Made in the shade

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Gregory Sahagian is ready to up the cool factor of your home.

Sahagian heads up Gregory Sahagian & Son Inc. in Hartsdale, a family-owned, full-service awning company.

When the weather heats up, Sahagian has ready solutions to help you not only create shade but add a cool blast of style through a wealth of design options.

“When I first started selling, awnings were a luxury item,” he says. “Now they are considered a necessity.”

He’s quick to share details from the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association that offers data showing that fabric awnings and exterior shades can help reduce home-cooling costs by more than half. He adds that people are more health-conscious, striving to limit exposure to the direct sun. And he says they also appreciate having an outdoor “room” where they can do everything from eat or read to nap or visit with friends.

“People are definitely entertaining a lot,” he says.

It all makes for busy days for Sahagian, who began his business after some six years on the wholesale side of things. The field has grown a lot, he says.

In addition to awnings adjacent to swimming pools or those shading windows, there has been a clear move toward one specific product.

“In the residential market, the trend in the last five years is the retractable awning,” Sahagian says. “You can have shade when you want it, and you can have sun protection when you need it. … It sounds weird to say awnings are now high-tech but they have become that.”

There are motion sensors that retract awnings in advance of a storm or those with sensitivity to the sun, opening up without a human prompt. This latter option, he says, is particularly popular on East-facing properties that dot the Sound Shore communities.

As with any part of home décor, color trends continue to be a factor in awning selection, with Sahagian pointing to a popularity of earth tones, especially browns and forest greens.

“When I first started in this business 25 years ago, everything was yellow or blue,” he says. Today a blue awning is a rare installation and then most often on waterfront property.

Customers, he adds, often echo the aesthetic or color scheme of the home, extending it right outside to create a unified feel.

With more than 600 patterns and nearly a dozen material choices, Sahagian says that’s certainly easy to do. He proudly features made-in-America Sunbrella products, a name familiar to many.

“They make awning fabric,” he says. “They make furniture fabric. They make marine fabric.”

While Sahagian’s client base is primarily in Weschester, he serves the whole tristate region and sometimes beyond.

“In the Northeast, the season is very short,” he says, with most installations completed between late March and the end of July.

Since Hurricane Sandy, business has been booming, Sahagian says, between people making repairs or those suddenly needing awnings after the loss of shade-producing trees.

When Sahagian does a job, he says, the products are durable.

“If I do an awning for somebody, it’s going to be 10 or 12 years before they call me back for a re-cover.”

That means in addition to cultivating new residential clients, Sahagian is constantly expanding his network of architects, building management companies and real estate developers. This complements his year-round client base that also includes more than 40 country clubs and a number of national chain accounts.

Back on the home front, Sahagian says today’s residential clients are more educated than in the past. At a home consultation, his role has transitioned from teacher to facilitator.

“When I first started, I had to educate the consumer,” Sahagian says. “I go to a person’s home now, I don’t have to sell them.”

He urges homeowners to do their homework to find someone who is not only licensed and insured, but also well-respected, reliable and yes, creative.

“The customer really has to do their due diligence with who they really choose to do business with these days,” he says. Sahagian – joined in the company by his oldest son, Gregory, and several nephews – says customers have come to rely on the dedication and tradition behind his company, things that have kept it thriving since 1990.

For more on Gregory Sahagian & Son, Inc., call (914) 949-9877 or visit gssawning.com.

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