The Symbolism of Christmas Trees & Wreathes

Wow – having been immersed with Christmas wreathes and Christmas trees for many, many decades, Doug ashamedly really never knew what either of them represented. He feels so, so inadequate.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Germans were the first to bring evergreens into their homes during the season of Christmas, as they were very plentiful in northern and eastern Europe. Evergreens, which survived harsh winters, were known as a symbol for strength and resilience plus, were looked upon as a symbol of hope.

Soon the trees were trimmed so as to have three distinct corners, which represented the holy trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The tree trimming was also essential to many homeowners as their homes were rather modest in size.

In European tradition, nothing was wasted for in those days, the remaining tree limbs were woven into a circle, or later to be known as a wreath. Forming a circle symbolized eternal life, which analogy is often related to our round wedding rings. In a way though, we guess there is some irony here as we tend to live in a throwaway culture, yet the wreath and its humble beginnings began by not throwing Evergreen limbs away.

So, the next time that you see a Christmas wreath or Christmas tree, don’t just think of them as front door decorations and a place to hide gifts under! If you’re still looking for your dream home here on the coast of North Carolina, we at Carolina Plantations are here to help you find it!

The Martini Theory Part 3: Your Dream Home

When the team at Carolina Plantations first explains the Martini Theory to people, we know there is often a gasp or two when we describe the third and last piece of the search. After you find the Area that meets your lifestyle requirements and a Community that matches your interests, the easiest part of your search is finding that well-soaked olive or your Dream Home! (and, now gasp!)

We cannot begin to tell you how many people invert their search requirements and wind up unhappy until they undo the damage. If you think your search is about a beautiful home, the chances are strong that you will not find happiness. Let Doug put it to you this way: If he gave you the perfect Dream Home in the world that you simply adored, but you didn’t like your community, and there was nothing outside the gate for 45 miles, would you ultimately be happy?

We are the only real estate company in the world that makes your search a cerebral search. Houses can be filled with emotion. However, introducing logic to give serious consideration to the Area and Community forces you to focus on what makes retirement successful.

In coastal North Carolina, approximately 70% of our clients build their Dream Home. Why? Well, for several reasons, with the first being that time is generally on your side. The bulk of our clients find the Area and Community they want to retire to a year or more before retiring. They purchase a homesite and then spend the next year or so working on floorplans with builders, as time is on their side. Secondly, many people we work with have dreamed about the perfect home for decades, and resales are often someone else’s dream, not theirs.

The market here for new homes and resale homes are both strong, as neither option is perfect for everyone. Building a home is not only time consuming, but there is a lot of time required on both part of the Buyers with regards to making selections, doing walkthrough inspections, etc. And with the real estate market hot right now throughout a good portion of the states, some people just want to move once – which also tends to favor the resale market.

The opportunity though to sit down with a professional interior designer in a showroom full of beautiful granite samples, 30+ cabinet options, almost unlimited hardwood floors/tile/carpet samples, along with rooms full of lighting, plumbing fixtures, appliances, interior, and exterior paint colors and more can be rather exhilarating, can’t it?

Also, most builders will allow you to lengthen or widen a floorplan, bump out a room, add on a screened porch or 3rd bay in the garage, etc. So, if you are thinking of looking for a place to retire, please keep in mind that your Dream Home is the easiest part of your search, for it’s not already built. Instead, we will find someone to build it for you, just the way you want it! Contact one of our outstanding agents here at Carolina Plantations today to get your search started today!

To F.R.O.G. or Not To F.R.O.G.

One of the hardest decisions our Carolina Plantations clients face while employing the Martini Theory is when it comes to building their Dream Home. Yes, finding the right geographic area is without a doubt the most important and time-consuming part of one’s search however, with all due respect, does one add on a FROG or not????

In the south, the Finished Room Over the Garage, aka FROG, is the bonus room located directly above your garage. Not sure how this acronym started or how the rest of the world has yet to catch on, but if you are going to make a trip to the south in search of a place to retire to, well, you sure as heck better know your lingo!! CLICK HERE for a dictionary of important terms:

Here are some criteria to consider with regards to adding a FROG:


  • Building upwards is one of the more economical ways to achieve more space for less money.
  • Conversely, building horizontally (as in increasing the size of the footprint of your home), is one of the most expensive solutions to adding square footage to a home.
  • For example. The range to build a square foot on the main level ranges between $130 – $200 per square foot in Coastal NC. A garage is usually 400’+, so the room upstairs, less the knee walls, is usually about 300’, with an average cost to build at $25,000 (including full bath). Therefore, the square footage cost for a FROG is approximately $83’.
  • Another frequent question we get is when people ask if the builder would just build an unfinished are over the garage just for storage. Well, the majority of the real costs in building a FROG are raising the roof approximately 5-6’ so as to achieve walking clearance plus, the cost of the stairway. If the cost is $25,000 for a finished 300’ FROG w/full bathroom, the cost to build it but, not finish it is probably around $18,000 – $20,000.

Basements in the South

  • We are always asked if we have basements here in the low country, and our answer is always the same. “if you had a basement, you’d have an indoor pool”. See, the water table in the Low Country of the Carolinas is relatively high plus, our land is very flat, so there are few opportunities to build a basement and if we do, it is on a homesite that slopes away, which provides us with a Walk Out Basement.
  • Many who build FROGS, use them like they did their basements up north.

Popular Uses of a FROG

  • Might be a tie here for top uses for a FROG, but certainly that of a Man Cave ranks right up there, as heaven knows that women need to send their men away every couple of hours so that they can have some peace and quiet!
  • Children/Grandchildren/Nieces/Nephews – when they come to visit, be it for an hour or a week, just send them to the FROG and problem disappears! Plus, the kids love having their own 300’ Romper Room which is above the garage, so the cars also don’t complain of the noise above!
  • When it is not being used as a cave or playroom for the kids, these ample bonus rooms can be set up for offices, Arts & Craft rooms, Theater rooms or, just for storage.

Other Advantages to Having A FROG

  • One of the most important advantages to adding on a FROG, is resale, as homes without this mighty utilitarian room can take longer to sell, especially if the home is in a community with a fair number of retirees and or younger families.
  • Children that come back home to roost is not just a myth anymore, as more and more seem to find a way to stay permanently on Mom & Dad’s generous payroll. If/when they do move back, be it for 2 weeks or 10 years…, the perfect place for the wayward child is The FROG!!
  • Aesthetically, a home where the roofline of the garage is raised 5-6’ can have a very appealing look to it, not to mention the pleasing look of a large dormer.



With so many functionality options, the multi-purpose FROG is one of the best features of any home you can purchase or build, providing of course the room keeps you within your budget.

Designing Your Dream Home

For those considering Brunswick County as a place to possibly retire to, one should be aware that our market for homes here is vastly different than what you have probably ever experienced before. It’s estimated that 80-85% of those who do settle in Coastal North Carolina wind up building their own home. Why? Because that is really the only way to truly get what you want.

So if you are a statistic in the vast majority, you really have some very important steps ahead of you in order to find your little slice of heaven here:

  • Find the area that best suits your needs (as in The Martini Theory
  • Find the Community/Plantation that matches your budget and activities
  • Find the Home (to be built) that meets your daily requirements
    • Find a Homesite to build your Dream Home on

Back in the 1990s and early to mid 2000s, anyone who wanted a custom home bought a homesite, found an architect/custom home designer, interviewed various builders and bid out their job. Today that probably represents 30% of the market as many local builders are building model homes again and 70% of those heading south are simply choosing an existing floor plan and modifying it to their liking. This accomplishes several things for the buyer:

  • The future owners can see the house before it is built. This alleviates the stress of making mistakes
  • This helps control costs as you are working from a base price for the home plus all the add ons.

The largest drawback to going in this direction is… that you could live in the same house as every 4th home on your street – thereby eliminating your signature on your Dream Home. The solution is designing your own home or making significant changes to an existing plan whereby the home would not be confused with the original plan.

If you venture in the direction of a Custom Built Home, you first start with a homesite. Purchasing a homesite is an art, if not a science, and this process should never be taken lightly as your homesite can drastically affect your lifestyle. Be sure you work with a land expert as there is much to consider:

  • Slope – the contour of your land can/will affect your drainage, cost to build, determine the style of home you can build, etc
  • Sun – knowing where the sun rises and sets is critical as a hot sun can ruin your late afternoons
  • Soil – homesites that are naturally wet can cause the owner significant water and or mold issues in the future
  • Shape/Dimensions – your home must fit comfortably on your homesite
  • Setbacks – you have to know these. Typically you cannot build within 10’ of the side of your property, 20-25’ from the front and 20-40’ from the back

So, let’s say that the below homesite is the one you have selected to build on. The dimensions are all shown and the setbacks are in place (gray shaded areas cannot be built on), so your home must be built within the white building envelope.


As you study this plat of this homesite, there are 3 significant issues that must be taken into consideration before you consider placing a home on it.

  1. There is a small pond and nice but distant golf view available from this back left corner
  2. The back of this homesite is a Nature Preserve – so lots of privacy
  3. This part of the building envelope is the largest and offers the most room to build

Because of this information, there are a few things that the owners have determined:

  • They want to take advantage of the golf/water views
  • They want a pool but only if it is private
  • The garage will go on the right side where there is ample room

Based upon this information, designing the home is really quite simple and fun as you already have considerable information that will determine the floor plan. Yes there are a ton of details to work out, but we already know where certain rooms will be.


From the above, we add in the topography of the homesite, location of trees and the dimensions of the home, and Voila!


And if by chance you work with, you will be able to see the inside and outside of your home in full color 3D before you ever put a shovel in the ground. In addition, you will have tremendous input on what your Dream Home will look like as your feedback is critical to the process. This is YOUR HOME, not ours, so the more details you provide us, the more Haley from Plan View Design can incorporate into your home.


And FYI, Plan View Design has designed homes in the following communities: Landfall, Ocean Ridge Plantation, St James, Brunswick Forest, Rivers Edge, Winding River Plantation, River Landing, Sea Trail, Brunswick Plantation, RiverSea Plantation, SeaScape at Holden Plantation, Ocean Isle Beach and more. Call Haley today for a free over the phone consultation at 910 754-9999 or