A dash of color for home, garden

March 05, 2009|By SUSAN REIMER

There was a recent newspaper cartoon in which a character stuck part of his arm out the window to test the winter air, and when he pulled his arm back in, it was gray.

It was quite the opposite of a sunburn, and the perfect illustration of how we are all feeling now.

The Maryland Home & Garden Show offers its own antidote to the gray of winter this weekend and next with "The Joy of Color." More than 400 exhibitors in home-decorating and landscape design will demonstrate what a difference just a splash of color can make.

There will also be a variety of new products and services plus a reminder of what has worked in the garden for generations. The show takes place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Here are a few highlights:

* Hot pictures. Roger Blitz of Mercury Ventures uses an infrared camera to take thermal pictures of the interior of your home so that you can "see" where you are leaking energy - through drafty windows or places in walls and ceilings that are not insulated. His photographic tour can also spot "hot" circuits that may need the attention of an electrician.

* Uplifting experience. Roger Gough's company, Preferred Elevators, installs a new product called Versa Lift. It is a drop-down device that can lift heavy items into - or down from - an attic. "It can lift 200 pounds 16 feet," said Gough. "You still have to go up and down the attic steps, but you don't have to carry anything."

* Perennial favorites. Heuchera. Tierella. Spiderwort. Asters. Goldenrod. All of these are native plants, designed by nature to survive the hot, dry summers of Maryland, says Kirsten Johnson, president of the Maryland Native Plant Society. Her organization can help you choose plants that will attract and sustain birds and wildlife and won't stress the local ecosystem.

* Taken for granite. Lisa Gerhardt's company, Granite Transformations, installs granite countertops over existing kitchen or bathroom counters. The new countertop is a shell, which uses less natural material and is less expensive than the real thing, and no messy renovation is required. On the Web, go to granitetransformations.com/index.aspx.

* Around the fireplace. Jay Dahl's company, Artistic Surrounds, creates casts of fireplace surrounds that are less expensive than stone or brick. Dahl can also re-create the grand mantels found in historic Baltimore homes that would be difficult and costly to replicate. On the Web, go to artisticsurrounds.com.

* Window dressing. Ben and Tom Johnson of Stained Glass Overlay create custom-designed, handmade stained-glass windows that can be fitted over existing windows, preserving the energy efficiency of the original window. On the Web, go to sgosomd.com/about_us.htm.

* Concrete suggestion. Concrete is the hot new option for outdoor floors and kitchen countertops. Steve Smith's company, Artistic Concrete, uses "acid staining" to bring out colors and patterns in concrete and create a surface that can resemble marble or natural stone. On the Web, go to artisticconcretellc.com.

And for such large projects as a new home or an addition, check out Sustainable Design Group and Maryland Modular Design. The former uses materials such as packed-earth bricks and rainwater to build environmentally friendly homes. On the Web, go to sustainabledesign.com.

Maryland Modular Design builds homes and additions. Its construction time and labor costs are less than those associated with on-site construction. On the Web, go to mdmodular.com.

if you go

The Maryland Home & Garden Show takes place this weekend and next weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium. Hours are 4 p.m.-9 p.m. tomorrow; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. March 13-14; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 15. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6-12. Children younger than 6 get in free. Go to mdhomeandgarden.com or call 410-863-1180.

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