try on your own. “Major upholstery needs an expert,” Chumley explains, describing how the use of a commercial sewing machine is imperative to the process. Take welting for example. A welt cord is a cord along the seam of seat cushions or pillows that is covered with fabric. Upholsterers can create a single welt or a double welt, which would consist of two links of cord wrapped in fabric. This simple differentiation requires a special foot on the sewing machine that creates the fold in the double welt. It gets even more fancy schmancy with welting variations. One example would be a Turkish corner, commonly found on pillows. This consists of a single welt in which the corners are slightly rounded and turned in toward one another in the sewing process, creating the look of a small pocket. Another area best left to the experts would be trim. This is a skill that requires great precision and a masterful eye. Kerr describes two styles of trim—functional and decorative. Functional trim is used to cover the staple line when upholstering French or Duncan Phyfe furniture pieces with finished wood areas that are exposed. Functional trim examples include double cord, gimp and single cord. Decorative trims, as the name implies, are

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used for aesthetic purposes and include styles such as decorative tacks, braids, tape, brush fringe, bullion fringe and flange. Now that you know the details that go into the upholstery process, our experts leave you with two bonus fabric hacks to make the process easier and more delightful. “If you’re covering a larger piece of furniture (like a single cushion sofa), try to select a fabric that can be ‘railroaded,’ which means you can turn it sideways, so that from left to right, the length of the fabric is unlimited without having to piece and line up patterns. This would include all solids, non-directional fabrics, and patterns that are labeled ‘railroaded,’” advises Kerr. Along the lines of patterns and fabric options, Chumley offers advice for maximizing options and potentially saving money while you’re at it. “Shop at the upholstery shops that have their own fabric in stock, as well as books to order from,” he says, noting that if you choose fabric in stock and cut out the middle man, you can save big. If you want to spruce up your digs without shelling out the cash for new furniture, reupholstery may be the way to work a little magic and make the old feel brand-spanking new. ✦

2021 READERS’ FAVORITES Nominate your favorite local stores, service providers and businesses for all things home improvement, design and garden. We want you to tell us who should be on the ballot. The nominees with the most votes will make the cut to appear on the final ballot. NOMINATIONS OPEN FEBRUARY 3, 2021 AND RUN THROUGH MARCH 1, 2021. VISIT RVHOMEMAG.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION.

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IMPROVE water heaters

the silent supplier



ften overlooked, a home’s water heater sees as much use in a day as the refrigerator. Just as the fridge keeps food cold and accessible, the water heater makes sure that warmed water is readily at hand, whether for laundry, dishes or a relaxing bubble bath. Even though it lacks the flash and central location of shiny kitchen appliances, the water heater commands roughly 18 percent of a home’s total energy use—second only to heating and cooling. And while a heater usually lasts 10 to 15 years, its operational costs are significant: $400 to $600 annually. r vhomemaga zine .com 6 9

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Many homeowners replace a heater only when pressed—when water that’s supposed to be inside the heater or coming out of a faucet instead floods the floor. Leaks can originate from any of the heater’s several valves: cold water, hot water, temperature/pressure, and drainage. Over time, any of these valves can corrode and weaken, generating a leak. A slight leak that’s obviously originating from a valve may be easily fixed. More significant leaks are often caused by build-up of sediment inside the tank. Over time, the weight and corrosive elements of the sediment will cause the heater’s base to crack and give way. That’s when it’s time to shop for a new heater. To begin the search for a replacement, decide what kind of power will fuel the tank. The most common power sources are electric and natural gas, but solar- and geothermal-powered are also available. Solar power is best for sunny and warm climates, and may have high up-front costs that would take years to recoup if solar panels are not already installed. Heating water geothermally requires a geothermal heat system already in place. Natural gas uses less energy, reducing the cost of running the heater, but converting from an electric heater to a gas heater entails significant plumbing changes, which increases initial out-of-pocket expenses. And natural gas heaters themselves are more expensive to purchase, so the savings from the energy cost are not realized for some time. Once the power source is determined, the next choice is form: tank or tankless. The most common type is the tank heater, which comes in varying sizes to hold (and heat) a family’s water supply. The tank heater has changed little from the version patented by Norwegian-American Edwin Ruud at the end of the 19th century. There’s a tank to hold the water; a heating element and coils to heat the water; and temperature and pressure gauges. Hot water is always available, sitting inside the insulated tank. The electric tankless heater was invented by Stiebel Eltron in the 1920s but began attracting attention in the U.S. in the 1970s as a result of the energy crisis. Also known as an instantaneous or on-demand heater, the tankless option heats water as needed, so energy isn’t wasted on keeping sitting water hot. Tankless heaters will save on energy costs over time, but converting the plumbing from a tank heater to a tankless option will take more effort from a plumber, leading to high front-end installation costs. Also, tankless heaters don’t work well in homes with high demand for hot water. A busy family that expects to take simultaneous hot showers or run the dishwasher while also doing laundry will likely R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

find lukewarm or cold water instead of hot. The largest tank heaters usually hold 80 gallons. While a typical family of four might use 85 to 100 gallons a day, you don’t need a heater that large, because the heater will warm additional water during the day. In general, a household with two to three people can manage with a heater of 40 to 50 gallons, while a family of five or more will want a heater of 60 gallons or larger. When purchasing a heater, look for a long warranty. Consumer Reports has found that water heaters with longer warranties are often outfitted with larger heating elements and thicker insulation, so they really do last longer. Heaters may also offer digital temperature displays, which make it easy to adjust the temperature when away on vacation or to protect small children from burns.

As with any appliance, regular maintenance is a good idea. The heater’s manual will give specific guidance, but general upkeep includes flushing the tank every few months, which will reduce sediment build-up and extend the life of the heater. It’s also wise to check the internal anode rod—a metal rod inside the tank that attracts rustcausing ions naturally occurring in water. Over time, the rod will disintegrate. The tank flush is an easy DIY job; replacing the anode rod is somewhat trickier. A professional plumber can provide a full check-up and may identify correctable issues before permanent damage occurs. As a key player in the workings of a home, paying attention to the water heater will keep the water—and your family’s comfort—flowing. ✦

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IMPROVE stylish shelving



More time at home these days means more time to look around and see the need to organize and redecorate. The addition of new shelving to your home just might be the answer, whether you’re looking to update the kids’ rooms, a home office, the kitchen or the family room. Since your home is a reflection of who you are, why not use shelving to showcase your personality, hobbies and interests all while creating order and freeing up some space? There are numerous materials and styles of shelving from which to choose, most of which can be installed on your own with little time and expense.

Open up

A popular trend in home improvement is open shelving. To create this look, you can choose from a wide variety of materials and styles for brackets, and just as many for the shelf that is placed on top of those brackets. While seen in a lot of kitchen remodels, open shelving is a unique and non-traditional way to update any room in your home. Open shelving creates a light and airy feel and can be installed in a space that otherwise seems unusable. A laundry room is a great place for open shelving where detergent and other necessities can be stored in baskets and jars. For collectors, open shelving is a nice option as it allows for the arrangement of treasured possessions that may have been tucked away over the years. 7 2

When styling open shelving, organization is key. Group similar colors and styles of items together, and add greenery or flowers for a fresh look. Especially in the kitchen, keep things straightened up and don’t forget to clean often. This will keep your display from becoming a dusty, cluttered mess. A specific type of open shelving also on trend is the floating shelf. A floating shelf lacks visible brackets holding it to the wall and is ideal for small spaces. They fit perfectly in a tiny nook or corner. Choose black or gray wood or metal for a sleek and modern look; create a warm and cozy feel with a live-edge wood, or farmhouse chic with reclaimed wood. LED lighting can be easily installed to open or floating shelves to highlight photographs, artwork or other collectibles. Consider bringing the outdoors in R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

by installing acrylic floating shelves in a window frame to house small plants and herbs. Upcycle for style

Homeowners and designers alike have gotten increasingly creative with materials and ideas for shelving. Vintage dresser drawers can be painted and hung on the wall and used as shelves. Choose multiple sizes and shapes for added interest. An unused coffee table or side table in your attic or basement could also be cut in half and hung on the wall for decorative shelving; leave the legs on for a more dramatic look. Even some of your favorite books can be placed on top of brackets and turned into small shelves in an office or reading area. If you are limited in your ability to hang things on the wall, simply use wine crates to make an instant shelving unit. They can be painted to match any decor, easily moved around, and stacked into different patterns. An old wooden ladder can also be turned into a stylish shelf. After some sanding and a fresh coat of paint, attach wooden boards increasing in length from the top step down to the bottom, using a level as you go. The boards will lay across the steps and ladder rungs, giving you lots of room for extra kitchen storage or a place to display favorite family photographs. Refresh and restyle

A little creativity can go a long way when taking your current shelving from somber to stunning. Try replacing the existing brackets with a more modern color or finish, or use corbels instead, a thicker and more substantial support for shelves, usually made of wood or stone, for architectural interest. The area behind your shelves can be painted or wallpapered, or you can install beadboard for added texture and warmth. Decorative moldings affixed to the edge of a shelf or on the top or bottom of a bookcase turn an ordinary piece into something more distinctive. The possibilities are endless when it comes to adding or updating your shelves. Why not take a cold winter weekend and get your friends or family involved in a fun and relatively easy activity? Whether you tackle a small area in a powder room, or an entire wall in the dining room, you’ll be updating your home while making memories. âœŚ r vhomemaga zine .com 73

DESIGN animal prints and hides

your wild domicile transform your home into a natural habitat BY AMELIA POORE


dding animal prints and textures to our homes can feel intimidating; they can seem like bold statements for ordinary, everyday spaces. But when we think of them as Mother Nature’s own brand of neutrals, they become much easier to blend into any room in your home.


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“Animal print” often evokes looks of classic leopard spots and zebra stripes, definitive patterns that have never gone out of style. However, the possibilities for prints are much broader—giraffe, crocodile, antelope, peacock, or even dalmatian if you’re feeling a little Cruella de Ville. Animal print is meant to be wild and unique; all you have to do is find one to suit your vibe. It doesn’t matter if your style is domesticated or not, you’ll certainly find an animal print you love for your space. As a starter, using an animal-print area rug is a high-impact statement in any room without being overwhelming. This works well with less complex patterns, such as contrasting zebra stripes or antelope spots, to retain overall cohesiveness. Alternatively (or additionally!), a stair or hall runner in a more vibrant tiger or cheetah print is a fun touch to an entry or hallway, drawing the eye forward and adding interest to a transitional space. And, if you are more whimsical, using a faux pelt rug depicting almost any animal you can imagine helps you makes a big statement without taking yourself too seriously. Other options include cowhide and sheepskin rugs to add luxe texture to any room. Whether your style is rich and traditional, minimalist and modern, or even light and beachy, a cowhide or sheepskin brings interest to your floors.

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Exceptionally versatile, both can be used alone or layered over a neutral or sisal rug for an instant update. Cowhides are available in virtually endless options (you are not limited to a Holstein pattern), and natural cowhides are all unique with their own marks and coloration, adding a layer of authenticity to each piece. Natural hides are also easy to maintain. Absent any extreme spills, regular vacuuming and a little soap and water are all that’s necessary. Some experts recommend using a brush for regular cleaning as well. Alternatively, faux cowhides made of polyester or suede are an animal-friendly option, and not just in cow patterns. Zebra, leopard and antelope, as well as metallic and even brightly colored patterns, are available to anchor your unique space. As an added bonus, faux hides are guaranteed hypoallergenic and are often easier to clean. Sheepskin rugs are another, softer option for adding texture to your space. Unlike cowhide, sheepskin “rugs� can be placed over the back of an armchair or atop an ottoman to add an extra-cozy layer to your favorite spot. A sheepskin is essentially a piece of soft leather covered in plush wool, allowing it to both drape beautifully as an accent over furniture and retain its shape when used as a rug. Also unlike cowhides, sheepskins are machine washable depending on their size. Of course you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

most sheepskins can be cleaned using a specialized wool shampoo followed by airdrying and gently brushing out any knots between washes. Along with occasional handwashing and spot-cleaning, your sheepskin will look beautiful for years to come. In any room, using animal print fabric is a simple way to add interest. One option is using the print as a neutral by repeating the same print and then adding other patterns and colors with it, such as pairing a large-scale leopard print on two king shams and a bed skirt with more subdued bedding, then adding a pop of color on a bolster pillow or duvet cover. Another option is to seek out animal prints that fit into your color scheme. Selecting a vivid green and teal zebra fabric for an upholstered chair makes an impressive statement piece, or using a more subdued beige and ivory cheetah pattern for dining chair seat cushions adds interest without overwhelming the eye. In both scenarios, blending your own color scheme and preferences with an animal print accomplishes the best of both goals: cohesive design and eye-catching colors and patterns.

Additionally, using animal textures on furniture is perhaps a more subdued way to walk on the wild side. Of course, smooth leather furniture remains a classic way to incorporate natural textures into studies and living rooms. Whether the top of an antique desk or an overstuffed armchair, smooth leather furniture is always on point. However, other possibilities, like snakeskin or ostrich leather, offer more modern and unique textures. An embossed snakeskin side table can add an unexpected twist to understated living room decor. Ostrich leather can turn an otherwise uninspiring ottoman into a statement piece. Additionally, choosing a different color such as muted pink or blue will tie the texture in with the rest of your space while still giving the room an undomesticated edge. When you decide to use animal prints and textures in your home, there is no such thing as too much or too little; as long as your space is cohesive, functional and yours, you can be as wild (or tame) as you please. âœŚ

Elaine Stephenson Interiors, Inc. Elaine Stephenson, Asid, Cid Seely Stephenson Nicholson

3117 Franklin Road | Roanoke, VA | 540.344.9401 | www.esinteriors.com

Elaine Stephenson, Asid, Cid Seely Stephenson Nicholson

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emember a not-so-long time ago when people who worked outside the home were actively engaged in creating a work-life balance? But these days, with thousands working remotely, it might be difficult to say whether you are working from home or living at work. Adding to the chaos is that spouses and children are also participating virtually in jobs, schoolwork and extracurricular activities.


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But there are ways to work from home and not lose your mind. While there are no hard- andfast rules to creating a fantastic home office, there are some good, basic guidelines to follow in your quest for a home office: a location that has a strong internet connection, along with several outlets; a flat work surface, a comfortable and preferably ergonomic chair, and a space that would allow for fewer interruptions. And don’t limit this thinking to human interruptions; think too about dogs barking, mowers outside, doorbells ringing and the like, especially if your job involves video conferencing with others. After that, each office space will be as individual as its creator, and should be an extension of his or her user. One of the more liberating but also possibly more intimidating things about creating a home office is that you’re not locked into replicating industrial cubicles with giant metal desks, ugly filing cabinets and florescent lighting. Your new work space should be an expansion of your home, a space you want to be in because it feels both comfortable and inspiring. In fact, research suggests that creating a home office that reflects your taste and style will increase your productivity. Bottom line: If you can carve out a small space within your house where you will enjoy working, you will likely be happy and efficient. There is no question that being home all day can be challenging. So the first order of business is where to set up your office. For some, that will mean having a dedicated office space, with windows and a door. No guests for a while? Turn that spare bedroom into an office space. For others, it will mean creating useful space from unlikely places. A large closet, or “cloffice,” perhaps, or the corner of a rarely used dining room, might fit the bill. Size does (and doesn’t) matter: You will need to have places for essentials and figure out organizational systems to keep your office tidy—even if it’s tiny. The reason you should pick a specific place to work is two-fold; mentally, you know when you are in that space, you’ll be working, and, when you are not in that space, you are not on the clock. What do you need to work?

Once you’ve got your location down, it’s time to focus on specifics. With a plethora of interior design web sites, Pinterest adding multiple pins every second, and influencers doing live feeds, it’s not a bad idea to see if you can find some design ideas online. But keep this in mind: Being inspired is great, but don’t forget that you need an office where functionality—not looking gorgeous in staged photos—is key. It also means really understanding your needs in an office, and being honest with yourself about what is and is not realistic for your space and budget. One starting point is looking through your house and finding pieces you could cull for your office space. If you already own them, it’s most r vhomemaga zine .com 79

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likely because you like them. (Or, you know, someone in your family brought in “heirloom pieces” that you've never had enough energy to remove.) See if you can reimagine some of those pieces. An armoire or old TV storage cabinet could be repurposed as an office supply closet and a place to store papers and your printer; an added bonus is when the doors are shut—voila, no clutter. Maybe you banished ugly, old filing cabinets to the basement; imagine painting them with a high-gloss lacquer in a fun/funky color. Maybe you don’t have a desk, but you might not need a traditional desk; a farmhouse table or even a thinner console table might suffice as your computer station. Putting an old bookcase on top of a dresser and painting the two pieces the same color is another clever way to get storage without incurring big expenses.

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You will need—and there is no skimping on this item—a really good chair. People are not built for sitting for long periods of time. The Mayo Clinic suggests selecting an office chair that supports your spine and its curves, and adjusting the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest while your thighs remain parallel to the floor. Ergonomic chairs are more than just marketing hype; what sets them apart from ordinary chairs are the amount of adjustments you can make. A typical office chair will likely have a fixed seat height and fixed armrests; an ergonomic chair has multiple adjustments, including back heights, seat depth, armrests, lumbar support and more. True ergonomic chairs allow you to make tweaks throughout the day to help alleviate musculoskeletal disorders (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), muscle strains and lower back injuries. There is a huge variety of ergonomic products available for purchase; the chair is a non-negotiable item. Look up, down, all around

Poor lighting can lead to eyestrain, headaches and fatigue. In an ideal situation, your home office will have a window to allow for R o a n o ke Va l l e y H O M E H o l i d a y / W i n t e r 2 0 2 0

big, beautiful natural light. Sometimes, that can be too much of a good thing; in those (rare) cases, consider blinds or light-filtering drapes. If you don’t have a natural source for ambient light, create it by adding a fixture that can bounce light off the walls and ceilings. Lighting should also include a task lamp on your work surface, which will provide focused light on a specific activity. Be aware of placement too; some task lights might create shadows and or glare if incorrectly placed. And pay attention to the bulbs in those fixtures. Sometimes switching from a warmer bulb to a cooler bulb, or vice versa, will change the entire feel of a room. One thing designers (and environmentalists) stress is that where there is paper, there is potential for clutter. For some, clutter fuels creativity. For those for whom clutter is a distraction, consider upgrading your printer to a printer/scanner, so files can be stored digitally. (While you’re at it, go paperless for monthly bills.) If you need to have paper storage, plan on creating a system that will work for you. Frequently used forms, for example, could be close at hand while other papers could be stored across the room in drawers or in

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bins on shelves. Bookcases, new or old, could do double-duty as places for storage while also serving as a room divider. And don’t forget vertical spaces, especially if your office is on the smaller side. Adding a desk hutch is one possibility. Dozens of manufacturers offer countless options for fixed, vertical shelving, and floating shelves are another option. Both systems can create significant storage space, and add personality, too. While some shelves can be used to keep items off your desk (think filing containers), others can be used to highlight knickknacks, fun photos, or even plants. Make sure to incorporate systems to keep your space looking clean. This goes for office supplies (there are so many swoon-worthy organizational trays, bins and folders) and your electronics. Splurge on a great surge protector, along with a cable management system to keep all of the chargers and cords in one place. Consider mounting that system to your desk or to a wall, so you can access it when necessary. Lastly, even though your home office is for work, it’s important to make it feel like an extension of you. Add splashes of your personality. Don’t be afraid to paint or paper the walls of your home office. The smaller the space, the more a boldly-designed paper will elevate it. Not wanting to make a lifelong commitment? Consider peel and stick removable paper. If you love original artwork, hang a piece or two. Want to dig your bare feet into a plush rug? Add it. Need a midafternoon caffeine hit? Consider adding a coffee maker. Add things into your office that matter to you, no matter what they might be: plants, delicious-smelling candles, inspiring quotes, whimsical items. And if there’s a design trend you’ve been thinking about— layered rugs, perhaps, or adding prints to the backs of bookcases, or one single pop color for all accessories in an otherwise-neutral room—give it a go. Nothing here is undoable. Even if your new office is around the corner from your bedroom, it is nice to feel happy entering the office. When you’re creating or redoing a home office, consider its location and how it needs to function; make sure to properly place hardware and all of the extras. Invest in good furniture and make an ergonomic chair a priority. But don’t forget to have some fun with the space. Now get to work. ✦

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Roanoke Valley HOME Magazine 2020 Winter Nov/Dec/Jan  

Roanoke Valley HOME Magazine 2020 Winter Nov/Dec/Jan