Blog Category - Home & Garden

At Ashlake, there’s always something new under the sun!

Categories: Blog, Home & Garden, Uncategorized | Posted: May 23, 2017

Not only do you get a maintenance-free home and an amazing, friendly community when you move to the Villas at Ashlake, but you also get nuggets of wisdom. Keep reading to learn!

Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel, an important French physicist, explained how we can generate electricity from sunlight in 1839.  He’s the father of modern solar energy, discovering the photovoltaic effect, the operating principle of the solar cell. And finally, 175 years and decades of experimentation later, we have technology that can efficiently harness the power of the sun!


Why does this matter?

Because everything we do uses tons of electricity – and it costs a lot of money. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world! Modern technology can harness solar energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light, and heating water.


By using solar power, you can reduce your energy costs and your carbon footprint. And at the Villas of Ashlake, we’re helping you do just that – by installing a solar energy system!


What does solar power mean to you?

  • You’ll start saving the very first day of your system’s operation. How high is your current electric bill? You can expect to save around $90 a month from your solar energy system at Ashlake!


  • You can claim a one-time tax credit equal to 30% of your system’s cost. For example, on a $15,000 solar energy system, you’d be entitled to $4,500 in tax credits. Cha-ching!


  • When you purchase your home, it’s easy to finance your solar energy system through your mortgage.


  • Homes with a solar energy system provide more reliable power and have a better resale value in the Richmond market.


  • Your solar energy system will reduce your carbon footprint by lowering demand for electricity from coal or gas-fueled energy plants.



If want to learn more about how the solar energy system at Ashlake will work, please call Tom Gancsos at 804.347.4253.

5 Reasons You’ll LOVE Single Level Living!

Categories: Blog, Home & Garden, Richmond, VA, Wake Forest, NC | Posted: March 13, 2017

At Cornerstone Homes, we’ve cornered the market on attractive, well-designed single level homes. All of our homes have the primary living space on one level, with some models having an option second floor bonus room. They offer 2 or 3 bedrooms, plenty of open space, and a level of comfort you won’t believe. Take a look at some of the benefits of single-level living:

  • Easier to navigate. The best thing about single level living: everything you need is on one floor! No more endless trips up and down the stairs, and no more forgetting that thing you needed from the master bedroom because it took so long to get there. Ah, sweet convenience!
  • Have you, a family member, or your sweet Maltese Max ever tripped up on the staircase? Single level living means no worries about you or your loved ones missing a step. And no need to haul laundry or luggage up and down the stairs!
  • Open space. Our one-story homes include lots of open living space. Rooms have high ceilings, lots of windows, and flow easily into one another – without an unsightly staircase to ruin the view.
  • Easy to clean. If you could pick your least favorite chore, what would it be? Would it include cleaning the awkward crevices of your staircase? Or lugging your heavy vacuum and clunky cleaning supplies from floor to floor? Not anymore!
  • Everyday life. Taking a shower and your spouse decides to run the dishwasher? Don’t yell at them from the upstairs bathroom. Yell from the same floor so they hear you better!

With all these benefits, you’ll wish you’d switched to single level living years ago!

5 Ways to Use Your Bonus Room

Categories: Blog, Home & Garden | Posted: June 24, 2016

Sure, you could use the bonus room featured in the Canterbury and Abbey models as a guest bedroom, but where’s the fun in that? Cornerstone Homes are designed to fit your lifestyle, so give yourself the space you’ve dreamed about. Here are five suggestions for other ways to use that extra room.

  1. Home Office. Run your home-based business. Check on your investments. Finally sit down to do the writing you’ve always wanted. Now you’ve got the time and this is the perfect space.
  2. Yoga Studio. Add calming tones and colors, a sound system, a TV for watching guided meditation videos or yoga videos. Begin your path to inner peace in a room designed to help you achieve your bliss.
  3. Craft Room. Keep all your supplies for painting, gift wrapping, knitting, sewing, and all your other projects organized in one place. If you’ve spent years trying to create at a cluttered dining room table or a cramped work bench in the garage, this is your chance to get the customized creative space you’ve always wanted.
  4. Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 10.14.52 AMMedia Room. For those who want to feel their entertainments. Watch games and wirelessly stream movies to your 60-inch television or install a state-of-the-art stereo and speakers, crank up the music and tear off the knob. Or throw away the remote. This is your media room and nobody can stop you from making the windows shake.
  5. Library. A sanctuary full of your favorite books–the bibliophile’s fondest dream. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Hardwood floors. Comfortable chairs (we won’t tell anyone if you use them for napping too). Plenty of light. Go analog in a digital world with your custom-built library.

Keep or Give Away?

Categories: Home & Garden | Posted: April 1, 2016

For active adults looking to right-size their home, a move is the ideal time to reduce clutter and prioritize the things that are really important to you. Getting rid of unnecessary stuff the can be therapeutic, but planning out your decision-making can make the process a little easier. Here are five tips that can help you decide what to keep, give away or toss out:


Make a list of the things can’t live without

This will help you let go of the things that don’t make the list.


Make sure everything has a purpose.

Clothes you haven’t worn in more than six months can go, along with books you haven’t read in years or furniture that won’t fit in your new home. Remember, if you haven’t seen it in more than a year, you probably don’t need it.


Make it digital

CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videos, pictures, and important documents can all be digitized and saved to a hard drive or the cloud. You’ll be amazed how much space all that old media can take up.


Make presents of family heirlooms and sentimental items

While you may not have space for everything, your friends and family might like to have some of those keepsakes. You get to watch your loved ones enjoy items that are important to you and you reduce the chances of squabbling over those items later.


Make a plan for the discards

Separate the things you must have from the things you want to have and the things you don’t need. Then decide what can be donated, what can be given away and what should be thrown out.




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Enjoy outdoor living – even when the weather is bad!

Categories: Blog, Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, Richmond, VA, Wake Forest, NC | Posted: January 15, 2016

Nothing beats the feeling of sun on your face, or the contentment of looking up through the trees. That’s why we all head outdoors in the warmer months. But what about during less temperate months?

At Cornerstone Homes, our unique floorplans include a variety of indoor/outdoor living spaces. We offer courtyards, patios, verandas and sunrooms. Functioning as extensions of indoor spaces, outdoor “rooms” are attractive yet useful. Indoors, our sunrooms are just what you need for your sunshine fix on a winter day.

So whether you want a spot to enjoy a cocktail or a serene corner for reading, we have indoor and outdoor living spaces that are practical, private and peaceful.

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Outdoor Living is Hot at Cornerstone Homes!

Categories: Apex, NC, Blog, Home & Garden, Local Articles, Richmond, VA, Wake Forest, NC | Posted: June 1, 2015


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The days of a vast expanse of grass and a couple of lawn chairs are long gone.
Increasingly sophisticated homeowners want indoor spaces that flow to the outdoors, in effect creating outdoor “rooms” for living, entertaining and recreation.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.48.41 PMAt Cornerstone Homes, our unique approach to active adult living includes a variety of outdoor living spaces. We offer courtyards, patios and sunrooms, so whether you’re enjoying a cocktail or a moment of serenity, your outdoor living spaces are private and peaceful.

Stylish yet low maintenance, outdoor living rooms give you a multi-purpose space with room to play, cook and dine. Functioning as extensions of indoor spaces, outdoor “rooms” are attractive yet useful.

outdoor livingAnd for those of you who don’t want to quite venture outdoors, a four-season sunroom will bring the outdoors in year-round. Perfect for quiet reading, a TV room, or craft room, the possibilities are endless. The space is yours to personalize whether you want to step outdoors or simply into a room that makes you feel like you are!


5 Tips for Outdoor Living

  1. Make your outdoor spaces into true living spaces with comfortable furniture, rugs, cushions, pillows, and built-in planters or benches.
  1. Turn a corner of your patio into a full-functioning outdoor kitchen, complete with outdoor grill, appliances, prep counter, cabinets and bar.
  1. Carry the colors/materials from inside the house into your outdoor rooms. Choose bolder versions of your color palette and textiles so they stand up to the vast expanse of nature.
  1. Nothing beats the soothing sounds of a fountain, pond or waterfall. Add water plants and fish and you’ve got the perfect retreat.
  1. Surround your space with pots or planting beds, so you can enjoy being close to the flowers, veggies, fruits and herbs.


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Organizing Your Garage – Ideas, Tips & More!

Categories: Blog, Home & Garden | Posted: September 15, 2014

Downsizing and decluttering your home may seem like a project, but by using your garage as storage you’ll find even more living space can be available to you.  There are even options to use your garage for storage space while still housing your vehicle(s).  Many Cornerstone Home models include a garage, so here are some ideas when organizing your extra space.


garageInstall Cabinets in Your Garage

Cabinets aren’t just for your kitchen and bathroom. Garage cabinets keep tools, cleaning supplies, and off-season items organized and out of sight. Create zones by grouping items by category, project, or activity, and designate a specific cabinet or cabinet shelf to store them. This will help maintain order in your garage and ensure that everything has a permanent home. Organize frequently used items in cabinets and drawers that are easiest to reach. Take special care to store items such as cleaning supplies, paints, and motor oil in a cool, dry place out of reach of children and pets.

Tip: Storage labels are a foolproof way to sort, date, and locate items in your garage. These chalkboard garage storage cabinets make it easy to label and re-label contents.


Keep Items in Sight

Reclaim garage space by organizing items in plain sight. Small open-storage units are ideal for organizing often-used items such as sports equipment and kids’ toys. Varying sizes of open containers let you tailor storage to your garage and your belongings.


garageSave Space with Hanging Storage

If you lack floor space, look to your garage’s walls and ceiling to store more. Adjustable shelves give you the flexibility to organize in a way that’s efficient for your family’s evolving storage needs. Transparent rubber tubs stack neatly on shelves to maximize storage space and make supplies easy to spot. Rubber tubs are also an economical way to organize clutter, especially if your garage tends to get damp.

Consider hanging your belongings on hooks if you want them out of the way but easy to access. Hooks are an excellent solution for tools with long handles and large seasonal items such as bikes, lawn chairs, and sleds. A pegboard is an easy, inexpensive garage storage solution for organizing small tools in one convenient location. Install a pegboard above a table or potting bench to transform a small space into a simple garage workstation.


Enlist Mobile Helpers

Rolling carts, cabinets, and bins are easy to maneuver through the garage. Store lawn, garden, trash, and recycling bins near the garage door so they can easily move to the curb for collection or into the yard for outdoor projects.


Tailor Your Needs

While many garages have common storage needs, garage storage isn’t one-size-fits-all. Customize your garage with a storage system to suit your budget, lifestyle, and stuff. Units that offer both open and closed storage are excellent for the garage. Reserve prime, easy-access space for most-used items, and stow seasonal and seldom-used items on high shelves or overhead.


Get more home improvement projects and ideas from Better Homes and Gardens here.


Furniture Arrangement: 7 Quick Tips

Categories: Blog, Home & Garden | Posted: August 27, 2014

Whether you’re trying to maximize your space or provide a more creative touch to the furniture arrangement around the house, you probably know there are many directions a “project” like this can take.  Luckily the experts have us all covered!  The folks at recently posted the following 7 helpful tips to keep in mind when re-arranging furniture.  It’s actually not all about feng shui!

Keep the following in mind when you decide for a different spin on furniture arrangement:

1-furniture-arrangement-measuring-tape1) Get out the measuring tape.

The first step in arranging a space is determining its size. Use a tape measure to get the dimensions of a room. Or, a quick tip: Measure your foot and then walk heel to toe across the room. This is an easy way to estimate the basic size. Then, check the dimensions of the hallways, stairs and door widths leading to the space. This is the eternal challenge for a homeowner, being sure the entrance and egress of the room are large enough for potential purchases.

The first step in arranging a space is determining its size. Use a tape measure to get the dimensions of a room. Or, a quick tip: Measure your foot and then walk heel to toe across the room. This is an easy way to estimate the basic size. Then, check the dimensions of the hallways, stairs and door widths leading to the space. This is the eternal challenge for a homeowner, being sure the entrance and egress of the room are large enough for potential purchases.


2-furniture-arrangements-mix-furnshing-sizes2) Mix furnishings of various sizes.

Every object has a height, depth and width. To add visual interest to any space, incorporate a variety of furniture with different characteristics. If you’re going for a serene, unchallenging area for rest or recovery, keep the furnishing volumes in a room similar. This rustic living space from HGTV Dream Home 2011 uses an extra-large sectional with small armchairs and side tables to create an energetic space with various volumes.


3-furniture-arrangements-scaled-balance3) Use scaled pieces to create balance.

The size of pieces relative to one another and the size of the space is their scale. Similarly scaled pieces are more serene when used together, but a nice balance of pieces creates a harmonious atmosphere, utilizing the differing physical qualities of height, depth and width throughout a room. When furnishings are out of scale, you’ll notice that it just won’t feel comfortable or right.


4-furniture-arrangements-healthy-relationship4) Form a healthy relationship.

The relationship of items to one another to form a pleasing whole is called balance. There are two forms of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Bilateral symmetry is like the human body: There are two of everything. Asymmetry refers to an imbalance, such as two candles of slightly different sizes next to each other. Symmetry is very restful, while asymmetry is used to add visual motion and excitement.


5-furniture-arrangements-artist-perspective5) Use an artist’s perspective.

Look at your space as a painter looks at a work of art. There are visual tricks that painters use to create the appearance of depth in a space. You can use these tools, too. 
The first trick painters use is “triangulation.” In interior design, triangulation is the placement of two end tables on either side of a sofa with a painting above the sofa. If you can imagine this scenario, it is lower on the corners with the apex of the view just above midcenter at the top of the painting.


6-furniture-arrangement-artwork6) Create depth in artwork.

The second trick painters use is the creation of depth in artwork, which is a two-dimensional medium. Paintings often have a foreground, midground, background and vanishing point. Stand at the threshold of your room. Place a chair, perhaps at an angle, in the foreground closest to you. The cocktail table will provide a midground and the sofa with the wall behind it will serve as the background. A window in the scene will give you your vanishing point. Or, the vanishing point can be within a work of art placed above the sofa.


7-furniture-arrangement-gestalt7) Think Gestalt.

All furniture arrangements have a certain gestalt, or “totality,” a “form.” Large rectangular spaces can be dealt with by dividing the “form” of the space into another form. A long, narrow living space, for instance, can be split in two by creating zones of function. Say, one half is for the sofa, or the function of conversing, and the other half is for a dining set, or the function of dining. This helps you take the bite out of large rectangular rooms by dividing them into squares according to their function. Humans tend to feel more comfortable and less formal in square furniture arrangements versus rectangular.


Have anything to add?  Let us know in the comments!

It’s Time To Consider Right-Sizing Your Life!

Categories: Blog, Buying & Selling Your Home, Home & Garden, Richmond, VA | Posted: August 21, 2014

You’ve been having a nagging feeling. You look around your once bustling home and wonder, “Do I really need all of this?” The reality is that you can’t remember the last time you actually set foot in some of your rooms. And your grown kids don’t want all the stuff they left behind. As you begin to sort through closets and de-clutter rooms, you’re on the path to right-sizing your life.

right-sizingRight-sizing is the concept of taking what you have, and making better use of it. It is taking stock of what you have, and figuring out what you actually need. The right-sizing movement has been growing as Baby Boomers figure out how they want to spend the next decade or two (or three!). They’ve discovered that paring down a lifetime of possessions and beginning a “new” life with things that have meaning liberates them so that they can pursue their passions such as travel or hobbies without the responsibilities of too much “stuff” weighing them down.

In the case of many 55+ adults, right-sizing leads to downsizing. Once they’ve pared down their belongings and reflected on what they really want, many decide to move to a smaller home, often in an active adult lifestyle community from Cornerstone Homes! Our Villas at Magnolia Lakes community is perfect for people who’ve decided to simplify their lives! Here you can focus on enjoying life more – without the hassles and expenses of a big house and yard. At the Villas at Magnolia Lakes, our homeowners have chosen to live worry-free and joy-filled; to live every day like it’s a vacation.

So what do you do with all of your time? Anything you want! Spend your days cooling off poolside or watching sports on TV on the outdoor Lanai. The community is graced with the natural beauty of a lake, just waiting for you to throw in a line! The Clubhouse, complete with a kitchen, fitness center and fireplace, is the perfect place to meet up with neighbors and friends. At the Villas, it is so easy to make new friends and have fun. And there is always something going on.

The Villas at Magnolia Lakes has a neighborly atmosphere, as well as easy living, single story, maintenance-free homes that are specially designed with an active lifestyle in mind. Our two- and three-bedroom homes offer charming and spacious living for an exceptional value.

Once you’re ready for the good life at the Villas at Magnolia Lakes, you may still need to sell your current home first. No problem. We’ve thought of everything! Cornerstone Homes’ exclusive Own A Villa program is designed to make the transition to your new lifestyle easy and virtually painless. The program covers preparing your home for sale, selling your home, securing your financing, and organizing your move. The Own A Villa program also includes discounted fees and services from our team of experts. With our 5 easy steps, you’ll be enjoying the freedom you’re dreaming of in no time!

So, think things over and right-size your life by moving to the Villas at Magnolia Lakes.

Who Can Afford to Travel in Retirement? You Can – Here’s How

Categories: Blog, Health & Fitness, Home & Garden | Posted: August 11, 2014


Travel is one of the two most popular retirement goals, along with spending more time with family and friends, according to a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies report released in December 2013. Seventy percent of Americans feel travel is worth saving for, and 47 percent regard it as a necessity rather than a luxury. However, only 18 percent have factored travel into their retirement savings plan. If you want to have enough money available to make your dream vacation come true, start putting these strategies into practice now.

Estimate Your Travel Costs

Start by estimating the cost of the travel you want to do. Create a spreadsheet to itemize your expenses, and then identify potential locations and how long you plan to stay. This gives you a basis for estimating major costs such as transportation and hotel fees, along with additional expenses such as sightseeing and meals. Don’t forget to include a souvenir budget and emergency expense fund.

To help estimate your costs, you can consult travel agents and guides, conduct online research or use travel apps. You can also use the online cost calculator for estimating major expenses at

Set a Savings Goal

Once you have an estimate of your travel costs, you can set a savings goal. To keep your travel plans affordable, this should fit within your overall retirement savings plan. Investment management company Vanguard recommends factoring your retirement travel goals into a bigger picture that considers things like everyday living expenses, health care and projected inflation. You can estimate your retirement savings needs on

Plan a Budget

With a savings target in sight, you can plan your budget and monthly saving goals accordingly. Financial expert Susan Warren recommends putting 20 percent of your monthly budget toward savings goals, and then split the rest between 50 percent for necessities and 30 percent for discretionary spending. To achieve your travel savings goal, you can either prioritize it as part of your monthly savings budget or periodically devote part of your discretionary fund toward it.

You will have more available to put toward your travel goals if you have low monthly debt obligations for expenses such as loans and credit cards. If you receive regular payments from an annuity or structured settlement, explore whether you would be better off selling your future payments for a lump sum of cash now. You could then use this money to decrease your monthly debt obligations and save more toward your travel goals. You can learn more about selling your future payments at

Create a Savings Account

You can save toward your travel goals faster if you use a smart savings vehicle. Personal finance expert J.D. Roth advocates using online high-yield savings accounts to target saving for particular goals. Another way to save is to obtain a travel credit card. You’ll find a recent review of the best travel credit cards at Many offer free hotel stays, free flights and frequent rewards.