Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Stone Fireplace

Fall is here and if you want to add some decor to your fireplace, you have a lot of different options available to you. The fireplace is an area of the home that is generally decorated with the current season in mind. Even if you do not decorate at all during the rest of the year, fall is the best time of year to do it because during the colder, winter months, your fireplace is a key focal point in your home. You may be enjoying several cozy nights by the fire in the next few months and you want your fireplace to look the best it can be all season long.

Incorporate Fall Colors

The easiest way you can decorate for fall is by using some traditional fall colors. You should look for decorations that feature some darker and muted oranges, yellow, red, and more. Essentially, fall colors are colors you would see on trees that are changing colors so you should look for items that feature these colors. It should not be very difficult during this time of year as decor featuring these colors will be everywhere you would normally shop for decor.

SHOPPING FOR FALL FIREPLACE DECOR

There’s tons of places you can find beautiful decor for your fireplace this fall. Some of our favorites are listed below:

Amazon! Of course! Amazon has some great deals right now on fireplace decor for the upcoming holidays.

World Market- They have some great finds from all over the world. Priced well, World Market has up to date styles, beautiful unique finds and so much more. If you look in the sidebar of this article, you’ll find a link with a 10% off coupon!

Home Goods – Always a good go-to for home decor items, HomeGoods has just about anything and everything you could ever need. If you don’t mind waiting in line for a while, you can save some serious dough on your new fireplace goodies!

And Last But Not Least:

At Home – There’s one in Schaumburg, and we swear- when you enter this massive home discount store, you will not want to leave. You’ll get sucked into the beautiful, discount vortex of AtHome, and never, ever want to leave. You name it, and they have it. Everything from flowers and floral decor to lighting and pictures, this store literally has everything you would ever need to make your stone fireplace beautiful. Good luck getting out of the store in less than an hour!

Focus on the Holidays

If you like to celebrate any holidays during the fall and early winter, you may want to try decorating specifically for these holidays. For example, if you celebrate Halloween or Diwali, you may want to put out some holiday specific items during this time. You can easily do this by adding a few small and subtle pumpkins for Halloween or even adding some fake spider webs. It does not have to be overwhelming unless you want it to be. Feel free to go all out if you want to or just add some basic fall colors, as mentioned before, and then a few items that hint towards the holiday.

Bring the Outside In

One of the best things about fall is that there are so many outdoor activities that you can do with your family. You may want to go to a pumpkin patch, through a corn maze, or simply on a nice fall walk through your local nature trails. You may spend a lot of great time in the crisp, fall air but that does not mean that your time outside has to end there. Many people actually bring some outside items inside their home for decoration. Not only is this inexpensive but it can also look great. Some examples of this would be bringing in some pine cones, gourds, pumpkins, and more. You also have options when it comes to these items. You can place them on your fireplace mantel for decoration as is or you can spray paint them a fall color or even a subtle gold for even more of a pop.

Don’t Forget the Stone Fireplace Hearth

When decorating your fireplace, it can be easy to only focus on the mantle at the top but you should not forget about the hearth. You can do something simple and elegant to bring the entire decoration idea together. Whether you want to put a fireplace screen that has some hints of fall design in front of the opening or you want to add some fall vases with plants, real or fake, you can really tie everything together in an elegant and classic fall way.

Your fireplace is a main focal point in your home, especially when the temperatures drop outside. Using these tips, you can ensure it is not an eyesore but an area of your home that you can be proud of.

Regardless of how you decide to decorate your stone fireplace, we can help you make it gorgeous with the addition of new stone veneer for your fireplace. With hundreds of styles and colors to choose from, our stone can breathe new life into your old fireplace. We can often update it in less than 3 days, with very little mess, and incredibly talented masons who will leave you with a gorgeous new fireplace that your friends and family will rave about. Get a free estimate today for updating your fireplace with our custom stone veneer and see how we can help you make your fireplace the focal point of the room it was meant to be!

Favorite Fall Stone Veneer Fireplaces:

5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace

Remember when you were little and had your first tooth pulled? Probably your mom or dad told you that the dentist would make it painless with Novocain. Then you saw the unexpected needle coming and discovered novo-pain.

Daily life is full of surprises that arise because someone fails to tell us something. Thunderbolts of bewilderment may even strike when you are in the process of selling your home, because your realtor fails to share the following tips.

Ask for a Short Contract

One reason why people say “locked in” when forming a contract with a realtor is because it can feel like you are serving time if the relationship sours. This may happen, for example, if your property stays on the market so long you must lower the sale price.

You may begin to doubt whether the realtor priced your property correctly or is doing enough to market it.

Consequently, when your realtor suggests a contract of six months or longer, be brave. Ask for something shorter, such as a standard minimum of 90 days. In tight markets favoring sellers, you may want to ask for even less.

Help Write Your Listing

You know your home and neighborhood best. You may also know how to write better than your realtor. So, offer to help compose or proofread the real estate listing for your home’s sale. This probably isn’t something your realtor would emphasize, but you can put the extra touches on it that your realtor just may not be able to.

Expect Unexpected Costs

No realtor can predict all the costs that will arise when selling your home, such as a bathtub refinishing job that leads to a subcontractor’s pitch for a far more expensive bathroom remodel or any of the hundreds of things that could come up in a home inspection.

Work together with your realtor to estimate how much you can afford to spend on these unexpected costs prior to listing. The budget will depend on a break-even calculation. Beware of anyone who suggests you can break even based on a sale price that meets your equity. To avoid being in the red, the sale price also should cover home improvement expenditures and myriad closing costs.

Invest in Stone Veneer Versus a Bathroom

Now to get back to the bathroom makeover: It’s true that buyers are attracted to homes with new bathrooms. Yet that improvement may not provide the greatest value versus investment.

It’s your wallet, so pay attention to payback. One valuable tool is Remodel magazine’s annual Cost Vs Value Report, which provides statistics about what you can expect to gain financially from investment in a wide range of remodeling projects.

The report divides the nation into regions. Illinois is part of the East North Central Region where payback for a bathroom remodel this year is 57% of cost. In contrast, the addition of stone siding returns 79%. 79%!!!! That’s pretty awesome. We’re a little biased, but we think you should consider updating your fireplace or your home exterior over your bathroom.

Stone veneer exterior siding options are lighter weight than full stone construction yet provide the same distinguished look. Mom was right — first impressions matter.

Don’t Nap Before a Showing

One thing nobody ever tells you is how intensely exhausting it can be to sell a home, which must shine for showing at all times.

Aside from tiring of 24/7 cleaning, you may feel overwhelmed by constantly packing up all evidence of habitation, including your cranky toddler and pets.

Your realtor probably never warned you it is a big, big mistake to set your alarm clock and lay down for a quick catnap even two hours before a showing. You may wake up to strangers who discover you, the baby and Fido snoozing on the couch. No sale!

Think About Staying Put

Once your stone exterior is in place and you’ve further indulged in the kind of equally distinguished stone fireplace renovation Chicago homes deserve, you may want to drop the idea of selling and take a nap without interruptions.

In all seriousness, selling a home can be very stressful. Making sure you’ve taken the time to do your homework, and have an open line of communication with your realtor can really benefit you in the long term. If you’re in the process of getting your home ready to sell, and are looking at making some quick updates that will increase your home’s value, consider adding stone veneer to your home’s exterior or updating your fireplace. That 79% return on updating your siding with stone veneer can really pay off.

If you need an estimate for your stone siding, we’re here for you! Give us a call or send us a message here. And did we mention we’re fast? We can update a fireplace in as little as 2 days! If you’re in a hurry to sell, and still want to make some quick updates to your home’s siding or fireplace, we can work with you to get it done quickly- and beautifully. Our stone helps homes sell!

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Today’s thin cut stone veneer looks like the real thing.  However, it is manufactured from concrete, a combination of Portland cement and aggregate molded in rubber casts that capture the texture of real stone. Ground pigments provide its natural looking colors.

Lightweight fireplace stone veneer weighs far less than real stone, so it’s possible to construct rustic, historical looking surrounds that may even reach from floor to ceiling. It is a modern miracle that can give homes a historical look.

But dig deep enough into the past, and you discover that what seems new started in ancient times.

Ancient Synthetic Basalt

Many articles have commented on the strange trifecta of chance that an archeologist with the last name of “Stone” representing the State University of New York at Stony Brook, discovered the first evidence of artificial stone.

In 1998, The New York Times reported that Dr. Elizabeth C. Stone had identified slabs found a decade earlier in southern Iraq as being artificial basalt. Her team uncovered the find in the ruins of Mashkan-shapir, a Mesopotamian city that existed 4,000 years ago and had no basalt quarries.

Although real stone was scarce, basaltic river silt was plentiful in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dr. Stone theorizes that artisans melted the silt to create material for construction and stones used in grinding grain.

Historical Uses of Stone Veneer

Concrete was an invention of the Roman Empire. The ancient conquerors used it as the underlying structural material supporting more attractive brick and stone veneers in buildings such as the Coliseum. The art of making concrete disappeared at the fall of the Roman Empire after 400 AD.

About 1,300 years later, a British engineer devised a new formula. Thin stone veneer construction with real, hand-tooled stone reappeared in the late 19th century.

By the early 20th century, most natural stone veneer work was limited to building interiors, but the exterior of the Empire State Building is an example of heavy limestone veneer over brick and steel.

Arrival of Manufactured Thin Veneer

Natural stone veneer is about four times the weight of thin veneer product. This makes it more difficult to support on walls and more expensive to ship and to purchase.

RELATED: Control Dust & Dirt During A Home Remodeling Project

In contrast, today’s concrete stone fireplace veneer is affordable and supportable for many kinds of construction projects from commercial to residential.

Thin veneer manufactured stones vary in thickness from about 1 to 3 inches depending on the stone on which they are styled. They have become increasingly durable and realistic looking since introduction in the early 1960s.

The color of some manufactured thin veneer may fade faster than others due to being spray painted with pigment. However, at North Star Stone, we infuse the pigment during the curing process so it permeates the stones and looks natural.

North Star also hand assembles fireplace walls and smaller surrounds to avoid repetitive patterns. We strive for the highest craftsmanship while also making a luxurious look affordable.

For more information about the many kinds of fireplace veneer and designs available for your project, please contact us at North Star Stone. Let’s make it an important moment in the history of your home.

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

When plentiful, dust can make anyone sneeze and cover mouth and nose to avoid inhaling it. Construction sites are well known for powdery particulate. Architects and builders often refer to clients who stay in their homes during a remodeling project as “living in the dust.”

But home during indoor remodeling, such as construction of a stone veneer fireplace surround, there are several ways to control dust. This is especially important if family members have asthma.

Here are some practical measures you can handle or negotiate with your contractor to minimize construction dust.

Create Dust Barriers & Isolate Work Area

The first step in limiting the spread of construction dust is to erect clear, plastic dust barriers closing off openings from the work area to other parts of the house. This task may be as simple as hanging heavy mil plastic sheeting over doors or separating spaces with plastic wall systems, such as ZipWalls.

If there is furniture in the work space that can’t be moved elsewhere, it should also be covered to avoid dust from polluting upholstery.

Furthermore, isolating a stone fireplace work area includes moving any sawing outdoors if weather allows. It also requires delivering building materials to the remodeling space via a route that minimizes spreading dust to other parts of the home.

Construction dust clings to work clothing, so another wise step is to ask your contractor to limit worker access to other parts of your home.

Cover Walls, Flooring & Furniture

Next, you need to make sure your floors in the remodeling area — whether carpeted or bare — are covered wall to wall with rosin paper (a recyclable paper building product), thick plastic or drop cloths. Final cleanup will be much easier if walls in the remodeling area are covered floor to ceiling.

Prepping Your HVAC System

Not all homes have forced-air heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, but if yours does, precautions during construction projects include limiting the amount of dust that gets into ducts.

If your project occurs when temperatures are moderate, it’s a good idea to shut down your HVAC system for a few days during the stone veneer fireplace remodel. This includes closing or covering the work area’s air supply and return registers in the walls and floor. However, workers still need air circulation, so open a window for fresh air.

Stone veneer fireplace projects generally take less than a week to complete. During winter installation, it may be best to keep the HVAC running even if you aren’t staying at home. It keeps the house warm for your return and helps any moist construction materials, such as grout, to dry more quickly.

In cold weather, the registers in the work area can be closed, and the contractor can bring in a portable electric heater. Or the register grills can be partially closed and covered with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) furnace filters. To further capture any fine dust in ducts on return flow, install a HEPA filter in place of your regular furnace filter.

Capture Dust with HEPA Air Scrubbers

At any time of year, a portable HEPA air scrubber may be the best solution for keeping indoor construction dust from drifting through your house. It also captures any gases and airborne chemicals released by construction materials.

No ducting is attached to the air scrubber, which is placed in the center of the work space. It sucks in dirty air, then releases clean air. This is particularly important in older homes that may contain asbestos or lead in old construction materials removed during stone veneer remodeling.

HEPA air scrubbers contain a series of filters. The first stage of filtration is handled by a pre-filter that absorbs larger particles. Frequent replacement of the pre-filter protects the efficiency of the primary filter. If you add a carbon filter, it can absorb smelly gases and vapors.

As the Proud Green Home website notes, HEPA air scrubbers “meet standards that remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to the size of 0.3 microns.” A micron is a millionth of a meter or about .00004 inches wide. Due to their filtering power, air scrubbers are expensive. Yet home improvement stores make access to them more affordable through rental.

Specify & Share Cleanup

At the end of each work day, contractors for any indoor construction project should minimally vacuum up dust. (Sweeping with a broom sends much of the dust flying.) Then careful removal and disposal of floor and wall coverings, as well as dust barriers, follows at the end of the project.

The next step, generally handled by the homeowner or a house cleaner you hire, is to damp mop walls and hard flooring and deep vacuum carpeting. Finally, to avoid circulating any construction dust that remains in your home, continue to use a HEPA filter for your furnace for about two weeks, changing the filter at least three times.

Seek More Information

For any questions you may have about stone veneer fireplaces, please contact us at North Star Stone. You’ll also find answers to frequently asked questions at our website. We want to help you and your family breathe easy about home improvement.

In the meantime, check out our stone veneer fireplace galleries for some great ideas and see how other families updated their fireplaces with North Star Stone veneer.

Sources:

http://www .hou zz.co m/ideabooks/46866556/list/what-to-know-about-controlling-dust-during-remodeling

https://www .angieslist.com/articles/8-ways-protect-your-hvac-during-remodeling.htm

http://buildc lean.com/images/Best-Practices.pdf

http://www.aconco  rdcarpenter.com/how-to-protect-vents-from-remodeling-dust.html

http://www6 .hom edepot.com/tool-truck-rental/Hepa_Air_Scrubber_with_Filters/F284/

http://www.jondo n.com/flood-restoration/air-scrubber

https://www.drie az.c om/Uploads/DECA/GTAS.pdf

http://www.bacteria- world.co m/how-big-micron.htm

http://answers.angi eslist.com/Do-contractors-typically-clean-remove-dust-installing-drywall-skim-coating-walls-q54293.aspx

 

 

Get What You Pay For!

Get What You Pay For!

Inspiration Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

You know that expression you get what you pay for?  It’s true. 

 

stone-wine-celar

 

Once our customers find out that we custom color every batch of stone to their specifications they start to understand we are doing something special at North Star Stone. Clients will bring in a sample of paint, flooring, fabric or window coverings to help create the perfect color of stone. Then we discuss the shape of the stone to create the mood of the room. You don’t get this level customer service at Home Depot, Lowes or most of the specialty stone yards.

 

Schaumburg_stone_veneerNorthbrook_stone_veneer
 

When it comes to installation some potential customers will hire contractors that are a handyman and assure the client they can lay the stone. Just make sure they know the proper methods of preparing the work surface and use the proper adhesive. (Yes, the DIY’er can install the stone but the trick is taking your time).

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Our masons have been laying stone for many years and typically only lay stone with a focus on stone veneer. The skill the masons bring to the project includes blending the proper color, shape, texture and size in a pattern that is random, not in a straight line and is not splotchy.  Each mason has a slightly different way of laying stone and that is why no two fireplaces will ever look the same, but they will all look beautiful when completed by our masons.

Additionally, we pay our masons a fair wage so they can live comfortably, the crews are all insured and a certificate of insurance can always be issued if there is a customer request.

Dry Stack Stone Fireplace 23

 

When you are reviewing your estimates for a fireplace, review our past projects and customer reviews. Did you know that North Star Stone has an A+ rating from the BBB and over 65 FIVE Star Ratings  on Houzz? We are proud of our custom made stone and the men that install the stone and the unusually high level of customer service.

Kildeer Long_Grove

Please call us at 847-996-6850 and let us help you with your next stone project.

 

Eco-Friendly Landscaping & Stone Veneer Ideas That Will Help You Rock Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Eco-Friendly Landscaping & Stone Veneer Ideas That Will Help You Rock Your Home’s Curb Appeal

eco-friendly-homes Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace

Stone is all the rage these days. Recalling the old-time carriage houses and mansions of the East Coast and the Old World, many people are turning to exterior stone to give their homes an instant facelift and the charm that comes with all things antique.

Paired with this emphasis on the antiquated is an equally strong desire to be forward-thinking and protect our Planet Earth. One of the best ways to marry these two values with your home is to design an ecological landscape that matches your home’s outward appearance. If you would like to match your landscape to your home the “green” way, here are five environmentally friendly ideas to help you do it.

1. Match Existing Siding to Exterior Stone

Cobble Stack Stone 11

Our Cobble Stack Stone Veneer

Exterior stone is one of the best ways to give your home an instant makeover without requiring demolishing parts of it and using a bunch of chemically treated building supplies or other toxic materials. Instead, you can simply install stone veneer which can be applied right over a rigid surface like plywood, concrete block or brick. Siding that has ridges would have to be removed first.

Once you do, it’s easy to match any stone you use in your hardscaping to the color of your home. You can either choose to match very closely (we custom color stone veneer!), or you can use colors in the same tonal range – think beige stone with hints of burgundy paired with the off-white colored slate on your patio.

Check Out Our Stone Veneer Color Sample Boards HERE

2. Pick Plants That Complement Stone Color

exterior siding 01

You can also complement your stone veneer siding with plants in the yard. If you opt for blue tones, for instance, then planting Mediterranean herbs such as sage, rosemary and oregano will always look beautiful and be easy maintenance (just water them every day to every other day and pick/trim them every once in a while and they will keep growing!).

When it comes to trees and bushes, evergreens such as blue spruce, arbor vitae and juniper all have dark and cool tones that will offset your stone, no matter what color you choose for your stone. For flowers, you really can’t go wrong no matter what colors! Pick the colors that make you feel happy and will complement your exterior all summer long.

ECO TIP: Use Rain Barrels To Collect Water! More on that and other water saving tips for your home here

3. Opt for Water-Wise Herbs, Grasses and Succulents

Plants that don’t need a lot of water accomplish multiple goals. For one thing, they reduce the impact of using a precious resource. For another, they save you a lot of time and trouble, because once established, they can survive with only the rainwater available in your region. Hardy herbs, grasses and sedges, and succulents and cactuses are all great options.

Check Out Our Large Selection Of Stone Veneer Styles HERE

4. Use Stone Veneer for Outdoor Accents

unnamed (19)Once you’ve picked the exterior stone you love on your house, you can always match your other outdoor installations to it. Using the same shade and style of stone veneer on your shed or mailbox is a beautiful effect. On the other hand, if you have a visible chimney on the outside of your home, you might consider covering it with fireplace stone that stands in contrast to the rest of the exterior stone on your home: a nice dark brown color stone veneer for the chimney, say, paired with blue or tan stone on the rest of the home.

Take A Look At Some Of Our Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplaces To Match Your Home’s Exterior Stone

5. Match Landscaping Rock to Your Facade And Rock Your Curb Appeal

stone veneerLandscaping with gravel, rocks and pebbles is a great way to reduce the amount of water and time you need to devote to your yard. Choose rocks that work well with the color of your home’s exterior, to create a visually appealing effect from the street. You could even line a fountain with stone pieces or scatter natural river rock around the outside of a pond. As long as the shades are in the same color family, the effect will be beautiful.

See? Who knew it could be so easy to plan an environmentally friendly yard that looks beautiful and helps the planet? Now you’ve got tons of ideas for your next eco-friendly outdoor update. Stay tuned for the next in our latest Eco-Friendly series coming soon!

Are you thinking of adding stone veneer to your home? We can help you get ideas. From updating your fireplace with stone to adding to updating your home’s exterior siding with stone, we can help. Contact us here! 

Adding Value To Your Home With Stone Veneer

Adding Value To Your Home With Stone Veneer

Stone Fireplace Stone Interior Stone Veneer

As a homeowner, you probably look for ways to add to your home’s value and your overall satisfaction with your home on a regular basis. Not all “home improvement projects” are created equal, though, as some are more worthwhile than others. One home improvement project that will yield the most return on your investment is adding stone veneer to your home in some form. According to Yahoo Real Estate, you can yield up to a 92.2% return on your investment when you incorporate veneer siding into your home’s facade. Now that you know it’s a worthwhile investment, you might wonder how to go about adding stone to your home. Thankfully, we can help you with this. Read below for some ways to incorporate stone into your home:

Exterior Stone Siding:

In most cases, you can easily have stone installed on the exterior of your home. This creates a rich look that exudes class and luxury, while dramatically improving your home’s curb appeal. It will also help your home stand out from the others around it that feature plain vinyl or clapboard siding. Moreover, it creates the illusion that your home is built out of stone, increasing its value and appeal.

Keep in mind, exterior stone doesn’t have to be only in the form of siding. You can instead use veneer stone as an accent on your home’s exterior. You can do this by creating stone pillars on the porch, having a stone accent wall added to the front of your home, or use it to cover up unattractive foundation. The idea is to incorporate stone into your home’s exterior in small amounts. Doing this will break up the long lines of a ranch or add style and flair to an otherwise dull exterior. In other words, it gives the exterior of your home a little boost.

Fireplace Stone:

Another way to incorporate stone into your home is adding a fireplace and using stone veneer to cover the visible parts of that fireplace. You can install beautiful fireplace stone in your living room or can create an outdoor patio fireplace using stone. This trend of creating an outdoor fireplace is extremely popular right now. Of course, you could add both versions for even more appeal. Just imagine yourself sitting alongside a crackling fire enjoying a pleasant evening at home. What is more relaxing than that?

A fireplace will also give you the benefit of heating your home without the use of electricity, and in Chicago, that is a huge selling point. However, if the idea of a true wood burning fireplace doesn’t appeal to you, you can always add an electric or gas fireplace that provides warmth and gives the illusion of a fireplace.

Veneer stone is ideal for electric or gas fireplaces, as it gives it a more authentic look. This will make your electric or gas fireplace easily mistaken for a real, wood burning fireplace, but you won’t have to deal with the hassle associated with those units. Furthermore, adding a fireplace, whether it be wood burning, gas or electric, is a good move when it comes to increasing your home’s value, since according to a National Home Builders report, fireplaces rank in the top three desired amenities by homebuyers.

Adding stone to your home in some form or fashion is a great way to improve your home’s curb appeal and to increase its overall value. It also will ensure you love your home more than you ever have before. Therefore, the next time you are thinking about improving your home, consider adding stone through one of the methods listed above.

Seven Things You Should Do To Vet a Contractor Before They Work On Your Home

Seven Things You Should Do To Vet a Contractor Before They Work On Your Home

Home Improvements Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

Remodeling your home and (like getting a new or updated stone fireplace) is an investment, but it’s one that will pay off over the long-term. Your property’s curb appeal increases, making the whole street more appealing. If you ever decide to move out, the improvements made could increase your home’s resale value. However, the difference between a gorgeous residence that should be on the cover of a home improvement magazine and one that looks shoddy and poorly-done is the contractor who does the work.

If you plan on hiring a contracting company to give your home a makeover, you have to be careful. You want to ensure that the work is quality and something that you can proudly show off for years to come. By asking the right questions and doing some research, you can find a reputable contracting company renowned for its work.

Here’s Seven Ways To Vet A Home Remodeling Contractor

1. Create a Plan of Attack — Home remodeling can be a project that goes on for weeks or months. Your life is going to be somewhat disrupted in the middle of the work. However, no one needs to be woken up bright and early at 6 a.m. on a Saturday because the construction workers are here. Make a plan. Ask whether your contractor will work during weekday mornings, afternoons, and nights and whether they will be here on weekends.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate — The contractor themselves won’t always be on-site working on your property. They have other clients. However, you should always be able to reach them. Before any work begins, ask if it’s best to contact the contractor by phone, email, or even text message. Communication should occur regularly, daily if not weekly, to let you know how the work is progressing.

3. Keep the House Safe — In the middle of the work, walls, floors, fireplace stone, and other parts of the home may be exposed. Besides that, you don’t want your family breathing in dust or tripping over debris. The contractor should have a good plan in place for keeping exposed items covered and your family safe.

RELATED: 4 Great iPhone Apps For Home Improvement

4. Get an Early Quote — You shouldn’t have to nervously guess how much your home construction will cost once the project is underway. Your contractor should offer you a quote before any work begins so you can decide whether this project is within your budget.

5. Plan for Emergencies — Even if you never have an emergency situation on your hands, you should be able to get in touch with your contractor once their company has closed up shop for the day. Don’t forget to give them your personal phone number if they ever have to call you. There were no Copyscape matches found.

6. Ensure There’s Room on the Street — Do your next-door neighbors work from home each Tuesday and Thursday? Does trash day clog up your street? If there’s going to be a reason the contractor and their team can’t get their truck on your street, you need to let them know so they can figure out an alternate parking situation.

7. Discuss Access When You’re Not Home — You can’t possibly be home for the duration of the project. How will the contractor get inside? Maybe create a spare keypad access code or let them know where you keep your extra key.

Source
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/25030494/list/10-things-to-discuss-with-your-contractor-before-work-starts, http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/14602570/list/10-things-to-ask-your-contractor-before-you-start-your-project

Stone Fireplace Mantels- More Than Just A Shelf

Stone Fireplace Mantels- More Than Just A Shelf

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Perhaps the most important and necessary accessory associated with a home’s stone fireplace is the mantel. Nothing completes the fulfilling picture of a welcoming hearth more than that focal point that can be created by what is showcased on a mantel. While the family photographs and other personal items that grace this special shelf can tell the story of a home’s occupants, the way a mantel is constructed and the materials with which it is constructed can also speak volumes about a home, its occupants, and the homeowner’s personal sense of style and design.

In an effort to learn more about mantels, specifically handcrafted, wood mantels, North Star Stone recently spoke with Gerry

Gerry, in our Libertyville Stone Fireplace Showroom

Gerry, in our Libertyville Stone Fireplace Showroom

Hamm, owner of G.H. Woodworking and Sawmill, Inc. in Wauconda, IL. Self-taught, Gerry is a mantel expert as well as skilled carpenter and craftsman who we regularly recommend to North Star Stone customers seeking the perfect mantel to compliment the exquisite look of our highly customizable stone veneer products.  Gerry’s beautifully constructed mantels can be found in homes all over the Chicagoland area. 

Choices are many when it comes to selecting and or designing the perfect wood mantel. Personal tastes vary and fortunately there is a wood option out there for everybody. One may prefer the outdoorsy look of rugged, reclaimed timber while something more traditional and refined like Cherry or Alder is more in step with a home’s decor. When it comes to creating mantels for his clients, Gerry utilizes his 25 years of experience as well as his love for reclaimed materials such as repurposed wood. Gerry is also a fan of white oak (Quercus alba), which comes from the tree of the same name.  Indigenous to the United States, Gerry likes working with the white oak because of its versatility, beauty, and weather resistance. Never one for taking the easy road when it comes to constructing his one-of-a-kind pieces, Gerry finds that the more challenging a piece is to create, the more satisfying it is.

Check Out Some Of Our Stone Fireplace Mantel Options

 

White Oak Tree- Gerry's Favorite Type Of Wood For Fireplace Mantels

White Oak Tree- Gerry’s Favorite Type Of Wood For Fireplace Mantels

When it comes time to design or purchase the perfect mantel for your home Gerry has some practical advice to share. According to Gerry it is important to realize that the mantelpiece “is a focal point and should be in contrast to background – so it sticks out!” Fortunately, when paired with stone veneer, which allows for an abundance of color customization, it is easy to ensure your mantel stands out beautifully. Working with a designer can also ensure the mantel you select is unique to you and your home and not of the cookie-cutter variety. Additionally, even though a mantel can be as long as one wishes, Gerry explains that a typical mantel is between 60 and 66 inches in length. Widths can also vary depending on one’s needs. Gerry also suggests that if you plan on placing your television on or near a mantel to make sure that a “power source is available.”

Taking the time to find a quality, beautifully crafted fireplace mantel will not only help bring your own personal seasonal expressions to life but will also add charm and character to your home for the rest of the year as well. If you are interested in adding a custom mantel to your new stone veneer fireplace, call our stone experts at North Star Stone at 847-996-6850.

 

More Than Masonry – The Beauty and Versatility of Pre-Fabricated Fireplaces

More Than Masonry – The Beauty and Versatility of Pre-Fabricated Fireplaces

Home Improvements Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

Fireplaces aren’t just for homes with brick and mortar chimneys and hearths anymore. In fact, homes that do not even have chimneys can enjoy the beauty and comfort of a fireplace. With skilled assistance the options for installing and owning the fireplace of one’s dreams is easier then one might think. To learn more about the versatility of today’s wide array of fireplace options and accessories, we took a moment to speak with Neal Kaplan of Fireplace Plus. Founded on the idea that the public deserved higher-quality fireplace options, Neal and his family have owned and operated Fireplace Plus in suburban Vernon Hills, Illinois for 25 years, with another location in Downtown Chicago. Here at North Star Stone we have had the pleasure of being able to collaborate with Neal, who has helped us beautifully bring to fruition some of our customized stone veneer fireplace projects. Neal graciously took a moment out of his busy day to share with us his knowledge and experience in the sophisticated and highly creative world of fireplaces.

For decades, Neal and his team have been providing the Chicagoland area with the extremely safe, high quality pre-fabricated wood burning, direct vent and vent free fireplaces. One of the amazing benefits of pre-fabricated fireplaces is that not only do they install quickly but they allow homeowners to have the look and feel of a beautiful fireplace without the expense of having to construct a brick and masonry chimney to support the smoke and other exhaust that comes with a fire. What is even more amazing about these pre-fabricated fireplaces are the great options available:

Wood burning. Heating power and sophistication are considerations when selecting the right wood-burning fireplace. Wood burning fireplaces allow users to take advantage of a renewable resource while also enjoying the pleasant aroma of burning wood. Design options exist to fit every taste. Fireplace Plus specializes in products by IHP/Superior. Nothing goes together better than the warmth of a roaring wood fire and the luxury of a dignified stone fireplace.

Pre-fabricated firebox

Pre-fabricated firebox

Direct Vent

A direct vent fireplace is a fully enclosed chamber that draws combustion from outside air. Natural gas or propane is used to keep the fire burning. Beautifully complimented by a stone fireplace, there are many styles and sizes of direct vent fireplaces available; classic or modern, the choices are endless. When it comes to trusted brands, Neal at Fireplace Plus prefers Napoleon. For those considering the direct vent route, recent government safety mandates have made it a requirement that all fully enclosed, direct vent fireplaces have a safety screen in place.

Pre fabricated stone fireplace

This is direct vent and has gas and logs.

Vent Free

Vent free fireplaces, like their direct vent cousins, also use natural gas or propane. However, they do not require a chimney or vent, which makes them quite unique. Generally compact, a vent free fireplace can go almost anywhere in your home. Styles and sizes are also plentiful. If shopping at Fireplace Plus you can find vent free fireplaces from Lennox Hearth, Napoleon and Empire.

stone veneer fireplace wood

Non masonry firebox that burns wood

Custom Doors

The fun doesn’t end once the fireplace has been selected. Next comes finding the perfect doors to compliment your new fireplace. Fireplace plus specializes in doors and offers an extensive variety from custom and semi-custom to premium. When it comes time to selecting the right door, Fireplace Plus will come out to your home and measure your space at your convenience.

Other Options

Once your perfect fireplace has been installed, don’t forget to beautify your fireplace even further by adding stone veneer. Not only does stone veneer act, feel and look like real stone – it is highly customizable. Pick from a palette of colors and stone styles to add elegance, sophistication and charm to your home’s fireplace. When considering stone veneer, remember that North Star Stone and their highly experienced staff are happy to assist you with your stone selection and installation needs.

There is nothing more natural than gathering around the warmth and light of a beautiful fire. So why shouldn’t every home have that special space to call their own? If you are considering adding a fireplace to your home, why not call Fireplace Plus? To learn more, visit their web site at: firesidecollection.com. And don’t forget to visit North Star Stone when it comes time to complete that look of distinction and refinement that comes with a custom stone fireplace.