August 08: Design, living a trends for home and garden

August 08: Design, living a trends for home and garden


Basket cases

Although we might not be as resourceful as Depression-era grandmothers with hand-made flour sack aprons, we love the feeling we get from reusing things that look like trash. Baskets and containers from the farmers’ market are a pretty way to organize in the kitchen, bath or office. You’ll find your berries and tomatoes come in very useful woven wood, cardboard and pulp style baskets of various sizes.

Farmers’ market baskets as free organizers for all your loose stuff? Hey, it beats driving to Tysons Corner and spending money at the Container Store.

How to make the most of them? Remove contents when you get home so produce doesn’t bleed into the container or start to break down. Market containers are not meant for rugged use. Pint or quart sizes catch all the small things that get lost in cabinets and drawers, like batteries, eye drops, and sponges under the sink, or loose ends in the office like paperclips, sticky notes and phone chargers.

Use a bushel basket with a handle as a waste bin for sorting junk mail, to contain unwieldy craft supplies like yarn, or as a caddy for cleaning supplies. (If you’re not lucky enough to snag one, craft stores often carry them.) Four-quart-sized baskets can work well for organizing mail or bath supplies. As for containing your enthusiasm for a well-organized home, well, that’s a taller order.—Sarah Jacobson

Scottsville on stage

When The New York Times went on a nationwide search to find great homes listed for $700,000, it was a cabin in our very own Scottsville that made an appearance among two other houses in Arizona and Florida. We agree it’s a sweet place: 2,083 square feet on 45 acres of land, extensive cedar wood work on the siding and staircase, oak beams cozying up the ceiling and a grand stone hearth to finalize the undeniable comfort of this lodge-like getaway. I’m about to drive out there and offer up my own down-payment.

Virginia’s lack of palm trees or saguaros aside, we made a good showing; and if a house-hunter, New Yorker or otherwise, had $700,000 to drop, she’d certainly have a raft of local options.

This house in Scottsville recently had its 15 minutes of fame.

At this moment on the market, you’ve got your 1,807-square-foot Wintergreen condo with three sizeable bedrooms and an equal number of full bathrooms (huh?), plus a killer view of the slopes. Or there’s a charming colonial in the heart of Charlottesville, where $695,000 buys a super-convenient location, four bedrooms and four bathrooms, all on a one-level floor plan with a terraced slate patio. Tea and closing documents, anyone?—Suzanne van der Eijk

Tile trek

In this month’s retail news, there’s one downer Downtown: Christine Magne Antiquaire has closed. 

On a happier note, Virginia Tile has picked up shop and moved to Zion Crossroads, a burgeoning retail center about 17 miles east of Charlottesville. Its old location off Harris Street was charming but cramped. While the new spot will feel more than slightly off the beaten path for Charlottesville customers, they should be pleased with the larger, streamlined facility. Owner Bruce van der Linde says the new showroom is more “self-directed and seamless, with lots more vignettes and displays.” 

While the move is still in progress, those who visit now will find plenty to peruse (including heated tile floors in the bathrooms�"�feel free to de-shoe). Van der Linde says the relocation was prompted by mounting congestion in town and the fact that “[Zion Crossroads] could be the next Short Pump,” as he puts it. 

Van der Linde hopes to keep his Charlottesville customers coming, but complaining commuters won’t get his sympathy: “I live in Earlysville.” 

If you’re thinking of dropping in, van der Linde recommends making an appointment: 817-8453.—Kathryn Faulkner

Power move

What if you want to get your main electrical service line moved to a different point on your house? At our place, this move was necessary because a previous owner had built a second-floor deck right underneath where the powerline swooped from a pole at the edge of the yard toward the house itself. This created a bit of a situation: Anyone standing on the deck could reach out and touch—or walk right into—the service line. This, in the words of our home inspector, was “the most outrageous safety violation I’ve ever seen.” Dubious distinction, to be sure!

After calling our power company to find out what the requirements are for a safe place to attach the line—it has to be a certain height from the ground and a certain distance from the deck—we located a new spot for the so-called weatherhead (the hardware that attaches line to house). From here, the line could run under the deck: safer and less of an eyesore.

Whereas before, the main service line swooped dangerously over the deck, it now attaches to the house beside the deck and travels safely underneath.

Next step: Hire an electrician. This is one of the few projects we D.I.Y.-ers weren’t willing to take on by ourselves. We got two estimates and were glad we did, since one was quite a bit lower. (Luckily, we wouldn’t have to move our meter box. If we had, we would have been paying for a lot more of our electrician’s time.) We also learned that the electrician would have to schedule the power company to turn off the juice, then turn it back on once the work was done. Oh, and there’d be still another party involved: the county building inspector, who’d sign off on the work before the power could be restored.

Bottom line? The electrician was at our house for about six hours and billed us around $500. And we feel much, much safer standing on our deck.—Spackled Egg

Breaking news

This month’s surfer: Paige Mattson, owner of Blue Ridge Eco Shop

What’s on her browser:

What it is: Dubbed the green CNN, is the center for sustainability information. Whether you’re a newbie and think green’s just a color, or you’re president of the neighborhood recycling union, you’ll find something useful among the site’s plethora of news, solutions and product information.

Paige Mattson

Why she likes it: Paige says it’s nice to find a site that is non-biased. Apart from all the up-to-date information of what’s going on in the green community, such as issues coming before Congress, it also provides links to useful resources, like places to buy green.