Friday, May 30, 2014

Greening Up Your Landscape Lighting

If you are like me, you have always wanted gorgeous landscape lighting but have no shortage of reasons for why it isn't possible. Perhaps you are concerned about additional charges on your electricity bill or wasting energy in general. After all, lighting the inside of your home is necessary, but when the outside world is centered on conservation, lighting up your yard seems frivolous, at best.

Or maybe you've been intimidated by all of the electrical components that must be involved. Surely, just getting the lights in the ground is a DIY feat well beyond the bounds of your skill set, right?

But here's the truth: You can be conscious of the environment, keep your electricity consumption (and bill) exactly where it is and beautify your yard with green living landscape lighting that is just as eco-friendly as it is aesthetically pleasing! And with no wires to attach or cables to bury, simple staked lanterns couldn't be easier to install.

My husband and I have been in the process of remodeling our first home, and after spending over nine months on the interior, we are finally able to take our updating outside! Our front walkway previously boasted large, overgrown and irreparably diseased bushes that we removed and recently patched with a few plots of sod. I am looking forward to the day when the sod spreads and becomes seamlessly integrated into the existing grass and I no longer have to look at sod lines and empty spots.

Originally, I intended on replacing the bushes with another bush or plant, but when I found these fantastic lanterns that coordinate with our updated porch light and garage sconces, I was sold.

In terms of DIY home improvement, this planting project - that literally consists of sticking the stake into the ground - packs a major punch in the d├ęcor department without walloping your wallet or the planet.

Landscape lanterns like these often come in multi-packs: I purchased a set of four and they came in at just over $12 each! They are made of a weather-resistant plastic that has a copper like finish that is indistinguishable from the real thing when viewed from above.

The classic contours of the lanterns make them extremely versatile and allow them to coexist with many different architectural styles. And although I have lined them along the curving front entry leading up to my front porch, they would work just as well along the side of the house or out back around our patio.

Aside from their beauty, let's not forget that the main reason these are so fantastic is their eco-friendliness! These landscape lanterns are Energy Star-compliant and automatically shut off during daylight hours. They are solar powered for environmentally sound operation and use a one-watt LED bulb that is actually included with the set. A single sunny day charge can translate into nine hours of illumination from dusk until dawn. This means that during the night, you have an enhanced yard and enhanced security because prowlers are less likely to gravitate toward a well-lit home.

And while we're on the subject of safety, by installing landscape lights along walkways, especially curved ones like mine, you can ensure greater visibility and reduce the risk of tripping and falling at night. This can become indispensable on nights when you have guests over who will be leaving well after the sun goes down!

Here are a few tips for installing your lanterns:

  • Plan your layout before you stick them in the ground to ensure appropriate spacing and minimize the damage to your yard.
  • Place them close enough to your path to sufficiently light it but not so close that the lanterns become a hazard to passersby.
  • When placing them in the ground, it may help to carve out a little well with a garden spade first.
  • Rather than pushing them in from the top of the light, grab the base firmly and insert the stake into the ground as you might a dagger.
  • Be sure to charge them in the sunlight for at least a couple of hours before their initial use to ensure a good and accurate first impression at dusk.

All that's left to do is sit back and enjoy your new green living landscape lighting! And it's an outdoor lighting scheme that you can be proud of, both in terms of your yard enhancement and in the sense that you are doing your part for the planet.

What style or layout of landscape lighting do you want to incorporate into your green living outdoor spaces?

Rheney Williams lives in Charleston, S.C., and provides DIY advice to homeowners for Home Depot. Rheney has been decorating and redesigning her home over the past year, and has begun working on her landscaping, including outdoor landscape lights. Home Depot's complete selection of landscape lights, including the style Rheney used for her home, can be found on the Home Depot website.


Christoff: Finio Architecture caught my eye two years ago and resulted  in this post on their work featuring their renovation and rooftop addition projects, as well as their selection of finish materials. I recently caught up with their more recent work, worthy of an update here. I just love the diversity of their work in New York City and hope to have the chance to work with them on one of their projects soon.

See the whole article at RenovatingNYC

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Transformative Apartment Renovation in Brooklyn

Dwell has a feature about a renovation in Brooklyn. I was struck by the major transformation of the bathroom. Here is the before shot of the master bathroom.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kopel.

The renovated master bathroom. 

Photo by Francis Dzikowski/ESTO.

That's why we hire professionals!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seamlessly Adding Distressed Furniture to Interior Decor


Not quite fitting any single category, distressed furniture is a form of decor that identifies with the old and the new, conveying a little of both along with heaps of character. Nicked and worn panels tell tales of when the item was moved around a home and lovingly handled over the course of several generations. Achieving the look doesn't require visiting antique stores and seeking out vintage pieces with charming character gained through decades, especially when those items often cost enough money to distress your wallet more than the item you're looking for.

The Origins of Distressed Furniture

The rise of this trend takes us to London, to modern lands with high concepts for design and art but low budgets requiring just that little bit of inventive genius to realize a particular look. This is where distressed furniture comes to the fore, favoring cheaper antiques and affordable modern pieces of decor that can easily be made over into something unique and artistic.

What was old can be renewed with a touch of colorful paint and what's new can be aged with sandpaper and a bit of steel wool. The trend blurs the lines between what's modern and what's vintage, adding a colorful spin by attaching eccentric extras such as wood-paneled drawers made from old barn doors, bronzed handles once attached to entirely different pieces of furniture, altering the finish of a table or a desk with paint and sandpaper, imitating art and age with savvy design.

Blurring the Boundaries of Modern Furniture

It's the oxymoron of contemporary design, distressed furniture, taking the modern and the vintage, the old and the new, combining these influences in creative ways, but illustrating exactly what attracts buyers to this aged and eccentric design takes a little explaining.
People desire antiques but don't have the resources to make these pieces their own.

Buying purposefully distressed furnishings answer this need without breaking the bank, adding a flourish of aged appeal that highlights wear-and-tear as an art form. The distress isn't a random addition to the articles but rather a sensitively applied design meant to show where previous generations handled the furniture, showing the scrape on the leg of a chair that exposes a previous color beneath the current tones, or adding bleached colors and faux paint crackles to imitate an antique piece that has spent a decade exposed to the sun while placed in front of a large picture window.

A Wonder to the Touch and the Eye

The moderately used tables and chairs, lamps and wardrobes fit seamlessly into the interior of a home, tying the old and the new together in a way that antique pieces could never achieve, but the rustic appeal also extends to the sense of touch. Stroke an end table splashed with paint and aged by unidentifiable stains and there's an intimate sensation of essential oils having been rubbed into the grain. Intelligence pairs with this creative input to place the wear around areas where natural age would appear if these were actual antiques.

A worn patch is more discernible around handles and on larger patches where mugs would've been left to cool on writing tables. Vanities are organically aged to reflect a time long past when a lady sat and attended to her makeup needs. It's an art, creating faded lines and partially identifiable stains for the owner to discover and fall in love with.

Adding a Story

A true steward of all types of interior design can appreciate the projection of rustic appeal and the retro eccentricities of this form of furniture. The art is inherently tied to aging the furniture, but an expression of individuality and character goes hand-in-hand with this expression. Mismatched drawers and grungy splashes of paint identify some pieces as lovingly designed for the unconventional homeowner.

Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in wellness, DIY, and interior design. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jessica Helgerson Featured

Granada Tile just featured a local interior designer featuring their tile:

Recently, our client Jessica Helgerson Interior Design shared an absolutely sensational kitchen with us that we're thrilled to show you. Located in an historic 1926 Portland, Oregon, condominium building, the project involved a major re-imagining of the space. The firm, with project manager Em Shephard leading the way, removed a wall between a narrow galley kitchen, with just one window, and an adjacent family room, to create an expansive and dynamic room.
We're absolutely dazzled by the transformation. The expanded space is light and airy even with a big dose of black in the mix. It all works because sun floods in from the generous windows and the walls are a crisp white, while the ceilings are high, furthering the feeling of openness. Grounding the kitchen and bringing smashing pattern to the space is our Badajoz cement tile design from the Echo Collection for the floor tiles, laid out in a stunning cross pattern. While the elements are traditional, the entire room feels fresh and contemporary.  

You Will Be Seeing More Of Woodard

Founded in 1866 and now the oldest wrought iron company operating in the US, the master craftsmen at Woodard have constantly expanded and improved upon their high-quality furniture. Woodard takes pride in designing and producing the best in casual outdoor furniture using only the finest materials. From classic and stylish hand-crafted wrought iron pieces to beautiful furniture from cast aluminum, tubular aluminum and all-seasons wicker, every Woodard piece is created using the fine craftsmanship the company was founded on.

Woodard has hired a PR firm, The Media Matters. They will develop and implement a comprehensive public relations and communications strategy that bolsters Coppell, Texas-based Woodard’s short-and long-term marketing initiatives.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

LP General Kicks off Their New Website

LP General is a northern California contracting company specializing in multi-family construction.The company has a blog and Mike and I are featured in Revamp, Refresh, Rethink! Creating a New Look for Spring!

Aren't we cute!
Nice words:
Beverly has a wonderful eye for decorating fashion, and she has a sharp eye that always catches the new trends as they start to appear. She also knows when time is up for a particular style as well. This creative couple shared with us some up and coming trends springing into 2014.

Crowdsourcing Your Home Renovation

Help! You want to renovate a room or rooms and you want some ideas for your project. Now, there is CoContest, a web-based platform that will pull design proposals from a global pool of architects and interior designers. In seven days you will have concrete proposals and the fun of choosing a winner.

Read all about it at RenovatingNYC by Mike Landfair.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Trends: Headboards Lend A Romantic Look to Bedrooms

Sue Doerfler, The Republic at shares her reactions to April High Point Market in High Point, N.C.. She writes, " makers introduced collections that featured glamorous, fully upholstered beds and statement headboards."

In the article she mentions Bernhard's new London Calling Collection with these words, "Furniture maker Bernhardt's London Calling collection perhaps made one of the boldest statements with its vintage brass Kingston four-poster bed and matching side tables."

Here's what she's writing about:

Classic English style that mixes tradition with a bit of unexpected Carnaby panache enters the American vernacular today in Bernhardt Interiors—a permanent, eclectic collection totaling some 300 pieces of high design furniture.

Among 75 new case goods and occasional pieces, wood and metal forms and surfaces are dressed out in a razzle dazzle mashup of golds—shiny 70s brasses, scumbled gold-leafed woods, satiny jewel box cabinetry. The reflective golden metals appear both serious and playful — and will offer more visual interest to the rest of a homeowner’s decor.

Some 25 new upholstery pieces are shown in classic English types of covers. There are velvets, flaxes and linens, layered patterned cut cloths, and fabrics with a soft metal glow to them. A new color palette is composed of pomegranate, teal, spruce, greige, and... gold, basic black’s shiny cousin.

“London has always been recognized as a hotbed of really great style,” says Ron Fiore, Bernhardt creative director. “From the punk culture of the 70s to the 80s and even today, London is where we like to think eclecticism originated. We’re bringing that energetic, classic English suavity into our whole-world approach at Bernhardt.”

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Noise Control, Sound Control, & Vibration Control

Here's a fascinating video from Acoustical Surfaces Inc. that educates us how sound moves in a room and what humans find pleasing to the ear.