Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Stephen and Erica Crotts are front yard people. A big group on the lawn outside their bungalow in Old Town Rock Hill becomes an invitation for someone new to come over.
For their recent holiday celebration, the Crottses hung chandeliers over a grand table near the porch, served collards from the garden and roasted a pig Latin style – in a wood-framed box with hot coals on top.
Their weekend celebration leaves their guests free for family gatherings on Thursday. Maybe 50 friends, neighbors and church members had joined the Crottses by sundown, perhaps a little cold but lingering for hours under thick streaks of clouds.
The guests proudly covered the table with family recipes, took turns on the porch swing and passed around the Crottses’ baby girl, Lena.
“This is wrapped up in my faith tradition,” said Stephen Crotts, 27. “In the story that I think the Christian faith is telling, it ends up in a feast where all cultures are represented and all kinds of people are at a party.”
Stephen Crotts is on the left in the picture above, watching the pig roast.
He and his wife talk about other reasons for hosting the celebration in this video.
Crotts is involved in connecting an even broader community through The Friday Arts Project, which hosts public events each year. And occasionally he’ll convince his neighbors to host get-togethers in their yards.
“We think the more people are together, the more joyful we can be, the more we can grow together through being vulnerable and open; we think that this will make our city a more flourishing place,” Stephen Crotts said.
Here is a slide show with more pictures from the Crottses' celebration. You might get ideas for your next party.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
For some, holiday “shopping” means breaking into someone else’s home for
presents. So it’s best to make a checklist for home security along with all of
the other holiday plans.
Technology can help you keep tabs on what’s happening at home. It can also make it easy for the wrong people to know that you’re away. Some tips for making sure that automation works for you and not against you:
- Start by taking an inventory of valuable items in your home. That’s one of the things the HomeZada free app, shown here, is designed to do. You can organize pictures to keep a visual record of items you own and receipts for purchase. You can store this information or share it with your insurance company.
- The vacation and travel pictures you post on social media sites such as Facebook can be a signal that you’re not home. Wait and post your pictures when you get home.
- Use automatic timers to turn your lights off and on. Some can be controlled from a smartphone or computer. Exterior lights left on during the day can be a tip-off that you’re away. Timers keep things looking natural.
- Consider installing a security system that lets you operate and monitor the equipment from a mobile device or computer. With many plans, you can turn your alarm on or off and get text messages and video alerts about the status of doors, windows and motion sensors. AT&T’s Smart Security plan costs $159 for equipment plus $40 a month.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
It doesn’t stop with camouflage shirts, pants and hats. If you like those, the shuffle over to a pillowy recliner or sofa in huntsman-themed upholstery could be pretty natural.
That was the thinking behind Jackson Furniture Industries’ launch of a new Duck Dynasty collection at the fall market in High Point.
And who better to be the face of the brand than the camouflage-wearing, duck-calling Robertson clan whose reality show the collection is named for?
“Duck Dynasty” brought the A&E network to the top of the TV charts last season with more than 10 million average viewers. Recliners and sofas are a big part of their simple, family-focused home life.
Someone seemed to be talking about the collection wherever I went at fall market. The reviews were mixed: Some thought the collection quacked. A few women just didn’t get it. Others thought the Robinson family look-alikes, posters and cutouts at Jackson’s showroom launch were good entertainment.
Fortunes have been built on lesser ideas, and Jackson’s team and a sister company, Catnapper, has worked out deals to put their mallard prints and similar lodge looks in more than 1,000 retail showrooms nationally. Shipping begins Jan. 1.
“I’m not sure the appeal would be (there) for the design-oriented female,” said Greg Van Pelt, chief operating officer at Next Generation Interiors of Bakers, a Cramerton retailer that will carry the line. “I think it will be hot for the sportsman who has a room that he wants to label with his identity.”
Also look for the collection at Kimbrells Furniture, Factory World Outlet in Waxhaw and Tindall Furniture in Pineville. And you can also see it here.
Camouflage and sportsman themes have been creeping into the furniture industry for about eight years. The Duck Dynasty collection creates more of a designer-label brand, said Anthony Teague, who handles sales and merchandising for Jackson.
“A lot of times we see apparel trends transfer to the furniture industry,” said Anthony Teague, who handles sales and merchandising for Jackson. “You see so much camouflage in the Southeast ... to see that spill over into the living room is not surprising.”
Thursday, November 7, 2013
The newest big building project at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the Kimbrell Children's Garden.
A team broke ground on Lost Hollow on Thursday. Old World architecture and Southern horticulture will come together on a grassy hollow with a forest at its back. The design is by W. Gary Smith of New York. He is shown here.
The opening of an Orchid Conservatory has boosted attendance by about 20 percent a year compared to 2007, Hoffman said. Lost Hollow will likely help boost admissions beyond the 90,000 who currently visit.
Attracting more families with small children is a goal when the new garden opens in fall 2014. “We hope that children will ask their parents to go to Lost Hollow,” Hoffman said.
Nearly $4 million in donations have been made for the project, to be built on about 3 of the garden’s 380 acres in Belmont. There are more than a dozen drawings for the project’s features and garden rooms, which include a pond with a castle sunken beneath the water and a cave with a giant fireplace as the entrance.
The fireplace and several other artifacts are from the estate of Daniel Stowe, the late textile executive who in 1991 set aside the meadows, woodlands and lakefront property for the garden.
Sullivan: homelifeclt.blogspot.com and @Sullivan_obs on Twitter
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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Van Thu Ta and her husband, Hai Quach, paid a contractor $25,500 in cash and checks to renovate their south Charlotte kitchen. They wanted the full treatment – two walls taken down and a new island, floors, appliances and granite countertops.
The contractor started work in June ... and stopped in August. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since, she said.
Two walls came down. The cabinets and some of the flooring went in, but not the countertops or the appliances.
She’s contacted the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List to complain about the contractor’s work. She said the information she has since found about the contractor at online referral sites could be misleading.
“Don’t trust anyone,” said Ta, 39, “and don’t pay up front.”
In this video, you can get a better look at the unfinished project.
You can get tips for selecting a remodeler from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Charlotte chapter.
One of the association’s tips is to check out the contractors you are considering with consumer protection agencies.
Ta, a hairdresser, thought a referral from a client was something she could trust. The contractor she hired showed her samples of his work on his phone.
She did get a signed contract before the work started, and she’s got records of her payments, she said.
Ta and her husband recently paid $12,000 for more appliances. He plans to finish the renovation.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The 850-square-foot, solar-powered home built by students at UNC Charlotte won a People’s Choice Award and tied for third place for engineering recently.
Designing and building a house for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon over the past two years could have even greater importance for the architecture and engineering students in the years to come, said Meg Whalen, a university spokesperson.
“For many of the students, they really had not thought about solar-powered homes” before the project, she said. “They learned to value that. It will become something that they certainly see as viable and something to continue to strive for.”
Students wanted a project to inspire future builders and home buyers. They studied Charlotte’s Center City 2020 Vision Plan for insights. Their design, Urban Eden, has 30 solar panels over the roof that are intended to produce all of the energy residents would need.
The solar panels are retractable. They slide out over the deck to shade it in summer. In winter, they move back to allow the sun’s heat to warm the deck and interior. Students added vertical gardens to preserve a link to nature.
The gardens and the moveable solar panels were favorites among the 10,000 people who toured during the competition and expo for 20 college teams.
UNC Charlotte had problems with appliances and placed 13th overall, but the team’s concept was more solid, Whalen said.
“What we kept hearing was such positive feedback about the design,” Whalen said. “They thought it was pretty and liveable.”
Thursday, October 17, 2013
I’m almost sure I’ll never be able to afford a house like the one shown here. Still, I’m looking forward to taking a walk-through sometime between Nov. 9 and 24.
Those are the dates for this year’s HomeArama home tour.
Twenty lucky people out there won’t have to wait that long to see this and the five other luxury homes on the tour, in the Cheval community in Mint Hill.
A random drawing will give each of them a special behind-the-scenes tour, from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 2.
This SmarterLiving event is presented by The Charlotte Observer and the Home Builders Association of Charlotte, which presents HomeArama.
Observer real estate columnist Allen Norwood will lead the tour. He’s already scouting for cool technology and “green” additions that define smart living. Of course, there will be plenty to see that’s just inspiring in these homes, priced from $500,000 to $1 million.
Learn about HomeArama’s builders and register for the drawing by Oct. 29 at http://charlottehomearama.com or send your contact information to email@example.com.