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SolarCity wants 'solar shingles' on 5 million more roofs

SolarCity wants to persuade 5 million American households to replace their roofs with solar-energy shingles.

Instead of installing panels on top of an existing roof, the company is working on "solar shingles" that would replace a home's roof and absorb solar energy.

>> Read more trending stories  

About 1 million Americans have solar panels on their homes, so adding an additional 5 million to that list would be quite the accomplishment.

But the company seems to think the solar shingles can fix some of the biggest problems associated with solar energy.

Elon Musk, the company's chairman, said the solar roofing looks better and lasts longer than normal roofing.

And Musk said installing or replacing the solar shingles shouldn't be much different than when it is for those who use regular roofing materials.

But the company will still need to keep costs down if it wants to see mainstream adoption.

The Dow Chemical Company recently had to discontinue its line of solar shingles because the product wasn't selling -- likely because they were more expensive and less efficient than typical solar panels.

SolarCity isn't talking about the price or energy output of its shingles yet.

Right now, it's in the middle of a merger with Tesla Motors, which could open up the option to package the solar shingles with Tesla products such as the home battery. That could make the adoption process for solar roofing easier and cheaper.

Private Quarters: Midcentury modern designer redo on East Lake Home Tour

Katherine Madeira and Chris Drobny were unfamiliar with mid-century modern style and Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood when a designer’s house caught their attention on Facebook.

A friend shared a post that Brian Patrick Flynn, whose projects include HGTV’s 2016 Dream Home, had his split-level ranch on the market. They viewed the home the day before an open house and their offer was accepted. Then they negotiated to buy the home’s budget and designer furnishings, light fixtures and window treatments, realizing that the style fit them. The DeKalb County location, near communities such as Kirkwood, Decatur and East Atlanta, also appealed to Madeira and Drobny, who previously rented in Old Fourth Ward.

“We lucked out. Who gets to buy a house already renovated and designed, and you get to buy the furniture and you don’t have to do through the work?” Madeira said. “It was just amazing.”

The renovated house is one of six residences featured on the 2016 East Lake Tour of Homes on Sept. 10-11.

Snapshot

Residents: Katherine Madeira and Chris Drobny, dogs Kerrigan and Fiona, and cats Sushi and Sake. Madeira works for SunGard Public Sector, which provides software solutions for public administration and public safety; Drobny is a Microsoft consultant.

Location: East Lake neighborhood, DeKalb County

Size: 1,640 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths

Year built/bought: 1955/2015

Architectural style: Mid-century modern

Favorite architectural elements: Custom wall and ceiling details, such as wood planks, fabric, designer wallpaper and a silver geometric wall feature dividing the upstairs from the main level.

Designer: Brian Patrick Flynn, the former owner

Interior design style: Mid-century modern

Favorite piece of furniture: Custom dining room banquette with a wood table that extends to seat 10 or folds to create two four-top tables.

Favorite outdoor elements: Four separate outdoor living spaces and a “designer dog run” with a faux lawn. “Having dogs, that was a huge selling point. We wanted a yard. For being intown, it’s a really big yard. We had so much space, we got another (dog),” Madeira said.

Resources: Furniture from West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, World Market, City Issue

How to decorate your home with Atlanta's biggest decor trends

Our homes, like our wardrobes, can evolve to stay in style. Keeping them in vogue while keeping them comfortable is not easy work, but it is always worth it. Your home is your sanctuary. It should be a true reflection of you and your family while remaining a cozy retreat. Look no further to see how to decorate your home with Atlanta's current biggest trends.

Colored stainless steel

Stainless steel is sleek and goes with everything. Unfortunately, like every trend, stainless steel has its pros and cons. One of the biggest cons is the required maintenance. Scratches and fingerprints are a huge complaint of stainless steel owners. Black or colored steel may deter this issue some. It will not be eliminated completely. "Metals are neutrals in the overall scheme of things," Carl Mattison of Carl Mattison Design. "The standard gray stainless steel look will not go away anytime soon. Converting to the possible trend of colored or black finished steel is more a personal design preference. Create a design that works with it... go for it!"

Granny florals

Roses are red and violets are blue, and they are all hot this year. Before going all-in on today's latest trend, Mattison recommends trying bold patterns, such as florals, in small ways. "By incorporating pillows and linens first you can see if you like that look and it is not too permanent," he said. "Next, if you decide the look is for you, go ahead and incorporate wallpaper, but try smaller rooms like powder and sitting rooms over large spaces so that the home does not become a greenhouse."

Formal dining rooms

Formal dining rooms have gone back and forth over the last few decades. One year they are a must, the next they are wasted space. However, as with most trends, it is all about personal taste and what works for you. "Formal dining rooms are always good for resale as they can be used by the new owner any way they desire," according to Mattison. "They are simply additional square footage no matter what. They could be a sitting area, a lounge, a reading room, a library... or yes, even the old formal dining room. In a historic district like Grant Park, a formal dining room is often desired but with connection to the kitchen being key through possibly a butler pantry or other walkthrough area."

Mismatched cabinetry

Two-toned cabinets definitely offer the kitchen a splash. Be careful. If not done correctly, it can be a DIY disaster. Rachel Oliver of Rachel Oliver Design recommends getting out of your comfort zone with an island. However, she warns to take precautions when it comes to the cabinetry. "The right style of kitchen can handle upper cabinets being a different color from the lower, but that takes planning and a little bravery," Oliver suggested. "Be careful not to make it look like patchwork."

Statement mirrors

Mirrors are great for decorating. They offer the illusion of more space and create an interesting focal point. It makes sense to make a statement with a mirror by choosing one with intricate detail, bold colors, or an odd shape. Statement mirrors and art pieces can be wonderful if grouped together or left alone. A typical rule in decorating is be leary of going overboard with anything. "A large mirror that fits an entire wall most likely does not need anything else around it," Mattison recommended. "However, smaller mirrors grouped together on one wall create a pattern that is pleasing to the eye. Keep things like that to multiples of 7 or less."

Raw natural materials

Raw materials are a must for 2016. Unfortunately, things like marble, concrete and brass can be pricey. Reclaimed wood is stylish, natural and inexpensive. "There are many companies that carry reclaimed wood for super prices," Oliver said. "Dining and console tables are very popular and affordable. Ditch fake plants and add fresh cut greenery or easy-care houseplants for a pop of natural elements."

Sunrooms and outdoor living spaces

Some experts claim that the popularity of outdoor living spaces are on their way out, but like dining rooms, it's all about personal preference. In Southern states like Georgia, outdoor living spaces are essential and can serve as extra square footage. "In some climates, especially the South, outdoor living spaces are still important as we really have three seasons we can use them," Mattison said. "An outdoor space where a large ceiling fan can be installed is most important as the fan can create a breeze we don't often get, cooling the area by as much as 10 degrees."

Celebrate beautiful Atlanta historical architecture with this Instagram account

Atlanta isn’t exactly known as a place that preserves its history. Our city has raised and knocked over countless buildings in its decades-long cycle of reinvention.  

However, not everyone is on board with this plan. According to Cristina Moscoso, a consultant and photographer; Daniel Tana, program manager of the American Architectural Foundation; and Derek Anderson, an architectural historian married to Moscoso, people like historical homes and architecture.

“Atlanta is a really good place for preservation because people are becoming more interested in preservation,” Anderson said.

The three of them started an Instagram account called Architectural Splendor to capture the beauty of historical houses.

The Wrens Nest (1870) is located in the West End Historic District in beautiful SW Atlanta. It was the home of author and folklorist Joel Chandler Harris, famous for his Uncle Remus stories. While the house originally looked much simpler than it does today, Harris remodeled and expanded in the 1880s to give the home its current Queen Anne style. Patterned shingles and decorative mill work were used to avoid smooth-walled surfaces, and the large porch that was built to wrap around the ground floor became one of Harris’ favorite writing spots. Photograph by Derek Anderson A photo posted by Architectural Splendor (@architecturalsplendor) on Aug 15, 2016 at 8:04am PDT

These photos are taken by Anderson and Tana on their trips around the country.

Moscoso said she edits and posts the pictures to Instagram. The descriptions tend to be more detailed than an average Instagram account, reflecting the depth of expertise the group brings to the project.

“That’s kind of the beauty of Instagram,” said Tana. “You don’t have to read anything if you don’t want to.”

Anderson said people in Atlanta (and nationally) are becoming more interested in preserving the history built into a city’s walls.

“When I talk to friends, they want to buy in Atlanta historic districts,” he said. “We’re kind of in a period where due to the continuous loss of historic buildings, people have said enough is enough… (Historical structures) are what make a cool city that people want to visit.”

Anderson, who said he drives around Atlanta looking for good examples of historical architecture to photograph, recommended Grant Park, Druid Hills, and Cabbage Town as neighborhoods with history. Some lesser-known areas he mentioned include Adair Park and Collier Heights.

“I personally think this is a good experience for people,” Tana said. “I hope to just open people’s eyes and get them curious.”   

Grand estate in Alpharetta wants a jaw-dropping $5.1M for a $2.4M property

You gotta pay a premium for mansions in Alpharetta.

Sure, it’s a massive house with a scenic garden and fountain out front. Sure, this is a beautiful mansion in a good area with seven beds, 12 bathrooms and a bevy of amenities. Sure, those amenities include a total home automation system, gold leaf-adorned features, a solarium, home theater, spa, wine cellar and “spectacular pool.”

There’s even a tennis court and master on main for the retiree family that wants to stay active but also needs a three-car garage and a two-story foyer.

It’s the price that should give buyers pause. This home is listed for $5.1 million, but the county website assesses the home and lot’s total value at just $2.4 million.

Still, if you feel like this is a seller’s market and the price won’t get much better, give it a shot. See the full listing on Zillow or take the virtual tour

Grand estate in Alpharetta with fountain, solarium for $5.1M

Looking to upgrade to a dreamy estate? This Alpharetta mansion with a scenic garden and fountain could be your next home.

The beautiful mansion in Alpharetta has seven beds, 12 bathrooms and a bevy of amenities. Those amenities include a total home automation system, gold leaf-adorned features, a solarium, home theater, spa, wine cellar and “spectacular pool.”

There’s even a tennis court and master on main for the retiree family that wants to stay active but also needs a three-car garage and a two-story foyer.

The home is listed for $5.1 million on Zillow.com.

See the full listing on Zillow or take the virtual tour

Southern Made: For that always on vacation vibe

Wall of frames

Like many parents, Natasha Lehnert McRee wanted a way to frame her children’s artwork that was both stylish and super easy to change. After teaming up with Morgan Kimble Doherty, a professional muralist, the design duo came up with a simple and elegant solution.

The company: Wexel Art Displays started in 2010 in Austin. The Texas company designs and makes acrylic frames, which come in various colors, shapes and sizes and work in two styles: a single panel of acrylic that uses strong magnets to hold the art in place and a double-panel frame that sandwiches the art between two pieces of plexiglass.

The founders/designers: A Houston native, McRee graduated from Louisiana State University and worked at GSD&M, a Texas ad agency, before going out on her own. Doherty grew up in Vineland, N.J., and earned her degree in printmaking and painting from Rowan University (N.J.). She worked as a custom framer before meeting McRee and collaborating on several design projects prior to starting Wexel Art.

The materials: Acrylic and rare earth magnets that it has a patented design on, plus hardware in silver, bronze, black or (new) brushed gold.

What’s popular: Mondrian Set of Wallscapes ($800-$1,800). Sizes include 60 inches, 90 inches or 123 inches in 18 different colors.

Other favorites: Eva Zeisel Collection of three frames ($165.95).

Fun requests: Wall frames shaped like states, including Texas, Tennessee and Oregon; acrylic kennel doors with puppy paw prints; and snowflake ornaments made from leftover acrylic scrap materials.

Claim to fame: Made frames for CNN when the media company wanted to frame 30 of its most pivotal broadcast images.

Where to buy: wexelart.com, and in Atlanta, at Nandina Home and Design, 245 N. Highland Ave. (nandinahome.com).

Cuffs & claws

New Orleans jewelry designer Sarah Killen likes to say that owning a piece of Saint Claude jewelry, such as an oyster shell necklace, is a rite of passage for anyone who has moved to Louisiana or the South. Or, who is from the South.

The artist/owner: Killen grew up on a farm in Bossier City, La., and studied jewelry making under various mentors through the years. She has lived and worked in New Orleans for more than 10 years.

The company: Saint Claude started in 2008 in New Orleans. Killen’s company was named after a Bywater street where her first studio was located. The company creates jewelry using the lost wax technique. Her often bold and edgy collections range from pieces inspired by the culture of southern Louisiana to the ornamentation found on 18th- and 19th-century furniture.

What’s popular: Crawfish claw ($55-$98); oyster shell ($98-$210); okra ($55-$115); and La Colombe ($120-$240) pendants. Also the best-selling barnacle ring ($98-$210).

Other favorites: The Secret Garden cuff ($180-$350) and the Wonder Woman cuff ($225-$550).

What’s new: Killen’s version of the classic choker ($65-$120). The simple, open-collar design accentuates the décolletage.

Where to buy: saintclaudenola.com and the new Saint Claude store, 1933 Sophie B. Wright Place, in New Orleans.

Tile one on

As a native Floridian, scuba diver and longtime potter, Glenda Taylor creates address plaques that are inspired by her love of the ocean, beach and the state’s colorful, sunny style.

The artist: Taylor received her fine arts degree in ceramics from the University of Florida. After graduation, she began making pottery (mostly decorative vessels) and selling it at outdoor art fairs. In 1986, Taylor was asked to establish a ceramics program at the Vero Beach Museum of Art and taught there for 10 years. During that time, she teamed with two other female potters and created Tiger Lily Art Studios and Gallery. Known for her one-of-a-kind decorative vessels, Taylor wanted to create artwork that was more accessible.

The company: Launched in 2015 in Vero Beach, Taylor Tiles offers custom house number plaques, which are made of individual tiles handcrafted by Taylor. Prices range from $160 to $190, depending on the size and number of tiles.

Top themes: Sea turtles and orchids.

Other favorites: Sailboats; mermaids; tree frogs; pineapple; hibiscus; beach chair and umbrella; tropical fish; dolphins; palm trees; and banana trees.

Fun request: A customer in Cape Cod wanted specific lighthouses featured on her side tiles and flying seagulls on the crown tile of her address plaque.

Where to buy: For now, Taylor Tiles are sold exclusively through El Prado in Vero Beach (www.elpradoverobeach.com).

Fabulous $619K Roswell home carries graceful interiors on a gorgeous property

Now this is a good-looking house. 

We see a lot of interior pictures meant to advertise Atlanta homes for sale, but the ones for this house are even more impressive than usual. If the stuff in these photos does not come with the house, get the owners' interior decorator. 

Right now the owners are asking $619,000 for their Roswell beauty. It's got four beds, four baths and 3,357 square feet. The house includes everything you'd want in a new home, including stainless steel appliances, a wine bar, "massive" island and oversized master bedroom with a walk-in closet. 

The outdoor-inclined should really look through the gallery for this house to see the picture that captures the view from one of the house's three decks overlooking the trees. The current owners are pretty enthused with the vista- they have that part of the Zillow listing written in all caps. 

The Hedgewood home is inside a gated community and is steps from the tennis courts and pool. The only downside listed is a large but unfinished basement. See the full listing for more. 

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