You’re about to remodel, renovate, fix up, DIY or call a pro, and you’ve got questions! Get answers from design-build expert Mason Hearn, owner of Central Virginia’s HomeMasons.

Jul 03
2008

Trashy Gravel Remedy


Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: landscaping, driveway
 

Mason,

Is there any good way to keep a gravel garden path or driveway free of debris? ... get the kids to pluck the crap out with tweezers?  I can't keep mine clean. Makes me nuts. Any tips?

- Lisa C  Richmond, VA

 

Lisa,

Hmmm.... Tweezers sounds like a good way to keep the teenagers occupied during the summer months.  That aside, I know that most folks prefer their garden maintenance to be a simple as possible.  

From my perspective as "sometimes-garden designer" and "sometimes-yard-grunt", I can suggest to you that you should first specify and install the right type of gravel.  We always advise

Jul 02
2008

Good Design


Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: remodeling, remodeling, design, design

The current issue of dwell magazine includes an essay entitled "What We Talk About When We Talk About Good Design".  What, indeed, is good design

The piece aptly points out that the term is as naïve as it is loaded (surely, too, the same might be said of "good taste" but we'll leave that argument to Martha Stewart and Charley the Tuna).

To prime your pump, quoting from the article:  It suggests such an apparent universality that any of us should be able to spot it.  But implicit in "good design" is a system of values, aesthetics and objects that demonstrate that the seemingly innocuous

Jun 15
2008

Poker & Unlicensed Contractors


Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: value, select contractor, repairs, renovation, remodeling, contractors
 

Who thought the interest in gambling would be so great that the World Series of Poker would be televised on ESPN?  Obviously, somebody's watching.

An interesting point in that regard, quoting Pug Pearson, 1973 World Series of Poker champion, made this observation about human nature:

"The real thing to know is that folks will stand to lose more than they will to win.  That's the most important percentage there is.  I mean, if they lose, they're willin' to lose everything.  If they win, they're usually satisfied to win only enough to pay for dinner and a show..."

I was thinking about this

Jun 08
2008

What is the Value?


Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: value, repairs, renovation, remodeling

One of my favorite entries was lost during some recent website updating, so I thought I'd re-post it here.  The theme appears to be more pertinent than ever as home values have taken a turn unlike that seen in previous years.  Read on...

Somewhere during early conversations with almost every client, we are asked something to the effect of "Do you think we'll build value with our proposed renovation?"

Naturally, I have had plenty of opportunity to build (what I think is) the proper response, which asks the homeowner to dig deeper regarding his or her definition of value.

From my perspective,

Jun 01
2008

One COOL Room - Spot Air Conditioning


Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: HVAC
 

Dear Mason,

We do not like to run our central air during the summer.  Too expensive, and the house stays pretty comfortable without it.  While this anti-AC policy works for most of our living space it is posing a problem for our music room which, for the sake of protecting the instruments, is kept closed off from the rest of house.  No AC means that during the summer, this 12x15 room gets stiflingly hot and stuffy, borderline unusable and very bad for the instruments.  We have considered purchasing a portable air conditioner which has the added advantage of dehumidification. But alas, the

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