October 22, 2017

Have you used your talents lately?

This recent economic upheaval  has taken many of us, and put us in a position to do some soul searching in regards to what we should do next. This could be a real blessing in disguise. How many people have buried what they do best under an unfulfilling career, and ignored latent talents? I have had to do different jobs for practical reasons, but I have nurtured what I love the most.   I must say my #1 talent is creating wonderful renovated living spaces.  I am one that must be doing something all the time. I operate this way almost  to the point of it being a fault! My work is only as good as the effort I put into it! Even when I am sitting down at the end of a hard work day, my mind is strategically planning my next working day. Why do I give so much time to my work?  Because I love it! It makes me feel good to utilize my talent and I can see my accomplishments. My passion doesn’t always pay me money, but it always offers me satisfaction! Fostering your talents, and seeing yourself mature past another time in your life, is incredibly rewarding.

I challenge each of you to focus on your talents. Yes we all have something that we do better than the average person. We are all gifted in some way! Putting energy into your talents will not only make you feel good about yourself but motivate you to do something that pertains to that talent. So no matter how big or small your talents are, use them! We are only as good as we allow ourselves to be! Spend time using your talents and I promise you will feel awesome about yourself and what you can accomplish! Yes we are all average people, but each of us have something we do that makes us above average and shine.

 

Hot Staging Trends in 2013

The clutter is cleared. The house is clean. Now, what accessories and accents can you use to make a room look fresh and modern? Try chunky woven blankets, reflective surfaces and tangerine combined with neutral shades.

Other Ideas:

Mother Earth Inspired Elements. Nature is popular this year. popular color palettes are reminiscent of natural elements-reds found in earth and soli, blues of the sea, lush greens of the rain forest, and neutrals that draw from the softer, textured look of eggs, seashells, and sand. the natural tones are being paired with color accents, such as Tangerine. Also look for accessories that incorporate natural elements such as woven baskets, leather stools and cotton towels.

Fabulous Faux. Think zebra stripe rugs or leopard print votives. But beware: use animal prints in small doses only.

Digital Fabrics. Framing a piece of digital fabric is a great way to create an inexpensive piece of artwork. Try textiles with fern or tree branch patterns.

Not your grandmothers Doilies. Add lace in subtle ways-on top of tablecloths or paired with bold colors. Traditional quilts and crochet peices are also popular.

Faded Area Rugs? Vintage is in Vogue! Instead of ditching that old Asian rug, use it as the foundation for your rooms color and aesthetic palette. Add modern artwork and accessories that compliment vintage pieces.

Opposites Attract: Think silk with suede, furniture with studs, “shiny with vintage”.

Touch the Sky: Think about clouds and water when choosing reflective white, blue and silver objects and hardware. Mirrors are great for staging as they make the room look much larger. Also consider mirrors in other ways, such as for a tray holding a tea-cup and saucer or on a wall in an area where there isn’t a lot of light.

Bottom Line: Have fun and let your creativity shine.

Chabby. Southern Smarts

Photo courtesy of Elle Décor.

 

 

Finding the Joy in the Journey.

When life suddenly scaled things down with the subtlety of an F5, I had to regroup on most things. Gone were the days of chartered boating, upscale resorts, and divine city dining. This lifestyle change may have adjusted my itinerary, but it has not changed my wanderlust, and curiosity for what may be around the next bend. Therefore, In my travels, I have reached out, and made incredible journeys into my own.

Locally, I have discovered an ethereal coastal compound for wild horses, that have inhabited this extraordinary island for hundreds of years. I happened on a bird sanctuary, that rehabilitates birds of prey, and fosters and guards its local eco system. I have toured  historic buildings to better understand my local history. I have happened on locally grown treats at state highway roadside markets, that make it more than worth the diversion. I have found characters in small, rural towns, that have turned their passions into content for national documentaries.  I have enjoyed views from day hikes that can be postcard perfect, and sunset kayak excursions on local rivers, that would be worth a much longer trip.

I am grateful for the five star resorts, and the first class seats, and all the luxury of a different time. But for now, I am tuned into a fresher, deeper, and more mature adventure. I am enjoying rich and simple discoveries in my own backyard. “The Joy of the Journey”

Andi Bartruff

Contributing Writer/Southern Smarts

 

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From a Sows Ear to a Silk Purse. Oak Island Beach Cottage.

In 2004, I was on the hunt for a beach cottage. I did not want something that someone else had already renovated I wanted to put our own spin on it. The deals are out there, especially now with the real estate market being what it is today. Having a sweet summer, weekend, or retirement getaway is quite affordable if you are willing to put that old “sweat equity” into play. That’s exactly what we did. When I was looking there was not much on the market that I would term affordable. One weekend I was invited to a friend’s home on a quiet and quaint barrier island off the NC coast, Oak Island. My friends had purchased property there and really wanted us to do the same. While we were searching we came across this horrible little “shack” on a double lot on the beach side of the island. It came complete with a junkyard on one side of the lot and the house, well it looked like it was a tear down.It had to be one of the worst properties I had ever considered. Rotten siding, decrepit porch, built out of cinderblock, and the interior was a mess! When we say a mess, one cannot imagine that the smell of cat urine and the fleas jumping on our legs were the only stimulation that we got as we toured the place with our Realtor.

Through vision and flea bites we could see the good bones. The home had vaulted beamed wooden ceilings and a fireplace. The kitchen, which appeared to be an addition, was large in comparison to the rest of the cottage. There was a partially built side addition with a large window in the front. It had a large backyard full of the islands name sakes, live oaks.

As you view the before and after photos you will be able to get the drift on how bad this little place was. The cottage is built predominantly with cinder block which is good from a possible hurricane perspective, but aesthetics on the interior with cinderblock walls was not going to work. To counteract this problem I decided to stucco all the interior walls. this was a daunting task, with potential for serious “carpel tunnel”.  I can tolerate  a little pain for fashion.

As budget was minimal we were going to do all the work ourselves, and had 90 days to bring it to completion. With this being a “fun house” I decided to let my imagination run wild where color was concerned. I selected a wonderful light green named ‘Independent Gold” with Sherwin Williams paint for the living, dining and small den. For the kitchen, I decided on a bright purple,  a periwinkle blue for the Master bedroom, and a bright gold for the guest room. With cement floors and a limited time frame, we decided on a glue down wood parquet for the floors as carpet was a non option with kids, sand etc. The small den had wood planks for flooring, and I painted them a bright white high gloss. For the exterior we were going to go with bright coral for the body of the house, purple for the peaks, and “Atlantic Green” for the shutters. We would  trim the house in white. We also added a deck on the right side and front, and built a covered front porch with decorative molding. The house felt dark, so we resolved this problem by using full French doors on the front and side entrances.  This enabled bright sunshine to enter the house, plus gave the house a real beach bungalow feel. For the interior, to keep the space feeling as open as possible, I opted to use full french doors for the bedrooms as well. For privacy I installed shades on the back of the doors so they may be closed for guest and family. This kept the interior bright and open.

Once all the construction work was complete, it was time to address furnishing the place. Now I am a flea market tag sale kind of guy. I knew I had some great old things in the basement, that with a  little updating and paint, would be fun, economical, and downright interesting. I wanted the place to have personality, be chic, welcoming and comfortable.

Upon arriving back in the city, I started my quest to get the house ready for my first week at the beach. I stopped by my local shops and found some very interesting fabric remnants.  I painted lamps and table,s and made three upholstered headboard which I covered with a plain off white canvas purchased at my local home improvement store. All I have to say is thank goodness for electric staple guns. They sure make the job a lot faster and with greater ease.

The end result is a great stylish little beach retreat that brings me more joy and relaxation than I could have ever imagined, and it cost a fraction of what I thought.  As a matter of fact. my beach neighbors loved what we had done so much, they asked us to consult as they prepared to redo their little cottage. We will be posting a story on that renovation in an upcoming article.

Remember style and comfort do not have to cost an arm and a leg. It just takes a little imagination. And if you find yourself cruising down Oak Island Blvd, feel free to stop by “Not The Hamptons ” and say hello. The iced tea with a hint of mint is always chilled. 🙂

Chabby 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting Edge Color! Tangerine

‘Tangerine Tango”: a bright, burnt orange hue was named 2012 Color of the Year by the Pantone Color Institute. here are three ways to incorporate this color, reminiscent of a sunset, in a home.

“Stage it with Accessories.”

A moderate amount of tangerine tango can add just the right amount of pop with pillows,throws tabletops accessories. Pair it with gray-scale neutrals for a modern flair.

“Mix it in the Kitchen”:

Some homeowners are choosing this sunset hue for kitchen appliances to add an extra colorful touch!

“Brighten up a wall”:

Try a painted accent wall in tangerine tango to create a “dynamic burst of energy” in the kitchen, entryway, or hallway!

Have fun and don’t be frightened to experiment..After all: It’s only paint! 🙂

Chabby

 

Lean times call for a budget when it comes to Home Maintenance!

I am always on the hunt for articles and additional information to provide our readers that they may find helpful. This article from Money Magazine jumped off the page and I sure hope you all find it both helpful and informative.

(MONEY Magazine) — Lean times call for budgetary triage. But while you should clearly opt for orthodontics before Disneyland, the choice is tougher when it comes to home maintenance.

Should you get a paint job or a new furnace? “There’s no homeowner’s manual that tells you when to do what,” says Naperville, Ill., home inspector and structural engineer Mark Waldman

Emergencies aside, the project that could cause the most damage and expense if left unfixed is the priority. Below, the order in which to tackle your biggest repair needs.

1. Electrical system

Wiring problems claim the No. 1 spot for good reason: They can lead to fires and electrocution. “That trumps everything,” says Waldman.

Danger signs: Circuit breakers that trip frequently, lights that dim when you turn on the vacuum or outlets that are loose, hot, or accept only two-prong plugs.

How to check: Spend $300 to $500 for a licensed electrician to open up your main panel to look for trouble and to tighten any loose connections. He’ll also spot-check switches, outlets and light fixtures to ensure that the wiring is in safe working order

Replacement cost: $4,000 to $10,000 to rewire the house.

Prolong its life: Flip every circuit breaker off and on again once a year to prevent corrosion. Add new circuits ($100 to $500 each) to take the heaviest electrical loads, like window air conditioners, off the old wires.

2. Basement

Structural problems downstairs mean shifting and cracking upstairs — at the very least — so there’s little point in doing other repairs until you’ve fixed the building’s foundation.

Danger signs: Bowed or split beams, rotted posts, piles of sawdust (evidence of wood-boring insects), tiny mud trails (indications of termites), or large cracks in the masonry foundation — especially if the cracks are horizontal, which tends to indicate a bigger problem.

How to check: A contractor will usually take a look free of charge. If he recommends significant repairs, hire a home inspection engineer (find one at nabie.org) to investigate ($350 to $500).

Replacement cost: Major foundation work can cost $3,500 to $8,000; new posts or beams could run $1,200 to $2,500.

Prolong its life: Water is the cause of cracked concrete, rotten timbers and wood-eating pests. So keep your basement dry by making sure the landscape slopes away from the house and maintaining the next two items on the list: the roof and gutters.

3. Roof

Water leaking into your home from above can lead to a host of pricey problems: rot, insects, electrical shorts and mold.

Danger signs: Dampness or stains on ceilings; curling, missing, or broken shingles; smooth spots where the granules have worn away; green algae growth.

How to check: Have a roofer inspect your home. This is typically free, but the pro, of course, is looking for business. So check the company’s reputation at angieslist.com ($5 a month).

Replacement cost: $5,000 to $15,000

Prolong its life: Prune tree limbs so they’re at least 10 feet from the roof to keep squirrels away and to let moisture evaporate quickly after storms. If shingles blow off, replace them immediately, and repair small leaks promptly.

4. Gutters

Your gutters are just as important as the roof. The only reason they’re lower on this list is that if you replace gutters first, they’re likely to get damaged when you reroof later. So if you need a roof too, it’s better to wait — or do both projects at the same time.

Danger signs: Dented or disconnected gutters, pooled water around your home’s foundation, or basement flooding near the downspouts.

How to check: Head outside during a rainstorm and watch the gutters in action, says Caitlin Corkins, stewardship manager for Historic New England, which maintains dozens of historic properties. “The best time to see clogs and overflows is when the system is working,” she says.

Replacement cost: $1,500 to $3,000

Prolong its life: Hire a gutter company to clean, check, and repair your gutters ($100 to $200) at least once a year — two or three times if you’re in a wooded area. And have someone clear the eaves of deep snow to prevent icing, which can split open gutters or rip them right off the house.

5. Exterior walls

“People think paint is just a decorative element, so they let it go,” says Robert Niemeyer, a Winston-Salem, N.C., handyman, contractor, and electrician. But without a weather-tight seal, water can infiltrate the siding, causing rot.

and attracting wood-damaging insects. Still, leaks from a vertical surface generally aren’t as quick or lethal as ones from a roof and gutter.

Danger signs: Paint that’s peeling, cracking or blistering

Replacement cost: $4,000 to $10,000; make sure the painters replace loose putty around the window glass and caulking gaps around molding

Prolong its life: Hire a pro to do touchups every year. Trim foliage so it’s at least a foot from the house, and kill any mildew growth with a bleach-and-water solution.

6. Aging equipment

An old heating or cooling system is costly to operate — and the risk of a breakdown increases with age. But as long as your old furnace, boiler, or AC is operating safely, there’s no rush to upgrade.

Danger signs: The system cycles on and off frequently to hold your thermostat setting; you spot corrosion on the vent pipe; the natural-gas flames are yellow or orange instead of pure blue.

How to check: Get a repair estimate: if it’s more than a third of the replacement cost, spring for a new machine, says Indianapolis plumber Larry Howald.

Replacement cost: Typically $2,000 to $4,000 for a furnace (forced air); $4,000 to $8,000 for a boiler (hot water); $1,000 to $3,000 for a water heater; $6,000 to $10,000 for an air conditioner.

Prolong its life: Have your systems cleaned and tuned annually, including flushing the water heater to remove sludge, replacing all filters and lubricating any pumps

Replacement cost: Typically $2,000 to $4,000 for a furnace (forced air); $4,000 to $8,000 for a boiler (hot water); $1,000 to $3,000 for a water heater; $6,000 to $10,000 for an air conditioner.

Prolong its life: Have your systems cleaned and tuned annually, including flushing the water heater to remove sludge, replacing all filters and lubricating any pumps.

Hope you found this informative. Best! Steven C

A Renovated House, Renovated All Wrong!

This 1930’s house was renovated in the first picture (exterior white)…YIKES!  Do you think with this renovation; plate-glass windows, a patio instead of a porch, and lets not forget the vinyl siding were really a good choice for a 1930’s bunglow?I’ll answer for you… NO! I found a picture of the original house and spared no expense to return it to its original character. I rebuilt the front porch, replaced the plate-glass windows with the original style, and removed all the vinyl siding.(2nd picture) So after looking at the second picture, which renovation was better? I don’t think I have to answer this one for you! Stephen Spurling

Painting An Exterior Brick House

I have painted many brick homes. I usually find a reason to do this as there are very few brick homes that look good with natural brick. Let me explain myself. I usually renovate older homes and the brick that was used back then wasn’t as pretty as the brick used today. I also like the fresh clean look of painted brick. The home I am featuring in this blog was in terrible shape, the brick had many mortar cracks, and we all know that when you do a mortar patch it never matches the existing mortar, and stands out like a sore thumb! Well to be honest, I would have painted this home whether it need mortar repairs or not, the natural brick just wasn’t attractive.

A quick FYI about mortar cracks, they are ok if they run in a”stair step” fashion, of course they need to be filled (re-pointed) to keep moisture out. If the mortar cracks run horizontally then it is can be an indication of a shift in the foundation, a more serious fix, and a whole other conversation.

I will let you decide which is better, painted brick or not. I realize the “before” picture is not a fair comparison as it was taken before it was renovated. However ,you must admit the painted brick “after” picture really brings the home back to life! It is an updated 50’s ranch! Stephen