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Note from Dana: I believe that the key to a successful real estate transaction is equipping my clients with information and expertise. I want to find out what is most important to you in your purchase or sale of a home and then develop a plan that will ensure your goals will be met. You can count on me for professionalism, expertise, experience and strong ethics. Whether you are purchasing your first home, upsizing to a luxury property, or selling your property, each of my clients receives the service and attention that I believe is so important in this very personal decision.

Trends: Home lighting & automation


Lamps by Wildwood Lamps & Accents are striking traditional and transitional creations that blend techniques and materials of the past to reflect today’s designs. Room setting from Century Furniture available at Norris Home Furnishings. (Photo: Special to news-press.com)

By Domnick M. Minella, Special to The News–Press1:51 a.m. EDT March 25, 2015

The latest trends and breakthroughs in home lighting and home automation present dynamic design, lighting and convenience options to brighten up every room of your home. Today’s transitional styles in home interiors, combined with new products and advances in home lighting are shaping today’s living spaces.

Home interior designs have evolved, and decorative lighting has followed. Design statements in lamp designs include bold and beautiful colors in slick glass, ceramic and acrylic elements as well as brass, chrome and platinum accents that add bling and sophistication.

Lighting evolution from Edison to today

Technology has given us more choices than ever before starting with the light bulb.Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb invented in the late 1800’s is being phased out because of its less efficient use of electricity. Over 95 percent of incandescent bulb energy is given off in heat. A good example of this would be harking back to childhood to recall the great cakes my little sister made in her Easy Bake toy oven heated with a 60-watt bulb.

New developments in lighting include the swirling designed compact florescent light bulb CFL that is cool to the touch. The CFL has an increased lifetime use of 10,000 hours versus the incandescent bulb’s 1,000 hours. While the CFL is more effective in energy use, it doesn’t provide the most flattering light source because it has a blue tint of florescent. More importantly, toxic mercury is used in the bulb manufacturing making disposal an issue. The current shining star is LED lighting that emits a diode light source. LED lighting does not generate heat, and provides a clear, white light. It can be dimmed, and has a life expectancy of more than 30,000 hours. Cost of these bulbs is now more affordable, and they also provide savings by lowering energy use.

Convenience, comfort and fun with home automation

Home automation has arrived, offering convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security. Computer and information technology makes it possible to remotely control and pre-set appliances, shutters, windows and sliding doors and more with the touch of a finger. Home automation systems integrate your electrical devices with one another, and can change lighting levels to welcome you home or create a romantic mood for dinner.

Use your imagination

From the first time you use a remote control to dim the light across the room, you will be hooked on automated lighting systems. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Lighting control is the cornerstone of the home automation industry. 

— Norris Home Furnishings designers are prepared to assist you as you consider some of the elements of transitional design, new lighting styles and automation for your home. Learn more about home automation at today’s design seminar, Lighting Your Way to the Future, at 11 a.m. in the Norris Fort Myers showroom. Seminar attendees will also learn how to incorporate home automation into a new or existing home from guest speaker, Chris Burke, owner of Hidden Technology. The seminar is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served. Reservations are requested, as seating is limited. The Norris Fort Myers showroom is at 14125 S. Tamiami Trail. Call 690-9844 for reservations.

Click here to read the original complete News-Press article.

Celebrate Sea Turtles with Flagler County Festival

Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:35 p.m.

Flagler and Volusia counties have several festivals planned to celebrate our beloved sea turtles over the next couple of weeks.

April 4th at Flagler Beach, the Volusia Flagler Turtle Patrol conducts its 8th annual Turtle Festival.  The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.  There will be live music, activities and entertainment as well as environmental exhibits.

For more information, visit the Turtle Patrol’s website at turtlepatrol.com

On April 11, Volusia County’s Marine Science Center plans its 13th annual Turtle Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  at 100 Lighthouse Drive in Ponce Inlet.  Visitors can see endangered sea turtles, birds and other marine life.

Also on April 11, the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach plans an open house. The schedule of activities includes a bird rescue clinic, marine touch tanks, a kayak clinic and kids crafts, including the opportunity to get photos taken with a “mermaid.”

The open house is free and is planned to take place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., at 520 Barracuda Blvd., New Smyrna Beach. For more information, call 386-428-4828.

To read the entire original Daytona Beach News Journal article click here.

How Much Should It Cost To Paint Your Home?

In a perfect world you’d never need to repaint your house. It’d be impervious to everything Ma Nature could throw at it. Unfortunately, over time, sun, snow, rain, and dirt break down your home’s paint, causing it to fade, chip, peel and crack. Besides detracting from your home’s curb appeal, it could cause premature wear to your home’s siding.

While individual results may vary, most high-quality paints will hold up between seven and ten years. However, if you have leaking gutters or other moisture problems there’s a good chance your paint will wear out sooner.

Understanding the Cost Factors

Painting your whole house is a big job. For that reason, most homeowners contract the job out to a pro. If that’s the direction you’re headed, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of the factors that will determine how much your project will cost.

Size and Layout

Most painters charge by the square foot. Doing the math, it’s not hard to see that the bigger the house, the bigger the bill. However, your home’s layout also plays a significant role in the size and difficulty of the job. Painting a two-story Victorian with its intricate trimwork is a lot more time-consuming than painting a two-story Prairie.

Exterior Condition

If you’ve painted the inside of your home, you know that the prep work is often the most time consuming. This is doubly true for exterior painting projects. Since paint won’t properly adhere to a dirty surface, your painter will need to thoroughly clean and prep the surface before painting. Given the importance of this step, it usually takes multiple days to properly clean and prep a home, and this is for homes painted with oil-based or latex paints. If your home hasn’t been painted since the 70s, there’s a chance it could be covered in lead-based paint. If so, your project costs just increased.

Paint Quality

Given the magnitude of the project, it might be tempting to try to save money by going with a lower-quality paint or stain. Make this mistake and you’ll find yourself repainting your home much sooner than you anticipated. Since it’s important to choose the correct paint for your home’s siding, you’ll want to talk to your painter about picking the options that deliver the look you want and the durability you expect at the price you’re most comfortable with.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

Painting your home is a project that you can tackle on your own. The question is: do you want to? If you have the time, patience, and desire to spend a few days (or weekends) cleaning, prepping, and painting, then there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself. That said, a pro will be able to knock the project out much quicker and with better results at a price that’d make it well worth the expense.
Click here to read the original HomeAdvisor article. 

2015 Design Trends

Interior designer Skye Kirby Wescott gives us the inside scoop on what we’ll be seeing in homes this year.

It’s making a comeback. From walls to furniture, this glamorous finish creates a vibrant color that just doesn’t quite match flat paint.

multiple metallics
Don’t be afraid to mix gold and silver! A blend of warm and cool hues will add depth to a space.

romantic energy
Think: chandeliers, intricate moldings, soft tones, and antiques.
Incorporate bold colors to keep it from feeling too feminine.

mixing textures
Use a variety of materials to give your space a dynamic feel and keep it interesting.

personal touches
Your unique personality should shine through in your home.
Let each room illustrate a piece of you, whether it be through art, accessories, or family heirlooms.

unique small spaces
Intimate areas, such as a powder room, can evoke a captivating essence — regardless if it’s in a large home or a tiny studio.
Bold colors and interesting patterns are perfect for making a space feel special.

Click here to read the original Huffington Post article. 

Jean McClelland: Adding a backsplash can spice up your kitchen

HUNTINGTON – Giving a kitchen a new look may be as simple as installing a new backsplash between the counter and cabinet.

The choices are infinite and the only restraint will be the budget. From vinyl wallpaper to granite, one only need to decide on the material and color to begin this project.

The first step before making a choice is to measure the desired area to be covered. Basically you need the square footage to figure out how much product you should buy. If you are not handy with home projects and you have hired a professional they will take care of this detail for you.

There was a time when choosing backsplash material was pretty much limited to tile or an inexpensive reproduction. Today the choices are infinite and creative. It is interesting to note that on an episode of HGTV’s “Texas Flip and Move” a designer made use of old license plates to panel the walls between the cabinets and counter. This probably wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking, however, it does reinforce the idea anything goes.

Choosing a tile backsplash is economical and the variety from which to choose is generous. Ceramic tile comes in all colors, sizes and designs and always looks appealing. It is pretty easy to install, particularly if you follow steps listed by one of the do it yourself sites on the Internet. Most of those sites will even list the tools necessary to do the job. If you have to buy a bunch of tools you might investigate hiring someone who is already equipped to install your tile.

Glass is becoming quite popular in the backsplash world. It allows a body to be creative and make a statement with their choice. It is shiny and sparkly which gives depth to the walls and expands the space as it reflects the light. There is also a method available in this genre that will allow one to paint a color and design on the wall and cover it with transparent tile to get a one-of-a-kind look. Finally, glass won’t mildew and it is considered a ‘green’ product. On the downside it is more expensive, hard to install and difficult to repair.

Metal backsplashes can be the most expensive to buy and install unless you buy the prefabricated metal laminate panels at the big box stores. Whether it is stainless steel, copper or tin, it will be easier to clean and keep up than the glass and ceramic versions. It will have an interesting appearance, however, it is not resistant to dings and dents that usually can’t be fixed. Some of the metals like copper will change color as oxidation takes place so you should make sure that look is what you want. Installation is costly because it has to be cut exactly and there can be no mistakes to give a decent appearance.

By far one of the more expensive options is granite and that is one of its big drawbacks. It is a natural stone product so it should last a very long time with proper care. Proper care means it needs to be sealed every now and then and it is subject to staining. Even so, it is beautiful and offers a look like no other product.

A backsplash will spice up your kitchen and update its look. It can be reasonably priced or over the top. Part of the cost will be installation, so if doing it yourself is an option consider it as a cost saving measure. If you can’t tolerate the imperfections a homeowner installation might render, hire a professional and consider it money well spent.

Click here to read the original Herald-Dispatch article.

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition completes 900+ mile journey

Mallory Lykes Dimmitt   3/17/2015

Week 9-10 Florida Wildlife Corridor

From Expedition Team Member, Joe Guthrie, “One of the most interesting sunsets, Hagen’s Cove, Taylor County, Florida.”

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition has been on the trail for 900+ miles and nearly 70 days. On March 19th, they will complete their epic journey which led the team through some of Florida’s most beautiful ecosystems including the Rainbow River Springs made famous by the recent congregation of hundreds of manatees.

Although the Glades to Gulf Expedition is almost complete, the work of Florida Wildlife Corridor is far from over. The passage of Amendment 1 and the awareness of the need for wildlife corridors is just the beginning.

In 2014, more than 93 million people traveled to see the natural beauty we have here in Florida. We are more than just beaches. Florida is home to coral reefs, oyster beds. dunes, marshes, swamps, hardwood hammocks, mangroves, pinelands and scrubs. With Florida becoming one of the most populated states in the country, the journey has not ended in connecting, protecting and restoring corridors of conserved lands and waters that are essential for the survival of Florida’s diverse wildlife.

Click here to read the complete Florida Trend article.

Manatees Getting Too Much Love

Snorkelers interact with a Florida manatee at the Three Sisters Springs inside the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River, Fla. (Scott Audette/Reuters)

March 17

Chubby Florida manatees are adorable.

Lumbering in the cozy waters of their habitat, they look like big, soft, squishy gray pillows. Anyone who wants to jump in and give them a big squeeze is in luck at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on the central gulf coast of Florida. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials who manage the refuge say go ahead, they don’t bite.

But whether that’s good for the beloved “sea cow” is a question that could one day be resolved by a threatened lawsuit. A group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is deeply upset that the refuge allows swimming with an endangered marine mammal in the warm springs that serve as their winter sanctuary.

[They thrived for millions of years. Now, there are only 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left. ]

People are loving the manatees to death, the group says, and Fish and Wildlife has let the smothering affection develop into a lucrative tourism industry at Three Sisters Springs in Citrus County. PEER filed a notice of intent to sue Fish and Wildlife if they don’t tell tourists to back off. Fish and Wildlife has until May to respond.

“Swim with programs significantly impair these endangered animals’ essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, and sheltering,” said the group’s counsel, Laura Dumais. “Some people have a hard time understanding this connection, because they don’t see manatees keeling over before their eyes; they might think that the manatees don’t seem to mind.”

A manatee calf nurses from its mother inside of the Three Sisters Springs. On winter days, Florida manatees flock by the hundreds to the balmy waters of Three Sisters Springs, drawing crowds of snorkelers and kayakers to the U.S. sanctuary, where people may swim with the endangered species. (Scott Audette/Reuters)

The manatees certainly don’t seem to mind, the refuge’s manager said. Florida’s manatee population topped a record 6,000 this week in the state’s latest survey, nearly 1,000 more than the previous high. The numbers are so high that some are calling on the service to remove the manatee’s protection under the Endangered Species Act, where they’ve been listed since it began in 1973. A review that might downgrade them from endangered to threatened is in the draft stage.

“The manatee is actually a success story. Their numbers are going up, the population is going up,” said Andrew Gude, manager of the refuge. “Tourism has also gone through the roof. You can rent a car and for $40 you can swim with a mammal that will never rip you apart. The reason the service has been so supportive is that when people see the manatees and get in the water with them, in a lot of ways it changes their lives and they’re a lot more conservation-minded.”

[The small vaquita porpoise is on the verge of extinction]

This time of year, when cold-sensitive manatees migrate to the warm springs because water temperatures below 68 degrees could kill them, hundreds of thousands of tourists rush to where they congregate to gawk at and touch them. They snorkel, kayak, raft, scuba, boat and swim free style.

Scores of West Indian manatees huddle near a freshwater spring at Three Sisters Springs. The warm-blooded aquatic creatures which live in the shallow confines of the river seek the warmth of the 72-degree spring water when temperatures plummet. (Matthew Beck/Citrus County Chronicle via AP)

With 327,000 visitors last year, the Crystal River refuge was the 5th most visited in the nation, with sweet, lovable manatees as the main attraction. As hundreds of thousands of humans thrash in the water for a moment of intimacy and, of course, a photo op, the narrow swimming channels the manatees use to come and go are blocked, and studies show that some stay away, not wanting to be bothered by the commotion, PEER said. A concern is that manatees will risk deadly cold gulf waters.

“It is the behavior that doesn’t happen that’s problematic – the manatees that see swimmers crowding the run and don’t enter the spring,” Dumais said.
In a recently adopted assessment to manage manatees, Crystal River didn’t decide to ban all human contact with manatees as PEER wants, but the refuge does take additional steps to protect them. It will close the sanctuary to tourism during extreme cold, when manatees need it most. And it expand an area where humans are prohibited, allowing more manatees to avoid being touched.

Manatee numbers are rebounding now, she said, but history shows that the population of this sensitive creature could take another dive at any time. Nearly 800 were killed in 2010, and an extended cold snap was blamed for 300 of those deaths. Three years later, there were a record 800 deaths. Fish and Wildlife estimates that 99 manatee deaths per year are related to humans. The population’s low in Florida was about 1,400.

[Navy war games face suit over impact on whales, dolphins]

Manatees have been in the state for 45 million years, according to fossil records. They are an offshoot of the West Indian manatee that roams the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to north Brazil, and the Gulf of Mexico from southern Mexico to Colombia. In those areas, they are scattered in much smaller numbers.

They are totally chill. Not known to harm anything, they spend their days diving to dine on sea grasses and fresh water vegetation. But humans harm them with watercraft collisions and boat propellers that slice their skin. Mortality is so common that the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a phone line to report dead manatees.

Floridians call them sea cows, and they have marveled at them and swum with them at the popular Three Sisters Springs at the refuge in Citrus County for decades. In time, tourists from outside the state caught on.

Kayakers at Three Sisters Springs, near the town of Crystal River, watch a manatee swim by. (Andrea Sachs/The Washington Post)

Why allow all those people to swim with manatees and boat around them for just a few bucks? “The boardwalk at Three Sisters Springs … provides an unparalleled opportunity to view manatees in their natural habitat,” Dumais said.

It’s not like manatees are being harmed, said Charles Underwood, public information officer for Fish and Wildlife’s north Florida office, which is in charge of manatee recovery. When they are, even the smallest infraction is dealt with. “We do prosecute any harm to manatees,” he said. Like a group of kids who recently lured a manatees to them with cabbage “and did a cannonball on them. It’s a violation. It was a significant form of harassment.”

Read the original Washington Post article here

Season of luxe: Spring’s interior design trends include color, pattern, opulence

Animal prints, patterns and wood are part of the luxe trend in home furnishings, as seen here at the High Point Market.  Courtesy photo

Animal prints, patterns and wood are part of the luxe trend in home furnishings, as seen here at the High Point Market. Courtesy photo

One of the best ways to see what will be trending for furniture this season is to look at what was on display at the High Point Market in North Carolina. Last October’s show is a prognosticator of the best home furnishings and accessories that we’ll see this spring.

High Point’s “style spotters” took to social media to share their favorite looks, and the definitive High Point Market Style Report summed it all up.

Color and pattern

A pop of color is on trend as the economy perks up, said interior designer and style spotter Mitzi Beach. With designers adding assertive hues, consumers can make bolder color choices. We’ll be seeing a “dramatic color story of rich blood reds, mustard/saffron yellows and peacock teals,” said Studio M president Michelle Jennings Wiebe, style spotter emeritus. A little color goes a long way, so be calculated when adding color, Beach said.

Designers are combining metals, materials and finishes to create statement pieces, whether that means in a dining table or a chandelier. Think of a richly upholstered armchair with brushed copper chair legs. Details will shine in acrylic, copper, brass, lucite and mixed golden hues.

The excitement continues with an explosion of patterns.

“After years of beige, it was revitalizing to see vibrant colors and patterns recapturing the imagination of designers, said designer and style spotter Gary Inman. “Marbleized cottons, florals, stripes, Ikats, paisleys, fretwork and lattice, some painterly, others over-scaled for drama but all with a celebratory complexity. Animal prints, vintage textiles and architectural ornamentation also found their place as fabrics for upholstery and soft furnishings, as well as casegoods and even lighting.”

The sophisticated look of black and white makes a timeless and elegant statement in furnishings and accessories, said Inman. But the in color this spring is blue, ranging from indigo and navy to cobalt and robin’s egg.

Wildly popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, Chinoiserie (“in the Chinese taste”) is on trend this spring. On lacquered and painted furniture, wallpaper and decorative objects, chinoiserie features fanciful, idyllic scenes of elaborately robed figures and imaginary Chinese landscapes.

Feathers and birds have swooped into home furnishings.

“Cast in metal, printed on fabric, wallpaper, pillows, and even stuffed and mounted birds are showing up everywhere. Wings and feathers were also seen across the board — in casegoods, wall art, accessories and lighting,” said interior designer and style spotter Jeanne Chung.

Glamour and comfort

For wood finishes, natural wood is seeing a resurgence after years of being painted over in almost any color of the consumer’s choosing. This spring we’ll see “burl wood cabinets and beautiful faux-painted wood patterns, as well as inlay and interesting wood stain colors. These natural wood looks are an excellent way to ground a room full of painted finishes,” said interior designer and style spotter Denise McGaha.

Traditional furnishings are trending in a big way, but with a more modern spin, said interior designer and style spotter Meredith Heron. The feeling is opulence and luxury.

“Neoclassical motifs, reeded legs, carvings, French polish, hardware that can only be described as stunning jewelry and spectacular wood grains, such as flamed mahogany and rich Italian burl, are most certainly back. We are also seeing ferrules on chair and table legs — an additional layer of glamour that adds a touch of modern to the traditional,” she said.

Consumers are also embracing the merging of the outdoors and indoors with beautiful furnishings that offer comfort and durability.

“As outdoor fabrics take on a more luxurious feel, and indoor furnishings become places to work, eat, read and entertain, we are seeing durable outdoor materials move in as the comfort of indoor furniture steps outside,” Beach said.

Click here to read the original SeaCoastOnline article.