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Arlene Gross

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Is It Time to Waterproof Your Basement? Here’s What You Should Know

waterproof basement
Getty Images

Now that we’re at the peak of hurricane season and possible relentless rainstorms, it might be a good time to make sure your basement is completely waterproofed.

Basement waterproofing is essential, as excess water that saturates the ground can damage the foundation, says Mark McAlpin, owner of Islip-based ACM Basement Waterproofing.

“It’s really a question of water management,” McAlpin says. “You can live in a house for 40 years without a problem and all of a sudden you walk down and there’s water all over.”

Signs of Water Damage

Though your basement may have never flooded, you might still see signs that water is seeping in by examining the interior walls, advises McAlpin. Indications of water damage include white powder on the walls; peeling paint, especially towards the floor; and cracks in the floor and walls.

Basement Moisture Hazards

In its early stages, mold may not be clearly visible to the naked eye, but it can still be there and potentially wreaking havoc on our health. 

Though we all may be breathing in mold to some degree each day, high concentrations of mold can cause respiratory complications, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, and even compromised immune systems.

Over time, moisture can damage the structure of the home, as well as ruin the insulation, which can lead to increased energy consumption, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

As the weather is predicted to become more and more extreme over time, you should add waterproofing to the budget before you invest in other basement improvements, advises McAlpin, who notes that it’s cheaper to tackle waterproofing before you incur water-damaged furnishings. 

Waterproofing Techniques

Generally, the only way to guarantee a dry basement is to add an interior French drain (named after inventor Henry French), a drainage system under the floor of the basement that captures the water and leads it out to a sump pump. 

“The pump comes on automatically and takes the water outside,” notes McAlpin, adding that there’s a battery backup in case of power outages.

Installing a French drain entails breaking apart the basement’s concrete floor, digging down along the perimeter of the home, removing concrete and dirt, placing the French drain with perforated piping and gravel in the trench, recementing the floor, and adding wall drainage, explains McAlpin. The entire process takes between three and six days. 

“You can do half the perimeter, but it’s really recommended to do the full perimeter,” McAlpin says.

Homeowners should also maintain their roof gutters, keeping them clear of debris and efficiently directing the water away.

“But the bigger problem is the underground water,” he says. “That’s the root of it: underground water on a sunny day.” 

Ventilation Essential

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that everyone should be ventilating their basements, subterranean areas where there’s typically limited airflow, says McAlpin.

“Up top, there’s plenty of air leakage,” he says. “Downstairs, it’s a concrete vault and there’s almost no air coming in.”

ACM Basement Waterproofing utilizes an EZ Breathe Ventilation System that’s placed on the wall and draws moist air off the floor, exhausts it outside, and draws better air from upstairs.

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How to Design the Perfect Multipurpose Room For You And Your Family

multipurpose room

If you have a spare room in your house, several family members will no doubt be clamoring to claim it as their own.

A perfect solution is to turn the space into a multipurpose room, one that can function as more than one thing to one person.

Interior decorator Liz Kohart of Garden City-based Liz Kohart Interiors did just that, recently turning an unfinished third-floor attic in Garden City into a home office for dad and hangout room for the teenage kids.

The room now has a built-in wall unit with TV, shelving, cabinets, and drawers, to store games and other recreational items and seating, including a sofa and two swinging basket chairs that hang from the ceiling. An alcove of the room is a dedicated office area for the dad, who had been working from home remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though the room is basically one big open space, the office alcove, which has a built-in desk, file cabinet and computer monitors, is a somewhat self-contained area set apart from the rest of the room.

Details, Details, Details

Knowing that they intended to eventually finish the attic, the owners, who bought the house several years ago, had the space completely climate controlled with heating and air conditioning.

The renovation, which took 3 months, included adding shiplap to the walls and ceiling, which, Kohart says, brings a casual, modern farmhouse look to the space. Built-in window seats under the eave serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Recessed lighting was chosen to illuminate much of the space because it takes up less visual space in the room and makes the room feel bigger, explains Kohart.

“With the addition of recessed lighting in this space we were able to add high-hats on different switches that all have dimmers,” she adds. “So, we control the amount of light and the intensity of the light.”

Starting from one big open room, the contractor closed off some of the space for closets and storage in the eave, leaving the rest of the space open.

“For the built-in area, we used reclaimed wood from old buildings from Manhattan that’s really cool looking,” says Kohart.

Options, Options, Options

Though the dad has since returned to work mostly outside the home, the new room gives him and his family more flexibility.

“He says maybe one day a week from now on he’ll be able to work from home, where that wasn’t an option before,” notes Kohart.

Since the room was completed in January, the family has made great use of it.

“Even when they entertain friends, they all end up going up there and hanging out because everyone loves it,” Kohart says.

Next to the new third-floor office/hangout room, Kohart put finishing touches on a new bathroom, complete with shower, which opens yet another possible use for the renovated space: a private suite for guests.

How you choose to designate a multipurpose room depends on your individual needs.

A multipurpose room can accommodate any combination of varied hobbies and avocations, from quilting to scrapbooking, painting, journaling, playing an instrument, and composing music, to just about anything your heart desires.

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Parents, Educators Raise Concerns About the ‘Lost Year’ of Academics

academics
Getty Images

Summer is always a time for plentiful fun and free time for students. 

But with many school districts not having in-person classes full time this year due to Covid-19, some people in the school community are concerned about how well students will fare this fall.  

Tina Brady thinks her daughter Braylin, who just completed fourth grade, will be fine, since she had in-person school each day and had to quarantine only for one short period. She does, however, worry about her older daughter Keely, 17, who’ll be a senior this fall at West Babylon Senior High School.

“She was only there every other day,” says Brady.

For her junior year, Keely had 80-minute learning blocks for math, English, social studies and science.  

“There are definite concerns,” her mom says. “She does work hard, but I think there’s going to be a gap there.”

Because of the disruption in learning, Brady had Keely opt out of her English Regents, which was optional this year. “I didn’t want to make her feel more stressed out,” says Brady.

Missing out on track and other social activities was also an issue for Keely, who will continue working with a tutor this summer for help with her SAT and math.

“I definitely feel she missed out,” says Brady. “They need to be in school all together, every day, without restrictions.”

A Tutor’s Take  

This summer, Heidi Fisher, a Port Washington-based tutor for middle school through college students, is working with more students than usual.

“The shift I’m seeing is tutoring becoming more of a hybrid,” says Fisher, who notes that the traditional one-hour lesson per week is changing. “There’s really a lot of communication with parents and students. That’s really key now, particularly with remote learning.” 

Parents and students are also questioning the validity and value of SAT and ACT tests, Fisher says.

“I think Covid really pushed that to the forefront,” she says. “I think those conversations were starting to happen, but now they’re really more front and center.” 

These days, a tutor needs to be more of a jack-of-all-trades.

“It can’t be just content anymore,” Fisher says. “It’s also being intuitively focused on the student and their need beyond just what’s on the page. As tutors, we have to be more and more flexible and responsive than ever.” 

Teachers Weigh In

“In my experience, a lot of teaching and learning went on this year,” says Ivy Cohen, who teaches third grade special ed at the Lawrence Primary School. “The children really became very responsible for their own learning. They became very independent learners. They developed excellent technology skills.”

For the most part, Cohen taught her students in the classroom, though there were several weeks of remote learning. 

This summer the Lawrence School District has expanded its summer reading program.

“It’s a brain fitness program that looks to improve language, reading, memory, attention and processing all at once,” says Cohen.   

Cohen thinks the students will be fine next year, but teachers should be on the lookout for anyone exhibiting social or emotional issues.

“There’s been a lot of communication between the teachers and families, so I really think if there’s any child that shows that they’re struggling or falling behind in any area, the district will be on top of that,” Cohen says. 

Come September, there will definitely be learning deficits, predicts Jessica Campbell of Lynbrook, who teaches fourth grade special ed in Brooklyn.

“We started in person,” says Campbell. “Every time we got tested, we were closed for 10 days. I had kids not logging on, not completing the work. It’s hard for them to do it over the computer it’s not for everyone.”

Because she didn’t see the students every day, the break in continuity resulted in learning losses, Campbell says. 

“When I start fourth grade in September, I definitely have to go back, because they missed so much,” she says.

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Tips for Renovating The Heart of Any Home: The Kitchen

the kitchen
Courtesy Giovanni Naso Interiors

If you’re looking to add some pizzazz to the room that your family and guests spend the most time in, you’ll want to redo the kitchen, the lifeblood of every home.  

Start with a wish list and assess your needs, recommends Giovanni Naso, owner of the eponymous Bellport-based Giovanni Naso Interiors. Next, hire a designer who’ll draw up floor plans and elevations so that you can visualize the space.

Some questions to consider: How much do you cook? Do you need spice drawers? Do you have lots of pots and pans and need rollout drawers? Do you boil a lot of water and need a waterspout over the stove? Is your style modern, traditional, or shabby chic?  

Open Floor Plan

If your kitchen is closed off from other rooms, consider knocking down walls wherever possible, as an open floor plan is ideal for traffic flow and keeping family members together while entertaining, Naso advises.

“It also has proven to bring better resale value to your home, should you sell it,” he adds.

Counters, Cabinets & Center Island

Counters in white or white with light grey veining are trending now, as are hues of grey and blue, notes Naso.

“Quartz takes the place of porous marbles or Carrara that stain and are not user friendly when it comes to serving red wine and leaving lemons on the counter,” Naso says.

Cabinet colors should match or complement the counters; choose from flat panels for a modern look with wood veneer in high -shine or satin finish. For a more traditional look, go with Shaker style. 

“If you have taller ceilings, having a taller cabinet displays elegance,” Naso says. “If your ceilings are soaring, then it’s nice to have a tall cabinet with some space above because soffits are dated.”

Naso always encourages adding an island if the kitchen space can accommodate one.

“It allows for additional storage and doubles as a place to sit and serve,” he says. “Three stools look great to the eye and if you have a smaller island, groups of three work best.” 

Floors and Lighting

Naso recommends commercial grade 12-millimeter luxury vinyl tiling for kitchen floors. The tiling, which comes in many tones and textures, is practically indestructible, water resistant, scratchproof, and comes with whisper technology underneath, which helps soften the sound and adds comfort when stood on for hours.

To light up the room, use a combination of recessed lights on the ceiling and pendant lights over the island or a chandelier for a more luxurious look, Naso advises.

Appliances and Hardware

If appliances are outdated or broken and need to be replaced, stainless steel is a good neutral option.

“The more modern kitchens we design have everything tucked away and hidden to provide a seamless cabinet facing so all disappears in a blink of an eye,” Naso says.

Hardware is the jewelry of the room and should be chosen to add a finishing touch to cabinets, he adds.

“We choose elegant and understated combinations of pulls and handles that complement one another, usually matching them to the faucet and or dishwasher/refrigerator, if they don’t have cabinet doors.” 

One more tip from Naso: For greater efficiency, store utensils in a two-level stacked drawer.

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Expert Organizers Give Tips for Decluttering Your Home

decluttering

You look around your house and feel overwhelmed by the piles of papers and countless tchotchkes and simply don’t know what to do.

It might be a good time to call a professional organizer.

“Being organized and decluttering one’s home results in people feeling better emotionally, mentally, and physically,” says Vinnie Giacalone of Massapequa, owner of The Organized Guy, Inc. “It also makes you more productive and saves time and money.”

Giacalone says he starts by trying to get a general understanding of people’s issues, followed by an in-person or virtual tour of the problem areas of the home. The three-step process can be boiled down to the A.C.E. mnemonic: Assess the situation; Create the plan; Execute the plan.

Giacalone advises starting with smaller projects or tasks. Even if your goal is to organize the entire house, it’s better to tackle one space or room at a time.

“It’s easier to measure progress and it’s a great way to feel positive, productive, and empowered,” he says.

Through the years, a person’s belongings often gain sentimental value, so Giacalone says he’s careful to respect people’s wishes.

“However, I will make suggestions and recommendations that remain in line with the vision we defined,” he says.

To achieve a more manageable space, it’s not necessary to throw everything out, but to remain true to the goals set forth in the plan, advises Giacalone.

“If their goals were to clear out stuff but instead they keep giving me reasons to keep stuff, I will ask if they’re changing the goals or altering the plans. It’s always about accountability.” 

Basements, garages, attics, and closets prove the most challenging spaces to declutter because these are the places where we typically stash things away.

“Over time, these spaces become dumping areas for stuff that’s no longer used or wanted,” says Giacalone, who advises people to periodically clean out and remove old, unused, unwanted items from these areas.

Bonnie Reich, president of Symmetry Closets in Holbrook, suggests the following tips for organizing/decluttering closets and pantries:

  • Take everything off the shelves and place in groups of like items

  • Separate into three piles: Keep; Toss; Donate

  • If you spend more than 3 seconds choosing a pile for any item, place it in a fourth pile: Maybe

  • After sorting everything, return to the Maybe pile and sort items into first three piles

  • Place seldom-used items on the top and bottom shelves; frequently used items at eye/hand level; heavy items at the bottom

  • Add Hafele hooks to hang mops, dog leashes, reusable grocery bags and more

  • Add drawers or wire baskets to organize smaller items, table linens, cleaning supplies and spices that otherwise get lost on deep shelves

Once you’ve gotten things under control, Giacalone recommends creating a schedule and blocking out time in order to maintain the order and basically create new habits.

“We all have busy schedules, so if we can find or make the time to do everything else, then we need to do the same for keeping our spaces as neat and clutter free as possible,” he says, adding that he shares his calendar and reminders list to illustrate how this can be accomplished. “But if they have issues or challenges, I’m always available to conduct a ‘maintenance’ session to get them back on track.”

And if you begin to feel defeated in your quest to declutter, Giacalone suggests an old and helpful joke: Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time!

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Home Decorating Tips for Transforming Your Bathroom Into a Cozy Retreat

home

Obviously, a bathroom is an integral part of your home. But why not consider turning a utilitarian room into an appealing, cozy retreat?

First, decide whether you want to go with wallpaper or paint.

For paint, go with a semigloss for both walls and ceiling, notes interior designer Lynn Breindel, owner of LB Interiors of Bellport and New Rochelle. 

If you prefer the look of a matte finish, go with a flat paint made specifically for bathroom walls and ceilings, advises Breindel. 

“It’s a little more expensive, but well worth it,” she says. 

COLOR AND TEXTURE

Color is all a matter of personal preference and truly anything goes – except for the ceiling, which should always be painted white, she says.

“You can go bold in a small bathroom with dark paint or wallpaper,” says Breindel. “If you want more of a dramatic effect, I tend to do that in a powder room that you don’t spend a lot of time in.” 

In small bathrooms, stick to a single color palette to keep it simple, clean and soothing. In a larger room, experiment with more color in towels, mats, and artwork.

“Any color with some gray added to it makes it more peaceful, especially lighter colors,” says Breindel.

With a plethora of designs and varying degrees of texture, wallpaper gives you many options, from grass cloth to more tactile, high-resolution materials that really stand out. 

Breindel recommends vinyl wallpaper for bathrooms that have showers. 

“There are beautiful ones now, even ones that look like grass cloth,” she says. 

For a powder room, Breindel advises any wallpaper, even paper backed, as long as you make sure it stays dry behind the sink. To protect the area behind the sink from wetness, add a 4-inch backsplash made from countertop material such as quartz or stone.

MIRROR, MIRROR

For a full bathroom, especially with enough wall space, a medicine cabinet is great for extra storage. 

“My favorites now are the ones with the built-in LED lights,” says Breindel. “You can stack medicine cabinets next to each other to create a wall of mirrors with function behind it.”

Generally, you won’t have the space nor the need for a medicine cabinet in a powder room, but you’ll want a good mirror, which also can have the built-in LED lights.

“Mirrors can be used to enlarge the space and reflect other elements in the room, such as lighting or wallpaper,” explains Breindel. “I also use wall-mounted vanities to give the impression of larger space in a small bath. It’s very effective.”

LIGHTING AND HARDWARE

As with any room in your home, a bathroom should have layered lighting.

At the sink or overhead, lighting can be either recessed or a ceiling fixture. In a large bathroom, you can have both, and always use dimmers to control brightness, advises Breindel.

Hardware is the jewelry of a bathroom and there’s so much to choose from, adds Breindel.

“Polished nickel and brass look great in bathrooms, but do tarnish over time and need maintenance,” she advises. “Polished chrome is easier to maintain.”  

Tiles can reflect your taste and personality. If you have a full tiled shower, Breindel suggests adding shiplap to the walls to add texture and interest.

Besides adding color to the room, bath mats are essential to give the room a cozy feel, especially when you walk on a tiled floor, even with radiant-heated floors, notes Breindel. 

“A Toto Japanese heated toilet seat is also worth every penny,” she says.

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Landscape Designer Offers Ideas for Sprucing Up Your Backyard This Spring

landscape
Courtesy Hicks Nurseries

Spring is here! With Covid-19 not quite in the rearview mirror, you’ll be spending lots of time at home and a spruced-up landscape will work wonders to rejuvenate your spirit.     

As we once again begin to welcome friends and family into our homes, a relaxed yet safely distanced al fresco setting is the perfect place for entertaining.

This spring you’ll want to maximize your space, which can best be achieved outdoors, where you can push out the boundaries, advises Ken Muellers, senior landscape designer for Hicks Nurseries in Westbury.

A FLEXIBLE DESIGN

These days, a flexible outdoor design is key.

A patio can have both an intimate bistro table for two and sprawling conversation areas for people to spread out as needed, with spillover seating on the grass. 

“If you have flat lawn area, there’s no reason the party can’t extend onto the lawn area,” Muellers says. 

Portable potted plants, which can follow the sun as it shifts through the seasons, are another great way to achieve a flexible landscape.

“If you need more space, you can take them off the deck and put them somewhere else in the yard,” Muellers says. “If you want it to look beautiful, put them close to the house where you can see them.” 

ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION

In many established landscapes, patios and decks have been penned in by shrubs that cut people off from their yards and limit their space.

“Sometimes removing hedges or pruning hedges to open up views and open up pathways and space can be an asset,” says Muellers. 

Overgrown yews and Japanese holly (Ilex crenata), for example, can benefit from an extreme spring pruning.

Adding steppingstones such as bluestone can complement the main patio and create a more informal setting. 

“You gain more space without detracting from your existing patio or deck,” Muellers says. “That’s the key: how to add on without it looking like an add-on.”

EXTENDING THE SEASON

A firepit – gas powered or wood burning – has dual functions, serving both as a focal point and heat source for the backyard.

“It also works well to extending the gathering into the evening a little better,” says Muellers. “You have the warmth; you have the light from the firepit, so that can be a nice element in the landscape.”

To stretch out the season, concentrate on a progression of bloom, with plants flowering early in the season, throughout the summer, and well into the fall.

“That’s done with multiple layers, from the canopy of the trees, flowering trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, and then supplementing that with annuals and even tropical plants in the summer months to give that extra pop of color,” Muellers explains. 

PRIVACY, PLEASE

As you spend more time outdoors, you’ll desire more privacy from neighbors who also will be hanging out in their yards.

“Evergreens are a great way to get that privacy between homes,” Muellers says.

For smaller properties that can’t easily accommodate a 20-foot wide spruce or pine border, try plants that stay more in scale with your property, like skip laurels and emerald green arborvitae, both of which grow tall and narrow and work better in tight spaces, notes Muellers. 

To keep noise levels down from other properties, add a water feature to help dampen the sound. 

“You kind of counter it by creating your own white noise,” Muellers says.

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Interior Designer Gives Home Decorating Tips for a Cozier Bedroom

home decorating
Jeanne Campana Design, photo by Kyle J. Caldwell

With spring on the horizon, love is in the air. Now might be the perfect time to take a fresh look at how you can cozy up your home’s inner sanctum: the bedroom. 

Bedrooms are meant to be restful retreats, a place for recharging and relaxation, says interior decorator Jeanne Campana of Jeanne Campana Design in Centerport.

“Selecting a soft color palette with soothing textures can create a sense of calm,” Campana says. “Throw pillows, comfy knits in neutral tones, rich wood accents, and faux-fur throws are all great starting points. An upholstered statement bed with an area rug underneath anchors the space to create a feeling of warmth. “

COLOR AND FABRIC

Colors and fabrics can transform any space and should promote rest and relaxation in a bedroom, while also be energizing for those lazy mornings when you need a little help getting out of your cozy bed.

“Muted and lighter neutral colors, with textural fabrics in subtle patterns, tend to enhance a serene mood and generate relaxation,” says Campana, who advises clients to strive for less contrast and more tonality.

To make your bed more inviting, Campana advices adorning it with soft linens, a luxurious duvet, plenty of pillows, and a faux-fur blanket.

“Layering in these soft elements with various textures throughout the space creates a warm and welcoming feel,” she explains.

USE YOUR SPACE

Sitting areas, such as a pair of upholstered armchairs or a loveseat placed at the foot of the bed, blend form with function and are an ideal means to maximize your bedroom’s space.

“The symmetry makes it elegant so it can blend into a variety of styles while still feeling plush and comfy,” Campana says. “Upholstery fabrics like chenille and velvet add an extra touch of softness.”

A chair with a small table and lamp in the corner of a room is also a great opportunity to create a perfect spot to relax in, she says.

WINDOWS AND FLOORS

Light control and privacy are absolutely essential in a bedroom. During the day, you’ll probably wish to bring in optimal natural light. In the evening, you’ll want to close your window treatments for privacy.

“Drapery panels, with a liner to give them an extra layer of insulation, are the best option for noise and light control,” Campana explains. “These panels are also versatile because they open and close easily and can be added on top of other window treatments such as blinds and shades to create a layered look.” 

Prized for their warm colors and textures, hardwood floors should be layered with plush high-pile rugs to add comfort and coziness and give your feet a soft landing in the early morning, notes Campana. 

“Rugs can also provide a jumping point to the room’s decor by adding color, texture, and pattern to your space,” she says.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Cozy bedrooms need light, Campana avers. 

While natural light is best, various sources of lighting such as soft bedside lamps, candlelight, chandeliers, and overhead recessed light with dimmers create a sophisticated, tranquil and intimate atmosphere,” she explains.

How To Create A Warm, Safe Outdoor Space At Home For Hosting

outdoor space
Photo by Ken Muellers

Though Covid-19 is on the rise, it won’t quash your desire to entertain friends and family. To gather together safely at your home, take a few steps to create a lovely, socially distanced space, protected from the elements and frigid winter temps.

Outdoor living spaces are great in winter when protected under the roof of a covered patio or pergola, says interior decorator Jodi Dell, of Southampton-based Jodi Dell Designs. 

“When your living space is covered, it’s easy to add ceiling-mounted electric patio heaters into your design as they are nonobtrusive, and when paired with a fire pit or fireplace you can quickly create warmth,” says Dell.

For a warm hardscape, Dell uses cozy wood furnishings with soft, weather-resistant upholstery. 

“Using teak outdoor furniture in silhouettes similar to that of indoor furniture, like a sectional sofa or comfy club chairs with custom upholstered cushions and pillows, are great ways to achieve comfort and warmth,” Dell says.  

LAYER YOUR LANDSCAPE

As you spend more hours outdoors, you’ll want to consider designing your landscape for year-round entertaining, says Ken Muellers, senior landscape designer at Hicks Nurseries of Westbury.

“In the winter, you want to be in a protected spot that’s blocked from the wind, but in the sun, to get that little bit of warmth from the sun,” says Muellers, adding that you’ll want a blend of evergreens for protection as well as deciduous plantings that lose their leaves and allow the sun to shine through.

“A lot of times you want to situate your evergreens more towards the northwest quadrant of the landscape where they’ll block those winter winds better,” says Muellers.

“I also like to incorporate planters filled with plants that thrive in cold weather,” adds Dell.  

If done properly, you can plant well into the winter, though local nurseries might be short on stock in the off-season; the ground is often frozen and some plants, like Skip laurel hedges, which offer year-round screening, won’t survive a winter planting, advises Muellers.

Muellers recommends winter-blooming flowers like witch hazel, and hellebore and holly bushes, which bear beautiful crimson berries. 

TAKE COVER

Whether you want to cover your patio or deck from the rain or sun or both, retractable awnings can be used all year, notes John Biondo, owner of Long Island Retractable Awnings of Babylon.

“In a light rain or even a medium rain, they could still have a party of 25 people in the backyard underneath the awning,” says Biondo, noting that the awnings are made of acrylic, go up to 40 feet wide and 14 feet deep, and can be attached to any kind of house or roof surface. 

“It’s obviously waterproof and comes with a 10-year warranty, although it holds up for around 20, 25 years,” says Biondo. 

An awning can also come with an optional wind sensor, which, in the event of high winds, will automatically close up the awning.

“It adds a lot of living space to the house. You can put your party outside in the broad sunlight as well as a light rain,” says Biondo, adding that awnings are not recommended for a heavy snow load. 

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How To Warm Up Your Home With Decorating Tricks

decorating tricks
Courtesy Chris Conte Interiors, photo by Nicole Larson

As winter marches on and the thermometer dips ever lower, you’ll want to hunker down at home. Instead of turning up the heat to warm up your abode, consider a few decorating tricks to create both a warmer feel and cozier look to your surroundings.

WARM GLOW FROM COLOR

Forget the standard white painted walls and opt instead for a creamy white hue, like Chantilly Lace from Benjamin Moore, advises Christine Conte, owner of the eponymous Christine Conte Interiors, of Huntington.

“Go warm and enveloping with Sherwin Williams’s 2021 color of the year: Urbane Bronze,” Conte says.

When choosing a warm paint color, consider the paint’s undertones, advises Donna Sheehan, owner of Inner Sense Interiors of Bellport. 

Warm white tones that have a touch of yellow or peach undertones add warmth, as opposed to the crisp, colder feeling of a pure white room, adds Sheehan.

“You may be interested in painting a room blue, which is considered a cool color, but, grey or yellow undertones in some blues can add warmth, giving it a very cozy feeling,” says Sheehan, adding that Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal is a perfect example. 

Light bulbs in the soft white range – 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin — can give off a warm and yellow glow, notes Conte.

“This light creates a warm and cozy feeling when used in living rooms, dens and bedrooms,” Conte explains.

COZY, COMFY FLOORS

Darker stains on wood floors tend to warm up a space, but nothing compares to combining any type of flooring with area rugs to add warmth, notes Sheehan.

“Aside from defining a space and protecting underlying flooring, area rugs unquestionably add warmth and coziness to a room,” explains Sheehan, adding that carpeting is a good option for rooms where people go barefoot or children play, such as bedrooms and playrooms.

THE LAYERING EFFECT

To bring light and warmth into your home, layer your window treatments with a combination of shades and drapery panels.

“The drapes can be pulled back during the day to let in sunlight and warmth, then closed at night, providing cozy privacy and to help prevent heat from escaping,” says Conte.

Layer soft, stylish throws on sofas and chairs and add smaller throw rugs on floors for an instant feeling of warmth and charm, Conte adds.

EMBRACE ARTWORK

The absence of any artwork in a room renders the space bare, cold and uninviting, avers Sheehan.

“Artwork adds interest and warmth – it can hug your walls and bring you in,” Sheehan says. “It can define areas, break up expansive space and create a mood. A gallery of photos/artwork, when properly placed, can make a wall feel dressed, even cozy.” 

Noting that walls take up a lot of real estate in any room, Sheehan advises, “It would be foolish to forget about addressing such space when trying to create a warm environment. Add art to tell your story and create a mood.” 

DETAILS, DETAILS

Wooden display objects, such as bowls or beads, can create an organic warmth in a space, advises Conte. 

“Incorporate objects made from warm metals, like brass or those with an antique or patina finish, to add a warm vintage and heirloom feel to a room,” Conte says.

Store summer linen and cotton pillows and switch to velvet and bouclé pillows rich with texture to add a cozy and soft layer in any room, Conte remarks.

“Using high-quality soy candles with fragrances such as Ski Chalet, Tipsy Bourbon, and Fireside S’mores will help create a cozy atmosphere,” adds Conte.

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