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R&A Magazine: Ask the Experts » Interior : Flooring / Decor

[ Click each Question for the Answer ]
My wife and I are looking to renovate our basement. I'm going to section off a portion of the basement renovation for what we are formally calling our new family room or entertainment room. Actually I think it is going to be referred to more as my man cave. Other parts of the renovated basement will be used for the children's toy room and our home office. We are considering two different remodeling firms to be the General Contractor for the project, and would like to ask you some questions about our flooring before we make our decision on contractors. First of all, how does Martin's Flooring work with general contractors and what type of flooring options should we consider?
Answer provided by: Joe Finkey, Builder and Customer, Sales Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.

Heritage Design Interiors Inc.Martin's Flooring works with all types of contractors, from small renovation contractors to some of the larger New Home construction companies throughout the Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, York and Berks market. How we work with the contractor all depends on the contractor's preference. We can work from a square foot allowance established by the contractor, a total budget allowance, or we can work individually with you if the contractor prefers that you come in and pick your own flooring and pay for it independently of the contractor. There are several advantages of working through the Contractor instead of just working with and paying for your flooring directly with the flooring company.

1. The contractor has worked with Martin's Flooring to establish some pre-negotiated pricing for flooring materials. The purchasing power that the contractor has through on-going and large volume purchases will usually save the homeowner more money than having the homeowner shop in-store, regardless of the current retail in–store specials.
2. You have one point of contact instead of many, covering different trades, making it more convenient for most people's busy lifestyles.
3. You have one project manager. This ensures that your project stays on schedule and within budget.

As for flooring options, if you've experienced some moisture problems in your basement in the past, or if you have recently moved into your home, but you can see some residual evidence that water has crept into the basement at some point, here are some flooring choices for you to consider. Tile. Whether it is ceramic or porcelain, tile is a great choice because of its tolerance to moisture.

Vinyl. My first choice in vinyl would be a fiberglass backed cushioned sheet vinyl.

Luxury Vinyl Tile or Luxury Vinyl Plank. The beauty of LVT, as it is known, is that it gives you the look of ceramic tile or wood plank flooring, with the ease of maintenance and surface flexibility, since it is a vinyl product. With Luxury Vinyl Tile, you can grout it like ceramic or butt the joints together and leave it ungrouted. If you have never experienced any moisture problems or water damage in your basement, or you are having additional outside work done on your foundation to ensure there will not be water issues, here are some additional flooring choices for you to consider.

Carpet. Carpet is always a good choice. Using a premium cushion with its antimicrobial base restricts the growth of mold and mildew.

Engineered Hardwood. Engineered hardwood is rated for basements. Engineered woods are available in a variety of widths and finishes, including handscraped.

Commercial Carpet Tile. The beauty of carpet tiles is the ease of replacing individual tiles should an area get damaged or has stains that cannot be removed. Carpet tiles come in some really modern styles and patterns.

As you can see, there are many flooring choices available for your basement. Let Martin's Flooring, working with your contractor, help you select the right product for your project.


Much to our liking, our home has a generous supply of windows. Unfortunately, some of them are difficult to reach–especially the one in our two story foyer and the one above our whirlpool tub. As far as window treatments go, what would you recommend for these hard to reach windows?
Answer provided by: Anita C. Yoder, Interior Designer & President, Heritage Design Interiors Inc.

Heritage Design Interiors Inc.You may want to consider a motorized blind or shade that is controlled by a remote control app on your IPhone, smartphone, IPad, tablet, or wall control. Hunter Douglas offers a motorized system called the PowerView. This feature is a great option for your home or workplace windows. PowerView Motorization also creates a safer environment for homes with young children & pets.

With the PowerView app on your IPhone & IPad, you can operate the blinds while in your home or away. Using the RemoteConnect feature, you can operate your blinds from work or half around the world using your preferred device. Create room setting by programming the blinds to open & close at certain times of the day, different times for each day, position favorites, etc. It allows you to pre–set and operate up to six different groupings of blinds. With just a press of a button, you can adjust them individually or all together. You can also link one of your scenes to the ever changing local sunrise and/ or sunset times with your specific location. Depending on your preference of light & privacy, you can program different scenes for different times of the day and different days of the week.

The PowerView Pebble Scene Controller features an advanced display screen that lets you conveniently preview and select room scenes–different combinations of shades and shade positions–that you previously programmed using the PowerView App.

The headrail has a hidden battery pack to power the blind or shade. They are easy to install, operate and maintain. No need to run electricity to each window. This is great for homeowners who want to retrofit their home with motorized blinds or shades.

Along with controlling your Hunter Douglas PowerView shades through the PowerView App and Pebble Control, PowerView also seamlessly integrates with other sophisticated whole–home automation systems. Synchronize your 'Scenes' to automatically activate in coordination with your other smart home devices to create picture–perfect settings throughout the day, every day.

Stop by our showroom and spend time with the products and get to know the mechanics, textures and materials you like best. Let our experts do the work measuring dimensions, assessing your room's lighting, and making sure your purchase is perfectly customized to your home. We will take care of measuring & installation of your new blinds & shades


This is the year we will finally finish off our basement. We have an older home and while there was evidence of water at the time of purchase, we've been dry for nearly 8 years now. Given this uncertainty, what flooring would you recommend?
Answer provided by: Richie Zook, General Sales Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.
Martin's Flooring Inc.

This is a question we get a lot and, unfortunately, a common concern. Rightfully so. As for your flooring options, I'm sure you know, getting the moisture out of a basement and keeping the moisture out can be an ongoing problem. There is always some risk that moisture from melting snow, heavy rain, clogged gutters and even the limestone strata beneath the basement floor can create moisture problems for your basement floors. Given your situation, here are some flooring options to consider.

Tile. Whether it is ceramic or porcelain, tile is a great choice because of its tolerance to moisture. For this reason and the fact that tile is virtually indestructible, it would always be my first choice.

Vinyl. My first choice in vinyl would be a fiberglass backed cushioned sheet vinyl. There are so many new styles to select from. I'm sure you could find one that fits your tastes. For a children's play room, for example, we have vinyl patterns with child–based themes that would complement and enhance their play area.

Luxury Vinyl Tile and Luxury Vinyl Plank (often referred to collectively as LVT and probably the hottest product in flooring right now). The beauty of Luxury Vinyl Tile is that it gives you the look of ceramic tile, with the ease of maintenance and surface flexibility, since it is vinyl. With LVT, you can grout it like ceramic or butt the joints together and leave it ungrouted. Luxury Vinyl Plank gives you the richness and look of wood planks, but in a vinyl product.

If you have never experienced moisture problems or water damage in your basement, or you are having additional outside work done on your foundation to ensure there will not be water issues in the future, here are some additional flooring choices for you to consider, beyond what I've already said.

Carpet. Carpet is always a good choice installed over a premium rebond or rubber carpet cushion. Using a premium cushion with its antimicrobial base restricts the growth of mold and mildew.

Engineered Hardwood. Engineered hardwood is rated for basements.Engineered woods are available in a variety of widths and finishes, including handscraped.

Cork. Cork is an extremely popular product for many reasons. This is not your parent's cork. It comes in a wide range of styles and colors, and is an earth-friendly product to boot.

Commercial Carpet Tile. The beauty of carpet tiles is the ease of replacing individual tiles should an area get damaged or has stains that cannot be removed. Carpet tiles come in some really modern styles and patterns.

Laminate. Last but not least is laminate. Don't count it out. It also has an upgraded style and color line, and comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses, up to 12 mm.

If you would like to learn more about the right options for your basement project, or any other flooring project you are considering, visit us at any of our conveniently located stores in Fivepointville, Lancaster, Wyomissing or our newest location inside Interiors Home in Camp Hill. For those who just can't find time to visit a showroom, we offer the convenience of our Shop at Home service, where we bring the showroom to you. Call us at 877–445–7799 or visit us online at martinsflooring.com.


I'm hearing more and more about LED lighting and how energy efficient it is. Before switching from my incandescent lighting, what are some of the factors to consider? I'm thinking of starting in the kitchen.
Answer provided by: Kim Musser, Showroom Director, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
Yale Lighting Concepts & DesignThe kitchen is a great place to get creative and ensure proper lighting in all areas. LED lights can vary greatly in the color they emit. Therefore it's important to know the Color Rendering Index (CRI) to find lights that best complement your kitchen. The CRI ranges from 1 to 100 (100 being a perfect score). Fluorescent lighting typically has a rating in the 60s or 70s, while LED lights range from the low 80s into the 90s.

To ensure consistent lighting throughout your kitchen, consider investing in high-quality LED lighting. Lower quality LED lights can vary in color temperature, which affects the output of light. Be sure to ask for lights that are consistent in color temperature.

Unlike incandescent lights, which emit light 360 degrees, LED lights come with a specific beam spread. Different areas of your kitchen may call for focused light or flooded light that covers more surface area. Check the beam spread to match your exact needs.

Finally, check to see if the LED light can be dimmed. If your kitchen lighting requires a dimmer make sure you select a switch that's compatible with LED lighting. Be sure to buy your LED lights from a knowledgeable salesperson who can guide you to the proper LED lighting and corresponding dimmer.

Incorporating LED Lighting into a Kitchen
There are countless ways to light your kitchen with LEDs. One of the most popular is recessed lighting, which is typically the kitchen's primary source of light. Since LED lights can last up to 20 years, you may never have to drag out the ladder to replace them again!

Under-cabinet lighting is an ideal application for LED lights. Since LEDs are designed to stay cool, your hands won't get hot while you're chopping or mixing. LEDs can also be used to highlight architectural features, like a tray ceiling or crown molding in traditional homes.

For added safety, consider adding toe–kick lighting around the base of your kitchen island and cabinets. It serves as a light path, but can also add warmth and depth to your kitchen. Because of their slim profile, LEDs also make great accent lights for floating shelves.

Pendant lights continue to be popular in kitchens, especially over islands and peninsulas. LEDs also work well behind a translucent backsplash and can be used to accent corner cabinets displaying your favorite serve ware. If your ceiling cannot accommodate recessed lights or are too high to provide sufficient illumination, your options are typically track, cable or monorail lights. Fortunately new models are being introduced that take advantage of LED energy savings and durability.

For a huge selection of indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures, lamp-posts, landscape lighting and more, visit your local Yale Lighting Concepts & Design showroom, log onto www.yalelightingconcepts.com or simply call
1–877–336–0342 today to speak with a lighting consultant.

My wife and I are in the process of remodeling. What window treatment will add the most value to our home?
Answer provided by: Jennifer Wilkinson, Window Treatment Specialist, Grauer's Paint & Decorating
Grauer's Paint & Decorating

Let me begin by commending you on your decision. As your single biggest investment, a home periodically needs to be updated. With that said, I'll begin my response with one word–shutters!

Shutters are a great way to add a classic, timeless style–and they stand in a class all alone when it comes to adding a rare sense of charm to any room. They come in an extensive palette of colors, including popular shades of white to deep, rich stains, and are custom crafted for maximum strength and durability. Like fine furniture, shutters are an heirloom–quality product that will stand the test of time with minimal care. Periodic dusting is all it takes to maintain their natural beauty. But keep in mind the different types of shutters to choose from, including hardwood, hybrid and vinyl. The type you choose will depend on the use of the room and the amount of sunlight and heat that impacts certain windows and rooms. Plantation shutters louver sizes come in 2 1/2', 3 1/2' and–to enjoy more view than ever before– 4 1/2'. Shutters also offer great energy efficiency with high R–value ratings, plus they can even be custom built for all types of windows and doors–even those openings with unusual, elongated or arched shaped openings.

We have three small children in our household. What safety issues should we keep in mind when shopping for window coverings?
Making window fashions safer for homes with infants, young children, and pets is a top priority for many families. Designed with safety in mind, various options include cordless operating systems which put the raising and lowering of the product at your fingertips; motorization, which replaces lift cords with simple touch buttons; a spring–like clutch lifting system, with a decorative pull in place of a traditional operating cord; and also a retractable pull–cord that maintains a constant length, no matter if the shade is raised or lowered. Keep in mind that the ideal choice for side–to–side openings, sliding glass doors or room dividers is an operating system that is cordless and can simply be moved to one side or the other. And on vertical blinds–a combination wand/cord is a great way to go.

Can I save money by investing in window coverings?
Fortunately, today's sealed doublepane windows do a great job of preventing unwanted air flow. However, closed windows still offer very little resistance to the flow of heat. In fact, you could say windows are "energy holes". By installing window fashions in your home you can actually reduce heating, cooling and lighting energy needs in three significant ways:
• reduction of heat flow (heat loss and heat gain) through the windows;
• controlling solar heat (heat energy from the sun) by allowing it in winter but reducing it in summer; and
• enhancing daylighting (the use of natural light) by diffusing and dispersing sunlight deep into a room.

In summary, by adding window coverings, you're doing more than saving energy resources and money. You're also enhancing the look of your home with remarkable beauty and style – and increasing the resale value of your home!

For more information, or to see over 30 operating displays, stop by one of our two convenient Grauers Paint & Decorating showrooms. Or call one of our window treatment specialists at (717) 394-0558


My wife and I are considering cork flooring for our remodeled kitchen. What can you tell us about cork?
Answer provided by: Julie Zeigler, Merchandising Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.
Martin's Flooring Inc.Cork is an excellent choice for the kitchen. It is both durable and comfortable to stand on. This is especially important in areas like a kitchen, where you may be standing in one place for longer periods of time.

When I think of cork, I think of the cork stopper in wine bottles. Is that the only style and color choice I have?
Not at all. Cork comes in a variety of styles and colors. You can find anything from the traditional natural cork color, to more designer colors and textures. Some will give the appearance of leather, while some can even look like hardwood or stone floors. There is also a variety of shapes and sizes available, from rectangular panels to wood-like planks.

What are some unique characteristics that can only be found with cork flooring?
Cork is an extremely "green" product. It is made from the bark of the cork oak tree, which when stripped from the tree does not kill it. Rather, it grows back, and will continue to grow back for the life of the tree. The primary use for the bark is to make wine stoppers, but once they are cut from the bark, the remaining pieces are made into flooring. This is another factor that makes cork green, since all of the bark is being used, with nothing going to waste.
Cork is very moisture resistant, sound deadening and insulating.

We are looking for a floor that will last. How durable is cork flooring?
When maintained properly, cork is extremely durable. Pre–finished products have several coats of finish applied to them, making them scratch resistant, but not scratch–proof. It is important to note that pet's nails should be kept trimmed and floor protectors be applied to the bottoms of chairs to help prevent fine scratches or other damage to the floor, as well as regular sweeping or vacuuming.
It also has a memory, and can bounce back from being compressed. This makes it a great choice in high-traffic areas, which is why it can be found in 100 year old public buildings.

Does cork flooring need to be stained or have a finish applied when it is installed?
Most residential cork flooring is pre-finished. Some commercial or glue–down cork tiles are unfinished, and would need a finish applied.

How do I maintain a cork floor?
Regular sweeping or vacuuming is very important. This will help prevent grit from putting fine scratches in the finish, which will over time collect dirt. Also, even though cork itself is moisture resistant, any spills need to be cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time to prevent damage to the finish. For routine maintenance, it is best to use a cleaner that is recommended for use on cork floors, preferably from the manufacturer of the flooring itself.

Martin's Flooring will be celebrating 30 years in 2015. Beginning with one store in Fivepointville, Lancaster County, Martin's has grown to 4 locations with stores in Fivepointville, Lancaster, Harrisburg and their newest store now open in Wyomissing, Berks County. Martin's is a member of the Carpet One Floor & Home co–op that consists of over 1,000 stores nationwide, making Carpet One the largest flooring provider in the world. Martin's provides free interior design and guaranteed installation. Martin's Builder Contractor division has been working with many of the area's leading builders for many years. For more information, give Martin's a call at 717–445–7799 or online at martinsflooring.com

Forecasters are predicting another snowy, cold winter. Since heat escapes through windows, how can we reduce heat loss?
Answer provided by: Anita C. Yoder, Interior Designer & President, Heritage Design Interiors Inc.

Heritage Design Interiors Inc.It is amazing how cold glass can get in the winter. As much as 50% of a home's heating and cooling energy is lost through its windows. While many of the newer windows are better at keeping the cold air out in the winter and the heat out in the summer, glass is not as insulating as a solid wall with drywall, insulation, siding/brick/stone. There are several options for your windows. Insulated draperies and honeycomb shades are great options. Draperies can be lined with a heavier lining fabric to help with cold air. Some fabrics are available with an applied thermal lining. Remember to fully cover your windows for the best results. It is recommended to extend the drapery below the trim and to the floor so the drapery prevents the cold draft from entering the room.

Another option that is less heavy in appearance is the honeycomb shade. If you have an arch window, the honeycomb shade will cover specialty shaped windows the best. Not all honeycomb shades are created the same. Some fabrics are thinner or are a single cell which offers less protection. There are double and triple cells available for most honeycomb shades on the market today.

Hunter Douglas offers the best honeycomb blind on the market for preventing energy loss. The Duette Architella honeycomb shade helps insulate to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It has three insulating air pockets which can reduce the energy loss by up to 45% in the winter and can reduce unwanted solar heat by up to 80% in the summer. Hunter Douglas just came out with a new Architella Trielle Elan shade that has five insulating air pockets to make it the most energy–efficient design of any Hunter Douglas product. There are many different blinds and shades on the market today for your windows. They offer different levels of insulation along with controlling the amount of sunlight coming into your home. Depending on your needs and wants, there are many choices of fabrics, type of blinds, and function. The blinds with slats or vanes, such as wood blinds and verticals, offer protection with the option of having the blind lowered or drawn and also tilt open for a view. When you have a slatted or vaned blind, there are more areas for the cold air to penetrate and for heat to escape and vice versa in the summer.

If you like to see through your blinds while still having UV protection, Luminette, Silhouette and Pirouette window shadings are great options. You can open the fabric vanes for the view and close the fabric vanes or slates for privacy and for insulation and UV protection.

There are so many choices for your windows today ~ energy, light control, style, function, fabric, colors and design. Working with a professional window treatment expert/ designer can take the stress out of selecting window treatments along with avoiding expensive mistakes. A designer can take care of all of the details from measuring to installing your window treatments.

For more information on window treatments or other decorating projects, give us a call at 717.354.2233 or stop by at 1064 East Main Street in New Holland (actually in the town of Blue Ball–just west of the Rt. 23 & 322 intersection). Online you can find us at www.HeritageDesignInteriors.com


We just completed an extensive interior "facelift," which included new paint, new flooring, new window treatments and expensive new furniture. Despite all these lovely upgrades, something is missing. In some ways, it still feels like the same old home. Any suggestions?
Answer provided by: Alice Hoover & Kim Musser, Showroom Directors, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design

Alice Hoover & Kim Musser, Showroom Directors, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design.Pardon the pun, but I can definitely shed some light on that question. While your home may be filled with new upgrades, it can be difficult to appreciate them to their fullest if your rooms are not properly lit. There are many ways you can enhance your home's interior with lighting. First, let's review the three basic types of lighting.

Ambient Lighting. This type of lighting provides a room or living space with overall illumination. Ambient lighting should radiate a level of comfort without glare, allowing you to see and walk safely. Some of the most popular forms of ambient lighting include chandeliers, ceiling or wall mounted fixtures, recessed and track lighting.

Task Lighting. This helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, preparing food, doing homework and playing games. Task lighting can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and under cabinet lighting as well as floor and desk lamps.

Accent Lighting. You can add drama to a room and create visual interest through the use of accent lighting. This type of lighting helps highlight specific areas of your home such as houseplants, paintings, sculptures and other prized possessions. Accent lighting is usually provided by recessed and track lighting or wall–mounted picture lights.

While each of these types of lighting serve a unique purpose, they typically work in harmony to offer a comprehensive lighting scheme for your home. Because each home is unique, it often helps to check with a professional lighting consultant who can provide ideas tailored to your home.

You mention accent lighting, but I'm not sure how I can incorporate it into my home. Can you offer some suggestions?
Take a look around your home. What objects or areas appeal to you the most? Those are the ones that should be considered for accent lighting. Keep in mind that to be effective, accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it. In the kitchen, accent lighting can be used to illuminate glass cabinets to show off your fine china or crystal. If you have high, cathedral type ceilings, recessed lighting can help draw the eye to the unique architecture. Accent lighting can even be used in the bathroom to accent one of your favorite paintings. With accent lighting, the possibilities are literally endless.

In addition to the interior, I am also interested in enhancing my home with exterior lighting. What would you recommend that is both aesthetically pleasing and offers an additional level of security for my home?
Lighting the exterior of your home does serve a dual purpose of adding both beauty and safety. There are countless ways to include all three types of lighting. For example, task lighting can be used to illuminate your steps or walkway to prevent unnecessary stumbles.

Ambient lighting can be used to provide the exterior of your home with basic overall illumination. This can be as simple as a post light or a series of flood lights that give your home an overall brightness. You may also want to consider adding timers or motion sensors to some or all of your outdoor lighting for an added level of security.

When it comes to accent lighting, the sky's the limit. Think about adding a mysterious look to your favorite tree or bush. Accent lighting can also be used to highlight the texture of a brick or stone wall, window treatments or outdoor landscaping.

For a huge selection of indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures, lamp-posts, landscape lighting and more, visit your local Yale Lighting Concepts & Design showroom, log onto www.yalelightingconcepts. com or simply call 1–877–336–0342 today to speak with a lighting consultant.


Before long, we hope to have our basement professionally finished for additional living space. Although moisture has not been a problem, neighbors of ours have had issues. What type of flooring would you recommend given our uncertainty about basement moisture?
Answer provided by: Richie Zook, Sales Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.
Richie Zook, Sales Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.As for your flooring options, I'm sure you know, getting the moisture out of a basement and keeping the moisture out can be an ongoing problem. There is always some risk that moisture from melting snow, heavy rain, clogged gutters and even the limestone strata beneath the basement floor can create moisture problems for your basement floors. Given your situation, here are some flooring options to consider.

Tile. Whether it is ceramic or porcelain, tile is a great choice because of its tolerance to moisture. For this reason and the fact that tile is virtually indestructible, it would always be my first choice.

Vinyl. My first choice in vinyl would be a fiberglass backed cushioned sheet vinyl. There are so many new styles to select from. I'm sure you could find one that fits your tastes. For a children's play room, for example, we have vinyl patterns with child-based themes that would complement and enhance their play area.

Luxury Vinyl Tile. The beauty of LVT, as it is known, is that it gives you the look of ceramic tile, with the ease of maintenance and surface flexibility, since it is vinyl. With LVT, you can grout it like ceramic or butt the joints together and leave it ungrouted.

If you have never experienced moisture problems or water damage in your basement, or you are having additional outside work done on your foundation to ensure there will not be water issues in the future, here are some additional flooring choices for you to consider, beyond what I've already said.

Carpet. Carpet is always a good choice installed over a premium rebond or rubber carpet cushion. Using a premium cushion with its antimicrobial base restricts the growth of mold and mildew.

Engineered Hardwood. Engineered hardwood is rated for basements. Engineered woods are available in a variety of widths and finishes, including handscraped.

Cork. Cork is an extremely popular product for many reasons. This is not your parent's cork. It comes in a wide range of styles and colors, and is an earth-friendly product to boot.

Commercial Carpet Tile. The beauty of carpet tiles is the ease of replacing individual tiles should an area get damaged or has stains that cannot be removed. Carpet tiles come in some really modern styles and patterns.

Laminate. Last but not least is laminate. Don't count it out. It also has an upgraded style and color line, and comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses, up to 12 mm.

For more information, visit us at one of our three area locations. We offer free professional design consultation and our showrooms are loaded with top quality flooring and window treatment options (we are a Showcase Hunter Douglas dealer). Also, we stand behind our products and offer 100% customer satisfaction.

The growing presence of big box stores has brought additional competition to the lighting industry. What are some of the advantages of shopping with a local business such as Yale Lighting Concepts?
Answer provided by: Alice Hoover & Kim Musser, Showroom Directors, Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
Yale Lighting Concepts & DesignThere are many advantages to shopping local. First, customers have peace of mind knowing they will receive a more personal and tailored shopping experience. Our showroom at Yale Lighting Concepts has an intimate feel that allows shoppers to browse our lighting and fixtures inventory in a hassle-free environment. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is on standby to answer any questions customers many have – from specialty lighting options to energy saving solutions. Shopping locally also provides patrons the opportunity to get to know our staff on a personal level so they can address the unique lighting needs of each customer. In addition, ordering replacement parts or additional fixtures is much easier with a local store that will remember a customer's prior purchases and can provide fast and efficient service.

Tell us how Yale's customer service serves as differentiator with larger lighting retailers.

Yale Lighting Concepts strongly believes in the power of great customer service. We go beyond simply assisting the shopper and get to know each customer's distinct lighting challenges and desires. By asking questions and forming a more personal relationship, Yale staff can develop a customized lighting solution for each shopper. Yale also offers lighting design consultations by appointment. We are not in the business of selling customers the most expensive product, but rather offering products that make the most sense for their home or business. This is what great customer service is all about.

Yale is also a member of the American Lighting Association, which offers a wide-range of innovative resources including advancements in lighting technology, legislative issues and training sessions. This all translates into a deeper level of knowledge and service for customers. In addition, Yale Lighting Concepts is a member of the Building Industry Association of Lancaster as well as the Home Builders Associations in other Central PA counties, which assists homeowners through support of local contractors.

Energy Efficient Lighting continues to gain interest among homeowners and businesses. What level of expertise does Yale offer compared to its big box competitors?

Yale Lighting Concepts recognizes the importance of energy efficient lighting and its positive impact on the environment. Each member of our sales staff possesses an in-depth knowledge of ENERGY STAR lighting and fixtures including halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light-emitting diodode (LED). We also offer customers additional savings on their electric costs with a wide range of dimmers and programmable timers that are both cost-effective and offer an additional level of safety for the home. Again, Yale's advantage over larger chain stores lies in our ability to deliver a deeper level of knowledge to the customer, while providing a more relaxed and professional shopping experience.

For a huge selection of indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures, lamp-posts, landscape lighting and more, visit your local Yale Lighting Concepts & Design showroom, log onto www.yalelightingconcepts. com or simply call 1-877-336-0342 today to speak with a lighting consultant.

We've just had a new wing added to our home, but we feel overwhelmed at the thought of decorating this extensive addition. How do we begin, when we're not even really sure what our style for this space is — or should be?
Answer provided by:Wendy Dowling, Owner, Bed & Bath Affair
Bed & Bath AffairFirst of all, congratulations! How very exciting! Of course, as you indicated, it can be an overwhelming task when you're looking at a project of this magnitude. One of the first things I advise my clients to do is to prioritize: What are the most important areas that need to be completed so that you can begin enjoying your new space to make it livable while you're going through the process of decorating?

One of the benefits of working with a reputable, experienced interior designer is that they can basically "hold your hand" and lead you through the entire transition to make it less daunting. They can assist you in finding a source of inspiration that will serve as your starting point: it may be a piece of furniture that you already own that you love, or even an accessory, such as a painting or pillow, that speaks to your sensibilities. Discovering your inspirational springboard can help you to determine a color palette or aid you in expressing your unique style while also determining your specific needs for the space you wish to transform.

A dedicated designer will also help you create a functional layout that considers the size and proportion of the pieces that will occupy the room(s). They will keep your wishes in mind when locating resources and will remain focused on the desired end result. This is especially helpful so that you don't become distracted by some random item you saw in a big box home store that doesn't lend itself to your overall vision. They will assist you in determining what pieces you already own that will work, which ones you could repurpose or "upcycle", what you might consider discarding and various options for new purchases that will work well within your style and your budget.

M y ultimate goal is that my clients be happy. One of the reasons I have so many long-term client relationships is that I help them to pace themselves and complete sizable projects in stages. We do a little bit at a time, giving them the opportunity to live with the results and see how the room feels, how the various components' colors and textures look in the changing light patterns, and how it works within their lifestyle. There is no short-term fix or one–size–fits–all design style. Your style is uniquely yours; what you consider peaceful and "spa-like", for example, may differ greatly from my interpretation (or anyone else's, for that matter). My job as a designer is not to design your space to my tastes and preferences but to help give voice to YOUR vision––even if that means helping you to discover and create an overall concept if you have difficulty expressing it for yourself.

If you would like assistance in discovering and expressing your unique style or giving voice to the vision for your home, please contact me, Wendy Dowling, by calling 717-299- 6676, via email at wendy@bedandbathaffair.com or by stopping in Bed & Bath Affair Interior Gallery, 641 Harrisburg Avenue, Lancaster, PA.

My renovation project is finished, but my new space doesn't look finished. What is my next step to complete my home?
Answer provided by: Anita C. Yoder, Interior Designer & President, Heritage Design Interiors Inc.
Heritage Design Interiors Inc.After the new floors are installed, walls are painted and new furniture is delivered, your new space will need those special finishing touches.

Your house will start looking like a home when you add artwork, area rugs, accessories, window treatments and more. Finding the right finishing touches are like a treasure hunt. We all have a few existing decorating items such as family heirlooms, gifts, etc. to blend in with new decorating items.

There are several options of a starting point. It could be a favorite piece of artwork, an original rug or a must–have fabric for window treatments, furniture or pillows. Whether you enjoy coordinating your own designs or you are working with an interior designer, coordinating colors, patterns and designs are important, so the end result looks great. Remember to consider your wants and needs along with your lifestyle for your home. There are pros and cons to every option and choice that you make.

Finishing touches need to coordinate. Don't be too matchy. Give your home some personality with color and pattern. Depending on your style, classic or trendy accessories will reflect the personality of you and your home. Artwork, pottery, area rugs, floral designs, accessories and lamps are great items to add color, pattern and texture. There are beautiful fabrics available for your window treatments, furniture, pillows and bedding which can result in a great focal point or which can add just accents of color, texture and pattern. Whether you like a theme, a time period or being eclectic, it will take time to find all of the finishing touches. From furniture stores and decorating shops to art galleries and artist shows, there are so many great places to find beautiful artwork and accessories such as pottery, floral designs, lamps, pillows and more. Heritage Design Interiors specializes in window treatments and home décor along with interior design. Our store is a great place to find beautiful and unique accessories, floral designs, lamps, mirrors and artwork. We can help you coordinate your finishing touches to window treatments.

With over 50 window treatments on display and hundreds of fabrics, trims and decorative rods available, there are many great options for your windows regardless of size, shape and budget. For privacy and light/energy control, Hunter Douglas blinds, shades and shutters are a quality product for your windows. We take care of all needed measurements and installation of your window treatments. From twin to California king, we have a great selection of fabrics and patterns for your bed along with padded headboards and pillows.

Next time you need help on a small decorating project or on a large project such as a renovation or an addition, give Heritage Design Interiors a call at 717–354–2233 or stop by at 1064 East Main Street New Holland, PA (located in the town of Blue Ball— just west of the intersection of Route 23 & 322). Visit our website at heritagedesigninteriors.com or our Facebook page.

My husband and I just bought a lovely old home that's in need of some TLC–especially in the paint and window treatment departments. What decorating advice can you give us?
Answer provided by: Paul Newcomer, Co–Owner, Grauer's Paint & Decorating
Grauer's Paint & DecoratingFirst off, congratulations on your purchase! Like most who buy an older home, it sounds like you'll have a great opportunity to personalize your new home with your own choice of wall colors and coverings, as well as window treatments. Let's discuss each one.

PAINT. A fresh coat of paint is one of the quickest and least expensive ways to dramatically transform the look of any room in your home. While paint color will ultimately impact a room's décor, the key to any successful paint and decorating job is in the preparation!

Find a local paint retailer you can trust with experience and product knowledge. They will guide you step by step, help determine your project needs and answer questions.

Decide the quality of paint to be used. Top quality paints are designed to produce the best–looking and longest-lasting results. Even though quality paints may cost a little more, they provide a smoother, more uniform appearance, are more durable and provide better coverage with fewer coats— so they are really more economical in the long run.

Be sure the color you choose will be compatible/complementary with the major color elements of the room. Bring a sample of the material you are trying to match with you when you visit your local retailer, so they can help you with paint choices. Color chips may look different in the showroom compared to your home and may even change throughout the day, depending on your lighting. Color samples are available to 'try on' or apply directly to your walls, allowing you to live with and experience color before making your purchase.

Decide what your desired finish will be. For the finish, you need to consider whether you want to achieve a flat, eggshell, satin, or semi–gloss look. When painting over a drastically darker or lighter color, invest time and money in a primer. It can help reduce the number of paint coats required to achieve the desired look. Consult your local retailer for help in selecting the right primer.

Go for the Green. Great strides are being made in technology to make paint environmentally friendly by lowering its VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) and make compliant coatings that perform as well or better than ordinary paint. One of the main advantages of these waterborne products is low odor as well as non-yellowing, faster drying time and easy cleanup. Inquire of your retailer how these products can fit with your project.

WALLCOVERINGS. Wallcoverings can completely transform the look and feel of a room. No matter your style, the choices are unlimited! Wallpaper is one of the few do–it–yourself projects that can be handled by most people. Recently introduced is the user friendly, nonwoven fabric wallcovering, easy to hang, easy to remove, that will change the way you think of wallpaper. Another new feature is the washable arrow indicating pattern match.

Consider where you want to install wallpaper–on every wall, in just part of the room (one wall or under a chair rail), or a simple wallpaper border to install on a painted wall.

Measure the walls in sections–measure the length around the room and the ceiling height. Note the size of windows, doors and other spaces where you will not need any wallpaper. Creating a simple sketch can be helpful.

Obtain samples—this way you can see what the wallpaper actually looks like on the intended walls and with the other items in the room. Lighting, both natural and from lamps, can affect how the paper will appear in the room.

WINDOW BLINDS, SHADES, SHEERS AND SHUTTERS. Choosing window treatments can be an intimidating process even for the experienced home decorator. Window blinds, shades, sheers and shutters are classic treatments that never go out of style. They're not just attractive; they're also highly functional. Light–diffusing treatments will also help protect fabrics and furniture. The beauty of these products is that they contribute style to a room without overpowering it.

When choosing window treatments consider the four basic elements: privacy, light control, function and style. Once you have determined your particular needs in these four areas, you may then proceed to choosing color, patterns, hardware and beautiful fabric treatments to enhance the décor of your room. In addition, valances, pole wraps (options in decorative poles, finials and scarf holders are endless and quite extraordinary), decorative braids and tassels will truly customize your décor. Don't forget to have your retail dealer assist you in choosing fabrics for furniture upholstery, throw pillows, custom bedding and window seat cushions.

In closing, I strongly recommend that you make your purchases through a local retailer. In doing so, you'll get personal service by knowledgeable sales people who can help you choose colors and patterns to work with your personal needs. In the event that there is a problem with your paint, window treatment or wallcovering, you can talk face–to–face with them, and they can take care of your needs without the frustration of talking to a recording at some 1–800 number. Your local retailer can put you in touch with all the support services that you need to successfully complete any project.

For more information, I encourage you to stop by one of our two convenient showroom locations and let experience and personal customer service work for you!

I want a new floor for my kitchen that is beautiful, durable, and affordable. Do you have any recommendations?
Answer provided by: Ross Smithe, Retail Sales Manager, Martins Flooring Inc.
Martins Flooring Inc.A popular product category known as Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) would be a great choice for you. These flooring tiles are waterproof and very durable, making them an ideal choice for kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, or anywhere else. A floor covered with LVT, if maintained properly, can last a very long time without appearing old or worn.

There are many styles of luxury vinyl tile available on the market. These products are manufactured to simulate the looks of other types of more expensive flooring, such as tile, natural stone, and wood strip designs. They also come in a variety of textures to match the flooring style they imitate. It is often difficult to tell that a floor is LVT, or the real thing!

Installation. LVT products come as individual tiles or planks, which are typically glued down to the subfloor. With some products, there is also an option for a glueless installation. Using this method, the tiles or planks connect to each other using a built–in locking mechanism, allowing them to 'float' on top of the subfloor with no adhesive. Also, many of the "tile look" products have the option to be installed with actual grout, for an even more realistic finished appearance. If your subfloor is uneven, luxury vinyl is a superior choice, because it is flexible and can tolerate the irregularities better than a more rigid material.

Durability. Luxury vinyl products are some of the most durable on the market and they hold up well— even in homes with active children and our four–legged friends. Their construction includes a protective wear layer which strongly resists scratches, dents, rips, tears and gouges.

Kitchen Use: LVT v. Laminate. Laminate is a very durable and beautiful flooring choice which is perfectly suitable for many rooms in your house. However, for 'wet' areas such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms, it is generally not the best choice. Laminate flooring has a wood-based core, and consequently prolonged contact with water can permanently damage it.

Maintenance. Due to their vinylbased composition, LVT products are extremely easy to maintain. Regular damp mopping with a neutral floor cleaner is usually all you will need to do to keep your floor looking bright and beautiful. No waxing is necessary with these floors, and most of them are naturally very stain resistant. If any build–up does occur on them over time, there are some low cost stripping/restoration products which can be easily applied to get your floor looking good as new again!

For more information, visit us at one of our three area locations. We offer free professional design consultation and our showrooms are loaded with top quality flooring and window treatment options (we are a Showcase Hunter Douglas dealer). We stand behind our products and offer 100% customer satisfaction.

We just purchased a lovely older home with GREAT potential. After painting, one of the first things we'll be doing is replacing the flooring. We like the look of tile but we don't know much about it. What advice can you give us to make sure we're making a wise purchase?
Answer provided by: David Knapik, Owner, Prestigious Flooring
Grauer's Paint & DecoratingConsidering the expense, not to mention the hassle factor, the purchase of any flooring material should be done very carefully. Unlike painting, you don't want to be re–doing flooring very often.

The correct subfloor structure is critical to performance. Ceramic tile, more than any other form of flooring, requires the proper subfloor system and setting materials. A double subfloor system with the total thickness of 1–1/4", over floor joists 16" on center is required. The top subfloor layer should be exterior grade plywood or an underlayment specifically designed for ceramic tile installation like cementous backerboard.

Special setting materials are available which will allow ceramic tile installations over existing floors that are solid and already meet the above requirements. Failure to provide a sturdy base can cause grout to crack and release or tile to crack.

Although many ceramic tiles look the same, there are quality differences. The quality of raw materials, the firing process, and the sophistication of glazing applications that create realism will determine the quality of the finished product. These quality differences are often reflected in the price. Selecting the right surface glaze is an important step when selecting floor tile. Floor tiles are rated for glaze wear and slip resistance, which are important factors to consider. Glaze ratings should exceed 3 for residential applications with the exception of bath areas that can use tiles rated 2. Tiles with a slip resistant rating of 0.5 or better should work well in most indoor residential applications.

Use caution when selecting tile for installations outdoors. Unglazed quarry tiles, tiles with heavily textured surfaces, or porcelain paver tiles, all with slip resistant ratings of 0.6 or greater are possibilities. They must also be frost resistant.

Request the best in setting materials. New latex modified mortars and grouts provide better strength while also allowing greater flexibility.

One thing to keep in mind, dropping objects on ceramic tile–particularly heavy ones––can chip even the best tiles.

For more information on tile (we are Lancaster County's only Daltile Design Resource Center) or any other flooring material, please don't hesitate to contact us. Prestigious Flooring has been designing and installing some of the most beautiful flooring projects in the area for over a decade. We take pride in our honest approach to doing business. From initial consultation to job completion, we believe in strong communication with our customers. Customer satisfaction is always guaranteed!

I need to purchase Window Treatments for my new home. The choices are overwhelming. How do I make sure I make the right decision?
Answer provided by: Terrie Forrest, Window Treatment Specialist, Grauer's Paint & Decorating
Grauer's Paint & DecoratingYes the window fashion Industry has many new and innovative products to choose from today. Let's start by figuring out what your needs or desires are for each window.

First and foremost is the need for privacy. Bedrooms and bathrooms tend to be the first rooms to tackle. Hunter Douglas offers many products that provide privacy and light control. If you need room darkening to sleep, choose a shade that offers room darkening liners and features. Hunter Douglas Top-Down/Bottom-Up allows light in at the top but gives you privacy at eye level. Custom shutters with a divider rail option placed where you need it will keep the lower half of the window covered and allow you to see out the top half. The Duolite option is also a good choice. This gives you the option to choose two different materials, maybe a sheer combined with a light filtering or room darkening fabric. Simply pull the sheer shading down during the daytime for a filtered view. And pull the privacy fabric up at night.

Consider your view. Hunter Douglas provides many sheer and semi-sheer blinds and shades. Silhouette window shadings have a unique "S" vane and double-sheer construction allowing you to adjust the shade for a soft filtered view yet allows for complete privacy. Pirouette shades also have a sheer backing with a soft horizontal fabric vane that flattens or contours for complete privacy. Designer screen shades offer different degrees of visibility and UV blockage. There are many styles and textured materials to choose from.

Energy efficiency. Whether the windows face North, South, East or West, you need to decide how much heat gain or loss is desired. Hunter Douglas Duette Architella honeycomb shades with a patented honeycomb within a honeycomb construction, provides superior energy savings in both warm and cold climates. Wood and faux wood shutters rank right up there with the Duettes and Vignette Tiered Architella Modern roman shades have great insulating ratings as well.

Child safety and ease of use. Hunter Douglas is the industry's leader in technology for child-safe products. Choose the LiteRise cordless option to raise and lower the shades with just a touch of a finger. Then there is power rise battery-operated blinds and shades for those hard to reach windows or ease of use. They are also available with hardwired motorization as well, eliminating the need to change batteries.

Last but not least, consider beauty and enhancement. Bare windows will make the room feel unfinished. Adding drapes, panels and valances will add design and interest to your windows. Creating a more cozy and finished appearance.

Seeking out a window treatment professional will help you choose the best options for your windows. Give us a call today and see how easy it can be to complete your windows.

Grauers Paint and Decorating—how fashionable windows get dressed.

My wife and I are looking to renovate our basement which will be sectioned off into various rooms including a family/entertainment room, a children's play room and a home office. We are considering two different remodeling firms to serve as the General Contractor and would like to ask you some questions about flooring before we make our decision on a contractor. First off, do flooring companies work with general contractors in terms of special pricing? And secondly, what type of flooring do you recommend for my project?
Answer provided by: Richie Zook, Commercial Sales Manager, Martin's Flooring Inc.
Martin's Flooring Inc.General Contractors
Many flooring companies, Martin's Flooring included, do work with contractors– from smaller renovation contractors to some of the larger new home construction companies. How we work with the contractor all depends on the contractor's preference. We can work from a square–foot allowance established by the contractor, a total budget allowance, or we can work individually with the homeowner if the contractor had you come in and pick your own flooring and pay for it independently.

While we certainly welcome homeowners who are shopping on their own, for those who are doing a project involving a contractor there are several advantages of working through the contractor.
1. Typically, contractors have established pre-negotiated pricing for their flooring materials. The purchasing power that the contractor has through on–going and large–volume purchases will usually save the homeowner more money than having the homeowner shop in–store, regardless of the current retail in–store specials and sales promotions.
2. When working through a contractor, you have one point of contact—instead of many covering several different trades—making it more convenient for most people's busy lifestyles.
3. With a contractor, you have one project manager. This helps ensure that your project stays on schedule and within budget.

Flooring Options As for your flooring options, I'm sure you know, getting the moisture out of a basement and keeping the moisture out can be an ongoing problem. There is always some risk that moisture from melting snow, heavy rain, clogged gutters and even the limestone strata beneath the basement floor can create moisture problems for your basement floors. If you have experienced moisture problems in the past, or if you have recently moved into your home, but you can see some residual evidence of water, here are some flooring choices for you to consider.

Tile. Whether it is ceramic or porcelain, tile is a great choice because of its tolerance to moisture. For this reason and the fact that tile is virtually indestructible, it would always be my first choice.

Vinyl. My first choice in vinyl would be a fiberglass backed cushioned sheet vinyl. There are so many new styles to select from. I'm sure you could find one that fits your tastes. For the children's play room, we have vinyl patterns with child based themes that would complement and enhance their play area.

Luxury Vinyl Tile. The beauty of LVT, as it is known, is that it gives you the look of ceramic tile, with the ease of maintenance and surface flexibility, since it is vinyl. With LVT, you can grout it like ceramic or butt the joints together and leave it ungrouted.

If you have never experienced moisture problems or water damage in your basement, or you are having additional outside work done on your foundation to ensure there will not be water issues in the future, here are some additional flooring choices for you to consider, beyond what I've already said.

Carpet. Carpet is always a good choice installed over a premium rebond or rubber carpet cushion. Using a premium cushion with its antimicrobial base restricts the growth of mold and mildew.

Engineered Hardwood. Engineered hardwood is rated for basements. Engineered woods are available in a variety of widths and finishes, including handscraped.

Cork. Cork is an extremely popular product for many reasons. This is not your parent's cork. It comes in a wide range of styles and colors, and is an earth-friendly product to boot.

Commercial Carpet Tile. The beauty of carpet tiles is the ease of replacing individual tiles should an area get damaged or has stains that cannot be removed. Carpet tiles come in some really modern styles and patterns.

Laminate. Last but not least is laminate. Don't count it out. It also has an upgraded style and color line, and comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses, up to 12 mm.

For more information, visit us at one of our three area locations. We offer free professional design consultation and our showrooms are loaded with top quality flooring and window treatment options (we are a Showcase Hunter Douglas dealer). We stand behind our products and offer 100% customer satisfaction.

I am confused about metal finishes. I can't have stainless steel appliances because I don't want brushed nickel everywhere. They have to match, right?
Answer provided by: Anita C. Yoder, Interior Designer & President, Heritage Design Interiors Inc.
Jeffrey OrrSince you are reading R&A Magazine, I will address renovations and additions. Because you may be dealing with existing finishes of door hardware, lighting, plumbing, and accessories such as towel bars, matching the new with the old can be a challenge and costly. Even in new construction, this is a common question and problem.

Number one question is...If I have stainless steel appliances, must I have brushed nickel lights, cabinetry hardware, and door handles? Generally, door handles are the same finish throughout the home which matches the window hardware finish. In the kitchen, stainless steel appliances are beautiful with black detail and controls. Since the kitchen sink and faucet are both functional items like the appliances, I personally like to have them in the same finish. Personally, I do not care for an oil rubbed faucet with a stainless steel sink. Depending on your decorating style, you could continue the same finish with brushed nickel or accent it by mixing polished nickel, wrought iron black, or oil rubbed bronze. There are so many metal finishes to select from. Plumbing fixtures have many metal finishes of brass, chrome, nickel, bronze and black with the option of polished, matte, and distressed. The number of finishes don't compare to lighting fixtures finishes. For example, there is no such thing as just bronze. There are so many variations to the bronze finish depending on the manufacturer and the finish such as a smooth metal, distressed, crackled, glazed, etc. They almost seem endless.

If you are not matching, remember to coordinate metal finishes. Generally, mixing brushed nickel with polished brass doesn't work well together. An example of this would be mixing brushed nickel plumbing fixtures with polished brass towel bars.

Another popular question is...What finish is timeless? Trends come and go. When you select finishes for your lighting, plumbing and hardware, remember the style of home and the time period if it is historical or reproduction. If you have a modern home, I would recommend polished chrome or nickel with clean lines and sleek design instead of polished brass or antiqued distressed bronze traditional style. Mismatched finishes and style of the plumbing, lighting, and hardware, will look out of place and awkward.

Do you remember brass? It is coming back in style again! For 2012, you will see brass in more of a matte finish over polished or matte and polished together or with bronze.

Don't be afraid to mix metal finishes. It can add interest and personality to your decorating. As I like to say...it is better to coordinate than be matchy match. Life is too short to live in boring and blah surroundings. Should you have any questions or if you need help, call me at 717.354.2233 or visit us at Heritage Design Interiors.

With all the painting gadgets we see on television, house painting seems like absolutely the easiest thing to do. Do these things actually work and is it really THAT easy to do a quality paint job?
Answer provided by: Joel Buch, Owner, Joel’s Painting
Joel’s PaintingWho hasn’t seen the TV commercials with the easy-to-use perfect edger that gives you exact cut lines or the rolling poll guard that NEVER splats a drop of paint? Oh, and don’t forget the can of paint that opens itself and magically covers your walls!

Every reputable painting professional has to laugh when they see those commercials. Is it possible that consumers are really THAT gullible? As the saying goes, "if it is too good to be true..."

Take it from someone who has many, many years of professional painting experience, there is NO EASY WAY to paint––no magic wand that can be waved to get a professional look. Good paint jobs--like other skilled work––require thorough planning, meticulous prep-work and skillful execution.

If I have learned anything from my trade (and the others that I have worked) there is a RIGHT WAY to do a job and anything less is almost always viewed afterwards with regret—big time regret. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to the rescue of a do–it–yourselfer, especially those armed with an infomercial gadget. Don’t underestimate what a true professional painter brings to the table. Put it this way, nobody buys a $40k Acura with all the trimmings and tells the dealer to “hold the paint” and then proceeds to paint the car himself or runs it down to the local discount paint shop. Why? Because it is understood that such an investment deserves a finishing touch to match its value and quality.

Why then do some homeowners believe that a forty thousand dollar addition or remodeling project is not important enough to make sure that the finish—VISIBLE FOR EVERY HOUSE GUEST TO SEE—is not done to the same degree of quality as the project itself? Poor paint jobs stick out like a sore thumb—we have all seen them. Forget the commercials, do yourself a favor and insist on hiring a true professional who takes pride in their work and has the reputation to prove it. The 15% additional cost in the final finish is well worth the investment.

In several issues now, I've been seeing ads for Churchill Wainscoting. In addition, The Gallery section of R&A's Spring 2010 edition showcased some Churchill projects along with some very impressive client testimonials. What more can you tell me about this product and how it differs from traditional wainscoting?
Answer provided by: Brian Langsett, Owner, Churchill Wainscoting & Millwork
First off, let's review what wainscoting is and how it has evolved. Wainscoting is a paneling style applied to the lower portion (usually chair rail height and up to 4 feet) of an interior wall. Early on, it was constructed of individual tongue-and-groove boards or in more elaborate applications, decorative applied-moulding panels such as you would see on an ornate paneled wooden door.

Modern manufacturing techniques now allow for the milling of large beadboard sheets which dramatically reduces installation times in comparison to the original tongue and- groove process. Decorative paneling, on the other hand, remains incredibly labor intensive in its construction, installation, as well as its ongoing repair requirements due to seasonal expansion and contraction. Until now.

The custom, ornate raised-paneling look is now available for a fraction of the labor costs associated with the traditional approach of applied-moulding construction. Based on the time-saving principle as beadboard sheets, the Churchill wainscoting is manufactured from panels up to 8 feet in length and offers a variety of custom panel design patterns and sizes. And because our panels are computer balanced, you don't have any size difference on the wall panels.

For technical specifications, Churchill wainscoting is crafted from Glacier GreenTM Low Emission MDF. This 100% pre-consumer recycled wood fiber employs state-of-the-art EcoBind technology to meet a variety of current standards for low emissions including the Composite Panel Association (CPA) Environmentally Preferred Product Standard (0.2ppm or below) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase 1 ceilings.

For an installation comparison, imagine a wall 30 feet in length. Using the traditional method for paneled wainscoting it would require a carpenter to use over 50 pieces and one to two days to assemble. Using our product and methods there would be three panels taking a carpenter about 1 hour to install ...total! From a maintenance point of view, because our product is milled within the MDF board itself (rather than applied), there is no ongoing maintenance to repair expansion and contraction issues.

As our customers can attest, Churchill wainscoting can add beauty and richness to your home without the hassle of a prolonged installation or the recurring repair requirement inherent to traditional applied-moulding paneling. Get the look you are looking for...quick and easy! For more information, please call or visit us online. We'll be happy to hear from you.

What are the advantages of working with a realtor who is ALSO an interior designer?
Answer provided by: Anita C. Yoder, Realtor & Interior Designer, HomeTowne Realty Professionals, LLC
HomeTowne Realty Professionals, LLCThere are many homes on the market that may lack curb appeal due to dated features and tired interiors. Some houses may appear to be hopeless but they are just an ugly duckling waiting to become a beautiful swan. There are a few homes on the real estate market that may be a real challenge and an unwise investment due to their condition. There are many more that just need some TLC and some sweat equity to enhance your investment. An interior designer can help with space planning, furniture layout, and ideas on colors, renovations, and additions.

Is it wise to consider space for an addition when purchasing a home? Yes, it is always wise to plan ahead. Later, you may need the extra space for a growing family, home business/office, or first floor master bedroom & bath. Depending on the lot size, setback lines, and zoning, it may be wise to check with the local township or borough before purchasing the property.

An interior designer can help with ideas for an addition and renovations; the talent and skills of an architect can help with drawings of floor plans and elevations. Basic drawings can be very helpful to help you visualize your renovation, addition options and involvement of cost and time.

What types of ideas can update a home? Depending on the age and condition of the home, the renovations can be a facelift or a major renovation. Whether you are a "do it yourself" person or use the help of contractors, you can improve the home's appearance when aesthetic pleasing choices are made.

On the exterior, new landscaping or just grooming the existing shrubbery and trees can give great curb appeal. Adding new walkways and architectural detail can update the exterior. Changing the paint color of the trim, doors and shutters can give the house a new makeover. Don't forget to add landscape lighting.

The interior has many options for change and updating. Sometimes the paint color or dated wallpaper can be a little scary but changing the wall appearance is simple. Paint is great for making changes fast without major cost.

Natural and artificial lighting is very important to the interior of your home. Windows, skylights, and solar tubes can be added for natural light. Depending on the structure of the house, recessed lighting is a great option for additional lighting. Don't forget those light fixtures. They are very easy to change. Updated finishes and new style will enhance the house's appearance.

Depending on the condition, kitchen and baths can be a major renovation or a simple facelift. If the cabinetry is in good condition and a good quality, new countertops, and hardware are a great way to update the kitchen or bath. Plumbing and light fixtures are also easy upgrades. Then change the flooring and wall finish for a completely new look.

If you are adding new tile or hardwood flooring, the base trim needs to be removed. It is a great time to upgrade your base trim to a higher height and new profile. While the trim carpenter is there, add crown molding and/or chair rail.

There are so many great options for improving homes. It can be overwhelming to a buyer as they tour homes while visualizing furniture layout and needed changes. If you are in the market for purchasing a home, consider working with a realtor who is ALSO an interior designer.

Anita C. Yoder, a realtor with Home- Town Realty Professionals in New Holland AND an interior designer with 20 years experience, can be reached at 717.575.4191.

We enjoy the hardwood floors that we have in our home and would like to include more hardwood flooring in our upcoming renovation. What options do we have for refreshing the appearance of our existing hardwood floors and adding new flooring?
Answer provided by: Bob Snyder, Owner,Caliber Hardwood Floors, Inc.
Bob SnyderHardwood flooring is a beautiful and durable floor covering that can provide a home with a feeling of warmth and elegance for many generations. There are several processes to consider when evaluating your hardwood flooring options.

Screen and Recoat. This process involves deep cleaning the floor to remove build up dirt. The floor is then lightly sanded and a fresh coat of finish is applied on top of the existing finish. This new coat of finish refreshes the appearance of the floors. The screen and recoat process is suited for floors that are in good condition but have some scratches, scuffs, or wear marks.

Refinish. Unlike other floor coverings, hardwood is able to be refinished. The refinishing process involves sanding the boards down to raw wood. The floor is then stained and finished with polyurethane. The refinishing process is great for giving an existing floor an entirely new look while saving the time and expense of replacement.

Dust Containment. Our top-of-the-line Dust Containment System greatly reduces the dust and mess traditionally associated with the process of sanding hardwood floors. Our tools connect to a trailer-mounted 27 horsepower vacuum that efficiently exports the dust from your home. This is vastly superior to the outdated method of attaching collection bags to the sanding equipment.

Additional Wood Floors. Because hardwood floors can be refinished, existing areas of flooring can be expanded to accommodate a renovation or addition. Site finishing newly installed and existing hardwood floors at the same time creates seamless transitions and a uniform finish across the floor.

Caliber Hardwood Floors Inc. has been serving the Central Pennsylvania region for 17 years and offers a full line of hardwood flooring services. Please contact us for an in-home consultation.

We are renovating an older home and have heard about "green" products. What does "green" really mean when it comes to floor coverings?
Answer provided by: Allan Espinoza, Sales Manager, FlorHaus
FlorHausTrying to compare the greenness of one flooring product to another is like trying to compare two people—each will excel in his own way. Choosing products that not only provide a healthy environment for the family, contribute to a sustainable planet and are a lasting value can be simplified if you remember three questions to ask before you purchase. These have to do with: Source, Indoor Air Quality and Life Cycle Analysis.

Source? Find out where the material used in your flooring choice originated. Hardwood should come from a managed forest and be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which provides a clear and transparent chain of custody that consumers can depend upon. The FSC is backed by all major environmental groups in the US. Look for the FSC logo on the products you want. When you are interested in carpet, there are a variety of choices with the green label. Depending on whether you want carpeting made from sustainable fibers (those that can be used for the same purpose over and over again), from recycled fibers or fibers from natural substances, your flooring salesperson can help you sort through the options.

Indoor Air Quality? When it comes to providing the best air quality in living spaces you will want to select flooring that emits low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that are used in the manufacturing process. Dust, mites and various allergens are in the air of most homes and carpet will trap those as they settle so they can be removed with regular maintenance using a good vacuum cleaner and occasional professional cleaning. Hardwood and laminate do not trap allergens as they settle but these are easy to clean from the surfaces with regular maintenance. Ceramic tile is, by its very nature, an ecological product and is made from natural materials. It can easily be incorporated into green design and is also easily maintained. Rely on your flooring professional to help you find those choices that are right for you.

Life Cycle Analysis? How long will your choice of a floor last and what will happen to the material if, or when, it is replaced? Hardwood and ceramic tile are considered permanent materials and are excellent choices for lifetime wear. Ceramic tile, in addition, is manufactured from recycled material added to natural raw materials like sand, clay and minerals. Cork and bamboo flooring is made from renewable resources and also have a long life expectancy. Every manufacturer of carpet will have some statement as to the longevity expected from their product. You may want to look beyond how long a given carpet will remain on your floor and extend your thinking to what will happen to the carpet when it is removed from your home. Whether your choice of carpeting is manufactured from recyclable, recycled or natural fibers will have a bearing on its complete life cycle and you should be able to depend upon your flooring retailer to be knowledgeable in each case.

Our professional staff at FlorHaus has an extensive knowledge of the products we offer in the showroom. FlorHaus salespeople are ready to answer any reasonable question concerning the origin and integrity of the brands carried in our inventory and can help you compare the choices to arrive at the best solution for your home. Visit us on Route 772 in Leola and ask to see the latest in green flooring resources available today.

I have been hearing a lot about electric fireplaces, what is the story?
Answer provided by: Darren Bowman, Sales and Marketing, Classic Furniture
Darren Bowman, Sales and Marketing, Classic FurnitureElectric fireplaces have been coming into play more than ever since most conventional heating costs are up. Electric fireplaces are an excellent way to heat the room you are in the most, such as a family room. They are safe, efficient, and quite nice to look at. There is no venting or piping involved, so you can simply plug them into your standard 110 outlet. You can also enjoy the fl ames without heat—giving you four season usage. One of the largest manufacturers of electric fireplaces is Dimplex North America.
Heating Capability
Just about all the electric fireplaces offered by Dimplex produce over 5000 btu's of
heat. This is enough heat to supplement a room up to 400 square feet (20x20’). The heating capability will vary depending on the temperature outside. The main advantage of electric fireplaces would be zoned heating. You can heat the room you are enjoying without raising your main heating source. This will help lower your overall heating costs over the coldest months of the year. But yet many folks enjoy their electric fireplaces when it is cool outside and they want just a bit of heat in the room to take the chill out of the air. All of the electric fireplaces are run on an electric based heating element with a very quiet and efficient blower. They all have thermostats and some even have a built in air purifier, which can clean the air of an average room four times an hour. As long as your room has an outlet, you can enjoy an electric fireplace.
Applications of Electric Fireplaces
The most popular application are Mantle fireplaces. These vary in sizes, but are easy to install and remove if needed. Dimplex makes small and large mantles and even has a wide variety of entertainment center models for which a large TV can be placed on the top of the cabinet. The second most popular application is the stove program. With the Dimplex company, you can choose from small stoves up to large styles. One of the larger models even has the air purifier, which can not only heat the room but clean the air also. The last application is the insert program. If you already have an existing fireplace you can simply put an insert, which is basically a box, into your fireplace. These vary in size from small to large to fit just about any existing fireplace. Another insert application is to have a contractor build the mantle you want or install the insert flush into a wall for a more contemporary look. No matter what application you choose, you are adding warmth and quite possibly, more equity into your property due to the fact most homeowners love fireplaces.
Safety and Cost
All of the Dimplex electric fireplaces are UL listed for safety and come with the best warranties in the business. There is nothing burning, so the glass or top of the fireplaces never gets hot. You do not have any carbon monoxide or dust issues either. In fact, most of the Dimplex electric fireplaces actually improve your air quality with the new Purifier air treatment option. According to Dimplex, the average cost to run an electric fireplace is 8 cents an hour based on 50% cycling of heat—making electric fireplaces one of the least expensive options for supplemental heat. The pricing of the electric fireplaces will vary from a few hundred dollars for a stove style to around two thousand for the most deluxe mantle fireplaces. Electric fireplaces are a great option for your home. At Classic Furniture in Ephrata we are proud to have the largest Dimplex electric fireplace gallery in PA and invite you to visit our store. To learn more about electric fireplaces visit our web site at www.classicfurniturepa.com or call 888-721-3139.

I’m in the process of redecorating my home. A friend recommended I consider updating my rooms with faux finishes. What are faux finishes and how can I choose the right ones to enhance my living space?
Answer provided by: Jeff Shultz, Distinctive Faux Finishes

Distinctive Faux FinishesWhen most people think of faux finishes, sponging and rag rolling come to mind. Today, these finishes have fallen out of favor in light of the trend toward upscale finishes, where layers of subtle texture and color create depth and beauty on formerly dull, “vanilla” walls.

Professional faux finishes are made up of any number of decorative finishes that may include glazes, textures, Venetian plaster, patina, metallic, marbling, Tuscan, crackle effects, and more. These finishes are applied to walls, ceilings, woodwork, and floors in multiple layers, using many different application techniques. It is these layers, as with a pearl, that help create the depth, color, and beauty that we find attractive in many faux finishes. Most of the professional materials used today are water-based, safe, and virtually odorless.

Whether you are looking for a bold statement or a classic finish, a well thought-out faux finish is timeless. Most customers choose faux finishing because they want to invest in their home and they value the benefits over wallpaper and paint. They want a high end designer-look without having to contend with unsightly seams. They want a wall finish that coordinates perfectly with their interior furnishings and adds value to their home; a custom made finish that makes their home feel uniquely theirs. Some customers like the fact that many finishes hide minor wall imperfections.

The right faux finish can do more than make a room look beautiful, it can also create a dramatic, sophisticated, or relaxing living space. Certain finishes can make a room feel larger or make a two-story foyer feel warm and inviting. With the right textures, colors and materials, a faux finish can even have the effect of bringing the outdoors indoor!

Professional faux finishers often work with interior designers and will listen carefully to achieve your vision for the room you are redecorating. Based upon your desires, colors, and budget, a faux finisher will show you their portfolio of finishes and may recommend specific ones. Custom-made samples can be created to achieve the exact look and style you desire. Two items should be considered prior to beginning work in your home. First, always approve a sample board that represents the exact finish and coloration you have chosen. Second, sign a detailed contract stating the area to be done, the agreed upon finish and price, and when the job is scheduled to start and end.

Your walls are an important part of your home. They encompass a large area in each room. They surround your fireplace, cabinets, windows, doorways, furniture, wall hangings, and light fixtures. Your walls accent your room like a frame and matting surrounds a picture. Your newly faux finished room will bring added value and create an inviting living space to enjoy for many years.

To learn more, contact artist & faux finisher Jeff Shultz at 717-799-1533. To see completed rooms, read client testimonials and learn “Ten Tips on Hiring a Faux Finisher,” go online to www. distinctivewalls.com.


What exactly is an Oriental rug?
Answer provided by:Frank Essis, Partner, Essis & Sons

Frank Essis, Partner, Essis & Sons, LancasterAs defined by the Oriental Rug Importers Association, Inc, an Oriental rug is “…handmade of natural fibers (most commonly wool or silk) with a pile woven on a warp and weft, with individual character and design, and made in the Near East, Middle East, Far East, or the Balkans.”

An Oriental rug is hand woven and varies in quality. Quality is generally determined by quality of the wool, intricacy of design, and knot density. Wool quality is defined by the length of its fibers, springiness, and luster. Today, the wool used in hand-knotted Oriental rugs either originates exclusively from the country of origin, or is a blend of indigenous and imported wool. Intricacy of design refers to the degree of detail a design possesses as well as the number of different colors needed to execute the pattern. The more complex the design, the more experienced the craftsman must be to weave the pattern. Knot density and fineness of weave are the same. The more knots tied per square inch, the finer the detail in the design and the more labor is required in weaving the rug. Also worth noting, all oriental carpets feature a slight variation in color or design, which is part of the special charm and appeal of this handcrafted product.

 

A handmade Oriental rug is a woven product of timeless beauty and cultural mystique that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. The earliest surviving piece dates back to about the 4th or 5th century B.C. It was discovered in an excavated burial site in southern Siberia. Although weaving techniques and traditions have remained virtually unchanged, other dramatic changes have occurred. In today's handmade Oriental carpet industry, the weavers and importers have found it advantageous to adopt more designs and colors to better satisfy western decorative tastes. The sharp increase in production of Persian-design carpets in other countries, particularly China, India, and Pakistan, offers consumers a wide variety of color and design choices available in a full range of prices. While machine-made carpets are manufactured to machine-like standards, handmade rugs reflect the human element; the individual's own interpretation of color and design, which is the essence of their beauty and oneness.

 

Handmade Oriental rugs are the very latest floor covering fashion statement. Consumers and interior designers allover the country have discovered their tremendous versatility in style, color, type and size, and are using them to define or enhance residential and commercial decors. As stated earlier, Oriental rugs are being woven to suit an infinite realm of decorative styles spanning the traditional oriental looks to European, Art Deco, and contemporary.

 

Like any other work of fine art, the Oriental rug is designed to provide enjoyment to its present owner and generations to come. However, to ensure its beauty and long life, some simple steps are recommended. Normal care is to vacuum regularly to prevent dirt and grit from sifting into the roots of the fibers. Do not vacuum the fringe; brush the fringe. You should use a quality, recommended pad under the rug and rug protectors under the legs of heavy furniture. Over time, grit and dirt become embedded so deeply that professional cleaning is required. Professional cleaning will remove this dirt as well as the surface soiling that gradually dulls the appearance of a rug. Depending on the amount of traffic, cleaning every 3 to 5 years is recommended. Cleaning should be done by a professional service specializing in Oriental rugs, one that is familiar with hand woven products. It is strongly recommended that cleaning not be attempted by a “wash-at-home” service. For emergencies such as spills, tears, holes or worn spots, call your professional rug dealer.

 

A few words of advice when purchasing your work of art—you should purchase it from an established retailer of Oriental rugs, whose integrity and reputation can be verified in the community. You should avoid traveling auctions, often held at hotels and airports. They may be here today and gone tomorrow. You should protect yourself by being able to deal with someone on an ongoing basis. You should beware of “Going-Out-Of-Business” sales, which may be promotional schemes, where values are exaggerated and the quality of the merchandise is mediocre or below average. Once you find the rug that appeals to you, it is acceptable to question the retailer about quality, suitability, etc., and, if you like, take it home to try. Most respectable retailers of Oriental rugs will allow you to try a rug at home without obligation.

 

A handmade Oriental rug will add a unique blend of excitement, mystique and charm to your home or office. It is a work of art to be treasured, not only during your lifetime but also generations to come.


We are considering renovating our basement and turning it into a game room. How do we start planning for our project?
Answer provided by: Sam Altdoerffer, Sales, Barstools & Billiards
Sam AltdoerfferThere are many different options when configuring a game room. The first decision would be to determine what type of games you would enjoy the most and what would actually fit.

Today, one of the most popular games for your room is a pool table. Being a game that almost anyone can enjoy, a pool table fits any lifestyle. As far as space requirements, 13’ 4” x 17’ will give you enough space to use a standard 58” pool cue.

If space is an issue or you need more games to fill the space, other popular games include foosball, air hockey, shuffleboard or a multi-functional poker table. Most poker tables today are made with a reversible top transforming it into a regular dining table. The dining top can also be used for board games, puzzles, or any other everyday projects using a large table.When creating a game room everyone can enjoy, make sure enough space is given to each game for a comfortable and fun atmosphere. You’ll find more information and product options on our web site: www.barstoolsandbilliards. net.

And remember, “if it's fun, we have it”.

We are considering cork flooring. What can you tell us about it?
Answer provided by: Jere Kochel, Showroom Manager, Martin's Flooring Carpet One
James T. HanselmanCork has been used as a flooring material for hundreds of years. This environmentally sound material has numerous natural features that appeal to homeowners, and unique looks that enrich any room of the home. Cork is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. It is harvested approximately once every 9 years from the bark of a Cork Oak tree. Because this process is done without damaging the trees, cork is considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly flooring products available.

The cells in cork retain air, giving it the ability to float, insulate and re-expand quickly after compression. The unique cell structure makes cork ideal for use in flooring as it reduces sound, is warm to the touch, and is comfortable to walk on. In addition, cork is a fire inhibitor due to a naturally occurring substance called Suberin. This same Suberin is also a natural insect repellant, even termites are repelled by it. This substance also makes cork resistant to mold and mildew, and will even prevent cork from rotting when completely submerged in water for an extended period of time. Cork does not absorb dust or other allergens. If you are sensitive to mold or have allergies, yet want the comfort and warmth of carpet, cork is the ideal alternative.

As for cork's durability, the key is its resilience. This quality allows the flooring to “give” which extends wear and resists denting. Cork floors come pre-finished. This technology has eliminated the excessive maintenance requirements of cork floors from years gone by. As with most hard surface floors, regular sweeping and damp mopping is preferred. In conclusion, cork is a naturally beautiful and renewable product whose versatility is unmatched in flooring.