Thursday, May 1, 2008

aimee's deck re-deco

Aimee's hip urban dwelling in Chicago's up and coming Roger's Park neighborhood has a6'X 8'6 deck that needs a little TLC to ready it for summer. She needs color, plant life, privacy and shade. Lets start with the color palette. I would paint the door a brilliant, snappy red like Benjamin Moore's "Geranium" (#1307) or "Moroccan Red" (#1309). Use high gloss exterior latex based paint for the most durable finish. To counter the heat and intensity of the red, spray paint your existing chairs with Krylon's Indoor/Outdoor paint in Bahama Sea (a rich deep blue) or Peekaboo Blue ( a perky and saturated light blue). Pop a couple of Ikea's "Hedda" ($6.99) or "Unni" ($14.99)cushions on the chairs to soften them and add pattern. Ground all of this with Ikea's "Lavaro" ($39.99)outdoor friendly rug.

For margarita and tapas parties I would suggest bunching two of Ikea's "Bollo" tables ($39.99 ea.) together. When you are not entertaining, you can fold one up and store it out of the way. The "Bollo" folding chairs($19.99 ea.) offer the same stylish convenience. Or, simply drag a couple of your dining room chairs out to the deck for additional seating as necessary. Hanging Target's capiz shell light strings ($9.99 ea.)from the banister of the deck will add subtle ambiance.

A couple of suggestions for privacy: a climbing vine and some casual curtains. Plant "Ernest Markham" clematis in 2 large red pots. Its gorgeous crimson blooms in summer will support the color scheme. Create a grid for the plants to climb using fishing line and screw eyes along one of the patio's sides. Keep the pots moist with well draining soil, and plant a shallow rooted ground cover on top to protect the roots from the sun. Monrovia's website can educate you further on proper plant care.

On the other side of the patio, use Ikea's "Deka" curtain hanging system ($4.99) with clips included, and several white "Annolill"($4.99 ea.) curtain panels to screen your space from peeping neighbors and block the sun. Tie curtains back with wide red ribbon when you don't need the privacy. Use this image as inspiration. I found it, along with many others on

Pot some bright red geraniums and deep purple petunias with sweet potato vine and ornamental grasses to add more color and plant texture. Place these in groups on the small tables you already have,which you could paint red like you door. Tuck the tables into the corners of your porch! These are just my suggestions... Stay tuned to see what Aimee actually does to transform her outdoor space into a private, shady,and color infused refuge!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

design files

I subscribe to ten different home and garden publications. I am like a kid at Christmas when a new issue arrives in the mail. I read each one from cover to cover trying to absorb all of the ideas and images. How wonderful it is to be surrounded by so many beautiful things! The only drawback is down the road I might recall an image of a room I saw in one of them, but can't remember which issue it was in. When this happens, I end up spending an hour or more trying to locate it, getting distracted by other articles and images along the way. If you are like me,I have some advice for you to consider: when you are looking through magazines and find inspiring design ideas, color pallets, or tips for upcoming projects, rip the pages out immediately and file them away.

I have devised a couple of ways to keep these pages organized. One is an expanding desktop file. In here, I keep general design ideas I like and might refer to when helping friends and clients or use for myself in the future. I categorize the tear outs by room (dining, kitchen, bedroom) or topic (green living, design concepts, wall or window treatments etc.). Each gets its own manila file folder.

The other tactic I use is a binder with a section for each of the rooms in my house. This is for ideas I want to replicate or use in my home. Plastic sleeves keep the inspiring magazine pages neat and tidy and also contain the paint chips and fabric swatches I used in the space. Each section begins with a drawing of the room's floor plan. I use loose leaf paper to record details such as window dimensions and to list materials I might have used in an update or ideas I have yet to implement.

I used to think that I should preserve each issue of my favorite design mags, with all pages in tact. Now I am retraining myself to rip out pictures I like with reckless abandon, the minute I see them. However, some are so chock full of ideas I just can't edit them. They get moved to the safe zone on my bookshelves. In these issues, I might just mark the best pages with sticky notes for quick reference.

There is one major consequence for not keeping up with my design files: clutter creation. If I am lazy, I can quickly become surrounded by stacks and stacks of magazines, which in all honesty, I won't have time to pour over again. I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that these issues will eventually enjoy a second life at the recycling center or in the homes of family and friends who might enjoy them.