Friday, May 31, 2013

Pretty Little Fridays... The Classic Blue Ball Jar at My House

I looooove Springtime!!!  One of my favorite things to do is to bring in things from my yard and put flower arrangements around my house.  (Yeah, I know it's 2013, but I still love it.)  I like things to look simple & relaxed so one of my staples has always been the classic Ball jar.  Whenever I see them for a great price at a thrift store or flea  market, I pick them up.  

{Chive blooms from my mom...  I love them in the bright blue jar in my bathroom which I can't WAIT to show you more pics of!!}

I was contacted recently by someone from the Ball Jar brand about their just released 100th Anniversary "heritage" collection jars...  and was thrilled when they offered to send me a set of 6 to blog about!!!  (You can find them from different sources online, but here's one I found: BALL JARS}

As you can see from these pics, the Heritage Collection Ball Jars are a bit more intense of a blue than the older jars, which I love!!!  They're really vibrant & cheerful looking.  

{Surprise Sunflowers from my guys}

I've been using them all over the house and the boys have even been drinking out of them.  Although I appreciate a good craft or an extremely-effortful-pretty-something, (my brain is tired and I can't think of the real word for that, so let's pretend effortful's a word. ;)  I rarely do that kind of thing...  BUT... after perusing the Ball jar pinterest page, I got a little inspired and tried a little something fun with the Ball jars for a Friday afternoon happy hour at the office:

(Ciders!  And if you hang out with me, you know these are Woodchucks ;) ;)

We've got lots to be thankful for so we are celebrating!!  Have a great weekend!!

And if you need some real Ball jar eye candy, check out their pinterest page here.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Choosing The Contractor That Is Right For You

There are many decisions in life that you have to make. Some are easy, and others very hard. Choosing the right contractor for your home improvement needs should be just as important, and will be one of the most crucial decisions you’ll ever have to make depending on the scope of work. If you are planning a few “must dos” around your home, it serves to do your homework on your contractor, and prepare yourself. In the grand scheme of things, your findings, and research will have an impact the tipping scale. It could make a difference in the outcome of your future home improvement project, whether a blissful experience or a shocking train wreck. You hear the stories, they do exist. Here are 5 tips to add to your checklist:

(1). Verify license and insurance: do not be afraid to ask for proof of insurance with general liability coverage for at least 1 – 2 million dollars. Depending on where the subject is located, some management companies mandate as high as 5 million in coverage and should include workers compensation. Why is this important? This insurance covers a range of mishaps from accidents to pure negligence and innocent, but costly oversight. You do not want to have to pay for something you did not cause. 

If you are not working with a licensed contractor, you are walking a tightrope without a net. The Department of Consumer Affairs requires an exam to be taken, finger prints to be kept on record, and registration of contractors in their area of expertise. If DCA does not know who your contractor is, you won’t either when something goes wrong, and your contractor does not return your call after being paid.

(2). Lowest estimate does not always get the charm: if you have gathered countless estimates on your project, at various amounts, the lowest does not equal a score. Be very careful in your decision making. A bathroom renovation is not a shirt, and in this business you really do walk away with what you pay for. If you are considering the lowest estimate, get your questions ready, and find out why the estimate you have is so much lower than the others you have gathered. Compare apples to apples. Trust me, there is never a true bargain. You are paying for the discount somewhere. Buyer beware, as we say.

(3). Research your contractor’s record: we live by internet, and chances are if your contractor has a history of shoddy work, it is has been posted on some community online forum or with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB maintains open and closed files on complaints and will rate your contractor. If your contractor has open, and unresolved matters with the BBB, you may want  to consider moving on to the next candidate. Regardless of the reason, you do not want to have the “shame on you” experience. 

(4). Memberships or affiliations: if your contractor has loyalty to his trade, he will belong to various associations related to his craft. Though this should not be considered a deal breaker. A contractor who participates in trade associations has a vested interest and demonstrates focus in their community as reputable tradesmen. They take what they know, and do seriously, and want to maintain the faith of their customers. If the research on your contractor falls short on everything including their affiliation with any trade unions or associations….run.

(5). Check references: a HUGE must. Depending on the scope of your home improvement needs, whether it is a kitchen, basement, bathroom renovation; just taking a contractor’s word that they can do the job is not enough. Ask for references, and when you get them, consider taking a look at the finished product. Best visual is proof with the naked eye. Be sure to ask about the experience from start to finish: How long did the work take? Was the work completed within the time noted on the contract? How did the customer find the contractor you are thinking of using? Have they used the contractor for other work? 

I would not encourage getting too much into the cost because styles, make, design, material, and overall layout will not be the same as yours. There are many factors that impact the bottom line in any renovation. In the end, you want to walk away feeling that you made the right choice, and your gut will never be wrong. If it feels wrong, it usually is.

Conservatory Planning Permission

There are many advantages to getting a conservatory. As an extra room, they are versatile and adaptable, and can be enjoyed throughout the year. As well as adding value to your home, a conservatory is for many people a more affordable option when it comes to getting a home extended. Conservatory prices vary according to size and style, but on the whole, the nature of these extensions, with predominantly glass walls and ceilings, means that they are not as expensive or time consuming to construct as a typical house extension. As with any such project the question of planning permission arises. As a potentially expensive and time-consuming process, it is advantageous to avoid planning permission, if at all possible. Here is a guide to the question of conservatories and planning permission.

Do conservatories need planning permission?

Planning authorities place conservatories in the same category as house extensions and other additions to a property, and the good news is that in the vast majority of cases, these are considered to be permitted developments (PD), which means that they don't need planning permission. Conservatories are also exempt from Building Regulations in most cases, which makes them an even more convenient choice of house extension. There are exceptions to both the planning permission and building regulations exemptions, and these are outlined below.

Permitted development

There are a few conditions under which a conservatory is not considered PD, which means that if you want to add a conservatory to your home, you will need to get planning permission. If your property is within designated land (for example, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a World Heritage Site or National Park), any conservatory which has stone cladding, pebble dash, plastic or tiles is not PD, and nor is a conservatory which extends from a side wall. As with house extensions, a conservatory cannot take up more than 50% of the house’s curtilage to be PD, and cannot be forward of the house’s principal elevation and fronting a highway. There are also regulations about the height a conservatory can be in order to be PD. Four metres is the maximum for a single story rear conservatory. Most conservatory designs fall well within the size constraints of permitted development, so all in all, provided your property is not within designated land and you want the conservatory to go in your back garden, there is no need for you to get planning permission.

Building regulations

Conservatories are exempt from building regulations providing they meet the following criteria. The conservatory should be less than 30 metres square in floor area, and separated from the house by an external wall, doors and windows. There should be an independent heating system, which has separate temperature and on/off controls, and the windows and any electrical installation need to comply with applicable building regulations. It is also advised that the conservatory should not restrict ladder access to the windows of loft or roof conversions, in case of a fire.

For more detailed information about planning permission and building regulations for conservatories, check the governments Planning Portal website.

Guest post by House Extension Online

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dining Room Before & After

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I love before & afters.  (And if you're new to it, I love before & afters.)  There's something so satisfying about them with their instant gratification.  You get to see the meh "before" and then scroll down a little and the room is finished.  



In my mind when I'm planning rooms, one way I look at them is by thinking about each wall and each view or "elevation."  I think about how it will look from the camera's eye.  When I'm finishing up a room or accessorizing it, I often take photos myself of rooms to make sure I'm happy with how the space is looking.  The camera helps me be more objective & more critical.  

The dining room I'm sharing pictures of today was the type of room that I can see with pretty much crystal clarity in my mindseye as I'm creating the plan.  It was easy for me to envision because it was a fairly square room and had an important focal wall that is seen right when you walk into the house.  I worked with my clients throughout the first floor of their home (It was their family room I showed above, and you can view the full family room here) but the dining room was actually the first room we did, because it was empty. My client wanted a relaxed yet elegant dining room that made her go "ahhh." (And that's a sigh, not a yell ;)  Like I mentioned in my previous post about this client, she & her family love to spend time on the water and she loves nature.  

We started with this blank slate:

And ended up with this:

I was so excited about this plan when I presented it to my client.  I typically work with my clients throughout almost their entire homes so the first presentation meeting for the first room or set of rooms is really important in setting the tone for the home  and for determining how we're going to work together.  As much as I love designing a home in its entirety, I also love for clients to get the chance to experience a room entirely through from conception to completion because after that, the trust between us is incredibly strong as we go through the rest of the home.  Decorating a house can be worrisome for lots of people and so having this trust is key.

When I started working on the plans for this room, I knew I wanted to do a painted blue sideboard and a wood-topped table.  I love a mix of painted and wood furnishings in a room and thought blue would be perfect for my client's coastal leanings.  All of my client's inspiration rooms seemed to have slipcovered parsons chairs so we decided to go with those and I had them made with simple linen slips that didn't reach the floor, to keep things casual.  I thought adding a casual striped dhurrie would bring the formality down another notch and relax everything a bit.   The branch chandelier was one of the most important elements in the room to me & when I presented it to my client (at our first presentation meeting) I really wasn't sure that she would go for it.  (I'll be honest, most clients wouldn't go for it.)  I think I probably hugged her when she said "yes" to it like it was really no big deal.  (Thanks Colleen!!! :)

{Custom Side board & Windsor Chairs by Furniture from the Barn

For the artwork, we found these big black herb prints to go above the blue sideboard that would really create a dramatic focal point.  We've used black accents throughout the room and I liked the idea of doing a big jolt of black in the middle of the room.  We flanked the artwork with some gorgeous sconces by Julie Neil.  We had curtains made in my "Live Paisley" in a custom brown colorway to bring a little bit more organic movement into the room.  

 And, although it doesn't look like it, we did repaint this room.  The color we chose (my favorite go-to ivory, Benjamin Moore's "seashell" just had the slightest bit of glow to it that the original paint was missing.  It's something that doesn't necessarily show in photos, but when you get the right light neutral up on a wall, it makes a room sing.  It was that trust I mentioned that really made this project so special and such a pleasure to work on.  The Bamboo Windsor Chairs initially made my client a bit nervous because she thought they might feel a bit too traditional, and so we held off on them. Once the room was installed without them though, my client was ready for them.  They're one of my favorite elements in the room and that little addition of warm wood was just what it needed.

I'm off for an installation in DC, but hope you enjoyed!! I'll be sharing our clients' foyer soon too. And thank you, especially, to my client, for being so open-minded about everything.  (She's the one who is an artist and doesn't know it yet.  See here.  She's said she's open to doing more paintings, so if you're interested, send me an email.)  Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

*All after photos taken by my insanely talented friend, Helen Norman

Monday, May 27, 2013

Modern Staircase Designs

Staircases sometimes go unnoticed. However, some staircases would be difficult to miss because of their ingenuity. Usually, staircases are built architecturally to add to the elegance of the home or building. A staircase's design can be planned to match the interior or exterior of homes or other buildings.

It is not known when the first stairway was created, just as not knowing when homes and buildings were designed with more than one floor. However, it is known that homes and other buildings with more than one floor has existed for many centuries.

Beautiful homes all have particular styling that includes various features. Several homes utilize specific architectural items that make it stand out from the normal straight designs. Many times, these items are designed and installed by Fontanot spiral staircases. Fontanot spiral staircases have a way of accentuating certain aspects of a home that leads to a specialized look and appeal.

There are specific styles and materials such as the techno, pixima steel, magia 10 and steel zinc staircases. Fontanot staircases provide a look of elegance to the existing structure. They are constructed one step at a time to sure-up construction.

Another popular staircase that Fontanot installs is called the winder. Winder staircases usually have a twist at the top, midway or bottom. They are not entirely spiral but are in the family. Winder stairs are constructed one step at a time, as well.

Fontanot are leaders in spiral and winder staircases. They specialize in conceptualizing designs that are contemporary, as well as installations of staircases for interior and exterior uses. These ideas transform the space into a modern project of art.

Fontanot staircases are known for their beauty and durability. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts will have no problem with assembly and installation. Various styles and constructions can be seen at

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Milk Crate Planter and a Save Your Weekend Graco Paint Sprayer Giveaway!



I found this milk crate at a garage sale last year.  It was filthy, really, really filthy!!  But I scrubbed and scrubbed it and got it presentable looking. 

Last weekend we were in Sandwich, Illinois for a wedding.  We were able to steal a little time before the ceremony and do some shopping.  We saw these great old boxes at The Sandwich Antique Mart and loved the dark color.


 So we decided to stain this one using Natural Stain.


So that the dirt and plants wouldn't fall out, I lined the bottom with two layers of burlap.  I filled the box with Miracle Gro Potting Mix and planted away.  I put it on my front porch and love it!

Now on to the Giveaway!

Graco is going to give me a paint sprayer to give away to one of my readers. What a great giveaway!

The giveaway is for the Graco TrueCoat Plus II Paint Sprayer


Did you know that applying paint with a paint sprayer is up to 10x faster than brushing and up to 4x faster than rolling?
There are no messy trays or rollers.  Setting up a paint sprayer takes only minutes.  Cleanup is fast and easy too!

Your smooth, flawless project lasts longer and looks great. Graco is the brand the professionals pick—U.S. painting contractors prefer Graco 7 to 1 over the nearest competitive brand, according to the Frost & Sullivan Paint Contractors Choice Award for Overall Best Brands.


 The Graco TrueCoat Plus II Paint Sprayer:

 For small projects that require 1-2 gallons

Sprays a variety of materials such as stain, acrylic, enamels, oil-based primers and latex

No thinning required—simply pour your material into the cup

Available at your nearest home improvement retailer



Ok, so here's how you enter:  You can enter four times--one time for each item below.  Be sure to come back and leave a separate comment for each one.

 ***Jessica is the winner of the Graco Paint Sprayer.***
Thank you to everyone who entered. 
Congratulations Jessica!

  1. You must be a follower of my blog.
  2. Follow Graco Paint Sprayers on Twitter @GracoPaintSpray 
  3. Tweet about an upcoming weekend project or completed project using #SaveYourWeekend. 
  4. "Like"  Graco Paint Sprayers on Facebook

I will be choosing a winner via Random Number Generator on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
Thank you for your visit!  And good luck with the Giveaway!
I am linking to the following parties:
Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home

Friday, May 24, 2013

more FAQs

Yay for Friday!!  I've got another round of most frequently asked questions for you...  Like I mentioned before, I'm really not able to keep up with emails & questions these days, (due to work, family & life in general)  so I'll be doing FAQ Roundups to hopefully answer as much as I can. I appreciate your patience!! Thank you!!

Here we go: 

Q: Hello. Love your table. Can you share how the lucite holds up to scratches. if it scratches can they be removed? Special cleaner needed etc? 

A: My lucite table has gotten a beat-down at our house.  Our boys have scratched it to death with toys and it looks pretty terrible after three or four years of abuse.  I have to admit, after I saw that it was getting so badly scratched, I sort of gave up and figured that we'd replace it later.  I keep magazines or a tray and books on the coffee table anyway so it's mostly hidden.  I've also watched my kids fall on it more than once without crying, which is what's kept it in the house for so long.  They also love playing under it and around it because of the clearness.  (Nothing's funnier than watching a newly crawling baby ram his face into it ;) ;)  However, I recently purchased a lucite buffer/ polishing kit (by Novus) and one of these days am going to give it a try.  I'll definitely post to let you know how it goes.  Lucite should be cleaned with a super-soft cloth (never paper towels) and hot soapy water.  Don't ever use a cleaning product like Windex or anything else in a spray bottle that isn't specifically for lucite.  

{Our client's custom porch swing}

Q:  Where did you get the porch swing?

A: We had our client's custom porch swing made by Vintage Porch Swings , who did a beautiful job.

Q: I JUST read your post about not having time to answer all questions, so I get that you might not get to this and no hard feelings! Anyway, I've admired this room for awhile. I'm looking for the right paint color for my room and I'm struggling. I want a cream or white, and then noticed the curtains in this room. Are those the Pottery Barn Velvet in Ivory?

A:  Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you!  The walls in this room are seashell by Benjamin Moore and the curtain panels are custom and made of oyster-colored linen.  

{Our kitchen, when the island was still in-progress}

Q: What type of floors do you have in your home?

A: We used unfinished random width (4"-8") wide plank white oak and had it finished with  gray Woca oil.  We got our floors from Mountain Lumber Co. (specifically, Janel Conforti) who couldn't have been more helpful.  Woca Oil "contains primarily cold pressed vegetable oils and aromatic hardening oils that penetrate into the surface of the wood floor and, as they cure, harden to form a very protective surface that becomes part of the wood floor. This means that normal wear and tear, such as small scratches and indentations, do not show up as much as on a floor with a urethane finish.  The oil finish will also let the wood floor breathe through its surface.." (taken from their website)  I loooove the finish on our floors as it's matte and very natural-looking.  Oils do leave marks on the the floor and it's already started to develop a patina, which is what we're after.  

Anyway, I'm off for the day & have amazing Memorial Day weekend!!!  To check out my last round of FAQs, (including questions about my wall mural on my dining room wall) go here.


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Home Climate Control – The Benefits of the Correct Climate

You probably have an Air Conditioned car, Work in an Air Conditioned office, so why not live in an Air Conditioned Home? Most of us take the facility to warm our homes for granted, but few appreciate the benefits of being able to control the climate of our homes. The benefits of Air Conditioning are to provide a comfortable environment at work or at home throughout the seasons. An auto changeover switch on most new units, allows you to set the temperature of the unit to cool or heat as required automatically.

The air within the room is re-circulated through filters to trap dust and pollens, in turn benefiting people suffering from allergies and respiratory problems. Also air purification is another benefit as an anti-fungus filter is used in most modern air conditioning units. This catches allergy-causing mites, smoke particles and odours, making the air in your environment clean and fresh.

In reality, our homes become even warmer during the summer months than the outside air temperature, through solar gains and additional heat-loads from within. Air-conditioning equipment installed can reduce the temperature within the home to a comfortable level, whilst at the same time reducing the humidity to eliminate the humidity associated with our UK summers.

In the past, CFC refrigerants used in air conditioning systems were found to harm the ozone layer. Since then, harmful CFCs have been phased out and are no longer utilised. Today’s systems use a new generation of refrigerants (HFCs) which do not harm the ozone layer. They are highly efficient and non-toxic, and can be used in homes and businesses. The systems installed by iClimate are class leaders in terms of economy.

Air Conditioning for your home is fast becoming a necessity, not the luxury it used to be. Due to this high demand, iClimate Solutions are able to match units to "fit in" with your d├ęcor. The units available now are no longer intrusive or unattractive because they are designed to aspire to most people's tastes and living conditions. The sophisticated designs not only improve your living environment, but they also provide you with perfect climate control. Most units designed are common for the bedroom, conservatory or whole living space. These units alone could increase the value of your property and considered a investment for the future.

This main features are as follows:
  • Cooling and Heating ability
  • Air purifying system
  • Quiet operation
  • Wireless controls
  • De-Humidification ability
  • Anti Bacterial Filter
  • 24-Hour Timer
  • Auto Restart option
Concealed units, typically installed during renovation works at a property, in ceiling cavities or floor units concealed by bespoke bookcases and enclosures. Conditioned air is discharged via bespoke air grilles a discreet subtle installation.

For further information on any of our product range or services for work or office use, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Sideboard Styles Made Easy: Storage Solutions Your Home Will Love

Whether you have inherited an old sideboard (and this wouldn’t be that surprising given how popular they once were) or have decided to get a new one, you might be wondering exactly what they are for. These long pieces of furniture that cling to the walls of a room can be used in countless ways and have a really positive design and practical effect on the house.

Traditionally, a sideboard was used in the dining room to store the crockery. Often it was the case that the everyday crockery was kept in the kitchen and only the good, ‘for use on special occasions’ stuff was kept in the sideboard, out of harm’s way.

These days the idea of having a ‘best crockery’ set is a little outdated. Which means that a lot of storage space has been freed up in the sideboard. The top surface is ideal for displaying ornaments or photographs. This long, flat surface provides a great focal point for centrepiece ornaments and the like. Or, if you’re looking for a more minimalist living space, keep the area clear.

The surface area also doubles up as both a buffet bar area and workspace. Often understated, the sideboard should fit into the room without getting in the way. It can be used for a multitude of other purposes, switching easily between them and offering great versatility.

The bottom storage section is perfect for toys if you have little ones. We know they love to get the toys out and play, so having a really convenient place to pack them away again quickly is very handy. If only you could get the little ones to do this without a fuss.

Sideboards are most often associated with the 50s and 60s (which explains why every grandma had one). However, don’t be fooled into thinking this was the only period they have been useful. The sideboard dates back to the 18th century and was considered an essential piece of furniture in French and French-style homes of the day. While it is true that its popularity has fluctuated since then, it is very definitely on the upwards curve again.

This is a guest post from Sainsbury’s. Just have a look at the wide range of sideboards available at Sainsbury’s and you’ll see for yourself.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Biggest Home Renovation Mistakes

So your mind is made up, and you are ready for a home renovation project. You have met several contractors, some referred, others you found, reviewed many estimates, even laughed at a few, and feel you have nailed it. Countless pictures have been shown to you, vision has been sold, and you have enough samples in product selection to open your own home improvement store. Are you as ready as you think? 

True, it took you weeks, maybe even months of researching to help make that final decision, and you feel that the contractor of your choice is going to bring your vision to light. This all may be true, but there are mistakes you do not want to make that tend to get overlooked. If you are looking for your upcoming home renovation to be headache free, these are 5 mistakes to avoid running to the medicine cabinet.

Thinking you have enough money

1.       Some home renovations can be a dollar for dollar experience, and you walk away with what exactly you wanted, and paid for. There are times when you may not be so lucky. One should always be prepared for an unexpected surprise. The bigger the project you are doing, the higher your chances are in unforeseen obstacles that may add to your already paid for renovation. You will be surprised what you encounter when you open walls, things like mold, termites, rotted beams, leaky pipes, are some to name a few. 

Ask your contractor to give you a small list of the unexpected for a home like yours. Not all homes have the same issues, there may even be a common occurrence with all the homes in your community since they were constructed at the same time, and more than likely by the same company. Your contractor may be aware of them if he has done work in your area. Thinking you have enough money may not be enough. Have an  emergency fund ready just in case. Your contractor is definitely not going to pay for it or he may be able to add a 10% contingency to be withheld in the event that something arises. If all goes well, the funds withheld are reimbursed back to you.

When size does not matter to you

2.       You have a small bathroom, and want to take it to the next level by replacing your standard tub with a swanky jacuzzi tub. Yes, they are beautiful. They are also space eaters, like that “must have” vanity at Home Depot that is 2 sizes bigger than your existing one. Yes, it can fit, and so does a golf ball down a P-trap. The size may not matter to you at the time, but it will, it always does.

Trend seeker

3.       Yes, that royal blue square shaped, see-through basin looks amazing on that black granite counter-top. Just because, it was mentioned as the top 5 sellers for 2013 does not mean it will be nominated for an Oscar next year. Fads disappear rather quickly, chasing the latest trend can have a short shelf life. When trend seeking, go with a style that does not have to be re-invented annually. Your contractor will love it, but debt seeking is not a trend.

Taking on too much

4.       Home renovations should never be a burden, always have a specific idea in mind, and do not make it complicated by adding on to it with a knee jerk decision. Give careful thought to a process, and what it means to alter them. Changing your kitchen cabinets is one thing, but then deciding on moving your plumbing, and placement of light fixtures can be an overwhelming experience. Taking on too much can leave you with regrets, and a financial obligation to a decision that could have stayed an easy and less costly one.

Blind eye to your home’s bones

5.       So you live in that wonderful cozy cape in the suburbs. The one that was passed down from your grandparents. Yes, an upgrade may likely be in the future. You do not want to ignore the home’s bones, discounting the outside style of the home and going with a modern Italian retro look in the inside can become a cast for a broken bone that will never heal. That white marble floor in your kitchen with the swanky, eat-in white leather nook may work elsewhere, just not in your home. This can also be a hindrance if you ever need to sell the property. Over the top personal customization only serves the owner, and will be an expensive transition back to normal.

Garden Progress

Our kitchen garden isn't quite finished, but I couldn't resist sharing a few progress pics with you!!  Like I mentioned in my last post about the garden, I'm working with a good childhood friend of mine Danylo Kosovych, who owns Organic Edible Gardens in Arlingon, Virginia, and specializes in creating edible landscaping.

I wanted a space with lots of paths and separate beds so we could really enjoy being in the space and walking through it.  And here's how it's looking so far:

Next week, Danylo will be adding more black compost to the tops of the beds for a more finished look (and because it's good for the plants too ;)  and they'll be cutting all of the bamboo poles (which are for tomatoes) to the same height.

Here's a view of the whole garden and you can see I haven't moved in my second pot yet as I'm debating what to actually put in the pots in the centers of the paths.

The one pot pictured here holds my hydrangea but it needs to go back to my patio so I'll either get more of these or do fruit trees if possible.  (I'd love to do lemons but I'm really terrible with keeping things alive indoors throughout the winter so I'd rather something that can stay out in the winter...  I did see some pretty appletrees yesterday but don't know if they'll outgrow their pots too quickly... guess I should talk to my garden designer ;) ;)

(Ashby girl enjoys a morning jaunt  ;) ;)

I added delphinium yesterday throughout the gardens because I had to get my flower fix and am impatiently awaiting for my veggies to get tall!!  The beds are edged in boxwood (which of course need to grow in) and I've put a bunch of boxwood basil between them to fill them out a bit for this season.  

I'll go over everything that's in there when I can get some better pics next week but I hope you enjoyed this little peek!!  Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interior Design - Using Fondanot Products

Many people use Fondanot products to enhance the look of their homes. You can visit to find quality staircases that will last a lifetime. These products are durable because they are made well. If you are looking for a way to make your home stand out, spiral staircases are a great choice. 

Fondanot spiral staircases can fit any stair measurements. Instead of spending a fortune paying someone else to build you a custom staircase, you can easily assembly these stairs yourself. Your home will look more luxurious and unique after you add a new set of designer stairs to it. You will be amazed at the difference nice stairs can make to your home's appearance, and these stairs are made to function properly too. You will be able to use them for many long years. 

You can choose from many different Fondanot products. There are many different styles to pick from. You can find the best looking staircases for your home whether you are looking for a modern design or a traditional look. This company offers something for everyone. 

Imagine how much better your home will look once you have installed a Fondanot spiral staircase into it. You can transform your home into something that is extraordinary. Pick out white or gray colored steel staircases or choose a more modern look with a bright red design or another color that you enjoy. You can pick out a staircase that will match your home's interior design and that will make it even better.

Happy 1st Birthday to Lou!

One year ago today, this little guy arrived:

He's one of the loves of my life and is just such a happy kid.

This is really what it's all about for me.  (yes, sleeping too ;) ;)

I love my wild little thing!!

Happy Birthday to Luke (Louie/ Lou/ Lulu) 
We love  you.

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Using Oak to Make Your Home More Traditional

Oak has a rich history that can be dated back centuries – even as far back as ancient times – because of the sturdiness and supreme beauty of it. These trees have been used for a variety of purposes – home building, medicinal remedies, interior design, and more. Oak, particularly rustic oak furniture has a beautiful, vibrant history and adds a touch of sophistication to any room.

When it comes to designing the space that you call home, one of the best parts of using wood design is the individuality it brings to the space. While there may be oak furniture pieces that look alike, no piece is exactly the same. This is because of the unique grains that each section of wood brings to the overall piece. Oak has a distinctive look to it and it can even be described as enchanting or romantic when used in the right way.

Making it traditional

If you have more of an old-style design taste, you’ll probably gravitate to some more traditional oak designs. Consider your space and look at what you have to work with. Some parts of your home or apartment are fixed, but other parts you can design to make it your own. If you’re artistic, think about designing a front door or wall piece made of oak that can be used to enhance your living space. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a carpenter – if you have a general idea of a design and present it to a carpenter as a potential project, you might be able to make your design a reality.

Or if this seems like too much of an undertaking, consider smaller furniture designs that you can incorporate into each room. For example, in the dining room area, find a rustic dining table that can add a touch of history and elegance to your home. Or, in the kitchen, look into adding an oak serving table. For the bedrooms, there are beautiful hand-made oak headboards or bed frames that can be used to add a clean, but historic look.

Combining traditional and modern

You don’t necessarily have to pick one design style or another. Many interior designers have successfully combined traditional and modern looks into something gorgeous and one of a kind. If your home has a more modern flair to it but you still wish to have some traditional accents, it’s easy to use small oak pieces to add more tradition in there. For instance, instead of getting a loveseat in the living room, find a couple of oak chairs or stools. Or, look for a large oak ottoman that you and your guests can use as a footrest or even a table.

Combining lighter color oaks with bright, modern fabrics is also a great way to combine the two types of designs together. There are thousands of fabrics on the market that can be an inspiration to crafting a special room. Or, if you live in a more traditional home with wood as the leading material, you can paint contrasting walls with white (or your favorite bright color) to make it into more of a modern, functional look.

Your home is your world and your escape, so make it into whatever you want. If wood designs are what speak to you, dive in and get designing. Wood designs truly deliver a message of power and beauty to a home. With the right combination of furniture and accents, your home can demonstrate the tradition, finesse, and style that you desire.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Progress Photos of a Client's Cool House

A very sweet client of ours lives in a home that overlooks the most beautiful stretch of woods near the Potomac...  Her builder (many years ago & has since stopped building) designed her incredible home to fit right in with the land.  The views are seriously breathtaking.  

{we recently had the red walls painted a soft cream and replaced recessed lights in the foyer with overscale glass orbs.  The front hallway acts as a gallery where our client displays special pieces they've collected over the years.}

Behind the house is a steep forested hill overlooking a stream.  The first time I saw it was in the Winter and you could see forever into the woods.  It was incredible!!! As you can see from the photos, now it's like being up in a treehouse surrounded by lush green everywhere you look.  We added a cozy little hangout area on the stair landing so our client and her family/friends could enjoy the view:

{Some of the wood in the home including the interior doors was a pink pickled oak while the floors were a red hardwood.  They really clashed and changing the floors wasn't an option so we decided to stain the wood black and paint the trim cream to unify everything.}

Throughout the home we also had all of the window mullions and doors painted black to frame the views and it's made such a difference!!

I love this quiet little writing nook off of the living room... A chair for the desk is being made now:

The photo of her mother is so beautiful...

Anyway, I'm off for the weekend but hope you enjoyed these little peeks into our client's home!!  

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Plans!!

I  mentioned a while back that I'm working with one of my good childhood friends, Danylo Kosovych, to put a vegetable garden onto our property.   (Kindergarten photo below: Danylo is the blonde boy under the   1987-1988 writing and I'm to the left of the writing with the awesome mushroom cut.  ---Thanks for that Mom! :/   )

Danylo owns Organic Edible Gardens and specializes in organic edible landscaping in Northern Virginia.

I love the designs that he & his designer John have come up with.  John's drawings are gorgeous!!

Our house is a cedar contemporary but I tend to like more classical gardens and have always loved the idea of a "garden with paths" so the design was a bit of a challenge.

{We've been working on relaxing all of the heavily pruned shrubs a bit so they look more natural...  This was the real estate photo from when the house was on the market.}

Here's another picture of our house before we bought it & added the patio:

The garden will be going to the right of the house along the fence and it will be as deep as the house.  This was a tough decision for us to make because it will reduce the size of our "playing field" and we're constantly playing soccer or football or something else out there:

...But we decided to give it a go because the yard is still going to be large enough to play football or soccer even with the garden.

Besides where we were going to put the garden, we also had a bunch of other decisions to make: raised beds or in-ground beds?  What should the paths be made out of?  Should we go symmetrical/classical or more casual/ meandering like the rest of the landscaping at our place?  My biggest fear was (and is!) that the type of garden I really love doesn't exactly "go" with the style of my home.

I collected a bunch of images on pinterest of gardens that I loved and of course, I was drawn to the more classic gardens.  Many had brick paths...


...or gravel ones:

All had a series of paths because I want us to be able to enjoy actually being "in" the garden vs. just being beside it.

{My friends' Brooke & Steve Giannetti's kitchen garden in the front yard of their previous house...  When we visited them, the first thing I remember noticing was the smell of lavendar as we walked up to their front door!!! Heaven!!}

I love the use of focal points in gardens.  In Brooke's garden, above, your eye is drawn down the path to the garden table, which looks like the perfect spot for working and relaxing, making the garden feel more like a "room."

I also  really love the look of gardens with gravel paths...

...But I'm a barefoot kind of person and I don't like walking barefoot on gravel so we've decided to try grass paths this year and see how they work out.

When deciding between raised beds or in-ground beds, I reviewed my inspiration gardens and realized that I was drawn to gardens that were edged in a plant or shrub, like this classical boxwood hedge:

I want my garden to feel a little bit wilder so we are going with boxwoods, but they won't be pruned into a square hedge like in the photo above.

When I saw this Country Living Garden (below) I really fell for it's structure yet relaxed look.  It's more rustic than many of the classical ones I've fallen for but it still has that symmetry that I love:

 Seeing a garden like this made me think that we could maybe try to combine the more classical gardens with  country ones and maybe make it work with my rustic-modern home.  Can we get away with it???  And the grass paths are just what we'll be doing. which I think really relaxes the look and will blend it better with our house.

And of course, one of my favorite local places to visit is Mount Vernon:

{One of the Kitchen Gardens at Mount Vernon}

Aaaaaaah!!! I love everything about it!!!!  It's so classic yet definitely more primitive and relaxed then some of the more formal European gardens.  I love how the grass paths look here.  

So...  after talking Danylo's ears off (I MIGHT possibly be the worst client ever!! hahaha) we came up with this:

The round spots in the center will be for potted trees because I wanted some sort of focal points in the garden... Right now I have some hydrangea trees but hopefully one day we can try fruit trees of some sort.  

The guys are building a teepee for the boys near their favorite climbing tree:

{This tee pee is insanity and I can't wait to have one!!!}

Here's a picture of the fence where the garden's going:

It's going in now so I'll be sure to post pictures once it's all planted!!!  I can't wait!!!  And of course, thanks so much to Danylo and his team for everything!!!  They were so patient with my craziness and are incredibly creative and know their stuff.   If you're in the DC-VA area and are looking for a kitchen garden or eco-friendly landscape in general, definitely check out the Organic Edible Gardens website & get in touch.  They're amazing!!!


If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.