July 10, 2013

Good Interior Design

Making it Home: Good Design

Almost nothing can impact your living space like good interior design can.  But many people don’t know which design concepts will make the most of their homes. This post gives you bite-sized ideas to consider as you decorate or fully remodel your home.

While they’re not particularly common in the Charlotte area, some homes include a basement. Even if it is only semi-finished, a basement can be transformed into a great space to entertain, play or relax. If you are ready to start designing your home and have a basement, think about what you can do to make it a place that you can and your family and friends will enjoy. Basements may also have rental potential … check local regulations.

You may not be able to retile your bathroom or replace your bathtub, but you can always admire the effect of new towels. Try bold colors if your bathroom seems a bit drab, or calming colors like blue and green if you want to create an oasis.

Consider all types of flooring. Don’t limit yourself to carpeting … consider whether tile or hardwood floors would make the room look better or add a different feel. Modern and sustainable, bamboo floors create a vibe different from

Interior design has the ability to completely transform an ordinary room into something truly exceptional, but many people don’t devote sufficient time and energy. Check back often to form a winning design strategy for your living spaces. There will be more design tips coming soon!

July 8, 2013

An Easy Way to Improve Your Credit

average-credit-scoreRevolving Debt is Sizable Factor of Your Credit Score That All Too Often Goes Unnoticed


In the credit game, you are supposed to lose. If you lose, THEY win. “They” of course, refers to the big Banks and Credit Bureaus. Both of whom benefit greatly when your credit score is lower. The Banks charge you a higher rate of interest and the Credit Bureaus look good to their #1 customer…The Banks!


One of the most complicated aspects of your credit score is what we call “revolving debt ratio”. It’s worth 30% of your score and almost no one knows about it! Keep in mind, your payment history is worth 35% of the score, just to give some perspective on the importance of this component. Your revolving debt ratio is simply the amount of money you owe on your revolving accounts divided by the limits on those accounts. A revolving account is an account where you don’t have a set payment amount with a set amount of payments to make to pay off the loan. A credit card is the most common example. You make payments based on your balance, which could be as little as zero. So, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, and your balance is $5,000, then your revolving debt ratio is 50%. The credit scoring model measures this on an account-by-account basis and an overall basis.


Here’s the problem: By the time you get your statement in the mail, the credit card company has already sent your balance to the credit bureaus. They do so the day after your statement ending date. So, if you use your card throughout the month, like many of us have been told to do, then pay it off when you get the bill, you are never getting credit for it!!! The bureaus are never getting the information that the account is paid off!


Here’s the solution: Pay your credit card bills before the statement ending date. If you do this, then they will reflect their lowest balance of the month, instead of their highest balance of the month like the Banks and Bureaus prefer. With this component making up such a huge part of your score, it’s likely you’ll see an increase right away without spending more money than you already allocated.


This article originally appeared on mr.credit.org

Renters May Grow by 6 Million in Next Decade

 Since the housing crash in 2008moving-tips

The number of renting households has soared. Within the next decade,  5 to 6 million new renter households are expected to be formed, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Much of that increase may occur in the next two years.  Within that time, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that renter households will grow from 38 million to 41 million.

“In general, across the country there are more renters now than there were two or three years ago,” says Wally Charnoff, CEO of RentRange.

Property management companies are booming, too. Officials with Real Property Management say the company has doubled in size over the past two years. The company has 230 offices in 47 states and adds an average of eight new franchises per month.

“Profound changes in the housing market have created significant demand for property management companies like ours,” Kirk McGary, CEO of Real Property Management, told HousingWire. “And it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon.”

Charnoff adds that location may be a big driver for renters. With a shortage of for-sale homes nowadays, some families are being driven to rent in order to be able to live in a specific neighborhood with good schools, he notes. “Institutional investors have provided a lot of readily available property,” he says.

However, he adds that rising mortgage rates may prompt more on-the-fence renters to jump into home ownership before housing affordability moves lower.

Source: “Are renters here to stay? Spoiler alert: Experts say yes,” HousingWire

July 3, 2013

4th of July in Charlotte

From Fireworks to Festivals the Queen City is Bursting with Patriotic Festivities

Festival Calendar

Today, June 3


WBT Skyshow

Charlotte Knights Stadium

2280 Deerfield Drive

Fort Mill, SC 29715

Phone: 704-357-8071



News Talk 1110 WBT and 107.9 The Link presents Skyshow 2013, the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in the Southeast on Wednesday, July 3rd 2013 at Knights Stadium. Doors open at 5:00 PM. Baseball, fireworks and fun come together for Skyshow 2013! Come early for the pre-game festivities including live music, food, drinks, an interactive kids area, prizes and more! After the game, we will honor our Veterans and Military Personnel in a patriotic ceremony and don’t forget the most amazing choreographed fireworks display presented by Lake Norman & Gastonia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram! Get your tickets now and we’ll see you at the game! Play ball! – See more at: http://www.skyshowcharlotte.com/skyshowcharlotte/index.aspx#sthash.pGEvT7UC.dpuf


Coca Cola 4th of July Festival


4th of July Festival

Wed., July 3, 4 p.m. and Thu., July 4, 4 p.m.

U.S. National Whitewater Center

5000 Whitewater Center Parkway

Phone: 704.391.3900

Price: Free


Rock your red, white and blue at the USNWC with the Coca-Cola 4th of July Festival, a two-day celebration taking place on July 3rd and July 4th. Both days will feature live music, as well as fireworks over our man-made whitewater river. Every seat is a good seat to view the stunning fireworks display, but we recommend guests arrive early to pick a spot. For more info http://usnwc.org/coca-cola-4th-of-july-festival-2/

Thursday. July 4

Novant Health July 4th Spectacular

Memorial Stadium

310 N Kings Drive

Charlotte, NC 28202



Novant Health July 4th Spectacular will bring wholesome, alcohol-free family fun to Center City Charlotte in celebrating Independence Day, Charlotte’s largest fireworks display! Gates open at 5:30pm with family-fun activities taking place at Memorial Stadium from 6-9pm with a 9:30pm fireworks show. Due to construction, there will be LIMITED stadium seating available in the first section of the stands only. The lawn will accommodate a maximum capacity of 5,000 people in the in-field. You are encouraged to bring blankets and claim a spot on the field grass for the spectacular fireworks show. Once the stadium reaches maximum capacity, attendees will be asked to watch the fireworks at Independence Park located adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Fore more info: http://www.charlottecentercity.org/events/july-4th-spectacular/


Fountain_Pictures_062209_0069th Annual 4th of July Celebration

Birkdale Village

16805 Birkdale Commons Parkway

Huntersville, NC 28078

Phone: 704-766-2220

10am – 1pm     Bike decorating, kids art, face painting, bounce house and more!


11am – 1pm     Fun and Games with Radio Disney

11:30am          Parade lineup next to Banana Republic

11:45am          Parade begins

Noon                Awards ceremony presented by Mayor Jill Swain at the fountain for Best Decorated Bike and Presentation to Fire and Police Departments

12:15pm         Fire Department Water Fight next to Banana Republic

NOTE: Birkdale Commons Parkway will be closed during the event, 9:00am – 2:00pm.

For more info http://www.birkdalevillage.net/events


(sources: Creative Loafing, Charlotte’s Got a Lot)


Mother’s Day Sweet Treat….For Beginners.

Ultimate Brownie for Mothers Day


Mom is the heart of the home and, for most families, the best baker in the bunch. With Mothers Day around the corner (May 12th for those of you who are scrambling to find your calendars), you might be feeling the urge to test your baking skills for a more sentimental treat than jewelry or flowers, but just don’t have the kitchen experience to whip up something creative.  Showcase Realty is going to save you the agony of starting from scratch by offering up one of our favorite, and most popular, baking treats. Mom will be floored.

The Ultimate Brownie

1 roll of chocolate chip cookie dough
1 pack of Oreos
Brownie Mix
  1. Preheat your oven to the temperature on your box of brownie mix (375 for most mixes). Then, start prepping by greasing a glass baking pan (you can also line the pan with wax paper if necessary, but keep the edges inside the dish).
  2. Flatten your roll of cookie dough along the bottom of the pan until it completely covers the entire surface area of the pan.
  3. Open your pack of Oreos and line them up in rows on top of the cookie dough. By the time you are done, the pan should have a layer of cookie dough and then a grid of Oreos on top.
  4. Combine your eggs, oil, and brownie mix in a separate dish to create the brownie layer. Follow box directions exactly for maximum flavor.
  5. Pour the readied brownie mix on top of the cookie dough and Oreo layers, making sure the mix covers the entire pan. Think of this as the glue that holds all of the layers together.
  6. Bake the layered brownie in the oven for 45 minutes, unless otherwise specified by the brownie box.
  7. After baking, let the brownies cool before cutting them. Serve and enjoy!

Tips and Twists:

  1. Creativity is always encouraged when baking and this recipe is relatively easy to alter without destroying your kitchen. Trade out regular Oreos for mint or peanut butter ones depending on Mom’s  preference. Add frozen chocolate chips to your brownie mix for an extra gooey concoction. Switch chocolate chip cookie dough for sugar cookie or white chocolate macadamia nut. The combinations are endless.
  2. As if this isn’t sweet enough, serve it a la mode for some melt-away decadence. Caution- You might go into a sugar coma.
  3. Keep your recipe a secret until after the taste test. The great thing about this recipe is that most people won’t taste the individual cookie/Oreo/brownie layers- all they taste is the best brownie they’ve ever had. You’ll enjoy watching as Mom tries to figure out how she managed to miss your formative baking years.

written by: Elizabeth Castle

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Chevron: Top 5 Ways To Decorate Your Home With the Classic “Zig-zag” Pattern

Showcase Realty Blog - Making it Home

Chevron the classic zigzag design.

While most trends keep to either fashion, home decor, or technology, every once in a while something just sticks. Everywhere. You see it on billboards, on runways, and even on hipsters’ coffee mugs; it becomes part of society. Chevron is one of those things. The zigzag pattern is about as classic and basic as they come, bumping out overdone houndstooth and overplayed plaid for a simpler, white-on-color look. For many homeowners, chevron has worked its way into living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens as a design enhancer because of its bold, modern feel. Here are the best places to incorporate the hit pattern into your home to keep it trending:

  1. Throw Pillows: If you don’t want to redo everything but still want to keep your home modern, throw pillows are the way to go.  Chevron is one of those patterns that, because of its neutral mix with color, matches well with almost anything. If you have a blue flowery room, for instance, just pair blue and white chevron pillows with your floral fiesta to update the look.

  2. Curtains: For rooms that are barren, chevron curtains take simplicity to the next level by adding a splash of color and print. Take a mostly monochromatic area, it doesn’t matter if its a baby’s room, an office, or a bedroom, and slip bright chevron curtains in to make a fashion forward statement without overdoing it. Use a color wheel to help you decide how dramatic you want the look to be- the further the color of your room is from the color of the chevron will determine the mood of the room. Neutral rooms mixed with softer prints tend to feel light and airy, while colored rooms paired with bold patterns feel young and hip.

  3. Area Rugs: A bold area rug can really make a room stand out, especially on top of hard wood floors. This look can really go anywhere under the right color scheme, but my personal favorite is a neutral based chevron to add a little flair to the room without overpowering the main decorations. Stick to color schemes like tan, gray, or black if you decide to add a chevron rug to play up the other pieces in the room. Be wary, though; the wider the chevron print, the more of a centerpiece the rug will become.

  4. Accent Walls: Chevron-lovers who want a more permanent addition to their home should look into adding a chevron accent wall to one of their rooms. Like other chevron add-ins, the wall matches with almost anything, but it isn’t nearly as easy to change if the pattern ever stops trending. Still, it looks great. Choose a wall without a window and paint it based on the color of the other walls. If you’re a color-mixer, pick a color that compliments the other walls and stick to a then chevron pattern. If you go monochromatic, widen the pattern a bit to make it stand out.

  5. Tablecloths: Commitment-phobes rejoice at the thought of tablecloths because they, well, are easy to get rid of. For those of you who aren’t completely sold on the chevron trend, invest in a printed tablecloth or runner to modernize your meals. When you feel like that tablecloth is getting too clingy, just whip it off and replace it with something new. Too easy.

Written by: Beth Castle

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March 14, 2013

The Top 4 Things To Do On St. Patrick’s Day In Charlotte 2013.

St.Patricks Day.fwWith St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to celebrate the only holiday when it is socially acceptable to pinch a stranger. Charlotte, known for its Scots-Irish heritage, celebrates just like any other city- food, music, and bagpipes galore.


17th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Charlotte Goes Green Festival:

Located in Uptown, over 80,000 of your neighbors will turn up on Saturday, March 16th to watch as NC Governor Pat McCrory, Grand Marshal for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, leads lines of bagpipers and decked out floats down Tryon street. Just a few blocks away, the Charlotte Goes Green Festival will have Celtic vendors of all kinds as well as a Kids Zone to keep the day buzzing. Enjoy live music and shows until the festival closes at 6:30, just in time for some cabbage and corned beef back at home.

Green River Revival:

The National Whitewater Center is family friendly and has events set up all day on March 16th in honor of St. Patty’s Day. Early risers can meet at 9 am for the Center’s 5K. Every year, participants don white and get splashed as they run with green paint, ending the race as spirited works of art. Other events include Cornhole tournaments, live music, and, of course, the dyeing of the River, a 1 pm tradition that leaves the whitewater river green for the rest of the day.

Shamrock Shuffle:

Philanthropic Charlotteans race out to Shamrock Gardens Elementary School at 8 am for the Shamrock Shuffle, a 5K whose registration fee goes completely to the educational needs of the elementary schoolers. For anyone under the driving age, two smaller races are held at the same place for free: the Kids 1/2 Mile Run and the Tiny Shamrock Dash which both come with a chance to win a free Monkey Joe’s birthday party. Sorry adults, all you win is lower cholesterol.

Rich and Bennett’s 13th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl:

For the 20 somethings and older, thousands flock to the largest St. Patty’s Day pub crawl in the country, conveniently seated in Uptown Charlotte. Deck out in green and your signature pub crawl t-shirt for some of the best drink specials of the weekend. Tackiness is encouraged.

Written By: Beth Castle


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December 17, 2012

Important Christmas Tree Safety Tips You Don’t want to Ignore.

Christmas Tree Safety

Tips on christmas tree fire safety.

When thinking about the holiday season, we usually think of presents, lights and spending time with friends and family.  It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement and overlook some very important safety tips.  According to the NFPA, each year fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees.  Carefully setting up your Christmas tree and following these guidelines from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) will ensure you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season!

 Picking the tree

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1–2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

After Christmas

  • Get rid of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program. Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

For more information you can visit www.nfpa.org

Download these NFPA safety tips on Christmas trees. (PDF, 1 M