Friday, November 30, 2012

Pillow Talk

A few months ago we were commissioned by the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts for a fun and unusual project.  Referencing the large scale graphics that we produce for residential and commercial use, we were asked to create pillows referencing some of the art in their collection, which would then be sold in their gift shop.

A high resolution image was taken of the art pieces, which we then cropped into a size that would create an interesting pillow.  Many hours ensued of color adjusting and print sampling in order for the images to gain approval from the museum's archival department.

We're proud of the results! Here are a few shots of the finished pieces.

This is probably my favorite painting in the museum's collection!

Another beautiful painting....this is only a small detail of the original.

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is really a jewel in its own right!  Their collection is varied, and the museum is on a scale that I personally find perfect...not so large that it's overwhelming to the senses, but large enough to captivate the mind for as long as you might wish.  The setting is beautiful, and the gift shop is as charming--and as carefully curated--as the museum itself, by the shop's manager, Audrey Ranon.  Take the time to visit the museum, and be sure to check out the gift shop...and pick up a cool pillow.  They will only be produced in a small quantity, and we expect them to go fast!  A perfect Christmas gift!

Friday, November 16, 2012

13 and Counting

In June of this year, we were commissioned to design a new home for a client who had just purchased a lot on the water.  Custom home design is a very complicated process, beginning with multiple discussions to determine the clients' needs and wishes.  But it's also an excellent way to get exactly what you want in your home!

Wait, did I mention it's a complicated process?  Oh yes, I think I did.

We are currently on our thirteenth version of this home plan, and not quite there yet.  When plans go from a "concept in your mind" to paper, compromises have to be made along the way to make sure everything fits properly, the rooms communicate well together, and you get all the spaces you need and want.  Sometimes what seems like it ought to work just doesn't when you view it drawn to-scale!

As you can see from this photograph of the plan for the first floor, it is a fairly large home, with a full second story and semi-attached garage.  Many changes happened along the way such as moving the staircase, enlarging the master bedroom, downsizing the kitchen, deepening the back porch, changing the window configuration and placement, changing the garage from two story with bonus apartment to single story with no apartment...and now to story-and-a-half...  And like any puzzle, changing one piece in any area will have a ripple effect that may require changes to the entire floor plan.  Then, once the floor plans have been approved, the exterior shell is drawn, revised and re-drawn.

It's a complicated process, but a fun one!  It requires a good deal of patience from the designer and the client, but knowing in the end that you've given someone the home of their dreams is a reward that's worth the effort!  And after this, imagine how simple it will seem to be to design a simple home addition...well, maybe not all that simple...  But then, the easy stuff is never much fun!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Clean It Up, Put It Away

Earlier this year we looked at a small interior project we were working on.  The clients had asked for help with a fireplace wall, and it pretty much turned into a complete living room redo, including new paint, rug, furniture, art and lighting.

Well, once completed we moved right into the adjoining dining room.  The living room and dining room basically become one room, so it was an easy transition to the new space.  The family does a lot of entertaining, and didn't have ample room to store what they in effect the dining room was doubling as a bar/refreshment area.  (I knew I liked these people right off!)  But unfortunately, neither function was working very efficiently.

The smallish room was cluttered with small tables and surfaces that were too easy to be used as receptacles for all kinds of things that could be stored away to relieve the visual confusion.  And the art--much of which has family significance--was in need of a little editing and more appropriate placement.

We started with a simple design for a large built-in wall unit for storage of glassware and decorative serving pieces.  Underneath are deep cabinets for storing liquor and larger serving trays and china that is rarely used.  We designed the cabinet to accommodate their hanging glass rack so that this piece could be re-used.

 The room was repainted in a shade just slightly lighter than the adjoining living room, since it has no windows for natural light.

We then began replacing the art and grouping it in ways that hopefully bring it greater attention.

Also, the wine cooler and adjacent cabinet were topped with the same marble that was used for the counter top on the new built-in unit.  The room is too small to mix too many colors, surfaces or textures.  This marble was also used on the mantle for the living room fireplace!

Once again, these are fairly simple changes that bring a great deal of order--and pleasure--to daily life.  Time and money very well spent!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Plant Choices

Last week, we looked at a new landscape design project we're undertaking that has some unusual features.  The property backs up to a very natural Florida semi-wetland area, and our landscaping needs to tie into this as well as offering some screening and dressing the area up.  Our goal is to make the installed landscape look like a somewhat "tamed" version of what it adjoins.

There are many factors that go into choosing specific plants for a landscape design, such as color, texture, size, ideal sun exposure and growth rates.  And with current undeniable changes in the environment, any more, none of these are more important than water needs.  Though we've had a couple of good years for rain in Central Florida, we could just as likely be in a drought situation next year.

Since most of the areas we're planting at this site won't have irrigation, drought tolerant plant varieties are important.  When in doubt about what will work best, a close look at native plantings is a great solution.  You can be pretty much assured that any plant that has evolved to survive in the wild in your area will make a good addition to your landscape, and hold up under most circumstances.  Here are some of the varieties we chose for this project.

Florida Gama Grass, Tripsacum floridana.  Grasses are always a welcome plant choice for their texture.  Their movement in breezes brings a lot of interest to a garden planting.

Purple Lovegrass, Eragrostis spectabilis.  Another wonderful grass, this time with a color all it's own.

Weeping Lantana, Lantana depressa.  Available in sever colors, this plant makes a great ground cover, and is very forgiving of almost any environmental issue!

Simpson's Stopper, (Twinberry), Myrcianthes fragrans.  This plant can grow up to 30' height and 15-20' wide.  They will make a great backdrop for the garden, and help to add a natural screening from the adjoining neighbor's yard.
Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia.  Beautiful bright green, oak-shaped foliage, and clusters of pink or white flowers.  What more could you ask for?!

Firecracker Plant, Russelia sarmentosa.  This is the only non-native plant we've specified for this installation, but it has a medium drought-tolerance, and it attracts bees, butterflies and birds.  I love the texture, and color!

Coontie, (Florida Arrowroot), Zamia floridana.  The deep green color and texture will ground the other plantings.  This plant is Florida's only native cycad.
Researching your plants carefully can make a big difference in their success in your garden.  Find out what will work best in your soil and light situation, and always take water needs into consideration for buying!