Benefits Everyone Can Agree On – Solar Energy

This is an incredibly exciting time for the solar industry as we continue to surpass major milestones. Last year, was the strongest year ever for the industry and they’ve celebrated over one million installations. With incentives, lower monthly energy bills and excellent financing options, powering your home with solar energy has never made more sense.  Hudson Solar is a New York–based, family-owned business serving upstate New York. They design and install systems for residential, commercial, agricultural and municipal/non-profit organizations.

With more reasons than ever to go solar here are a few that I thought were worth mentioning:

1, Solar is now the cheapest and most abundant energy resource in the world.

The average monthly price of solar PV modules decreased from 79¢ per peak watt in January 2017 to 52¢ per peak watt in June 2017.Lower solar panel costs contribute to a lower total cost and quicker return on investment (ROI) for solar power plants. In many states across America, and around the globe, solar power has become the cheapest source of new energy, giving electric utility companies and governments a huge reason to ditch coal and gas for a cleaner, renewable source (sunshine).

2.  Over a million solar systems have been installed in the U.S. alone.

In early 2016, the millionth solar system was installed in the U.S., notching a milestone that took 40 years for the photovoltaic industry to reach. However, the more notable story that came with this achievement is the forecasted timeline for the next million installations, which is expected to happen in the next two years. This comparison is a meaningful illustration of solar’s rapid pace as the fastest growing energy resource in the world.

3. Homeowners in the U.S, have achieved the breakeven point with solar in as short as three years.

The cost of solar has plummeted while the cost of grid electricity has continued to rise and the concept of the solar “break even point” has become more and more attractive. In 2017 most homeowners are seeing payback periods between five and eight ears and 20-year savings estimates upwards of $20,000. Some homeowners are seeing breakeven points as low as three and four years in states where utility prices are high like our home state of New York.

4. Airplanes can fly around the world while running entirely on solar energy.

Though many may be aware that solar energy can power trains, cars and even space stations, the skeptics were out when Bernard Piccard decided to fly a solar powered plane around the world with no additional power source than the sun. In early 2016 the Swiss pilot and professional explorer departed from Dhabi in an aircraft known as the Solar Impulse II making his much awaited worldwide return in July. The global flight offered numerous photo opportunities and made a statement around the world about the boundless potential of solar energy.


Overall these fun facts offer multiple angles on solar’s growth in the recent decade and the way it has become a legitimate competitor of fossil fuel resources in 2017. If your considering a solar system in the near future be sure to talk with Hudson Solar. They will be at the Times Union Home Expo this year located in the Albany Capital Center at 55 Eagle St. Albany NY, February 9-11, 2018. Their booth is located on the first floor booth 117. Look for the bright colors and smiling faces.


Stay Tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…



Michele Conti


Bringing Beauty Back Home…Cleaning Up


All home renovations are at least a little disruptive, but a lot of them can really cause your whole home to become a giant mess. We’ve had a few DIY renovations that definitely fall into that category, but this latest one has definitely been the messiest, dirtiest renovation so far. You often need to be extra aware of your cleaning tactics to keep your home clean during a renovation and this has definitely been the case for us with this latest kitchen project we’ve been working on.

My wonderful amazing husband took down the wall between our Kitchen and Family room while I was Christmas Shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving and when I got home, this is what I saw…

We (or should I say “I”) decided real-quick that we were not going to want to live with all the sheet rock dust, so we stepped our game up right then and there. So here are some of our favorite tips for keeping your home clean during a renovation if you’re going through the same thing!

Insist On Ending Each Day On A Clean Note

Gabe makes a pretty big mess throughout the day while he’s working, but he always puts everything away and runs a vacuum over the area before calling it a night. I asked him what his best tip for keeping things from getting too messy in the rest of the house was and he said “Marry a construction manager who takes really good care of his work area.” Ha. He’s right though. Whether it’s you who is completing the work, or whether you’ve hired it out, having the discipline to leave your work area clean at the end of every day really makes such a difference.

Block the area off

Unlike the first day I came home lol Gabe always blocks off the work area. You won’t be able to contain dust and debris 100% no matter what you do, but if it’s at all possible, consider hanging plastic over doorways that separate the area you’re working in from the rest of the house. It may look a little extreme, but it will really make a difference. Dust will still spread, because dust is tricky like that, but it will probably only be mostly within a few feet from your plastic-covered doorway and you’ll be able to vacuum that right up.

Dust Every Day

Dust is a pesky thing. It often builds up slowly and you don’t notice it’s there until you really notice it’s there. When things get to that point, it can be a pretty big job, which can seem fairly overwhelming and frustrating when you’re also busy with a renovation project. You may not know why at first, but your whole home can feel kind of icky during a renovation and that’s usually because of the dust that somehow seems to make it into all the far reaches of your home. If you keep up with your dusting, even just for a minute or two each day, things will definitely feel more normal and under control in your home.

Vacuum  and Mop like Crazy

I hate to sound like a broken record here, because I feel like I mention this as an important step in so many cleaning situations, but vacuuming and mopping really is key. When it comes to keeping your home clean during a renovation, your mop and shop vac are your best friend!

We like to keep our vacuum out and right next to our work area at all times during the renovation project. We make sure to use it multiple times a day to keep on top of things. Keep the attachments handy, when Gabe is cutting into the sheet rock I’m right next to him holding the vacuum with the widest attachment as he is sawing and screwing into the ceiling catching as much dust as possible! At night I pass a damp cotton mop to pick up whatever dust is left on the wood floor and tile…


We cleaned up for the Holiday and put some furniture back in place, (just for a day)

If you’re about to renovate, this is not the time to make yourself frustrated, just take the half hour at the end of the day to clean up.  Being able to avoid even just a little bit of the stress and disruption that often comes with a home renovation will allow you to enjoy the process of creating a more beautiful home for your family rather than dreading it. Keeping your home clean the way that you’re used to is definitely the first step in the process of reducing your renovation stress!

What tips do you have for keeping your home clean during a renovation? Let me know! The renovations around here are pretty much non-stop, so I can always use a few extra tricks!

Stay Tuned for more Adventures In Styleland…



Combining Cabinet Finishes, Inspired Kitchen Design

As we lean closer to closing out 2017 and look forward to welcoming 2018, the cliche’ that a house is never finished comes to mind. The trick is to find a way to put it all together so it feels complete. Curtis Lumber is ready to help with your Kitchen Renovation with some great ideas for the New Year!

Painted Cabinetry 

While open floor plans are still working in most new builds, I’ve definitely witnessed the coming and going of many trends and period styles from English Country to Midcentury Modern. But I feel we’re post trend now. I think current design allows us the freedom to incorporate history in an unfussy contemporary way. When choosing kitchen cabinets, the easiest way to accomplish this is to mix finishes. Choose a lighter color for the perimeter cabinets and another darker color for your center island. Your eye is naturally drawn to the darker cabinet finish, while the lighter shade cabinets against the walls will make the room appear larger.


Always in-style are painted white cabinets, they have dominated kitchen design for easily the last 5 to 10 years.  Many homeowners considered it to be an easy choice.  White kitchen cabinets have a certain timeless quality and always brighten up the space. As a neutral color, white cabinets also played equally well with cooler walls. And while we will never see painted white cabinets go out of style, a couple of new color trends have started to pick up steam in 2017.

First, we have started to see a slight shift away from white, and moving toward gray.  Gray shares many of the properties that people love about white, but in a slightly more subdued tone.  While lighter shades of gray will never brighten up kitchen in the same way that white cabinets do, many come close, like Merillat Classic LaBelle in Maple Shale.  As a naturally neutral color, gray will also look good alongside warm or cool accent colors. 

In the past few years we’ve seen former warehouse carts being cleanup and re-purposed as coffee tables across suburbia.  Just like other rooms of the home, more and more elements of both traditional and industrial design will enter the home kitchens space.  A coming together of the best of both worlds!  We’re already seeing this trend of traditional shaker cabinetry, being topped with concrete counters, combined with a farm sinks, and topped off with a tall, goose-neck faucet that would be at home in any kitchen…Elements like brick along with wrought iron stools help accomplish this industrial look, while the Merillat cabinetry: Sutton Cliffs in Hickory gives this kitchen elements of traditional style.


Curtis Lumber will be located on the lower level at booth 104 at our new location, Albany Capital Center. Visit Curtis Lumber and to talk with a kitchen and bath designer about how to create a unique space in your home! What styles have you seen start to emerge this year, or which do you think will start to really take off in 2018?  Tell us in the comments!


As always stay tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…



Michele Conti

Sweet and Simple Butter Cookies…Merry Christmas!


Christmas cookies are something that everyone looks forward to. You can either make them from scratch, or you can buy the ready made dough at the store. Either way you decide, your kitchen will still smell like fresh baked cookies! I wanted to share our family recipe with you, we use a press or pastry bag. You can layer two cookies and fill with jelly or dip half in chocolate. But we always made green trees and red wreaths…


  • Unsalted Butter 1 cup (226g)
  • Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
  • Large Egg 1 (50g)
  • Whole Milk 2 Tablespoons (44ml)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon (5ml)
  • All Purpose Flour 2½ cups (320g)
  • Salt ¼ teaspoon


  1. Cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the salt
  3. Combine the egg and vanilla extract together and add to the creaming butter mixture.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate well.
  5. Add the milk and mix until combined, scrape the sides again.
  6. Add the sifted flour all at once and mix on low speed just until combined.
  7. With cookie press pipe the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan spaced about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for about 12 – 17 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges.
  9. Cool completely and fill with jams, chocolates, ganache’s, buttercream or your choice of fillings and adorn with nuts or sprinkles of your choice.


Whether you’re leaving a plate out for Santa, or sharing with everyone at your next get together, cookies are the perfect treat for the holiday season. To celebrate this festive time of year, I wanted so share a recipe that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Place them in a mason Jar or cookie tin and share with family and friends. This diy gift is sure to be a hit! My mom would always count her cookies, and make sure we had enough to share….so enjoy your holiday and remember to always count your cookies….



Merry Christmas!! Stay tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…



Michele Coni



Culinary Living…The Feiden Way

The holiday season is in full swing, and there’s never been a better time to invest in a high-quality cooking range. You’ll be crafting a host of delicious dishes and desserts through the season and all year round, and a powerful range is a must-have appliance in any home. If great value is your top concern, you’ll definitely want to consider the Winter Savings Event at Earl B Feiden!

Missed Black Friday? Don’t worry, because this offer is available December 14th through January 10th. With brands like Sub Zero, Viking, Thermador, Fisher & Paykel and Frigidaire Professional appliances there’s no doubt that you’ll find the perfect new toy for your kitchen!With Earl B Feiden Appliances, you can rest assured that you will have the best cooking ranges, bringing exquisite style and premium cooking capabilities to your kitchen. Appliances form the backbone of the working home, so you want to be sure they meet your needs. You’d undoubtedly like them to be reliable, affordable and attractive, with appealing features. This year Earl B. Feiden’s is located at booth 106 at The TimesUnion Home Expo where you’ll see the latest models of ranges, refrigerators, cooktops and other home appliances. Talk with Mark Feiden, he will give you tips that will allow you to select the appliance most suitable for your kitchen!


Remember our new location this year is at:

Albany Capital Center
55 Eagle Street
Albany, NY 12207


Stay Tuned for More Adventures in Styleland…


Michele Conti



Stuck In Room Rut? Traditional to Transitional

I once heard a colleague say the power of injecting well placed contemporary accents into a design is like little shots of Botox around the house. You all know someone or maybe you have a room that is stuck in time. Like a museum it starts to somehow feel stale, as if someone set up a velvet cord across the area. It’s like you need to hit the REFRESH button!

Most of us will feel as if this is a massive task, we need to start over completely because they are just frozen in their interiors…Well, I think with just a few design short cuts you can freshen up your dated space and give your home that much needed facelift. The real beauty of mixing contemporary furnishings in with traditional ones is that your home can evolve as you do!

Tips and Tricks:

Pair Old with New – If your beautiful Harding dining room is stuck in the past, place a modern rug underneath and it will give a nod to your past and present.

Be A Rug Trader – Replace a traditional oriental with a rug that has a more modern pattern. This lattice pattern takes the room in a whole new direction. Transitional rugs often take a traditional pattern and blow up the scale.

Interior Colors – Trending still from warmer to cooler wall colors, use deeper tones this year and mix them with neutrals, like the warmer white with darker shades of greys in this room. Darker colors have a more modern vibe, keeping this room in vogue…

Lighting – Outdated light fixtures do nothing to enhance a the appeal of a room. Homeowners are sometimes reluctant to change a fixture as they have to sometimes hire an electrician to install the new lighting. But what an upgrade for your home! Usually its nothing more than finding a handyman to help you exchange your fixtures and go from drab to fab!

Tap Into Current Color Trends – Removing the hunter green walls and throwing warmer grey’s into the room, to mix with the natural elements like the contemporary leather sectional, creates a rejuvenated space.

 Adding a rustic element by using a reclaimed wood clock above the fireplace blends this family room with updated accessories. To bring the room along further we replaced the old chair with a tufted accent chair, removed the heavy bookcases and this room took on a whole new look!

Brighter and lighter, remember less is more. Declutter your space and it will elevate your room and your mood! Get ready, Christmas is right around the corner, breath some new life into your home!



It’s the time of year when we New Yorkers deck our halls with merry colors and lights for the holiday season!

Stay Tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…


Michele Conti


Organic Fusion-Takes Neutrals by Surprise!

One common thread has been evident in all home design trends for 2018; homeowners are looking for ways to break from the mold and be different. In the bathroom, they are relying on tech, tiles and bold accents to make their shower time more interesting. Neutral decors are still popular, homeowners are in love with whites, creams, blues and light browns making a space look modern and elegant. In 2018, neutral bathrooms will still be very much in vogue but with a bit of an organic infusion. With over 100 years of experience in the Albany area,  Bennett Contracting chose a dark vanity in this transitional space to balance the cooler colors with the warmth of real wood.

Fixer Upper, the hit HGTV show uses quite a bit of wood in their designs, introducing warm tones into otherwise neutral color schemes. Natural wood is making a comeback in design, from wood floors to barn beam ceilings and everywhere in between. Whether to create a slightly natural vibe, a modern transitional theme or Urban Industrial, wood is showing up in all the right places.

Bennett Contracting used a mix of different wood species to create a beautiful centerpiece in this kitchen. Just make sure there’s enough contrast to show you mean it, near misses don’t make it. The idea is to create visual contrast between the work island and the perimeter cabinets. If the perimeter cabinets differ from the work island, we might put the same countertop material on both as Bennett did in this newly renovated space.

Are you itching to breathe new life into an outdated or poorly-functioning kitchen or bath?  Before you decide to meet with a contractor gather ideas for what styles, colors and substrates you like. While looking through magazines, tear out photos of kitchens that appeal to you and write what you like about the room in the margin. Then slip the page into a clear sheet protector and insert that into a three-ring binder to create a stylebook.

The Internet is another source for kitchen and bath inspiration. As your stylebook grows, a clear picture of your desired style of kitchen or bath will begin to emerge. That’s helpful for you, but it’s also helpful for the remodeling professionals at Bennett Contracting. Bring your storybook to the Home Expo this year and introduce your ideas to Bennett’s designer Justina! She will go through your ideas with you and get a blush of what you’re after, so that together you can create your ideal space.

Bennett Contracting is located on the second level, at booth 305 at the Times Union Home Expo this year. Kevin Gutman will be there to guide you through your next step, making sure that your next project will be a huge success!

Stay tuned for more ideas, information and design tips with Adventures in Styleland…



Michele Conti


The Sexy side of Design!

With Fall in the rear-view mirror and winter upon us, now is the time most homeowners begin searching for ideas for enclosed patio’s as additional living space. A sun-drenched room filled with expansive exterior windows is certainly an asset to any home. Whether you call it a Florida room, Three Season Room or Sunroom, adding valuable living space to your home is always a good investment. Patio Enclosures is one of areas leading Sunroom and Patio showrooms in Albany. 

With 36-plus years of design experience Patio Enclosures has recently become part of the New Day Improvements family of brands offering the best Sunrooms in the country. Recognized by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Remodelers Magazine, Energy Star and National Building Code for our excellence in the home improvement industry.

While older sunporches are typically three-season rooms (not having insulation or HVAC systems), newer sunporches are often built to be inhabited year-round. Whatever you call this light-filled room, it’s often the most popular space in the house. Patio Enclosures will help you decide if converting an existing porch or adding a new sunporch is for you.

Just because a sunporch is often called a three-season room, there’s no reason to limit it to outdoor furniture and forgo cushy indoor-style upholstery. This beautiful room works for all your family gatherings.


Words can’t describe what a sunroom can do for your home and life, get inspired with real project photos, Patio Enclosures will be located at booth 221, Ron DeGraw will be there to answer your questions and for information and scheduling your free estimate and appointment.  Christmas is coming, schedule your appointment before January 2nd, and use the coupon below for extra savings!


As always stay tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…



Michele Cotnti

Build Fast, Build Better – Fox Blocks

As building codes demand homes with tighter building envelopes and continuous insulation, home builders and consumers are looking for building strategies that deliver performance without paying a premium. That’s why homes built with ICF’s are becoming a popular choice in many climates.

Fox Blocks has been in business for 32 years, building sexy, well-constructed commercial and residential ICF foundations.  Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are cast in place concrete walls that are sandwiched between two layers of insulation material, usually expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation foams.  The foam blocks are stacked as interlocking blocks (like LEGOS) connected with steel reinforcing rods. They offer well-insulated, airtight energy-efficient building enclosures. Also, ICFs are a great fit for regions prone to severe weather because of their strong impact resistance.

Building with Fox Blocks ICFs it’s easy to design your dream home or business, while keeping LEED, green building and energy star in mind. With Dramatic labor reductions of up to half the normal building time. Because when you build with Fox concrete wall forms you are doing 5 steps in 1: insulation, vapor barrier, air barrier, studding and sheathing all in one step. This can save you on labor, time and money as you are ready to finish inside and out.


Commercial Use

Any way you slice it ICF’s (Insulated concrete forms) are structurally superior to most other building materials. Buildings that incorporate the use of ICFs have an expected life of 200 years or more. Today, as more and more commercial building owners, architects, contractors,
lenders and investors discover the cutting-edge value of ICFs, a 30+% annual growth makes it the most rapidly expanding building system in the U.S.  Along with systems for easy mounting of finishes and channeling of utilities, the insulation remains in place with the concrete to provide ICFs’ advanced economic, thermal, safety, environmental and comfort benefits.

Warmer, Safer, Quieter, Stronger, Healthier, and Saves You Money….

The motivation to life a simpler life is not only about saving money, but also about making a smarter decision for your budget and lifestyle. Stop in talk with Jefrey Martusewicz about using Fox Block for your home or commercial construction projects.


Stay Tuned for more Adventures in Styleland…






Styling Your Room

Good design can make any room look great, but for the average homeowner picking out the right furniture pieces, fabrics, and rugs for your living space can be a daunting task.  I’d like to share a few thoughts to help you decorate your home. Begin with establishing your style along with correct balance, proportion and scale of furnishings and decor. When it comes to decorating inspiration, a photo is definitely worth a thousand words.


The hardest part for many of us is ‘styling’ your room. We think of ‘styling’ as a way to arrange furnishings and  display the decorative objects that you’ve collected and love. It’s that final touch that takes your furniture pieces from simply functional to fabulous. 

  1. Neutrals For Large Pieces – The sofa and arm chairs are likely to be your biggest investment pieces in a room, get them in neutral colors to give yourself the most flexibility. Anchor the main pieces of furniture in the space to define the area; if your space is large, a great cost effective tip for carpet is to use an inexpensive large sisal rug to cover most of the area.    
  2.  Color –  is an obvious strategy when styling, and as a general rule, I recommend editing down your colors to three or four. If you want to add a punch of color pick 2 smaller accent chairs in a vibrant shade or print, which gives you more flexibility than a bright sofa . Pull accent colors from the rugs, window treatments, or art in your room.
  3. Shapes – Thoughtful space planning means setting up enough side tables and coffee tables for the seating you have, so that there is a place for guests to set a glass down but it’s important to have a mixture of shapes. If you have a very angular console table, mix in some round shapes, like lamps, sculpture, or art. Most of the seating furniture is angular, the side and coffee tables in a round shape are a nice counterpoint.  Don’t match the tables either – it’s much more interesting visually to mix and match different materials and shapes.
  4. Balance with Accessories –  One of the most important strategies when you’re styling any piece is to vary your heights. This helps your eye move around which creates a more interesting arrangement. If you have a tall lamp, use something shorter, like a stack of books for balance. Mix lots of different finishes and textures across the furniture piece you’re styling. If you have glossy, ceramic lamps, add something with a chippy paint finish or a raw wood. You don’t want everything on your table to be either shiny/polished/glossy OR patina/roughness/grain. You want some of both.
  5. Negative Space – The power of nothing. No matter what you’re styling, leave some negative space. Group items together (maybe a set of musical instruments on a short stack of books) and leave some areas of your table empty. This applies to art on the wall, blank space or a wall without anything is like a comma or a full stop in a sentence. The opportunity to just stop and enjoy the moment! As a result your room will feel more balanced.

I hope I inspired you! Thank you for letting me share some of my tips with you today, and as always…


Stay Tuned for more Adventures in Styleland.



Michele Conti