Home and Garden Renovation Tips From Delaware’s Experts

Taking on remodel and labor-intensive projects doesn’t always have to be such a chore. Local experts weigh in on how to spruce up your environment without the overwhelming hassle.

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Ansari Company
154S. DuPont Hwy., New Castle, 324-1784, silkroadmall.com

Hawkins & Sons
400 New Road, Elsmere
998-5587, hawkinsandsons.com

Kirby Stamped Concrete
P.O. Box 4473, Wilmington

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Kurtz Collection
1010 N. Union St., Wilmington
654-4095, kurtzcollection.com

Lang Rug Company
1001 N. Union St., Wilmington
655-1534, langcarpet.com

Stripe-a-Lot Inc.
55 Germay Drive, Wilmington

Swim-Mor Pools and Spas
920 Lake Drive
Mt. Ephraim, N.J.
(856) 456-3332, swimmor.com

The Zeppelin and
the Unicorn Antiques

400 Silverside Road
Wilmington, 792-0555

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As any homeowner knows, renovating a home and yard can be a chore. But these tasks don’t have to be onerous. There are many do’s and don’ts, as well as tips and advice from experts in the business. Your dream home isn’t as far away as you think.

On DuPont Highway in New Castle, Ansari Oriental Rugs stocks more than 1,000 rugs. “Our primary offering is high quality handmade/hand-knotted rugs for those who want a high quality rug that will last for decades,” says owner Paul Sayther. “The majority of our handmade, hand-knotted rugs are made in Afghanistan, the world center of quality Oriental rugs, by weavers known to the owners for many years. Ansari has been in the handmade carpet and rug business since 1949. Our New Castle store has been in existence since 2003.”

With the current economy and disruption in home ownership, people are reluctant to make large decorating changes or improvements to their homes, Ansari says.

“Thus, major and even minor renovations may be curtailed,” Sayther says. “However, to bring new freshness and give one or more rooms a lift without much effort or cost, the addition of a nice area rug can change the appearance and personality of any room.” 

A further advantage to this type of investment is portability, says Sayther. “Not only does a nice area rug make a room look better quickly, but an area rug can move from room to room or even move with you if relocation is in your future. The versatility of an area rug allows it to look good over any floor surface—carpet, wood flooring, or tile floors.”

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Marianne Anzaldo works for EP Henry, a 110-year-old company that manufactures unit concrete products including paving stones, garden and retaining walls, permeable pavers, cast stone paving, cast veneer stone, and concrete masonry units. “We believe in values that endure and value that endures,” she says. “We offer a lifetime product warranty as well as unparalleled service.”

Anzaldo says one trend is outdoor living components like fireplaces, pizza ovens, kitchens and fire pits. Another trend is sustainable design, from using permeable pavers for storm water management and LEED accreditation to rainwater harvesting for re-use in ponds for irrigation. “Our ECO line of permeable pavers is growing rapidly in use both by necessity and by home and business owners who seek to reduce their impact on the environment,” Anzaldo says.

There are several advantages to renovating your home or yard. “The No. 1 reason should be to increase your enjoyment of time spent with family, friends and even by yourself,” Anzaldo says. “Of course, there is also the bonus that it will increase your property value.”

She cautions homeowners to do their homework when selecting products or a contractor. “Don’t just go by price because you truly will get what you pay for,” she says. “Does the manufacturer/contractor provide a warranty? How long have they been in business? For contractors, are they licensed and do they carry insurance? Get references to ensure they are qualified to perform the scope of work your project entails.”

•  •  •

Photo courtesy of EP HenryDue to customer demand, the people at Hawkins & Sons display more than 250 appliances in their showroom and offer professional sales, delivery and installation of new appliances. They also deal with the removal of the old appliances, and have their own trained service technicians if needed.

“We try to offer the best value in town,” says Ed Hawkins. “We are a family owned business that is here to service you after the sale.”

Hawkins says customers are investing in their homes with energy-efficient appliances and creating new outdoor living and entertaining space.

“High-efficiency laundry appliances, French door refrigerators and outdoor grills with cabinets are all things we are seeing homeowners install,” he says.

Hawkins believes there are a few essential things for renovating homeowners to think about. “Value personal service,” he says. “Buy from a company that will be there when you need it. Appliances are expensive and do need adjustments from time to time. You want to protect your investment.”

Kurtz Collection offers complimentary design services, from assisting with rugs to full room floor plans. “We also work hand-in-hand with many of the area’s top interior designers by serving as a small scale, local design center,” says Josephine Kurtz.

“Our philosophy is to live with beautiful things. Educating our clients that mixing and matching unique antiques or vintage pieces with contemporary goods helps to create a rich environment. Quality and craftsmanship are also key, at any price point.”

Kurtz says people are being much more playful with colors than the recent trend of tone on tone, beige on beige. “We are also seeing homes showing more adventurous bolder lighting choices, larger more decorative statement pieces,” she says. “Lucite tables, geode lamp finials and hand-blown glass jug pendants are all hot items right now.”

Kurtz notes that a renovation does not need to happen all at once.

“If you are not able to fully complete the project the way you would like, there is no rush,” she says. “You should not buy a temporary piece just for the sake of filling a space. It is best to have a few quality pieces than a complete room that you will want to replace in a few years or that will not stand the test of time.  Invest in quality pieces that can grow and change as your style evolves.”

Mark Showell Interiors is a full-service interior design firm that works with existing homes or new construction. It offers all aspects of design assistance, from consultation with architects and builders to renovations, selecting new furnishings, window treatment, wall treatments and accessorizing a room or home.

“Creativity is our passion,” says Julie Metz, “and we work with each client to ensure that their space reflects their lifestyle and meets the needs of each individual.
Metz says customers want neutrals with tons of textures, and natural elements continue to be a mainstay. “Color is making a comeback,” she says. “Bright colors are in-fashion, as are gray tones. People want simple but striking accessories, not overly done rooms. Contemporary is consistently in the forefront of the trends, but we are seeing a turn toward classic, tailored looks.”

Metz says that grass cloth walls and natural flooring, corks and bamboo and other exotic woods continue trending with many other renewable resources.

•  •  •

Photo courtesy of EP HenryRoyal Pest Solutions offers planet-friendly pest control. “We first use methods and materials other than pesticides,” says John Moore. “Protecting homes and families from harmful, annoying and destructive pests is our philosophy. Our entomologists know and study the natural habits of insects and we base much of our pest control on that.”

He says using an Integrated Pest Management program enables Royal Pest to use little or no pesticides to provide effective pest control. “One trend we are seeing in home and garden maintenance is composting,” Moore says. “People are more environmentally conscious now. The problem is that food scraps are an attractant to pests—anything from bugs to mice, rats and bats.”

For an inexpensive compost, Moore recommends using the round compost bin offered by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority for $20.

“When you set it up, it’s important to locate your compost away from your house,” Moore says. “Another trend is people are planting vegetable gardens. We recommend that you plant it at least 20 feet from your home. Again, it’s a food source close to your home.”

At Strobert Tree Service, Amber Farr and her co-workers help to ensure that their customers are happy, whether the service includes pesticide treatment, yard maintenance or tree removal or planting. “Our philosophy is good, safe quality work that will lead to a happy customer, and a happy customer is a good customer for life,” she says.

Farr says customers have been tightening their financial belts and pushing yard maintenance to the bottom of their to-do list, which has proven costly.

“Between the two recent devastating storms of hurricanes Irene and Sandy, we have received more emergency storm damage calls than we have over the past three years combined,” she says. “Prevention is essential to maintain a safe and healthy landscape. If you’re unsure about an aspect of your landscape, call a certified arborist and have them check it out. Any reputable company will do this for free.”

Customers have been going green more frequently, according to Farr. “Homeowners are more conscientious now than ever before about what chemicals are used around their homes. People want pesticide applicators who use all-natural products on their yards.”

•  •  •

The Zeppelin and the Unicorn Antiques offers antiques and collectibles at reasonable prices. “We are strong believers in being green,” says Jacqueline Donahue. “Antiques are the original green, and we encourage repurposing and upcycling. We have workshops in making jewelry and lamps out of old items. We also are solar and the first business in Delaware to have solar shingles.

“In renovating, I’m not sure there is any one trend. We sell a lot of old shutters, crates and ball jars. Young couples like to come in and purchase real wood furniture. So I think the trends are reusing, repurposing and upcycling and being more environmentally conscience.”

Donahue says hot products include floor lamps, touchier lamps, railroad lamps, handmade area rugs, primitive shutters and crates, vintage cameras for display, vintage mirrors and wall clocks. “We have recently been selling lots of mid-century modern furniture and accessories. We like to take our customers back to a time that was simpler and happy.”

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