concrete floor tiles

Contemporary Tiles and the Middle Ages

Sometimes my mind connects the dots in unexpected ways.  I visited ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in New York over the weekend.  You would think I’d be all mid-mod and forward thinking. But no.

I fell for these concrete tiles from Grow House Grow.  They are a new product for the company, frost proof and come a a wide variety of colors.

concrete floor tiles

My mind immediately went to the Middle Ages and the floor at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Since my images of that were lost in an iPhone debacle, I borrowed this one from Wikimedia to illustrate the point.

Floor Sainte Chapelle

Now to find a place to use the contemporary ones in a garden design!

Concrete porch

Garden Design Details: Stenciled Concrete

I’m working with a landscape design client who has a limited budget and a concrete patio that will be re-furbished.  Although she opted for paint and a fun outdoor rug, we discussed the option of stenciling an ornamental (read not stone or brick) pattern on the pad instead.

It’s not often that there’s a technique so transformative that it can be a  simple DIY project or an elaborate professionally done detail.  To start–a Before and After from Grace Reed a professional faux painter from Dallas.  Why not set the bar high?

Concrete porch

And after.

Stenciled Front Porch

The same pattern was used by artist Ray Redondo as a detail.

Stenciled concrete

These patterns can be complex or simple, rustic or sophisticated. Some ideas can be easily achieved.  The concrete has to be cleaned and prepped before any stenciling is done, otherwise it won’t last.  There is a great breakdown of the process on Concrete Network and there are YouTube tutorial videos there also.

Road and parking lot symbols are stenciled.  Here’s a take on a word stencil.  A simple hello..

Simple and elegant organic floral motifs that peak out from the sides of a space…

Stenciled concrete patio

…or take the same idea and create an allover pattern.  The one below is from Royal Design Studio.

Concrete stenciled patio

Get inspired by street art stencils and graphic patterns.  Banksy uses stencils.  Polish street artist Nespoon uses doilies as inspiration and stencils.

Nespoon doily stencil

A further interpretation of this idea is a single color stenciled rug.  The one below found on Pinterest and the one above are stenciled on top of concrete paving.

stenciled rug

Small medallions can be used to break up a solid block of color or again, used as an all over pattern.  This is probably the simplest of all the stenciling techniques.  The two below are from Design Sponge and the Los Angeles Times Blog.

Stenciled medallions on concrete patio

Concrete stenciled patio

I really wish that I’d had the opportunity to explore these first hand on a project, but I will with another client on another project!

Garden Color Inspiration: White

I’ve written about neutral gardens and those inspired by the Belgian Beige movement and right now I’m into white. Maybe I’m attracted to it for external reasons-because summer is almost at an end and knowing the bit about white only being worn between Memorial and Labor Days.  There are warm nights still and white still intrigues me…it’s also an excellent partner with green. There is a lot written about white gardens from a planting perspective, but not much about the rest. This is about the rest.

We know that white  can make a dark space seem lighter.  It can also add drama to an otherwise lackluster space.  Washable materials make this color easy to use outside, fading isn’t an issue obviously.

Image via Architectural Digest 

Simple and geometric this patio is surrounded by green and is restful and stylish.  In fashion, winter is also a time for ‘Winter Whites’, but it would be a simple thing to switch this fabric seasonally if white appears too summery outside.

Image via Trouvais

White can be simple and rustic, and is an easy partner with other neutrals.  It can work in just about any style of garden.  Beyond the classic white fence, white can be carried through in accessories of all kinds on just about any style of patio or deck.

Just like any other color, there are many variations of white.  Sample of colors as well as what will be adjacent them are important and especially before choosing a white.  White will reflect what’s around it and even the original hue can be pink or blue based yet look like a stark white unless it is  placed in context. 

I’ll be back on the flip side of Labor Day…wearing white of course!

 

 

Placing a barn

New Barn for an Old Farmhouse

I’ve been commissioned to design an outdoor entertaining area for one of the oldest farmhouses around that will also incorporate a new barn/woodshop. We are at the very beginning of a complex project, so I thought I’d share that part of the process.  After meeting with the homeowners I made an Ideabook to help them visualize the project.

My client, who is a passionate and active gardener with a talented woodworking partner, also wants a family entertaining area, easy access to her garden shed and details like stone walls and a possible meadow beyond for grandchildren to explore and play in.

Placing a barn

The first step is to create the placement of a new 16 x 20 barn that will replace and enlarge the old one that was destroyed by a tree falling on it during Hurricane Sandy.  The current garden areas are a patchwork of projects that haven’t had a master plan as you can see from the basemap above.  Existing elements have been connected out of necessity without much thought to the overall scheme of things.

Concept number one creates an outdoor courtyard that has easy access to ground level doors and blocks a view of a subdivision on the street beyond.  It separates the garden shed from the barn and also incorporates a bosc which is a design element I’ve always wanted to try.  Both designs have fire features which will allow the new area’s use to be extended into colder weather on both ends of the season.

New Barn for an old farmhouse

Concept number two requires less work and renovation and keeps the existing wonky brick walk in place.  It also keeps the work areas ie. the barn and shed together creating a casual barnyard effect.

Barn Courtyard 2

Usually, I post color plans, but this is the work that goes on way before I get to that point.  These are where the designs begin–with concepts fleshed out to see if they work spatially and to think about how people will move through a space and use it before a single plant is envisioned.  The concept that we decide on will be refined further after  the and are budgets set, materials for hardscape are chosen and then, at the end, the planting plan will be developed.

Online Garden Shop: Shop Boxhill

Shop Boxhill is a new online shopping site for all things outdoors.  I would be remiss if I didn’t note that it was created by my friend and fellow landscape designer Elizabeth Pryzgoda-Montgomery.  Shop Boxhill has a cool contemporary vibe with products in every price range from under $20 to over $3000.

I did a little virtual power shopping and here’s what I found–there are hundreds of other choices there, with more to come.

A super fun outdoor rug for $55.00.

outdoor rug

Steel Life’s Matchstick Planter, $159.00 comes in great colors and there are other planters to choose from as well.

Steel Life Planter

An insulated ‘cooler’ tote bag that is stylish and practical for $32.49.  Warm water on the job and in the truck will be a thing of the past with this.

Cooler tote bag

And just because I’m agave obsessed…this blue agave sculpture will allow me to have one that won’t wither and die in the winter.  It’s $270.

I probably won’t buy these, but with the damage from super storm Sandy making so many chunks of trunks available for free, these Knotty Stools have given me inspiration.  They’re $756.

Stump stools

And last but not least, because nobody in my traditional and conservative market carries these…a turqoise Concha chair for my newly renovated side garden when it’s done.  It’s $450.

On-line shopping just got a whole lot better.

Yellow Patio Wall

Two NYC Designer Show Houses, Part 2

Last week I was able to preview the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House.  Of course, amid a crush of 150 people trying to get into and photograph every small space, I headed out to the patio.  The smallish urban space was designed by Michael Tavano.  Unlike the massive impersonal terraces at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, Tavano succeeded in making an intimate, useful space full of ideas.

I wasn’t able to get great photos–it was wet and there were too many people.  So here are those I did get. Look carefully and you’ll notice that I didn’t move much more than a foot in any direction to get the shots…it was small.

My first impression was of the bold use of yellow.  I know the brand is Farrow and Ball, and I suspect the color is Babouche.

Unexpected use of color

Next was the eclectic combination of elements from super modern to tradtional.  Much of it from Restoration Hardware.  The dining table and chairs are from their new Mulholland collection.

Contemporary punctuated with traditional elements

Last was the  use of a step up to a deck that created a low bi-level space that delineated the seating area from the dining area.

Bi level deck and dining area

The cabana from Designlush included the metal gold circle pattern screens that reminded me of some Paco Rabanne dresses from the Sixties.

Paco Rabanne dresses from the 60s

Overall I thought it was packed with interesting ideas and excellent space planning.  I want to thank everyone at Kravat for arranging this for the BlogFest2012 participants.

 

Print and Pattern Choices: Mansion in May

I’m trying to nail down some of the details for the show house garden and I’ve narrowed my print/pattern choices down to what I think I want to use. I’ve also experimented with some combinations. These are the details that can make a project sing or fall flat. They always make me nervous.

Initial choices...some editing will be done

Color is important, as is scale and texture just like in a garden bed. Design is design is design…it all follows the same principles. The overall look is this…

The floor will be navy blue...

I’ve been collecting outdoor fabric and trim swatches on Pinterest to make this process easier…I also have a Mansion in May board there to keep track of things.

Lounging Around

A ritual of summers past was to go into the back of my parent’s garage and drag out an ancient aluminum chaise lounge.  This contraption with its flat straps, springs and yellow, green and orange vinyl floral cushions made me feel glamorous.  Add sunglasses, an iced drink, baby oil and a copy of  Harper’s Bazaar and I was in the Rivera of my dreams.

Flash forward…as a landscape designer who loves to create outdoor living spaces, I’m asked to plan for and purchase chaise lounges more than any other piece of furniture other than those for dining.  Sure some people want a conversation area or a kitchen, but that’s after the lounge.   Here’s a roundup of chaise lounge options in my resource library for backyards, patios, pools and decks  that  I have used in the past as well a couple that are new to me.

Photo credits: Top row L-R: via Momoy, via OKA, via Dedon; Center row L-R: via Branch, via Mckinnon and Harris, via Andrew Crace; Bottom row: L-R: via Lebello, via  Arthur Lauer, via Fanuli