It's the Time of Year to Dream about Home and Garden Projects

Mar 19, 2014

The Home and Garden Show always gets me thinking about what could be in and around our home in Eastwood.

So once again, off went my dear wife Karen and I to the state fairgrounds last weekend to wander, wish and wander and wish some more.

The show has influenced our lives. From the crowded aisles in the Center of Progress and Exhibition Center, we know we're not the only ones.

We've found the little, independent company whose owner swore he'd do the best job at the lowest prices when we wanted to replace our windows and siding.

Our little house turned out to be a big, month-long job for Patrick of Empire State Windows & Exteriors, especially when he lost the one extra man who constituted his crew one week in.

A piece of that siding has fallen from the peak of our house this winter. I found the old paperwork and left a message at the one of the two listed numbers that works. We shall see if anybody is left to make good on the lifetime guarantee Patrick gave us seven years ago.

When we wanted our kitchen remodeled, we collected brochures, browsed cabinets and countertops, and ended up hiring a contractor I knew before the show. And we still love every inch of Dave Kowalski's work.

After our dog Ellie B, aka Dogamous Pyle, escaped underneath our old fence one time too many, our mission was to find the best deal on backyard stockade we could. I waved to the owner of Syracuse Fence as we walked past him this weekend, and happily informed him that his crew's work still stands strong, proud and Ellie B-proof, knock on wood.

That same year, too much wind and worrying gave me the notion it was time to take the biggest tree in Eastwood down in our city backyard. I stopped at the Bartlett Tree Experts booth and chatted up the rep. He told me Jason Pieklik was my man, and gave me a card with Jason's number. PIeklik came over, carefully looked at the tree, and said indeed the fast-growing silver maple might come down in a big wind because of its double crotch. 

Bartlett and Syracuse Fence folks even allowed me to stagger the projects in three straight days. Old fence down. Tree down. New fence up. 

The next year we stopped and studied every booth that offered split ductless air conditioning units. The friendly sales people convinced me they worked well. But we ended up having ours installed by our go-to heating and plumbing company just up the street, Potter-Perrone. And it does work well.

This past weekend, we had less concrete plans. We've talked about a new French door leading out to the back porch. In fact, we've already priced the cost, plus installation, at Home Depot. So we stopped and poked around the Marvin Windows display in the Ryan's Windows and Doors booth, and reinforced the notion that we want the version with blinds built inside the glass structure. And we've discussed the possibility of refinishing our wood floors. Alas, not one booth was geared toward that service.

So that left me plenty of time to dream.

Here's the top half-dozen for my wish-I-were-rich list.

Geothermal Energy
Credit Mark Bialczak

Thank you for the free ideas, Central New York companies. Maybe they'll get you scheming for your place, too.

Wind turbine at the Home & Garden Show
Credit Mark Bialczak

• Solar heating. Or maybe geophysical. A company called Pyrus Energy displayed solar panels that looked like they'd fit nicely on our roof. Another company called Halco displayed a poster explaining how the sun and earth produce clean, geothermal energy.

Imagine catching a breeze or two swinging on this
Credit Mark Bialczak

• Yard wind turbine. I saw one of these babies attached to a trailer for Laztek, an outdoor customizing company that appears to feature paving and stonework. Wind energy is also listed the services provided by Halco. I didn't realize they were making home versions of the windmill already.

I could relax for hours in this hot tub sans giant rubber duckie
Credit Mark Bialczak


• Cedar backyard furniture. Lifetime Cedar Furniture of Utica displayed several sturdy chair units that would look lovely in any yard.

Bring the movie theater experience to your home
Credit Mark Bialczak

• Hot tubs. These bubbling cauldrons of heat and relaxation never seem to go out of style. In fact, they may win the prize for most vendors at the show, with booths set up by Cannon Pools and Spas, Liverpool Pool & Spa, Picture Perfect Pools and Affordable Spas, Softtub Express, Syracuse Pool & Patio, and Tarson Pools. They come in all shape and sizes. I'm quite sure that Karen cannot get the long, swim-against-its-current version we saw at last summer's state fair out of her mind.

Get organized with a closet system
Credit Mark Bialczak

• Home entertainment. Creative Conversions brought a full room of theater pleasure and set it up in the Center of Progress foyer. And the company brought the biggest, brightest flat screen I ever saw and set it up in the Exhibition Center. Sigh. Double sigh.

• California Closets. Who couldn't keep their wardrobes organized with this space-efficient, place-for-everything unit.

What home and garden improvement ideas have you been kicking around as spring comes a knocking? What tops your dream list?