Creative Ways To Hide Media and Cords Around Fireplaces

Interview With The Pros Stone Fireplaces tvs and fireplaces

We have customers often asking for some of the best ways to hide media and cords when it comes to installing televisions over fireplaces. Here’s a great ideabook from Houzz that showcases how to get creative when it comes to hiding those cords behind your stone veneer fireplaces!

Remodeling, decorating, and more ?

Home improvement can start with something as minor as installing track lighting or a unique ceiling fan.
Select outdoor furniture to match your style, a designer garden shed or even greenhouses to personalize your landscape.

Interview With The Pros: Pro-Line Exteriors Cement Board Siding

Interview With The Pros Stone Exteriors

Our potential customers frequently ask about how they can refresh the look of their existing home. In many cases the client has older siding that looks faded and dated. The customers love the look of stone and want to incorporate stone with their new siding. Please help us understand the cement board siding and why you recommend Hardie Siding.


1)   What is cement board siding and why has it become so popular?

James Hardie fiber cement siding is made of Portland cement, cellulose fiber, and silica.  Some other companies use fly ash instead of silica.  Fly ash, a combustion by-product, has proven to be a poor constituent because many of the planks have experienced delamination.  James Hardie planks and panels offer the best performance, durability, and look.

 stone siding and hardie board

2)   What are the color and trim options for the cement siding and what are your recommendations for selecting colors? What factors do we need to consider?

The James Hardie ColorPlus Collection offers 23 different siding colors and trim.  ColorPlus finishes come with a 15-year warranty that includes both labor and material.  You can also get a custom color from a third party pre-finisher but the finish warranty is very limited.  The primary factor in choosing between a ColorPlus finish or a third party custom color is this warranty.  ColorPlus comes with the full backing of the James Hardie Corporation; one can only hope the third party pre-finisher will stay in business long enough to honor their very limited warranty.

3)   Please describe the steps of a typical installation job using cement board siding.

The first step is the tear-off of existing siding and installation of the James Hardie house wrap.  After setting the trim (outside corners, inside corners, frieze boards, window trim, etc.) the siding can be installed.  The siding is blind nailed and all seams are covered in a slip sheathing to properly shed incidental moisture.

 stone veneer siding with hardie board

4)   Do we need to get a permit for new siding?  It depends on the municipality and scope of work.  Some don’t require a permit for siding and some do.

Some municipalities also require a house wrap inspection to take place before the siding can be installed.  Even is a siding permit isn’t required some municipalities have license, bond, and insurance requirements.


5)   If I am considering either new windows or new doors, can I still put up my siding first and save the windows and doors for a later project?

Although it is preferable to do the windows first, Hardie siding can be installed in such a way to allow windows to be installed at a later date by installing James Hardie window trim around existing windows.  The optimum exterior renovation, for both function and aesthetics, occurs when the windows and siding are done at the same time.


6)   How does the cost of cement board siding compare to other siding materials and why is it worth the money?

A James Hardie fiber cement siding project is approximately 30% more than standard vinyl and 15-20% more than foam back vinyl.  It is worth the extra investment for many reasons: it holds up much better over time than vinyl; Hardie is non-combustible so the homeowner can get a discount on homeowner’s insurance; it is environmental friendly; and most of all, Remodelers’ Magazine lists James Hardie siding as the number one return on investment among all home renovation projects.

  faux stone siding with hardie board

7)   Do you have a favorite product you like to recommend to your customers and why?

James Hardie fiber cement siding, North Star Stone Veneer and Marvin windows.


8)   Do you like the addition of stone to the front of the home and your siding material?

Absolutely!  Adding North Star Stone to one of our projects creates a substantial “Wow!” factor for the homeowner.  Every homeowner we’ve worked with that did Hardie with the North Star Stone claims that their family members, friends, and neighbors are amazed at their renovation.


9)   Please give us a little background about your company and how our readers can contact you.

Pro-Line Exteriors, Inc. is a family owned and operated company.  The owners, Andy and Mike, do all the estimating, sales, and project oversight.  Our primary focus is exterior re-modeling.  The best is to call 847-710-9996.  Visit their website at

Interview With The Pros: Painting & Color Theory Tips.

Interview With The Pros

Interview With The Pros: Painting & Color Theory Tips

An Interview with Michael Abrams, a premiere interior designer in the Chicagoland area:

Our customers would love to hear your thoughts about selecting paint, paint color and also the use of color in the rest of the room where a new stone veneer fireplace has been added.  A typical setting is a family room with ceiling heights of 8”- 9’, hardwood floors in lighter golden oak color, and the furniture stays the same, but the client is willing to add accent pillows, rugs or other affordable accessories. Please share your thoughts on getting the most for our dollar in a room remodel…

North Star Stone: Where do you start in the planning process? Do we start with desired paint color or maybe select the stone color first and then select the paint?

Michael Abrams: I typically approach a project by selecting an element that will become the foundation of the entire room such a rug or a stone veneer fireplace wall. The paint color is then easy to choose as the more fixed elements are in place and I work with complementing them.

North Star Stone: What are the trends for wall color in a family room? Also do you suggest using an accent color on family room wall? And which wall? Is it the wall with the fireplace?

Michael Abrams: The most popular color today is gray; it’s the beige of this decade and will stand the test of time. I typically do not use accent painted walls. My theory is to keep a space calm and relaxing and pop of color can be jarring. I prefer for “WOW” to be in the form of original artwork or unique architectural detailing. That said I have seen many accent walls that look great; it is just something I do not do.

North Star Stone: What brand of paint do you suggest and why?

Michael Abrams: For the past 14 years since I opened my practice I only use Benjamin Moore paint. There paint is high quality and I have never had a problem finding the perfect color. I am especially drawn to the Historic Collection as well as the Affinity Collection.

North Star Stone: As you plan your new family room, do the colors need to blend with the rest of the house, or can the family room have its own color and feel?

Michael Abrams: I am big believer of continuity and consistent flow throughout a home. While the entire home does not need to be in the same color palette I prefer for the common/public rooms to have a very similar color flow while the private rooms like bedrooms can easily change color direction. The last thing I ever do is have space be a different color.

North Star Stone: Many of the older homes don’t have canned lights and are rather dark. Also as we get older, it seems like our eyes need more light. Any thoughts about lighting in the family room? Also if the room is dark, what paint colors do we use and which paint colors do we avoid?

Michael Abrams: Each room should have a minimum of three (3) light sources, more if you can. This provides for functionality as well mood lighting. If a room is naturally dark or installing multiple light sources are unavailable I would suggest using lighter colors as they reflect light while dark colors absorb it.

North Star Stone: What are your suggestions for painting the ceiling? Do you like a tinted paint color and in what type of color, or do you prefer a ceiling white?

Michael Abrams: I avoid the standard ceiling white as it as harsh as white paper. I have tinted the ceiling paint color in the past. Recently I am painting the ceiling the same color as the trim but in a flat instead of semi-gloss. Painting the ceiling a color or installing a wall covering on it is another to dress up the fifth major surface besides the four walls.

North Star Stone: What are the advantages of hiring a professional painter? Any painting tips for the DYI homeowner for getting great results?

Michael Abrams: When it comes to painting I suggest hiring a professional. The majority of work associated with a quality paint job is in the preparation. It takes almost no time to apply the paint but it can take several days to prepare the walls properly to receive it, resulting in an outstanding result. If you are a DYI homeowner purchase the right tools and materials and scrape, patch and sand the walls thoroughly to receive the paint.


Learn more about Michael Abrams and his interior design creations on his website.

Become a fan of Michael on Facebook!  (We did!)