Tropical Style

Great Design Plant: Blue Oat Grass

While vibrant spring and summer colours lighten landscapes, and fiery autumn color is a seasonal scene, occasionally you just have to cool down. Let’s cool down with blue — blue oat grass, a must-know low-maintenance pick for calming shade yearlong.

San Marcos Growers

Botanical name: Helictotrichon sempervirens
Common title: Blue oat grass
USDA zones:4 to 2 ; hardy to less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit (find your zone)
Water requirement: Occasional; drought tolerant
moderate requirement: Full sun to light shade
Mature size: 2 feet tall and broad
Benefits and tolerances: Drought tolerant; deer resistant; can manage air pollution
Seasonal attention: Evergreen in temperate climates; flowers in summer
When to plant: Plant or split in early spring

Missouri Botanical Garden

Distinguishing traits. Blue oat grass is spiky, spunky and blue — characteristics that invite comparisons to blue fescue.

From afar, its large clumps and projected flowers are controlling and regal, but up close they bend and sway in a gentle manner, with extended blue-gray blades radiating from the center.

A cool-season bud, blue oat grass flourishes in temperatures that are mild but produces its strongest color in full sun. A towering crown of bluish-brown flowers projects about a foot above the foliage in summer, aging to a gold oat color in autumn. And while the flowers create a spectacular show in summer, the pretty foliage is welcome at the garden all year.

Lankford Associates Landscape Architects

The best way to utilize it. This particular bud is a joy when massed, utilized at a container or utilized as an accent plant. The soft, fine evergreen foliage also makes a soft and soothing base for companion flowers.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Planting notes. With a little maintenance, well-draining dirt and heavy, infrequent waterings, you need to be able to grow blue oat grass easily. It produces its color when it’s planted in full sun. In colour, the grass clump may flop over.

Blue oat grass is considered evergreen, but in more extreme climates it might be considered semievergreen.

Each spring and autumn, pull out dead growth together with your palms or comb it out using a metal rake. In harsher climates a late-winter or spring trim can help to keep your blue oat grass looking its best.

Do you utilize blue oat grass on your landscape? We would love to see your photo in the Remarks below.

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Tropical Style

Bring to the Birds: Natural Habitat Suggestions for Gardens of All Sizes

I recently traveled to Costa Rica, and that I was immediately struck by the amount of birds fluttering around in the treetops from dawn until dusk. We took several jungle hikes and appreciated private gardens, all of which provided different habitats for the birds. I had been struck by the natural look of these habitats as opposed to an overly formal and contrived setup. The focus was really on and for its birds, and design and function met in an ideal dance.

When developing a natural habitat, Costa Ricans concentrate on four specific requirements; nesting, water, perches and florals. Food, in the kind of fresh fruit, is plentiful from the jungle yearlong, thus there’s not plenty of bird feeders. Rather, attempts are made to offer secure spaces where birds may nest, perch and wash. Additionally, I ran into plenty of rescue bird surgeries and found them fascinating and magic. Listed below are a few tips I learned from observing the gardens of the jungle as well as the birds that live there.

Amy Renea

Provide Homes for Mama and Baby Birds

When raising their young, many birds are mutually protective. This small one flew directly to the house one day and we released it to its mama, who had been crying for it directly outside.

Many local businesses in Costa Rica rescue birds from the wild and cage them for protection. The ecorestaurant on Lake Arenal as well as Toad Hall nearby both had saved toucans and parrots. In case you decide to permanently rescue a wounded bird, then be aware you have to register it and the ideal place for these birds is that the wild if they can remain there.

Urban Hedgerow

Providing nesting materials will guarantee new small ones born in your garden each year. Try out a cool setup similar to this or throw the hair from the hairbrush and small pieces of moss and hay out from the garden. The birds will locate them.

See how to create bird and bug habitats at the city

Amy Renea

While trekking in the jungles, we found a lot of giant holes like these on straight-cut subway walls. For a very long time, we were scared to death of these, imagining giant snakes appearing. We learned that a large quantity of these holes are actually nesting holes for birds. Can you provide this kind of mud-wall environment in your garden? You might be amazed by the variety of birds that appear.


You might also think of designing a spacious, protected space when constructing your new house. Birds and other creatures love the peace and protection of this distance under a porch, and you would have a constant show of wildlife with a setup like this.

Greener Living Solutions

Produce Watering Holes

Natural cavities and drops in rocks are often located at the jungle. They gather rainwater, making the perfect bathing hole for the birds.

Look at developing a similar cavity in cement for your garden. The birds are sure to gather at a watering hole like this.


Some birds like to property in the middle of a wide-open distance to avoid predators hiding in the brush, while some others like a small cover to avoid predators at the atmosphere. Think about a low planting round a natural-looking watering spot for the latter. My chickens would adore a space in this way.

Garden Design, Inc..

Offer Sweet Perches

To repel critters that need ample area, consider a artistic arrangement of rocks where they can perch.

Amy Renea

Costa Rican architects are masterful at supplying alluring perches for birds. Safe yet spacious railings and roofing trusses abundant from the indoor-outdoor living spaces are perfect for the birds.

Fenton Roberts Garden Design

Similarly, it is possible to offer this kind of environment in your garden on a smaller scale. Weaving plants amid perching spots will ensure that lots of birds come to play.

Le jardinet

From the jungle, greenery is plentiful and nearly overwhelming at times. It is loved by the birds. Just a tiny moss creeping on your birdbath is beautiful and inviting to birds looking for a soft place where they can wet their feet and their beaks.

Amy Renea

Provide a Rainbow of Blooms

Colour matters. Hummingbirds are drawn to red, and also a mass planting of red flowers will pop out from a blanket of green.

Amy Renea

Shape matters. Those hummingbirds like tall, spiky plants, like salvia, as well as plants with long, tubed stamens and pistils. Hibiscus (shown here from the wild) is a favorite.

See more plants and flowers hummingbirds love

Amy Renea

So if you plant a few new tropical plants this summer, include a perch or two or just add a sunken rock for a few natural water collection. The birds will thank you.

Shown: Costa Rican ducks

See more about gardening and landscaping with wildlife in mind

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Small Spaces

Stellar Views Spark a Loft's New Layout

When you consider a loft conversion, the very first image that probably springs to mind is of a large, open area. And that’s true most of the time. But a prior incarnation of the apartment in Texas has been the sort of loft that could provide lofts a lousy name.

The design was quite partitioned off and did not benefit from the fact that the apartment has views to the northwest, south and west. Heather Rowell of Content Architecture, working with Robert Sanders Homes, created the area more effective and maximized those viewpoints in the exact same moment. “We made a heart in the middle of the device,” she says. “It’s basically a big rectangle that includes the bedroom, an office, a laundry room and two bathrooms.”

This freed up all the exterior walls while keeping the private and public spaces feeling different from one another. The result: A genuine loft was born.

in a Glance
Who lives here: A retired attorney who was closer to her family
Location: Houston
Size: 1,400 square feet
That’s intriguing: Initially constructed in 1917, the construction (Hermann Lofts, called after Houston philanthropist George Henry Hermann) has been used by the Salvation Army before it had been converted to lofts in 1997.

CONTENT Architecture

The primary living area takes advantage of an incredible view of downtown Houston and Market Square, at the center of the city’s historic district. “It’s possibly the most precious view you can have,” says Rowell.

“For the loft in general, I knew that the customer had a wonderful art collection, intriguing artifacts from her travels and lots of amazing books,” she says. “We wanted to make a backdrop, making sure the view was important, after which your eye shifts to all the owner’s good pieces”

The floors throughout the apartment are oak. The painting leaning against the rear wall is by French artist Michel Nedjar.

Sofa: Poltrona Frau Chester One; rug: Design Within Reach; classic coffee table: Kuhl-Linscomb; custom shelving unit

CONTENT Architecture

The key upper region of the storage device is painted; a lesser portion is made from solid walnut with a walnut veneer. The television is set toward the trunk and onto a swivel mount for watching by the kitchen (next picture ).

Bentwood chair: Marc Newson for Cappellini; leather side table: The Gardener; leather seats: 1940s, French, Kuhl-Linscomb; facet table: Tom Dixon Screw Table

CONTENT Architecture

A lack of wall area, the owner’s hesitation to block the views and also her love for these pieces led to the decision to place artwork across the floor. The paintings behind the couch are by Mexican artist Rogelio Diaz.

Bar stool: Pepe Cortes Jamaica

CONTENT Architecture

The dining room is kind of a humorous wedge shape. The homeowner does a lot of fun, and this custom-made table, by local craftsman Bob Card of greenwood bay, can be used for dining or as a buffet. The table is made of reclaimed wood, including some from the debris of Hurricane Ike.

“We wanted this to feel as a space folks would want to go to even though it is the furthest away from the excellent views,” says Rowell.

The hallway leading from the entrance is employed as a gallery. “It gives the sense of a small procession as you come through and adds to the industrial sense the space already had,” she says.

Framed dried lily pads hang above the dining table.

Lamp: Bubble by Pelle

CONTENT Architecture

This perspective of the dining room shows its relationship to the living room and kitchen.

Chairs: Series 7 by Arne Jacobsen

CONTENT Architecture

The guest bathroom features a floating vanity whose surface was protected against water damage using a sealant similar to one you’d use on a ship’s deck. Incorporating the towel rod makes for a self-contained device and eliminates the need for any other sticks.

A stacked washer and washer were removed from the restroom and placed in a closet throughout the hall so the small shower could be expanded (next photo).

Sink: Water Cover, Kohler; faucet: Falling Water, Kohler

CONTENT Architecture

The bathroom does not have a natural light source, so Rowell shining a linear lighting cove in the rear shower wall to make the illusion of a skylight. “And we needed that the lighting fixture to wash the slate down and emphasize the texture of this wall,” she says.

Tile: Stone Black Slate Mini Sticks, Mini Wave Pebble Tile, Timor White pebble flooring and Palazzo Santelmo wall tile, all from LaNova Tile; showerhead: Axor Faucet, Hansgrohe

CONTENT Architecture

The kitchen has several interesting features. The stovetop and the sink have been flipped, and because the flat is in a historic building, a port to the outside could not be installed. The Elica Twin hood includes two fans which pull air and recirculate it through a charcoal filter. Additionally, it has a series of lights on dimmers.

The drawer fronts are laminated at a ceramic veneer. “We’re going to perform regular laminate, but we came across these porcelain tiles also had them laminated to a high-tech plywood,” says Rowell. “And they’re simple to clean.”

Refrigerator: KitchenAid; cooktop and oven: Wolf; dishwasher: Optima, Miele; microdrawer: 24 inches, Wolf; tiles: ceramic, LaNova Tile; countertops: Caesarstone, Buttermilk

CONTENT Architecture

The glass-front cabinets are 1 foot in depth; the solid-front cabinets will be the complete depth of this counter. “We made a decision to make the shallow cabinets glass so the rear wall would not feel as heavy and dark,” says Rowell. “The glass will help divide the weight of this wall.”

The glass-front cabinets also permit the owner to exhibit her white Alex Marshall organic-shaped dinnerware, which provides a contrast against the dark wood and complements the white countertops and tiles.

Backsplash: handmade ceramic bricks, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

A custom cupboard walls off the perspective of the bedroom from the bathroom. Various African fertility statues collected through time by the owner are displayed along the floor. The painting is by Brigitte McReynolds.

Bed: wenge Zola Bed, Design Within Reach; bedding, cushions: Kuhl-Linscomb; sconces: Ananas Small Wall Lights, FontanaArte; status lamp: antique

CONTENT Architecture

The sleek custom storage unit includes white doors and doors of paint-grade plywood. The surround is walnut veneer with a good walnut trim cap.

CONTENT Architecture

The owner did not want to have the design of this dressing table in the master bathroom to be too symmetrical. “We contained a bit of walnut on the drawer front, and the exact same wood is used on the bathtub skirt, but did a waterfall with Caesarstone at Buttermilk,” says Rowell.

Sink: Ladena, Kohler; faucet: Stillness, Kohler; tub Archer, Kohler; bathroom fixture: Stillness, Kohler; bathroom: Carlyle, Toto; floors: Palazzo Santelmo tile, LaNova Tile; walls: Palazzo Belvedere Natural tile, LaNova Tile

CONTENT Architecture

This resembles a hallway with a lovely seat from Swallow Tail that’s coated in a Stephen Sprouse cloth and retains a West Elm pillow. And it’s all that. But it’s also a hidden office, as you’ll see in the next photograph.

CONTENT Architecture

VoilĂ ! The owner needed a home office, but Rowell did not wish to design it like a separate room. “We used long entrance doors and made it a circulation path which can be activated as a function zone,” says Rowell.

And if that’s not enough, there is a springboard mounted onto the wall to the right (not visible here) the owner uses for her everyday Pilates routine.

Cabinets: paint-grade plywood with solid wood nosings; desk surface: Caesarstone, Buttermilk; rear wall: 1/3 chalkboard paint, 2/3 bulletin board

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Eclectic Homes

15 Rooms That Excel at Double Duty

The era of giant homes is finished. We seem to have learned the key to the good life isn’t more, but much better. Better design, better technology, better efficiency and better use of space.

One of the secrets to making a little space work is to combine functions in interesting ways and rethink layout. Rooms that do double duty allow you to get more use out of your square footage, and they also let you extend your design chops. In my novel, clever beats big every time. Have a look at these 15 rooms at six classes to find out whether any of the ideas could work in your house.

Tim Cuppett Architects

The Intelligent Living Room

With Another library is indeed Downton Abbey. Behold the library and dining room combo. Walls lined with books make a room feel cozy and intimate. Additionally, your dinner guests will know how well read you are.

Bookshelves at the dining area do not have to be built in, but it helps if they span the full length of at least one wall. This looks intentional as opposed to like you ran out of shelving.

Sarah Susanka, FAIA

The Multitasking Laundry Room

A laundry area in and of itself sounds like luxury. Combining it with a home office or a workshop is brilliant. I mean, why do not pay the bills, write a novel or check your email while the garments are agitating?

Dream House Studios

It’s a laundry room/office/workshop/wrap room/craft area. A large, wide-open dining table is almost always a useful thing.

S / Wiley Interior Photography

The Hidden Home Office

This home office is tucked away so neatly to the little living space, you hardly know it is there. A slim parson’s desk, a few double-duty seating plus a wall-mounted TV make this a seamless combo.


This office, tucked into a cupboard, even has space for a guest. In my version there’s storage in that bench and folding shutter doors to close off the space.

Domestic Stories with Ivy

Here is a workplace off the entryway at a “space” made by shelving. Keep the space facing the door for the pretty stuff and hide the papers and mess down near the base of the shelf from the wall.

Scheer & Co..

Behind curtain number one: a workspace for two! When the curtains are closed, the entire thing vanishes, leaving the living room for dwelling.

Michael K Chen Architecture

The Disappearing Guest Room

There is a happy medium between a guest cabin at the ready and a blow-up mattress in the living area. Murphy beds benefit from vertical space; when guests leave, they can be flipped up, and your life can get back to normal.

De Meza + Architecture

A flexible couch or daybed at the office can be the place where all your best ideas hit and the place where guests put their heads during the night time.

Prestige Custom Building & Construction, Inc..

This guest room–office combination is permanent but still different. You do not have to look at a workspace as you’re resting, and also you do not have to be tempted by a rest space as you’re working.

Don Ziebell

The Working Kitchen

In eat-in kitchens, long, narrow tables can double as workspace.

Gabriel Builders Inc..

The Functional Family Room

Families do not want to be doing exactly the exact same thing at the exact same time. Creating different areas for different interests is the key to togetherness. With this house playground, the kids won’t even notice that you’re watching Breaking Bad right next to them.

Eisner Design LLC

This playroom outside a house gym is like a built in daycare.

Highline Partners, Ltd

This living room doubles as a guest room and gives a place where you can cozy up with a book when the movie gets dull.

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Backyard Studios

Get Ideas for a Model-of-Perfection Artist's Studio

Every now and then my wife and I talk about what we’d do if we had the money to construct our dream house. What things do we include past the normal spaces for eating, sleeping and such? I am always partial to a library, however, my wife would love a pottery studio. Well a library is relatively easy — plenty of wall space and very little natural light — but an artist’s studio is a bit more demanding, bringing in considerations of surface and light but also ventilation, outside access and so forth. This ideabook looks at a few artist’s studios to find out what should be considered when building one into your property, make it for design, painting or some other medium.

Clayton&Little Architects

Let’s say that the artist is a painter. Ideally a painter’s studio could be removed from the rest of a house, so that paint does not get on couches, and brushes are not washed at precisely the same sink where folks cook or brush their own teeth. This studio takes that to the extreme by being a 500-square-foot structure separate from the first Victorian residence. The way the studio opens into the lawn is a great feature we’ll talk more later.

Traditionally, northern light (in the Northern Hemisphere) was desirable for artist’s studios, since the light could be diffuse instead of direct. In a feeling this mimics the states in galleries and museums, where a few indirect natural light may enter the distance, accompanied by a few artificial lighting. Website constraints mean that studios can’t always take full advantage of north light, therefore maximizing any available light is perfect, such as in the case of the studio with windows and skylights.

Dumican Mosey Architects

After the positioning of openings is varied to maximize the daylighting, shades can be used to block direct light when it is not desirable. Such is the case for this attic studio.

Pine Street Carpenters & Your Kitchen Studio

A fairly common way of producing a artist’s studio is converting a garage. Here, the present garage door opening permits easy access to the exterior. Other adjustments might include including skylights (I like the way they exposed the beams), HVAC and drywall on the interior. This studio makes it crystal clear that storage is an important concern.

Dave Adams Photography

Based upon the art one generates, the height of the space is important. Notice in this case the way the walls on the left is greater than the outside wall on the right, thanks to it being closer to the summit of the roof. This means that some fairly tall canvases can be installed to benefit from the extra room. Note also the skylights, the track lighting and the terrace access.

Ron Yeo, FAIA Architect

Similar to the previous example, but a tiny bit more intimate, is this studio with skylights, track lighting and sliding-door access to outside.

Canyon Construction

I would wager this generously sized studio faces north. Not only does this glass wall bring in plenty of light, but it frames a stunning view. I understand what I would paint!

RDM Architecture

I would also wager that those windows bring about some north light, though a bit western facing, given the sunset creating its way in. This little studio also contains some pendant lighting and a ceiling fan.

RDM Architecture

From the exterior, we can see the artist’s studio’s wing on the right. A little chimney exhaust is visible on the outside wall, maybe to get a kiln or another heating supply. If the former, it points to an important thought for a pottery studio: how to put in a kiln. Given the sort of fuel and also the temperatures necessary to fire plaster to rock-hard durability, an artist might have some issues installing a kiln in your home, based on the local authority. My wife trekked into the suburbs to use a raku kiln since it was close to impossible to own one in town.

RDM Architecture

On the opposite side of the same studio is an outdoor area with a few covered material storage in particular, long planks of wood. If you are seriously interested in an artist’s studio, then it’s good to think outside the box, if you will, and consider adjacent spaces as well.

To me, the perfect artist’s studio has immediate access to an outdoor room which would also be utilized for creating art. In good weather, this outdoor space could act as a place to paint, throw pottery, what have you; a link to nature and the elements is important in creating art. The retractable doors of the garage/shed make this building ideal for working indoors and out.

Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, PLLC

This last example shows an outdoor space can also be designed to a house to be used even in inclement weather. This studio can be expanded to the covered space near it just by opening the garage door, which also has glass to get natural light.

Domiteaux + Baggett Architects, PLLC

The view from the outdoor space then becomes just like a photograph frame, providing the artist plenty of inspiration.

More backyard escapes

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Eclectic Homes

Junk-Storing Garage Becomes a Cabana Getaway

Although this family of four enjoyed the cozy, cottage-like atmosphere of their house, they knew they had more room. “Our children share a room, which makes fairly tight,” says one of those owners. “We wanted some extra room for visitors and for when the kids get larger.” They didn’t need to look farther than their extra-large garage which wasted a lot of room on stored junk. “We needed some breathing room since our house is small and we’ve got two growing children,” the owner says. “We also wanted a bathroom nearer to the pool along with a secure space convenient for refreshments and shelter for the backyard. We basically needed a peaceful place to hang a sanctuary.” After the couple needed architectural plans in hand, they hired Bill Fry, whom friends were recommended, to construct it.

The garage structure is extra long and provided enough room for a living room with a wet bar and a complete bath, although the base needed some unexpected structural function to encourage the newest uses. While a complete garage stays, the rear provides room for your family to blend drinks, play games, read, get on the Internet, mix playlists for the outdoor speakers, have a film night, store snacks and grab a postswim shower, inside or out.

Space at a Glance
Location: Los Gatos, California
Size: Around 270 square feet
Year built:

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

The living room enjoys natural light in the large sliding doors that recall a relaxed Japanese teahouse.

A glance through the doors from exterior reveals a light and open area in addition to a perspective through the pocket door to the full bathroom.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Shelves behind the sofa provide ample area for board games, towels, magazines, DVDs and books. “I occasionally will read or see movies out here,” says the homeowner. “My children like to see MythBusters, read and play games with their buddies in the cabana.”

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

A sloped ceiling creates a cozy spot for your own couch and provided the opportunity to bring a skylight and a ceiling fan.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Cleverly placed wall niches are used for display and storage.

Lots of wet feet trample through the space; these are radiant heat floors that look like wood but are ceramic tile.

Floors: Parker Wood Porcelain Tile

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

From the wet bar area, custom open shelving rather than clunky upper cupboards leaves things more open and makes the room seem larger.

In addition to supplying a spot for mixology, this area comes in handy during al fresco dinner parties. “When we’ve got friends over during pleasant weather, we’ll eat in the backyard and we are going to set up a buffet within the cabana, which is quite convenient,” says the homeowner.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Clutter never gets it into the cabana in the first place, so open shelves didn’t present the typical troubles. “The nice thing is this tiny cabana serves as a ‘escape’ place — we don’t use it every day the way we use the rooms in our house, so it does not get cluttered,” says the homeowner. “The shelves have a smooth finish, so they are extremely easy to wipe down. Consequently it always feels clean in this area, even if our house feels disorderly!”

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Another market offers storage for glassware. The background of mosaic tile may be enjoyed through the glasses and glass shelves.

The tasteful quartz countertops have been locally located remnants.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Moving into the bath, a clear glass shower enclosure retains the open atmosphere, which makes the bathroom seem larger than it truly is.

The shower is a steam shower by ThermaSol. The glass at the top tilts down to maintain the steam within the stall.

Tile: Tile Fantastic

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

A pony wall offers extra privacy around the commode. A mosaic tile edge continues throughout the whole bath.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

A well-placed niche offers storage for bath towels.

Tip: When using open shelving in the bathroom, you truly cannot go wrong with white towels.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Yet another market in the shower offers space for shampoo as well as some decorative cubes.

Tip: When planning shower markets, make certain they are tall enough to accomodate your favorite products. If you prefer to buy shampoo in bulk, then look around those tall bottles.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

The mosaic detail continues to the shower stall floor. A bench and a ledge offer room for bottles and using a seat.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

When there’s no time for the full steam treatment, an outdoor shower provides a spot for a quick rinse.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

The homeowner got a little overzealous when it arrived to tile indoors, but the outdoor shower benefitted. “I fell in love with too various kinds of tile so the tile designer tried to work them into the design — it seemed pretty darn good on paper, but if the tile man started installing the tiles, then the design was quite muddled and did not work at all,” she explains.

“After losing sleep over it, I decided we had to rip out a number of the tile he’d already installed and just go with a more straightforward design. The silver lining was that we ended up salvaging a few of those already bought, fresh tile by installing it in the exterior shower area, which turned out more tasteful than we were planning. It was a lovely way to use the substances.”

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

Finally, another side of the garage offers more play area in the kind of a giant chessboard.

“The chessboard thought was triggered from something that I saw in a landscape book and one I had seen at an upscale outdoor shopping mall,” says the homeowner. “My children had just begun to get into chess, and that I believed it’d be an enjoyable element to add to the lawn. I wanted to make it subtle, sort of like a surprise, and our landscaper did a great job with it.”

8 Tips for Pool House Perfection
A Tale of Two Pool Houses

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Demilune Table

“Demilune” is French for half-moon. Meant to rest against a wall, this console table with a rounded shape fits nicely in small spaces.

Regan Baker Design Inc..

Traditional demilune tables work wonderfully in a little entry.

Craig Denis

A demilune table may quickly become a dressing table.

Beckwith Interiors

This modern demilune’s foundation has a contour that is smart.

Liz Williams Interiors

A demilune can pose as a nightstand, as this weathered timber version does.

Watch more about demilune tables

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Tropical Style

California Gardener: Things To Do in July

Things are heating up During Southern California as June Gloom wanes in the coastal areas. Together with the hotter, longer days of summer here, we are entering summit fruit and veggie period. Active increase in the backyard means a lot of deadheading, fertilizing, mulching and watering.

As July stretches into August and outside, you will most likely create one of two attitudes:
You greet the summer months with enthusiasm — getting your hands dirty deadheading, mulching, watering, weeding, staking, suggestion pinching and picking out the bounty. You’re sick and tired of all the energy, water and time it takes to maintain those flower pots appearing amazing, your veggie garden generating along with your decorative plants in bounds. If only those hedges would trim themselves and these veggies and fruits would appear beautifully exhibited in a suitably rustic basket on the kitchen counter tops. . .It is time to specify which type of gardener you are and make a garden that works for you. The aim, particularly in Southern California, is to create your backyard as low upkeep and “unthirsty” as possible — together with plans like installing an efficient watering system, using heavy mulching and using a top dressing of compost which delivers nourishment consistently.

Alternatively, you could skip the standard garden crops completely and have this be the month you tear out high-maintenance, heavy-drinking plants and replace them with succulents, grasses, ornamentals, drought-tolerant natives and food-producing plants.

It doesn’t matter which group you end up in or if you are still on the fence — NOW is the time to rate your relationship with your backyard and produce a landscape which will thrive and look great with the total amount of resources and time you want to dedicate to it.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Water, water, water. Feed, feed, feed … The mantra for the summer months is “feed and water.” Tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, etc. require a great deal of nutrients and water as they pump out bunch after bunch of delectable taste — much more so if you’re growing in containers.

Nutrients often leach out after a few months, which makes it important to feed, feed, feed. We are talking about monthly applications of general purpose organic fertilizers, compost tea or your favourite pick-me-ups, such as bone meal and kelp. Or just top-dress your beds this month with approximately an inch of compost to supply a steady supply of plant nutrients — and support a healthy suite of soil microbes.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Keep herbs generating by removing blossoms: Pinch off blossoms on herbs to stimulate bushier and more streamlined growth as well as higher foliage return for cooking. The more you prune early, the bigger and bushier your herb crops will end up.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Jam with buddies: Together with summertime fruits coming on hot and heavy this season, jamming season has officially arrived. It is apricot jam for me. My single backyard apricot tree typically yields 60 to 80 pints of jam each June. Look at rounding up your posse and pressing them into labour. You are going to get through the work more quickly and have more fun in the process. Most folks are happy to pitch in with jamming in market for a couple jars of “product.”

Check out more about maintaining fresh produce

Big Girls Small Kitchen

Share the bounty: I send out apricot jam to buddies early in the season and enjoy abundant produce throughout the summer in return. Canned pears and peaches; plum, tomato and strawberry jams; honey; dried fruit; bouquets; and bushels of fresh fare are only a couple of the backyard treats that come my way out of folks who’ve enjoyed the bounty in my backyard.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Off with their heads! Following June’s burst of color in the backyard, deadheading will promote continued flowering. Fertilizing goes together with deadheading. Long days and warm soil permit plants to take up nutrients rapidly. They will use those nourishment to add foliage, build a healthy root system and produce blooms throughout the summer if you remove spent flowers regularly.

Tip pinching types that tend to be leggy encourages fuller, bushier growth — easy to achieve precisely the identical time you are cruising the beds deadheading.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Water and feed a few more: At July’s heat, it’s important to give roses along with other heavy summer bloomers two to three deep soaks each week, depending upon weather.

Mulching these antiques with a layer of well-composted organic substance will keep roots cool as well as maintain moisture. (make sure you keep mulch away in the crown of the plant to prevent conditions that encourage disease.)

Use a strong spray of water in the early mornings to wash leaves and control sucking insects. Feed regularly with compost tea or organic fertilizer.

Rob Kyne

Water: Timing is all about. Cooler temperatures create early mornings and late afternoons that the ideal times to operate in the backyard in July. Water plants early in the day when evaporation rates are reduced nevertheless there is plenty of time for leaves and mulch to dry out, reducing fungal-growth ailments.

Land Design, Inc..

Water: Efficiency equals money in your pocket. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation are ideal. The slow rate and direct-to-soil program translates into decreased evaporation, overspray and runoff, which, in turn, translate into decreased water usage and weed development.

If you’ve already got an irrigation system, now is a fantastic time to give it a tuneup. Station by station, turn on the water and watch what is happening. Fix, repair and replace components as necessary to be sure that you’re getting the most out of your system. Why not switch to a wise irrigation timer now? You are going to receive plenty of savings at this summit water-use period of the year — and perhaps a rebate from the regional water provider.

Nicolock Paving Stones and Retaining Walls

Stake and train: July brings fast increase in the veggie garden. Stake plants regularly to maximize the plant’s vulnerability to sunlight, improve air circulation, keep fruits and vegetables out of the soil (where insects and plagues are lying in wait), also to make harvesting easier.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Plant colorful, drought-tolerant plants: If you are sick of large summer water bills, making the switch to drought-tolerant plantings is the way to go. Fear not — drought tolerant doesn’t mean you have to lose color in the scene.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

Succulents: attractiveness without anxiety. Succulent containers can be a stunning and water-wise replacement for all those perennial and yearly containers that require a good deal of upkeep.

Read on growing succulents

Sandy Koepke

Want summers off in the backyard? Go xeric. Unlike large maintenance and higher water usage gardens, July at a xeric (low-water) landscape is mellow — with little to no work or water needed. Stone, topography and thoroughly architectural succulents in a assortment of forms, textures and foliage color make for a wealthy, drought-tolerant composition, reducing garden responsibilities this month to finding a shady spot to hang the hammock.

Suggestions for Your California backyard
Navigate flowers, plants and garden layouts

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Mortise and Tenon

A mortise and tenon joint is the most basic joint in wood frame construction. Used for thousands of years to connect pieces of wood in a 90-degree angle, the mortise is a slot cut into the wood, and the tenon is its corresponding projection. It is quite simple but strong. Endless variations of this joint make construction with minimal or no nails or adhesive potential.

Alice Lane Home Collection

A square mortise hole and its corresponding tenon projection is observable on the bottom of this table. A peg retains the tenon out.

Sutton Suzuki Architects

You can view cuts . It is probably salvaged from a timber-frame building where it had been used structurally.


Mortise cuts have been exposed by this lintel and post door.

Murphy & Co.. Layout

Ordinarily, a mortise and tenon joint is hidden between the timbers it joins, using a groove and slot cut to fit seamlessly together. The peg in this beam marks where the tenon exists inside the hole.

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Guest Picks: 20 Outside Pieces for Less Than $100

Summer is almost here, which means it is time to get your outdoor area prepared for get-togethers, relaxing weekends, and plenty of fun. Spruce up your patio or porch without breaking the bank using a bit of assistance from such essential outdoor bits, all priced under $100. — Maria out of Layers of Meaning


Astro Bird Feeder – $48

My son just discovered how to make bird sounds and he’s completely fascinated by these. This contemporary bird feeder would deliver a lot of entertaining evenings in the home.


BROMMĂ– Deck seat – $59.99

No one does affordable midcentury-inspired furniture better than Ikea. I’ve had my eye with this deck seat for a while, and I’m so excited they decided to bring it back to their summer collection.

Cost Plus World Market

Timber Cove Ottoman – $79.99

World Market makes some of my favourite affordable pieces, and also this comfortable ottoman is among my favorites. Ideal for indoor or outdoor use, it is the ideal option for extra seating.

Cost Plus World Market

Pompeian Red Metal Accent Stool – $59.99

Adding color is one of my favorite techniques to bring a room to life. This bright metal stool brightens any space, while being operational.

Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler Jet Set Coasters – $48

The master of daring images, Jonathan Adler has created the ideal summer coasters featuring some of the planet’s best beach destinations. I’ve already been to 2 them — maybe I need to make a point to go to at least once again by next summer.


Pop Swirls Pillow – $39.95

While I have a look at this pillow, I envision late afternoons lounging on comfortable chairs, sipping a cold drink and relaxing with a fantastic decor magazine.

Home Decorators Collection

Modesto Fire Column – $95

I’ve been wanting to buy a tabletop fire pit for my back porch for some time now. When those summertime soirees continue into the night, just light this baby up and continue the party!

Cost Plus World Market

Red Ikat Rio Indoor-Outdoor Rug – $79.99

My favorite feature about outdoor carpets is how simple they are to stay clean; simply hose it down and you’re done!

Cost Plus World Market

Ipanema Ikat Slanted Party Tub – $19.99

This Ikat-print party bathtub (a necessity for any party) is currently my favorite outdoor thing and costs less than $20. You can’t beat that!

Cost Plus World Market

Coral Lobster And Crab Plates – $13.98

If you can’t entertain by the sea, then bring the sea to you with these hand-painted crab and lobster plates.


Orange Outdoor Pillow Cover By Mazizmuse – $75

By now you probably know I’m a massive fan of handmade and Etsy; I really like to encourage local artists and small businesses. While this graphic pillow cover is for outdoor use, I don’t see why you couldn’t bring it inside during those cold months.


Basil Mint Rosemary Thyme Silverware Garden Marker Set By Beach House Living – $30

For the last few decades, my husband and I’ve planted our own vegetable and herb garden. There is nothing better than eating fresh, organic produce every day. This four-piece classic spoon set are the ideal addition to our contemporary garden.

The Monogram Merchant

Elephant Lucite Ice Removal Services Little Rock Bucket – $54.95

Cocktails anyone? Keep your summertime guests refreshed by employing this monogrammed lucite Ice Removal Services Aurora bucket.


Navy Chevron Dog Bowl – $39

Do not forget about Fido while relaxing outside. This hand-painted dog bowl features my favourite routine: chevron.

Jonathan Adler

Blue Positano Highball Glass – $11

Jonathan Adler is at it again! This Mediterranean-inspired acrylic highball glass is among my favourite pieces of his newest collection. Insiders tip: Use it like an outdoor vase.


Sierra Platter – $58

This terracotta fish platter isn’t merely the ideal summer serving piece, but it also doubles as an outdoor dining table centerpiece.


high-gloss square white tray – $29.95

I’ve always been a fan of lacquer home accessories and also this simple tray is no exception. Use it as a serving tray, or put it together with an ottoman to hold candles or small potted plants.


ENHOLMEN Table/Stool – $59.99

I always gravitate toward furniture with numerous functions. It is possible to take advantage of this handwoven plastic sheeting piece of furniture as a table or as a stool.


Monogrammed Outdoor Pillow Cover In Daffodil By Designs By Them – $23.95

During the summertime I really like adding burst of color. This pillow cover features an embroidered initial in a mildew-, stain- and water-resistant cloth.

West Elm

Claude Planters, White – $16

I feel that no outdoor space is full without planters. These onyx and white ones add just the ideal quantity of boldness and contrast.

Next: Rich Seems for Thrifty Outdoor Bathrooms

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