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Archives for May 15, 2013

Return of the Industrial Condo

To stop bullying, mom escorts daughter in school

To stop bullying, mom escorts daughter in school

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Cheryl and Luis Stauffer of Crimson Design Group

Designer Cheryl Beachy Stauffer drew from the signature blue and white tile mosaics of Morocco for a recent water feature project. She turned to Turkish rugs for a clubhouse foyer. And for a wine cellar project, she found inspiration in Italy’s Old World style with aged beams and stone.

“We love exposing our clients to different cultures and environments from around the world,” says Cheryl, who owns Crimson Design Group with her husband, Luis.

It’s not surprising. Their parents introduced them to a variety of foreign cultures during childhood. Cheryl was born in Paraguay, raised in Sugarcreek, Ohio, taken on mission trips to Bolivia, Peru and Argentina, and sent to study in Israel. Luis was adopted from Guatemala, and then traveled full-time with his missionary parents to Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

“My parents taught me that life is not just the 10 feet from where I am,” Luis says. “There is so much more out there.”

As young adults, the two crossed paths at Der Dutchman in Plain City where they were working while going to school—Cheryl in interior design school and Luis at Ohio State University’s linguistics program.

Now ages 38 and 40, the two still love to travel—most recently to Belgium—and dream of further expanding their 10-year-old business internationally. From their Downtown location in Pearl Alley, they run a retail shop on the ground floor and design studio on the second. Here, their design team creates interior spaces from downtown lofts to suburban homes to luxury apartment community common areas. They also commit 10 percent of their design consultation fees to Thirst Relief, founded by Jim Hicks of Columbus to provide quality drinking water in Third World countries.

Central Ohioans seem to embrace the Stauffers’ fresh approach. Their efforts at the 2012 BIA Parade of Homes won the People’s Choice Award for favorite decor. At the Parade’s award-winning Mill House project, they teamed up with Miller-Troyer Custom Homes, New Avenue Architects and Hidden Creek Landscaping to create a “farmhouse-chic” design.

For that project, the couple built upon a nostalgic farm theme with accents such as a milk bottle-inspired chandelier, a barn painting by Granville artist Paul Hamilton, Amish-crafted cabinetry and old barn beams. They added modern accents including an industrial-style light fixture over the kitchen island and a rug with an oversized chevron pattern—a French design element.

Inspired by places near and far, these globetrotters often define their design process using a journey as a metaphor. “Along the design journey, we explore our clients’ likes and dislikes, expose them to new ideas, redefine their style and in the end take it all in,” Cheryl says.


Taking clients on design journeys

International Design Trendspotting

The Stauffers share these emerging design influences from around the world:

Belgium – Eclectic mix of old and new furnishings; palettes of grays

Europe – Simplified luxury with quality pieces in smaller spaces; deep colors like aubergine and Hermes orange

Uganda – Minimalist living where less is definitely more

India – Highly sensory spaces, bold colors and richly ornamented accessories

Latin America – Tribal patterns and the return of gold finishes

Brazil – Animal furs, leathers and fibers like alpaca

Morocco – Opulent mosaics, spicy colors and graphic patterns like trellises and hexadots


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Steering clear of stereotypes


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Growing up with a strong sense of value and commitment is one reason Ryan Schrader is succeeding as an entrepreneur. The foundation his parents set certainly played a key role in molding his work ethic. Yet his giving heart, which he says came from his mother, is what elevates Schrader above his competitors.

Schrader owns and operates Mariner Auto Repair in a building just south of Elgin Boulevard. Bright yellow paint with deep red accents is meant to stand out and attract attention. It also hints at the fact that this is not a typical auto repair shop.

That is exactly what Schrader was going for. He operates his business, purchased nearly two years ago, as an existing auto repair shop, with a kind of philosophy that is a few steps removed from the stereotypes that give the auto repair industry a bad rap.

I hate salesmen, Schrader said, which is why he works exceptionally hard at not being one.

His experience working in the auto repair field shed light on practices he refused to buy into. Encouragement to up-sell a customer rather than simply fix the issue at hand helped steer him clear of following that path.

Instead, when faced with the opportunity to start his own shop, he chose to listen to the solid advice of his mother.

Be the kind of guy women can trust, he quoted her. Be someone their husbands can trust and the guy women can go to without feeling insecure.

The message, he said, was clear. And thats what Ive worked hard to become, he said.

He began his mechanical career working for others to build his experience on the job, learning the techniques that helped mold his passion. After co-owning Mariner Auto Repair with the previous owner for about six months, Schrader was ready to take the wheel as the sole captain of the ship.

I was looking at property at the time to build my own shop, he explained. Friends advised him to look at Mariner Auto Repair, which was on the market. Schrader met with the previous owner and the two discussed working together as co-owners for a period of time to ensure both were comfortable with the change of ownership.

I could, after six months, walk away, Schrader said. I walked into the ideal situation.

During that six-month trial period, Schrader turned the business around. Because he had been working on cars from his home for years, he had already built a dedicated following of happy customers.

They told a few friends who told a few friends, he said.

He also had done extensive research before considering the path of owning his own shop, something his customers had pushed him to do for years. He had all his ducks in a row and was ready to take the plunge. The offer to try the existing shop was the ideal solution to test his ambition and ideas.

Celebrating two years in October, Schrader is reaching forward, making dramatic changes to the property, including adding some impressive landscaping that transformed Mariner Auto Repair into an eye-pleasing experience.

His hope is that customers will not only feel the difference in the service they receive, but from an atmosphere that strays a bit from a traditional auto shop.

I want them to be happy to come here, he said.

With a team of highly skilled professional mechanics and a support staff that understands the same basic customer focus Schrader grew up with, the shop is receiving an influx of praise. They have taken on fleets of vehicles from local businesses in addition to working with individual customers.

My thing is efficiency, Schrader said. I want them in and out of here so they can get back on the road. And I want to know everything about the vehicle as fast as possible so we can get it done. And it had better be done right.

It is important, he added, that customers be given the facts about their vehicle. They need to be aware of whats going on, he said, so they can make informed decisions.

Schrader has been able to stay competitive with other shops by offering a menu of service items for most makes and models. He also keeps his prices lower than the industry standards, building strong relationships with parts suppliers.

Yet there is much more to the story. Schrader is a believer in giving back to his community for no reason other than to show his appreciation. A culinary artist in his youth before auto mechanics steered his path, Schrader practices his chef skills on the public at regular benefits held at the shop.

Mariner Auto Repair hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and invited anyone who wanted to come. Still tweaking the events, he found he had more volunteers than guests.

He also organized a few benefits to raise money for worthy causes, including the Back Pack Foundation, where they raised money through a carnival to assist children in need.

I dont do it to increase my business, Schrader said. In fact, he hasnt gotten a single customer from the events that he knows of. And thats OK, Schrader said. I just want to give something back.

Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame can be reached at





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Gardens that complement Mediterranean houses – Manila Bulletin

Mediterranean homes have always fascinated us. They look beautiful and grand, especially when the house comes with such majestic pillars, a stately front entrance, high balconies framed with wrought-iron and dome ceilings. The striking combination of whites and bold hues of blue, mustard, copper and red is always eye-catching.

As you probably know, when working on the landscape of a house we must take into consideration a lot of things. At first, it seems that working on a house is a simple job to accomplish because the area is smaller than that of commercial spaces. However, in creating a home garden we have to study certain details since home gardens tend to be much closer to the structure of the house. Hence, we must choose plants that can complement the style of the house.

We certainly had a lot of fun when we recently did the gardens of two Mediterranean houses. The first project was a house in Pasig City, which is finished in alabaster white and brick-red. We chose plants that can blend perfectly with this type of finish. The Dates Palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which is as tall as the second level of the house, has long, graceful fronds and textured trunks. We used a few of these trees to reflect the grandness of this house. The trees also effectively showcase the architecture, especially when they’re planted on both sides of the house.

In landscaping, we use variations of height in plants and levels of planting. This is done to create the appearance of a voluminous garden. It is also a good way of maximizing space, especially when the space allotment for a garden is rather small. The plant boxes at the front garden are made of copper-colored bricks which are complemented by the Eugenia (Syzigium oleina) and Picarra (Excoecaria cochinchinensis) shrubs. The shrubs have red and tangerine leaves mixed with different shades of green. Ensconced in one of the plant boxes is a grouping of Forget-Me-Not (Plumbago auriculata) flowers. Behind these blue flowers stands a mosaic wall composed of blue tiles.

Bordering the plant boxes on the ground are a line of Santan shrubs. The Dwarf Santan variety produces bigger-shaped flowers and the leaves are elongated. To complement the copper-look of the bricks, we opted for orange and golden types of the Dwarf Santan (Ixora).   

The back lawn is filled with lush tropical plants. You might wonder about this sudden change from Mediterranean to tropical, but the truth is most tropical flora can survive in the Mediterranean setting too. And given the expanse of the house and the lawn, it is only fitting to incorporate plants that create a voluminous look. For this particular arrangement, we placed Foxtail Palms (Wodyetia bifurcata), Madagascar Palms (Dypsis madagascariensis), and Traveller’s Palms (Ravenala madagascariensis) to create a hedge of tall plants that also serves as a buffer to air and noise pollution. At the base of these palms are a variety of plants such as the Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata), Parrot’s Flower (Heliconia psittacorum), Tobacco plants (Calathea lutea) and Silver Pandakaki (Tabernaemontana pandacaqui). These plants effectively add to the lushness of the landscape.

The second Mediterranean house we worked on is located in Punta Fuego in Nasugbu, Batangas.  This residence has an atrium garden between the main house and the guest cottage.  The path that connects them is covered with stone slates and gray-coloured pebbles. On either side are plantings of Selloum (Philodendron selloum), Bangkok Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola), Rhapis palms (Rhapis excelsa), and Golden Lilies (Crinum xanthophyllum). With the exception of the Golden Lilies, which are widely used in resort landscapes, these types of plants are shade or indoor plants. At the end of this wall stands a Vietnamese jar, which serves as a quaint accent in this small intimate garden.

In my coffee table book titled “Philippine Gardens by Shirley Sanders: Silver Edition,” we dedicated an entire chapter to garden accents. One of which is the jar, into which can contain bouquets of flowers and even whole plants. Depending on the size, we can just about place anything in a jar.

Thus for this house, we placed large jars containing brightly-colored crinums. Golden Crinums (Crinum xanthophyllum) and Green Crinums (Crinum asiaticum) spread their flowing leaves as if to welcome guests. They stand opposite a Terracotta brick wall whose attractive color and texture complement the plant arrangement we did. Meanwhile, the flooring is made of kudo stones embedded in cement, which resembles a ground mosaic.

The path continues to the rear garden which has an infinity pool and a view of the Punta Fuego golf course and the sea beyond. Thailand Bamboos (Thyrsostachys siamensis) are ensconced on one side of the pool. The bamboo’s fresh green leaves are a perfect match to the pool’s deep blue water.  Planted at the base of the bamboos are Yellow Irish (Iris pseudacorus) shrubs that blossom into bright yellow flowers.

For your questions on gardens and landscaping, email me at You may also visit our website at

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Conserve water when gardening & landscaping

Spring is finally under way, and for many people in New Jersey this means the start of new gardening, lawn and landscaping plans. The spring planting season also coincides with the beginning of the area’s months of peak water demand.

In the height of summer, water usage in Monmouth County alone reaches 80 million gallons a day or more in the peak demand periods. Much of this increase comes from outdoor water usage in the summer months.

The demand for water in Monmouth County has been steadily increasing over the last 100 years, yet the current water supply in New Jersey has been essentially the same for decades.

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Parking Lot Rain Garden Landscaping Protects Our Water – Marketwire

MILPITAS, CALIFORNIA–(Marketwired – May 14, 2013) – Yes, there are solutions to the water pollution created by parking lot runoff that winds its way through drainage systems, rivers, lakes, canals, and, at some point, into our water glasses. Water contamination has to be tackled at the source – in the parking lots themselves – and one of the answers to the problem can be with the addition of rain gardens and self-sustaining landscaping.

A TV short aired by the Knowledge Network in April 2013 described the problem and its management very well: our waterways are becoming increasingly polluted with oil, gas, anti-freeze, toxic cleaners, paint, and other chemicals that accumulate in parking lots, construction sites, and streets; as well as with fertilizers and pesticides used to enhance landscaping.

The TV cameras zeroed in on concerned citizens who had learned about the benefits of rain gardens to help control water pollution and were introducing the concept in the Seattle, Washington, community of North Ridge, with the goal of constructing 12,000 such gardens. Many other communities across the country are becoming involved in similar programs as citizens learn that rain gardens help manage storm water runoff and can protect our water sources.

“We offer our clients rain garden landscaping in an effort to help them reduce water pollution from parking lot runoff and to help absorb overflow after a storm,” said Gina Vella, President, Universal Site Services. “I think it’s wonderful that so many people are becoming involved in the management of storm water runoff.”

Rain gardens are shallow depressions about 12 or more inches deep filled with compost that will collect and filter storm water and parking lot runoff so that the water is cleaned naturally. As well, the rain gardens are landscaped with attractive vegetation, which grows well in the composted-enhanced, nutrient-rich soil.

“We calculate the size and number of rain gardens needed to support the runoff from parking lot surfaces and the best location for them,” Mrs. Vella added, “and our company specializes in providing self-sustaining, native vegetation to reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides so that we don’t add to the pollution problem.

Plant species native to an area are self-sustaining because they have a natural protection against local weather conditions and insect infestations. Exotic, non-native plants usually require the protection of herbicides and fertilizers for survival.

Companies that landscape their parking lots with well-placed rain gardens covered with native plants provide three-way protection for the community: the rain gardens filter toxins from runoff, diminish overflow after heavy storms, and reduce the amount of herbicides and fertilizers that are washed into our water.

It’s one of the easier solutions to the problem of parking lot runoff.

About Universal Site Services

Universal Site Services is a full service property maintenance and site services company serving clients in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Founded in 1958, Universal is one of the largest family-owned, full-service outdoor maintenance companies on the West Coast. Universal was one of the inventors of the regenerative air parking lot sweeper. Services include parking lot sweeping pressure washing, day porter, landscaping, property maintenance and graffiti removal. For more information about Universal, please visit or call: 800-647-9337.

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Garden Tours and Plant Sales

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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Tips for keeping rabbits out of the garden this season

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Gardening tips with HGTV’s Kimberly Lacy

It’s been a long, hard winter and now many of us are getting ready to get out in the garden and get our hands dirty. Kimberly Lacy from HGTV’s “Curb Appeal – The Block” is with us this evening with some gardening tips.

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Diarmuid Gavin’s tips on garden maintenence

He offers the following design tips to gardeners who want their garden to look good, whatever the weather:


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:: Keep the overall design simple. When you’re making a plan, use a few sweeping lines to lead the eye from the viewing point, which is often the kitchen window, right down to the back of your plot.


:: Turn your lawn into a welcoming green wide pathway, which almost acts as an arrow, drawing the eye or the visitor on a journey.


:: Keep the planting simple. Mass plant low-growing shrubs such as dwarf purple berberis for colour or clouds of Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’.


:: If your garden is extremely small, shaded or just damp, give up on a lawn altogether. It’s not going to repay any maintenance and you will spend years and fortunes bemoaning the brown patches and invasion of weeds and moss. Dig it up and replace it with a top quality artificial turf. This can be wonderful, a green carpet which always looks good, can be easily cleaned, allows rainwater and snow to drain away and doesn’t need cutting or feeding. For a top-of-the-range brand, try Easigrass.


:: Consider what your specimens will look like all year round, not only when covered in foliage or flower. If you’re planting a tree, why not try a multi-stemmed birch? When bare from October to April it still has a lovely sculptural shape. Enhance this through the evening by uplighting through the use of a spotlight at its base.


:: Pay attention to a few detailed areas. Surprise and delight by framing your front door with a wonderful display of massed colour in pots. For instance, a mass of flowering cyclamen crammed into a ‘long Tom’ terracotta urn looks special and draws attention from less well tended parts of the garden.


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