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Are you itching to breathe new life into an outdated or poorly-functioning kitchen or bath?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


A Warm Welcome to Our Holiday Season…

I found a perfect location for a wonderful Holiday decorating story, my own yard. The first snow of the season always inspires us, reminds us of the rebirth and purity of our earth. As it thaws and melts, it soaks the earth, preparing the ground for an explosion of new life each spring. It falls thousands of feet in silence and lands without a sound, reminding us that Christmas is a time to block out the noise of the world at least for a day.

In our home this year, there is a project brewing.  Our kitchen remodel is in full swing, so this year we aren’t hanging our family ornaments, or glass balls and the snow we will be using is sheetrock dust!! We decided Mother Nature is helping us decorate this year! (Besides, some of us may be a little short on the decorating budget, but that’s no problem!) Just a pinch of creativity, taking inspiration from the different design elements all around us to create an inspired Christmas Theme of our Own. There’s something uniquely special about using almost all natural elements for Christmas ornaments.

The Christmas tree is often considered the heart of holiday decorating. Drawing inspiration from the beauty around us, this primitive tree is simple but worthy of capturing the Spirit of the Season…Homemade hearts cut from birch bark in the yard, grapevine branches twined into balls and pinecones we collected as the fall leaves were raked, all found a place on this humble Christmas tree.

You might find this humorous, but after the tree was trimmed with just the pinecones and the freshly wrapped cinnamon sticks were tucked in among the tree branches, I felt that the tree was done and I could very easily have lived with it decorated with just those two items! The girls felt differently and decided on adding a bit more…

Near our fireplace we used pine branches cut from one of the trees in our yard placed them in a pretty blue pot from the porch. We used adhesive, some flour and sugar and coated the branches. Placed an old Cardinal that was in a box found among our Christmas decorations and placed some pine cones in the lanterns, coated perfectly with sap and they look almost painted, we added some lights and voila!

Sometimes the stress of holiday shopping, finding the right presents for your loved ones and panicking about how to cook a Christmas dinner without a kitchen can make you forget what the holiday season is all about. So, if you’re feeling less than ready for the holidays (like I am) take a moment and look outside today and just Breathe! Be inspired and stay warm…

And stay tuned for more 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




The Family Tree…


The family tree is so special every time I put it up. My children ask why I always get sad when we put the tree up and I tell them it’s a good kinda sad. I explained these memories on this tree are so sweet and time just goes by so fast. The tree is full of old ornaments from our parents, firsts for each of us, many meaningful ornaments, and handmade gifts. Decorating it is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Season.

I’d like to share some other traditions that aren’t as well known…


Wreaths – Christmas if full of meaning, not only the tree but also the wreaths on our doors and the meaning behind them is not what you might think. These decorations weren’t invented to spruce up your front door. Christians believe wreaths represent thorns worn by Jesus and the tiny red berries represent his blood.


Candy Canes – People disagree on the origins of this holiday staple, but many say the white represents purity, the red represents Jesus’ blood shed, and the shape is supposed to be the staff of the Good Shepherd. Think about that the next time you enjoy this minty treat.



Tinsel – This shiny metallic  glittering decoration symbolizes light, to ensure the forces of darkness would not have any power.


As a designer I always drool over the beautiful trees in department stores and adore trees with a theme! However, my Christmas trees have not always been stunning or a shiny glamorus themed beacons of light. In the beginning they were collections of mismatched, homemade and sentimental ornaments. Not like those you’d see in the magazines.  No, was our family tree that was chock full of homemade ornaments, ones that were given to us, or made by the children.  I would get an ornament for my children each year that would reflect whatever their interests or hobbies were at that time. There have been musical notes, sports themes, and Hallmark Keepsakes ornaments too.

Of all holiday decorations, the tree is perhaps the most iconic. The tradition started, because in many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away evil spirits and illness, according to history. What ever your traditions are, hold them close because this season also passes quickly. So just for today, I thought I’d share some of the holiday spirit…true holiday spirit. Well get back to decorating tomorrow. So…


As Always stay tuned for more Adventures in Styleland!



Michele Conti


First Day Of The 37TH Annual Home Expo!!

What an amazing day! I got to meet and interact with so many wonderful and amazing people! There was a steady stream of people coming through the Times Union Home Expo this afternoon. The crowd was in good spirits despite the brisk 20 degree temperature. There was a great amount of anticipation as the last few  vendors were busy putting together the final touches on their booths for the annual Home Expo.
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Are You Going to The Home Expo?

Despite what the weather might suggest, spring is right around the corner, inspiring lots of families to start thinking about ambitious interior and exterior home improvement projects. In anticipation of the coming renovation and installation season, many home shows are starting all over the country. These exhibitions feature an array of product vendors and professionals, so homeowners can check out the newest trends and meet the experts who can bring those ideas to life. But how can our local homeowners make the most of The Times Union Home Expo?
Read more “Are You Going to The Home Expo?”