Tuesday, July 2, 2019

13 ways to create shade in your garden

With hot summer in high gear it's essential that we have shade in our gardens, not only for ourselves but even for some plants that require it.

We have some natural shade that comes from adjacent buildings or structures, as well as trees but there are times that we must become the creators of the shade.

Here are some great ideas we can use in our gardens, that create that coolness not to mention that cool and modern vibe.

Below we have the classic - the umbrella.  Limited in its' coverage but not in its' color or shape we can see the beauty of an intimate space created by this classic piece often seen in gardens.

Below we have the pergola created by either wooden beams or canopies of growing vines and grapes this structure can be as small or large as your imagination or need for intimate coverage.

Another new kid on the block is fabric made of sails.  The sturdy sun resistant fabrics are in all shapes and sizes and can be used to create spaces of shade in an array of different settings.

Below a beautiful canopy of sails with little square windows in them to allow for air to blow through and also for pockets of light. The coloful chairs create a punch of surprising color.

 Camouflage shades have been all the rage in sunny islands of europeans shores now for over a decade.  They can be bought in a variety of colors and compositions of fabric, from green to black to the classic cream.  Shown below they create a dizzying shadow effect as the sun filters through its' pockets of camouflage.  By far this is my favorite!

In reality your imagination is the only thing that stops you - below  sails made  of various fabrics are tied in a collage like array to create a mish mash of shade.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Light up your life - with string lights

All the rage in the last few years have been string lights on patio decks, and even in some bedrooms or dens.  I just can't get over the festive feel that they create or the beautiful ambience that they bestow on the dreariest of days, whether full on winter, or the height of hot summer nights.

Here are a few images to inspire you to get your groove on and light up your life!

Above the focal point is the fireplace with two relaxed arm chairs, however the overhead lights ground the space and give it even more warmth and ambience.

For those of you who prefer an over the top look, have the handiwork to go with this you can string your lights around a tree and light up the entire garden depending on how many you use and the size of your back yard.  Hurricane lamps in white and other baubles serve as added punch in this melange of white lights akin to Christmas.

These crisscross lights over a fire pit make for a delicate knitted effect, as they intertwine.  Imperfect perfection here.

 Another sweet way of lighting up a table is a mason jar full of lights acting as new modern candle light topped by a spiraling descent of floral white lights, delicate  romantic ambience without a big cash expenditure.

 A backdrop above to potted plants - you can do this easily with discarded palettes and plant hooks.  This little number creates a focal point on any terrace - and can be changed up in winter to display wreaths that can withstand the cold temperatures.  All you need is your imagination, whether with succulents, plastic plants, or winter greenery - sure to be a hit.

Have nothing to ground your lights to, or attach them to? Above and below, a metal bucket was used and concrete poured into it to act as the anchor of a large tree branch (no need to cut down a tree find one in a nearby forest or park especially after winter).  Here the anchors create a beautiful simple canopy of lights.  Inexpensive and versatile as you can move them from place to place.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

Your bedroom and its' manners

The blessed bedroom.  A place to sleep, read, get intimate, dream, laze around, change clothes in, even for those bad bad girls to watch television in!

I must confess since the IPAD I have been known to spend lazy evenings tucked under my duvet watching a good documentary or surfing the net, but I do try to keep anything but sleeping, reading, intimacy, out of the bedroom.

My bedroom is a deep chocolate brown - with lofty 14 foot ceiling of cement.  The sheer size of it  - allows me to drench it in that syrupy dark molten lava like brown.  This truly created a cocoon feeling which was hard to achieve in a room with such great heights!

Again, as in real estate location location location, with interiors size does matter.  Things my be proportionate.  A huge headboard will require massive bedside tables, and likewise a teensy room will require that the bedside tables adhere to that.  Of course you may break the rules, but there is a literal price to be paid for that, perhaps space, or ease and comfort.

Note how above the colorful headboard is accented by contrasting colors in the color sphere, and so with a mishmash of pillows to balance it all out neither is overpowering, but both play off each other in a great dance of chemistry.  The shelf on the nightstand enables you to quick put away maybe a glass of water you don't want to topple, a book, or  an IPAD, while allowing the upper portion to be easily free of the messiness.  The high lacquer finish lends a bit of an Asian flare, but the orange tones push the envelope a little away from what would have been a classic cherry red Chinese flare.
This is definitely a winning combination.

This is an interesting way of creating storage where none is had, and creating a bit of history and ingenuity.  The aged suitcases are piled one on top of another.  In this case the top one seems to be a big worn and not as 'even' as I would have liked.  To get around this you might consider a piece of marble or hardwood that might be wallpapered or aged to enable you to rest a tumbler without having to worry about it wobbling.  The suitcases allow you to stow away books, or winter apparel, or even some blankets or sheets for guests that you would occasional access.  Notice how that headboard is much taller than the suitcases but , the picture frame above the luggage allows it to creep up so that the cases are not completely dwarfed by the curvy metal headboard.  The aged lamp that looks like on old fashioned hair dryer from the 50's lends a bit of flare and fun.

Frame within a frame is what I'd call the above look.  Turquoise is one of my all tie favourites and here it is tone on tone on the wall (upper and lower wall colors a shade or two off of each other, with the frame surrounding the headboard a punchier Caribbean blue.  Accents in the same tone are abundant, in the tea pot, the blankets, shams books and vases.  This rooms night stand is fairly small but again it is also framed by three shelves that are built into the wall bring the the height of the ensemble right up to the bed frames 'outer frame'.   The book case niche is an interesting touch, allowing you to showcase pretty artifacts, here a clock, some books bound in tones of blue and wicker baskets.  The beauty of a show case like this is that it's easily changeable, season to season without breaking the bank.

Deep blue wingback headboard that is tufted is the focal point here. Although fairly low it still has a dramatic effect due to it's tailoring and color.  The bedside tables are fairly simple with a Chinese flare of edging and pulls in shiny gold, topped by angular golden lamps to match.  The greige tones on the wall, the rug and the nightstands allow a cool soothing feel that still invites you to settle in and enjoy a room without frills but with elegance and style.

Come in glamor, have a seat. Layering in this room is the verb to be used, everything from the rug
atop another rug, to the lamp shades that hide the picture frames just a touch creating yet another layer, to the chairs which are again one more layer against the sleek and elegantly simple night stands.

The shelves on the white lacquered stands allow for mounds of books and memorabilia that's easily accessible, allowing the upper shelf to be a showcase as it evidently is here. The drama is in the footstool, the headboard and matching curtains. The bedspread elegantly quiet is a deep chocolate brown that doesn't compete but invites one to have a long slumber or laze in the sun that is drenching the room

Ooh la la let's talk drama, not only in color but in patterns, shapes and a showcase of a variety of eras.  The french provincial side table challenges the 70's ultra disco look of the silver globes on the bedside lamp, yet it looks like it is perfectly matched.  A lot of this is because it is played off of by an array of colors that carry a punch of their own drama.  The headboard isn't shy about being present in this room, it is loud and makes a statement in a simple black and white hue.  The zigzag pillow cases and bright pink bedspread are no wallflowers either.  All of this is extended into the adjacent room we see a bright green 'chinoiserie' look of wall paper.  Again the bedside table is fairly small given the width and height of the bed, but it doesn't seem to be so small that it goes unnoticed.  Crowned by it's glamorous lamp which elongates the look to almost the top of the headboard you see that it creates the perfect jubilant pairing.

Be still my heart.  This is a great room for a hipster single guy or a gal who likes the rugged country look.  The wallpaper is uniquely made one sheet of book at a time.  As it is pressed into place without have all the edged pasted onto the wall, it looks like a giant book, egging you to read it's pages.

The headboard of deep brown leatherette lends a library feel, as does the expansively large and historic looking trunk with leather trimming.  Again an ideal place to store your added pillows, or things you will want to get to rarely.  The side tables match here, but there is only one lamp which is also unique in the way that it is extended from the wall on an acordian pull, allowing for way more space to be used on the trunks surface.  More space, more books and magazines to hoard and pore over into the night or on a lazy morning over coffee in bed.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

12 Terrific Summer Decks to inspire you this summer!

Living in a northern climate has its challenges doesn't it?
Having Mediterranean blood running through my veins makes it doubly so. 
I adore the summer months when you can smell the flowers, freshly cut grass,barbecues
sizzling and small dinner parties in the backyard! With Canadian winters being long and hard,
 I try to take advantage of the good weather whenever possible. Evenings in the outdoors 
can be even more challenging of course, given that the chilly air sets in as soon as the sun 
starts to set. Today's entry is about how to create these warm
 environments in your own backyard, by giving you some delicious snapshots to give
 you direction and inspiration.  Don't be discouraged, you don't have to spend a bundle to
 create a warm ambiance. Remember you can purchase a fire pit, or build one, or even
 buy a small propane
 gas fire candle as large as a hurricane lamp.


Above, the chartreuse and grey furnishings are cool and soft with pillows in combination of
 smaller prints in coordinating colors. The coffee table does double duty as both table and foot
 rest when the tray is removed. The sleek low gas fireplace runs the length of the terrace. 
Note how the facade of the fireplace is unobtrusive even thought it towers above the
sitting area.


This is a terrific example of how to create intimacy in tight spaces. The sleek furnishings 
on teak flooring on the rooftop are warmed up by the concrete gas fire pit. You can create this
look in an instant! I would love this look for my own urban terrace.


This is a great example of how you can create even more seating than you might ever
 need, by building a ledge seating of concrete. The ledge actually creates the designated 
area of the seating area. In this garden, the shaker style table is low key, the outdoor wicker
 chairs are great for taking a beating in the hot sun, or rainy days. The sleek concrete 
wood burning fireplace is the showstopper.

The scent of wood burning on a chilly night? Nothing beats that!


If more exotic is your fancy, this is a great mix and match setting. The director chairs in
 chocolate brown, wooden recliners, zebra print pillows and rug, along with the middle 
eastern fire pit, create a very tribal look and feel. Here again the fire pit is a wood burning one. 
You CAN have it all on a budget!


A modern concrete facade dwarfs the seating area in this lush backyard. The black and white
furnishings are awarded a pop of color with the garden seats in vibrant citrus colors. The fire
place is also flanked by tall planters that soften the harsh look of the concrete.


Hankering for a more classic look? Nothing beats black wrought iron, a staple for every
 classic garden! This beauty has flowing ferns that flank the fire place.
A similar setting with a twist shown below. Love the pea gravel underfoot.


My favorite one of all here! The huge facade of the fire place looms above, but the fire is low and
 close to guests seating. A Scandinavian style is created with the light-colored wooden chairs. 
The circulametal table breaks with conformity and also allows guests to circulate easily
 around the space.


A slight variation on the setting above, this one is created using a fire place created in the ground.
 The ceramic outdoor tiles are lovingly separated by low shrubbery. Great for intimate chatter late into
 the night.



The minimal feel here is still inviting, despite the stark look.


For those of you who can't do without the soap opera, reality television or CNN,this setting 'rocks'! 
A mix and match setting of different textures in the chairs and sofa is cohesive none the less, 
because the neutral colors pull everything 'together'!

Whether warm and embellished, zen and calm, or modern and minimal, the fireplace
adds the warmth to each of these looks and settings, and the beauty of it is it can be had
 irregardless of your budget.


10 Design tricks for your city terrace!

If you’re an urban city lover, then like me you have a very limited space to enjoy on your city
 terrace or balcony.  Yet, small doesn't necessarily have to mean drab.  With a larger space the challenge
  is creating the intimacy.  The small space already has this to its’ advantage.  
Creating a cozy , warm intimate ambiance is a cinch in a tight space.  
This is exactly what you should
 be shooting for, irregardless of the limitations of the space.  
When my clients say I don’t have 
enough space, my first challenge is to help them to use their space to their advantage!

Think vertical!  Here we have an ingenious inexpensive way of creating a trellis
 overhead, a way to create shade, and green space!  Easily achieved by stringing together some
 bamboo rods and flexible slats of wood or plastic that you can easily buy at a 
renovation store.  Thinking outside the box can generate terrific results!

Container gardening is another way to put your limited space to good use.  
Not enough space means using every inch as shown here, where the owner used the walls to house pretty pots.

Love the scent of herbs, well you’re in luck cause they can do very well in a sunny 
environment as long as they have enough water.    I love this idea of the ‘pockets’ housing herbs
.  Snip with a pair of scissors and you have a great pitcher of lemonade with mint leaves,
 or a salad with cilantro.  Ingenious don’t you think? Yum. 

Don’t let the concrete jungle intimidate you either, you can easily camouflage a concrete 
balcony with ceramic tile (glued to sheets of wood so that you can easily bring it with you 
if you’re renting!), or slats of wood that interlock as shown here!  Again the slats weren't
 limited to the floor, but were used vertically to house plants.  

 Don’t let everybody else dictate what you want your space to be!  Below, the entire space
is taken up by this round lounger!  And why not? It should be what suits your comfort level, 
budget and lounging style!

Below also the interlocking wood slats were used, creating a clean surface for the throw
 pillows.  Why not create an additional ‘living area’. Have an old piece of furniture? Bring
 it outside and with a bright hue it will set the mood for summer living.  

Seating that is easily hidden away means hammock!  Hanging to the right is a bright
 fuchsia hammock. Now there’s a way to take advantage of a tight space.  Put it away
 once you’re done with it, otherwise swing and sway in it any time of the day or night!  
Notice how the plants are kept off the floor and draw the eye upward so that there is 
still a feeling of lush greenery in a city setting?

Get down!  This is the idea behind having low slung furniture and pillows.  
Everybody enjoys getting down to basics in tight spaces after a few drinks, when the
 stars are out, whether over mint tea or mint juleps – this setting is ideal for cozy evenings.

Take advantage of your ‘walls’ even if they’re shared with a a nosy neighbor.  
Here every inch was put to good use by putting a ‘backless’ sofa up against the
 wooden separator as shown above and below.

There is nothing like a little surprise when entering an enchanted garden setting.  
Think unusual finds, or even junk.  Here we have an unusual piece of furniture
 probably a discarded medicine cabinet which works like a terrific terrarium!  These 
types of pieces are easily found at flea market, thrift stores, or even on the curb. 
 Think outside the box and take a leap of faith.   Every time  I have done this it has turned 
out to be a conversation piece, with people always amazed at what I find in the trash!   

Play a game of high low, one inexpensive piece of ‘trash’, next to terrific lush fabrics
on your pillows or throw cushions, or even a rich rug underfoot.  
One works off the other, to create an interesting non cookie cutter look.  Be unique, 
take hints from magazines that make you see things through an unusual lens.

The ingredients of these simple balcony recipes, can make every space come alive,
 potted plants, a colorful rug underfoot, some mix and match cushions, chairs, coffee
 table or pedestal table, an umbrella for shade.  In each of these settings you can see
 how the simplest space comes alive by mixing with the appropriate items.

Always dreamt of having a picket fence?  The city life can't stop you from having that - 
as shown here!Don’t let color intimidate you, a sweetly patterned rug,  a turquoise set of
 pillows stand out, summer is short, take advantage of it!  Here   a few colorful  rugs are 
thrown atop each other to create a sense of ‘kasbah’ in the city.

Take cover!  Don't have the luxury of the upper floor creating enough shade from 
the harmful and scorching rays of summer?  Here we have a twist on the run of the mill 
awning with it's billowing lats it allows for more of a relaxed feel and allows for air as well to circulate.
  Take a cue from above also for the use of trellis boards to create not only privacy, but
 some shade if paired with eager growing plants that like to ramble.

This vibrant colored water feature is a fabulous way to create yet another layer and
 also to tune out the traffic from nearby boulevards or neighbors as well.  It is as easy 
as purchasing a small pump and a pot that will hold water.  Any home renovation shop
 can tell you how to  achieve this.

Don't let summer run away from you - keep it in your tiny terrasse for as long as possible!