Fully utilizing & enjoying outdoor spaces!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas Countdown.......Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
Eric and Chris

Here is our Christmas countdown.....
Christmas lights on house...check
Decorate front entry...check

Carry in Christmas Tree...check

Carry in kids' Christmas Tree...check
Decorate Christmas Tree...check

Watch school Holiday Performance...check

Decorate mantle with Nutcracker Collection...check

Make Christmas Cookies for friends and neighbors...check

Yum...the boys' favorite Holiday Treat...

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
(This is a cookie my grandmother made at Christmas)
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water stirring. Set aside, and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl: set aside.
2. Mix butter and brown sugar on medium until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture along with milk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
3. Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in granulated sugar and then powered sugar. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool. Cookies can be stored in air tight containers for up to 3 days.

makes 5 dozen
(Developed from Martha Stewart's Cookie Cookbook)

Have 5 year olds over to decorate Gingerbread Houses...check
(I always buy Gingerbread House kits from Michaels,
they are a super easy kit that includes
everything and look great!)

When they were done I added even more candy...it was so fun

Wrap gifts...check

December 23rd....relaxing Holiday Lunch
with good friends at Marche Moderne...check

Christmas Eve tradition with best friends.....
Nativity church service and elegant dinner at our house...check

Christmas Dinner with family at Pinot Provence...check

December 26th it's off to Mammoth.......ahhhhhh

Our littlest skier...

The big boys love the mountains...

Snowball fights...my favorite....

Oh well...we might get snowed in!

Have a happy and safe New Year........

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yard Work

My late Grandparents, Jack and Pat Boyd
of Sherman Oaks, Cailfornia.

The Holidays are a time to reflect and remember those who have touched our lives. My Grandparents considered gardening both a hobby and a chore. They passed away several years ago, but I often think of the many ways they influenced my life. In their day (they graduated from college in the 1940's), very few people hired professional Landscape Gardeners or Designers. Although they considered their landscaping a thing of beauty, like many people they toiled in their own yard on weekends. Even though it might have been labor intensive, they fully embraced the process of what they called yard work.

On his free time, my grandfather lovingly tended his perfect lawn, a constant source of pride. Seasonally, my grandmother diligently replaced her garden borders with annual color like petunias, impatiens, begonias, marigolds, viola and more. Every Spring, my grandfather planted terracotta pots with strawberry plants and I remember many happy times hunting ripe strawberries as I played in the yard.

In Summertime, my grandparents would transform their yard for outdoor entertaining. The layout out of their yard was simple, a brick patio with a large grass area surrounded by planter beds and a huge Sycamore Tree for shade. Their BBQ was, of course, a Weber Grill and when it was time to entertain this space became our home outdoors. Indoor tables and chairs were brought out onto the patio. Crisp linen tablecloths and napkins made the outdoor space feel finished. White twinkle lights in the trees offered ambiance.

Meals were prepared, potato salad with tangy BBQ'd chicken and, of course, my grandmother's favorite, the Brown Derby Cobb Salad, yum! For dessert they made their speciality, homemade vanilla ice cream with the old hand crank machine. Everyone would help turn the crank with anticipation of this perfect Summertime desert.

As a child I subconsciously studied the care my Grandparents lovingly took with all of these outdoor living details. They worked hard on their yard and their outdoor space was truly their sanctuary. Without exactly knowing it, their yard work created a simple yet sophisticated aesthetic. I think about them often as I create outdoor living spaces at Garden Studio Design.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Enchanted in L.A.

Sometimes it is the well appointed details that make the biggest difference. Garden Studio Design transformed a backyard that was seldom used into an enchanting destination that reflects the homes refined appointments.

A salvaged wood mantel with votives is one of the
first things guests see as they enter the backyard.

The loggia was built right off the family room
with a fireplace and seating for 8-10 people.

The new loggia is furnished with the same level of detail as any interior space. A far cry from the 'garden center' furnishing that sat outside unoccupied prior to the landscape remodel. (Before pictures will follow.)

Chic custom cushions and pillows give
the landscape remodel a tailored feel.

A rustic garden path leads the visitor to a garden retreat.

The new private garden off the living room's
grand scale windows provides a glimpse
of the outdoors and invites guests to tour the garden.

Although this yard is long and skinny
one outdoor room leads into the next.

This Gloster dining table and chairs are one of my favorites. I love the mix of teak table with woven chairs. These chairs look like wicker but are actually a polyethylene based product (plastic). These chairs are completely weatherproof and extremely hard wearing.

The architecture of the house evokes an English Estate.

The property is located in the canyons of L.A.
and this hillside of perennials sets the scene.

An extra large Spa with an 'infinity edge' is
perfect for a cool dip on hot Summer days.

This fountain was designed and
built to evoke an old world flavor.

Below are the photos of the yard before
Garden Studio got a hold of it.

This yard suffers from what I call the 'Garden Center Aesthetic'. This is a picture of the patio before the Loggia was built and the seating in the photo is practical but so dull and uninviting.

This is the location of the new spa.

This is the location of the current rustic garden path.

This is where the secret garden is
now located off the formal living room.

Now you can see why I do what I do......................I just love
a story with a happy ending.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bring on the night...........

french grey

Sometimes color acts as the best inspiration for design. I put together a stream of consciousness study of 'black' to 'grey' to 'white' and have woven in some practical landscape ideas anyone can add to their home. I also can't help adding a bit of fashion too. I believe style can be translated to any medium.

Martha Stewart has a wonderful collection of paint colors available through Home Depot. Visit her website for a study of paint colors in what she calls sophisticated neutrals. This kitchen paint color is 'putty'. I think that it would make a really nice exterior paint color. This kind of neutral background for an exterior really make green plant material pop.

I just love the avant garde lines to this lounge chair!
The chair is by Cane-line and is part of a collection called 'Breeze'.

This is a 'sand finish' concrete in a Davis color called 'Mesa Buff'. I use this color combination often and love to add beach rocks at every opportunity I can. The dark grey beach rocks against the tan concrete make for an extra bit of garden detail.

I found this bag a couple of months ago and just can't get it off my mind. It is a Classic Tote from Wm. J. Mills & Co Sailmakers in Greenport, New York. This company has been around forever and makes these bags out of sturdy canvas used on boats. I love the simple style of this bag, you just can't go wrong. It comes on lots of other colors too.

I have always had a love affair with ribbons.
The geometry of this one is so appealing!
This is printed grosgrain black with
white circles and is from the Ribbon Spot.

This is a Garden Studio fireplace we
installed a couple of years ago
and I still just love the simplicity of it.

I just started using this ceramic tile on patios for Garden Studio projects. The price point is really agreeable and the color and texture is so clean. It is by Classic Tile and Mosaic and is part of a group of tile called Modern Limestone. This one is called Steel Grey.

The texture and color of this Pea Gravel
always makes for a great garden solution.

The colors of these Aspen Tree trunks show
the clean contrast of black and white.

A simple grey concrete pot makes
such a clean statement!

Grey foliage adds drama and contrast.
This ground cover is called
Cerastium tomentosum, Snow in Summer.

This simple portrait of Audrey Hepburn shows the beauty and depth of black to grey to white. "The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." Audrey Hepburn

Let your teak go grey!
Teak can be professionally finished in natural grey.
You can enjoy the grey color without the worn out rough wood.
Doctor Teak is who I use.

Perennials fabrics are always my favorite!

I love the systematic consistency of this kitchen.
So clean.

This is a Basalt (Graphite Grey) fountain designed by Garden Studio.
We used Beach Buff rocks (Cream/Tan/Grey)
at the base of the fountain.

This Winter flowering plant is called Helleborus 'Mardi Gras Black Shades'. It likes full to partial shade and moist soil. It grows 12"-18" tall and 24" wide. I am always looking for interesting shade plants and this one adds lots of depth!

This galvanized metal planter is so simple and elegant.

These cobblestones add a european patina to any garden!

Sometimes the most simple details are the best.
You can never go wrong with simple
glass votives with tea lights.

This groundcover is called Dark Dancer White Clover,
Trifolium repens 'Atropurpureum'.
It is a perennial and gets to be 3" - 8" tall and 12" - 18" wide.

This is a Garden Studio pool with French Grey plaster.

This is a Garden Studio outdoor kitchen. We used a smooth stucco finish on the face of the counter, Omega #405 and Davis Graphite Grey concrete on the countertop.

This Gloster Cloud Lounge Chair would look so sleek on a Bluestone patio.

I love the drama of this tree. The grey weeping foliage really adds a unique focal point to a garden. This is called Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula', Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and is a slow grower to 15'.

This grey concrete pot gives the illusion of sea shells.

The Grey foliage on the Speciman Olive Tree
adds distinction to a yard large or small.

This outdoor fabric by Trina Turk is called Santorini and the color is Fog.
Contact Garden Studio for a quote on our outdoor pillows.

I just love this Loll Emmet Chair. This is a modern take on the classic and is made out of 100% recycled plastic. The great news about this is no chipping paint!
They are available through Room and Board.

Okay, I just have to have this Graphite Cable Wrap Sweater by Vince this Winter.

And a glass of Pinot Noir Wine?

I like the shape of this Stemware from CB2.

This Uno Grey Napkin from CB2 would make for a clean and crisp table setting.

These Stainless Steel Party Forks from CB2 are modern and sleek.

To finish off an elegant table setting use these simple platters from CB2.

A fire feature does not need to be complicated. This Garden Studio firepit is simple yet charming. We used Smooth Coat Omega, color #401.

I just love the moody grey tones of this photo
from Balboa Gallery of the fog sitting on Balboa Harbor.

These rocks are a Garden Studio favorite.
Used in a planter or in grout lines the grey tones of this
Mexican Beach Rock add dimension and texture to a garden patio.

This is an all time favorite outdoor fabric color of mine. This Perennials fabric is 100% Solution Dyed Acrylic (practically indestructible) called Canvas Weave and the color is Storm. This looks great as a practical background fabric!

The grey foliage combined with the dark flower on this Geranium is only part of the reason I love this plant so much. Pelargoniums are easy plants in the garden and this one needs only a little water once established.

This is a simple concrete pot but the round shape makes it intriguing!

This Stainless Steel Lunch Kit is too cute and it is environmental too!

From simple tone on tone Grey to the vivid contrast of Black to White designs without color can be exciting and soothing at the same time!