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  •  Peter Stefani, owner and president of King’s Court Builders in Naperville, focuses on constructing custom homes.

    King’s Court ‘customizes’ its business plan Sep 14, 2013 12:00 AM
    One of the most respected and successful custom homebuilding companies in Naperville and surrounding communities got its start in a university classroom. When its founder, Pete Stefani, was a senior at Benedictine University enrolled in a business management class, he had to do the prep work to start his own company, including coming up with a name for it.

  •  As homeowners struggle with the need for more storage space, king- and queen-size beds with storage drawers have become more popular.

    Furniture makers seize upon changing times Aug 31, 2013 12:00 AM
    American-made furniture — particularly Amish-made bedroom sets — and beds with storage drawers are among the current trends in home furnishings. Turk Furniture in Naperville even has a tag sale once a year to mark American-made pieces, said Patrick Galloway, general manager.

  •  Hilda Jones, right, and her daughter Jennifer combine powers to make a mother-daughter Realtor team. They are marketing this house in Algonquin.

    Illinois seeing a delayed jump in prices, Realtor team says Aug 24, 2013 12:00 AM
    Residential real estate sales have been hot so far this year in the Carpentersville, Algonquin and Crystal Lake areas, said Hilda and Jennifer Jones, Realtors with Baird and Warner’s Carpentersville office.

  • Pergolas have been popular in Europe for generations, and now are commonly seen in the Midwest.

    Pergola kits cut the project down to sizeAug 21, 2013 12:00 AM
    Pergolas are found all over Europe, dating from the 1600s. They have long been popular here in the South and West, and now are a growing trend in the Midwest, said Don McSwain, owner of Quality Built Backyards.

  •  HomeStory’s sliding doors with inlaid mirrors are popular for closet installations.

    Door replacement has gone high tech Aug 10, 2013 12:00 AM
    Replacing a home’s interior doors has always made a big difference in the look of a house. Until recently, the mess and expense involved served as a deterrent to making that change. That is no longer the case, said Dan Teuscher, owner of HomeStory Chicago, based in Elk Grove Village.

  •  Adam Kern and his wife, Cheryl, combined their Official and Acme heating and cooling offices into one business last year.

    New advancements made in home HVAC systems Aug 3, 2013 12:00 AM
    When it comes to home heating and cooling, today’s homeowners have several primary areas of concern, said Adam Kern, co-owner with his wife, Cheryl, of Official/Acme Heating and Cooling in McHenry. Electric dampers and mechanical filters are some of the recent advancements in home HVAC systems.

  •  Today’s patio umbrella is free-standing and rotates to cover more “real estate.”

    Outdoor seating and shade get an upgrade Jul 27, 2013 12:00 AM
    It used to be that everyone had an outdoor patio table with an umbrella in the middle and four or six chairs around it. The materials varied, but they were primarily dining sets. “It’s a whole different outdoor world today,” said Steve Olson, manager of Viking Ski and Patio in Barrington.

  • Duane Blanton Plumbing offers a 24-hour emergency line to provide service around the clock and on holidays.

    Even your home’s pipes require maintenance Jul 22, 2013 12:00 AM
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the adage goes, and that is certainly the philosophy of Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer and Drainage Inc. of Round Lake. Our spring of heavy rains has kept Duane, his wife, Madeline, and their crews busy with emergency calls.

  •  Chuck Fanaro, president of DWG Corporation, the owner, developer, builder and manager of Saddlebrook Farms in Grayslake, went against conventional wisdom at the time when he started offering factory-built homes. He overcame concerns about quality by building his own factory to build the homes.

    Saddlebrook Farms offers custom homes in retirement community Jul 14, 2013 12:00 AM
    Many people who want to live an active life during retirement do not have a limitless supply of funds. In fact, more retired adults probably fall into this category than into the group that can invest in a large home in a southern climate.

  • Lighter wood finishes in the medium range are now popular.

    Contemporary, traditional looks coexist Jul 6, 2013 12:00 AM
    “Mix and match” is the trend in furnishings today as homeowners gravitate toward the eclectic look, said Catherine Cushing, vice president and co-owner of Geneva Home Works in West Chicago.

  •  Pavers and retaining walls have become a popular alternative to wooden decks.

    Weather often prompts landscaping upgrades Jun 29, 2013 12:00 AM
    Every year Mother Nature presents different opportunities for landscape design firms in the Chicago area, said Colin Taheny, vice president of sales for Ryco Landscaping of Lake in the Hills. “Last year we were dealing with a severe drought. This year there have been a lot of flooding problems.

  • Nothing updates the look of a home like new siding or front entry door. Aspen Exterior of Arlington Heights is a remodeling company that sells and installs doors, windows and siding.

    Durable composites being used to update homes Jun 22, 2013 12:00 AM
    Manufacturers of windows, doors and siding are increasingly offering blended products that combine the best of several materials in order to stand up to Mother Nature, while also pleasing homeowners, said Brian Leckie, president of Aspen Exterior Co. of Arlington Heights.

  •  A liner that slips over the existing tub, as well as wall panels, create a near-instant update of an aging bathroom.

    Insulated tub, shower liners update bath in one day Jun 15, 2013 12:00 AM
    Taking a shower or bath in a tub that is less than pristine doesn’t enhance your feeling of cleanliness. Aging porcelain tubs, tile and grout can be difficult to keep clean. Solving this issue has been the business of Phoenix Bathtub Renewals Inc. of Cicero since 1984.

  •  Berlin Gardens manufactures “green” outdoor furniture made using recycled materials.

    Plush patio furniture grows in popularity Jun 8, 2013 12:00 AM
    Technological advances are making it easy to enjoy more hours outdoors. For instance, Berlin Gardens manufactures “green” outdoor furniture made entirely of recycled plastic milk jugs. Its tables, chairs, pergolas, and accessories are among the outdoor furniture sold by Hearth and Home of Mount Prospect.

  • People living in the Midwest spend more on their outdoor living spaces, studies have found. This outdoor fireplace was made using paver blocks by Belgard Hardscapes.

    Paver bricks have advantages over decks, concrete patios Jun 1, 2013 12:00 AM
    National studies show that people of the Midwest spend more on outdoor living products than people in any other area of the country, said Mike Haumersen, outdoor living specialist with Belgard Hardscapes. Belgard is a leading manufacturer of paver stones and blocks, as well as outdoor elements made in a factory using those blocks and pavers — like fire pits, water features, outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces — that are then installed by a homeowner's landscape design firm.

  • Technology advances have eased the maintenance requirements for outdoor ponds, as well as increased their sustainability.

    Ponds, fountains proven to be an irresistible draw May 25, 2013 12:00 AM
    Water can get children outside and away from video games and television, allowing them to instead observe and learn about nature, including frogs, salamanders, fish, plants and more, said Brian Helfrich, construction manager for Aquascape Designs in St. Charles and Lisle. The company installs small ponds, fountains and other outdoor water features in suburban yards.

  •  Lighting designers help homeowners rethink what they can do with their yards.

    Landscape lighting is just the startMay 18, 2013 12:00 AM
    Create a vacation destination in your own backyard. Plan carefully and implement high-end improvements over time, if necessary, say Jennifer Jensen and Thomas Reindl of NorthWest Lighting and Accents in Mount Prospect and McHenry.

  • Homeowners are increasingly being drawn to garden art and small water features, like this bubbling fountain.

    Low-maintenance trend grows in landscaping May 4, 2013 12:00 AM
    Not everyone has a green thumb. People can spend hours in the garden and still not be able to make their homes the showpieces they envision. With this in mind, more homeowners are looking for plants and shrubs that are low- or no-maintenance, said Jean Bragdon, operations manager at Lurvey's Garden Center in Des Plaines.

  •  Amy Hull College of DuPage greenhouse supervisor and adjunct faculty member works with horticulture student Warren Kahtib, in the college’s greenhouse.

    Landscaping, gardening expertise is found at COD Apr 27, 2013 12:00 AM
    Homeowners with a growing concern of environmental issues, such as food production and yard waste, are heading back to school. Interest in topics like organic foods or sustainable landscaping are among the reasons people are taking horticulture classes, said Julia Fitzpatrick-Cooper of the College of DuPage.

  • Plote Homes’ Dan Shepard oversees things at Lakes at Boulder Ridge, a new community in Lake in the Hills.

    Plote Construction associated with homes, too Apr 20, 2013 12:00 AM
    The Plote name is well known for heavy road construction throughout the Northwest suburbs. But few realize the breadth of the family's interests and holdings, such as Plote Homes LLC, which was originally established as Par Development in 1989. The home-building company is run by Dan Shepard, executive vice president.

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