Friday, February 24, 2012

Never Fast Enough

I suspect it is a nearly universal rule that progress on any renovation is never as fast as the homeowner would like it to be. As designers, we've come to expect this, and do our best to prepare clients for the pace, and possible slow-downs in work. Then once in a while, forces beyond any one's control take over and wreak havoc!

Good progress was being made on this bathroom as of a couple of weeks ago. The porcelain floor tile was going in.

The beautiful marble wall tile was installed in the shower stall and bathroom walls.

The new tub was framed out and in place.

The vanity cabinet was being built on-site to specifications.

Then, unfortunately, the carpenter was taken ill, so work has ground to a halt.

Luckily, our client had done all their homework and shopping, so that the faucets, lighting and sinks are ready to go in as soon as the carpentry is complete.

And to my great surprise, the client revealed this wonderful painting, which will fill the wall over the tub, once all work is done!

I'm not quite sure (no admissions have been forthcoming), but it could be that the entire bathroom renovation was centered around this painting, which they had seen a year ago...I like their thinking! This is going to look great. Can't wait to see it all put together!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Secrets Out

In December of 2010, executives from Busch Gardens contacted us and asked us to participate in a ground-breaking project that was in the conception stages. Their plan was to build a brand new, state-of-the-art animal care facility where park patrons could observe the animals during their veterinary exams and procedures. The exam and operating areas were to be separated from the public by plate glass for safety and sterility, but the areas were designed with cabinetry that would actually "pop through" the glass to make the viewer feel that they were actually in the room with the animal.

The animal care center was also designed to have a full-scale demonstration kitchen where people could observe the animal diets being prepared, and even get to hand-feed small animals. That's where we come in! The design and building were to be kept under wraps, so we weren't allowed to share the exciting news with anyone. Well, the facility opened to the public a couple of weeks ago, so the secret can now be shared! It is beautiful, and truly cutting-edge.

There is only one other facility in the world doing something of this nature, and their facility doesn't include a kitchen for the food-prep shows, so this is truly a feather in the cap of Busch Gardens Tampa! The building design was by local architect Geoffrey Meyer. Here's what patrons see from the outside.

And here is what you see when you walk into the Animal Care Center.

The project managers were good enough to give us free reign in the design and material choices, and they were very eager to use local craftsmen and source the materials from our own suggested sources.

Here are some additional shots of the interior.

One of my favorite details is this pullout cupboard. They wanted to be able to show how many different types of food they keep around (and this is really just a fraction of them!), and these large jars are a great way to do just that.

And this deep ledge was designed into the back splash to show even more of the storage jars.

We've seen one of the food prep demonstrations in action, and it has the usual polished, professional and fun Busch Gardens feel. Can you tell we're proud? It was wonderful to receive the recognition, and amazingly satisfying to see our design executed and on display for the public. I hope you'll all make a point of going to see it and be among the first to experience this incredible new exhibit!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finishing Up

In last weeks posting, I promised to share photos of the finished front yard of one our recent projects. It's all done, and ready for viewing! First, let's take a look at a "before" photo.

A beautiful home, but unfortunately the entry was buried behind an overgrown hedge. The planting also closed in on a very narrow walkway to the steps. This narrow walk was bordered by a Sago palm. While pretty, the prickly nature of the palm added to the somewhat uninviting approach to the house, which certainly did not fit the client's style!

We had done about a third of the front area when the landscaping was completed in the back. Once the new, more appropriately scaled plantings were in in the front, it made the old Ixora hedge look even more overgrown. All of the old plantings were removed to allow for the new, expanded entry area. And the Sago palm was replanted at the back corner. Reusing this plant made our client happy!

New path lighting was installed and the graceful oak has been up lit to enhance it's form.

A pair of large blue ceramic pots now grace the front entry. The blue is the perfect complement to the orange tile porch floor, and the barrel tile roof, and the standard grown plants add even more elegance to the entry.

The house shows up so much better now, and the whole front facade looks lighter and brighter. And the simple planting of Indian Hawthorne will always be kept short and compact to prevent the "overgrow syndrome" from happening again.

Happy house, happy clients....happy me!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Snowball Keeps Rolling

We see this happen often. A job is finished, you step back to admire the work, and your eye is immediately drawn to other areas that weren't yet addressed! When the construction was completed at our recent pavilion project, and the landscaping was installed, everything looked great. Well, almost everything. We had not done part of the front yard, thinking that the existing landscape would tie into the new portions. But unfortunately, the fresh new plantings made the older, overgrown areas look pretty tired. That's nothing that we can't fix!

Removing the spent Ixora bushes will open up the front of this home. And we took advantage of this opportunity to expand the entry walk, which was entirely too narrow for such a beautiful entryway. First off, out with the old.

You can already feel the house breathe better! Next, a lot of dirt is removed to accommodate the enlarged entry pad.

A line is strung to make sure the pad is graded properly to create a single, continuous step from the driveway. Even though it will be a pervious walk, we want to make sure water doesn't pool in low spots.

Crushed stone is brought in and compacted to create a base for the antique Chicago brick. This material is also used on the driveway, and it ties in well with the Saltilo tile steps and porch floor.

The step will be made by creating a retaining wall at the driveway edge. Let's take a look at this completed job next week!