Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for January 2014

Global Design Du Jour

Log in to manage your products and services from The New York Times and the International New York Times.

Don’t have an account yet?
Create an account »

Subscribed through iTunes and need an account?
Learn more »

Article source:

New construction in West Clay Park includes classical design, terraced garden

In densely populated San Francisco, newly built single-family homes are an uncommon commodity. Much of the city’s booming construction centers around high-rise luxury condominiums and restoring older homes. But at 107 24th Ave. in West Clay Park, a tri-level contemporary home with classical design has sprouted from a previously vacant lot next to Lobos Creek.

Teak and stone floors grace the residence, which features a variety of ceiling types, intricate millwork and peekaboo views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Located near Sea Cliff, West Clay Park is a compact community of mostly level streets where moms jog with strollers and dog walkers line the sidewalks. Set in a gently sloping lot is a four-bedroom tri-level home replete with classical designs and custom finishes. The various ceiling types play off the teak floors and large windows to create a lavish space that’s both elaborate and practical. The chef’s kitchen includes marble counters and a hot water tap above the cooktop, while the master bathroom includes a jetted tub looking out at Marin and a walk-in shower with a Rain Head showerhead and multiple body sprayers.

The newly built luxury residence is set between the childhood home of famed photographer Ansel Adams and a public right-of-way to Lobos Creek. The Presidio is essentially steps away, as are the upscale and picturesque homes of Sea Cliff. Jogging and bike trails winding alongside the Pacific Ocean are nearby, and the Golden Gate Bridge is but a few streets away.

The exterior of the home is highlighted by expansive banks of windows, copper gutters and a windowed garage door crafted from carved wood. The covered entryway leads to double entry doors adorned with intricate carvings of scallop shells and geometric shapes. Stone floors with radiant heating line the entry level, which includes a family room and the fourth bedroom. The family room includes a wet bar, as well as access to the lowest level of the terraced patio. Though staged as a home office, the room opposite the family room includes a closet and could be used as a bedroom.

Up the staircase with teak steps and a detailed banister is the second floor, which hosts the public rooms and a spacious library that could easily serve as a fifth bedroom. The 18-foot by 20-foot dining room includes a coffered ceiling, and the moldings along the entryway to the room resemble details found on simplified Corinthian columns. Sliding doors off the kitchen open to the highest point of the tri-level terraced yard and provides a place for al fresco dining.

Outside, the backyard includes a small reflecting pool with waterfall feature, and the lot beside the home is currently open land.

On the opposite side of the main level is the living room, which overlooks Lobos Creek and includes both bay and transom windows, teak floors and a gas fireplace with hardwood mantel.

Three bedrooms, including a master suite with sitting room and fireplace, complete the top level. All three bedrooms on the top floor offer en suite bathrooms and the two smaller bedrooms are separated by the laundry room. A spacious dressing room in the master suite is set against one of the bedrooms, ensuring none of the top-floor bedrooms share a wall.

Crowning the home is a finished attic that spans the length of the house. Partially illuminated by skylights, the space could act as a storage area or child’s play place.

Article source:

Designing community gardens

The Society of Garden Designers awards are the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, bestowing accolades upon the very best of UK garden design. This year the proceedings featured a stream of images of domestic dream gardens, revealing the wealth of creativity that designers apply in sculpting private plots, to realise owners’ aspirations through finely honed hardscape and inspirational planting.

But a more social sensibility was also in evidence, in the newly-introduced designing for community space award, which acknowledges the importance of design in creating places to accommodate diverse communal needs. The award is a timely recognition of the pressures put on public space by the inexorable rise of urban density, and the benefits that sensitive placemaking can offer, in bringing people together with nature, and with each other. As SGD chair Juliet Sargeant commented, “Regular access to nature increases health and wellbeing, reduces crime and fosters community cohesion. It is essential to protect and develop the green spaces in our towns and cities in order provide a sustainable future and make places where people want to live”.

The award went jointly to Gibbon’s Rent, a neglected alleyway in London Bridge transformed into a colourful and much loved urban oasis by landscape designer Sarah Eberle and Australian architect Andrew Burns, and the Montpelier Community Nursery garden in Camden, a playspace by garden designer Jackie Herald, which embraces and compliments a small wooden nursery designed by AY Architects.

Montpelier Community Garden Nursery in Camden, London
Montpelier Community Garden Nursery in Camden, London. Photograph: Daniel Stier

The significance of the prize was apparent in the winning designers’ responses to it. Eberle, a multi-RHS medal and best in show winner at the Chelsea flower show, was especially thrilled “to get recognition for a ‘gritty’ and relatively low cost urban project, particularly such a small space that directly improves the lives of the immediate community”. Herald found it “extremely rewarding to receive accolades from professional peers for a garden that has community cohesion, enjoyment, and a green agenda at its heart”.

Obviously community gardens are nothing new, but considered design has all too often been conspicuous by its absence. While many community gardens have undoubtedly proved successful employing a pragmatic hands-on approach, a more strategic design can take things a step further, providing an opportunity to create maximum user flexibility, reduce maintenance, ensure sustainability and future proof places against unforeseen, potentially resource-draining circumstances.

It’s something that I am acutely aware of, and actively engaged with, as a director of Cityscapes, a garden festival dedicated to transforming public spaces through temporary and permanent urban garden design interventions. It is pleasing to see the SGD’s new award puts design firmly to the fore, especially as we were one of the delivery partners of Gibbon’s Rent, along with The Architecture Foundation Team London Bridge and Southwark Council.

The flexibility of Gibbon’s Rent shows just how design can be employed to create an engaging environment. The design features a series of large concrete drainage pipes, which Eberle has utilised as planters filled with an exotic array of plants, providing a year-round sensory experience. Surrounding these are various sized plant pots, placed and moved around by local residents, continually modifying the site according to their horticultural needs and seasonal interests.

Since opening in June 2012, the garden has become fitfully inhabited by local residents and businesses for a wide variety of uses, including food growing, sunflower competitions and carol singing. St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots gardening project for the homeless, provides further community interaction by ensuring quality year round maintenance.

The project took a fresh approach to creating public spaces, cultivating not only a garden in a previously barren urban space, but also a community of gardeners, with funding from both public and private sectors, and collaboration between cultural organisations, international designers and local residents.

Such new models of multi-stakeholder engagement offer opportunities for both designers and communities to work together, responding to specific sites and local needs, to create places that are both aesthetically appealing and functionally flexible. The very kind of well designed spaces that the SGD will certainly be looking forward to celebrating with their award in the future.

• Darryl Moore is a landscape designer, garden writer and director of Cityscapes.

Article source:

An introduction to tea gardens

By Katie Marks

Posted Jan. 29, 2014 @ 1:01 am


Article source:

Success Story: 5 Hints On Achieving A Radical Career Change

Simon Gudgeon studied law but, in his own words, he graduated, he qualified, he retired – it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t find his true metier as a sculptor until he was 40 years old – and then only by chance. But in the intervening 15 years, he has more than made up for lost time. Gudgeon has showed in London, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands. His sculptures can be found in the permanent collections of various US museums, including America’s National Museum of Wildlife Art, and in the collections of the British royal family, including Prince Charles. They can also be seen in Hyde Park, one of the most prominent venues in London for public sculpture. And, having seen his work, this comes as no surprise. Gudgeon’s sculptures range from large-scale, powerful forms, both figurative and abstract, to small, intimate, charming studies of animals and birds. Should you ever find yourself in the south-west of England, visit Sculpture by the Lakes, Gudgeon’s sculpture park in Dorset, 26 acres where his works are displayed to their best advantage in beautiful, nature-friendly grounds – a stunning, even magical, place to visit.

Sculptor Simon Gudgeon

Career paths will, of course, be very different for everyone who hopes to make a radical change. This is a very individual example – and an inspiring one. So: how do you set aside what you’ve done before and change tracks?

Don’t be surprised if finding the right route isn’t a straight path

“I never knew what I wanted to do when I was at school, so I decided to study law. It seemed like a sensible route to a job so I did three years at university, a year at law college and a year doing my articles – but in fact, I graduated, I qualified, I retired. I knew I didn’t like academic law but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. I had done art up to O-level exams and enjoyed it and I started the A-level, but gave it up as I was also doing four others. How do you become an artist? There was no obvious career path. I then did various things: I exported antique prints to the States, did a bit of commercial photography, a bit of promotional marketing – I was really looking around for something simply to make a living. I started a garden maintenance and landscaping company in south London – at its peak, I employed 12 people. Then I went into retail and, even though we hit our targets all the time, the recession got me. I walked away with no more than a suitcase of clothes.”

Talent needs to be nurtured and developed with hard work

“My mother bought me some paints and I decided I wanted to be an artist. I spent the next four years working as a house-sitter while I learned to be a painter. Anyone can master the actual physical skills of painting and drawing – although whether you can develop the talent to do something really original is another matter. I remember the first thing I painted; I’d decided to paint a tree and realised I couldn’t. I didn’t know what a tree looked like. Painting and drawing is looking at forms, observation. Like anything else, you have to put the hours in. There’s no quick way or lazy way of getting good at anything. The painting would go in phases. I’d be getting better and better, then I’d fall back, and I discovered that, when that happened, I needed to take a break do something else for a couple of days. I was up in London and I happened to go into the Tiranti shop, which sells materials for sculpting. I bought some clay and sculpting tools and put them in a cupboard. Then one day I was tidying the studio when I was on a break from painting and found them. Sculpture had always fascinated me – I thought there was  a fascinating alchemy in turning clay into a beautiful object. I decided to have a go and I was hooked. I planned to combine painting and sculpting – then I realised I hadn’t painted for a year. I can see the 3D image in my mind much more clearly. Now I sculpt in clay, I use epoxies, CAD, CGI, kinetics, casting. When I started art, it was the first thing I’d ever done where I felt totally at home: not just making, but displaying, selling, marketing – it all felt totally intuitive. I said to myself: ‘This is how I’m going to earn my living.’”

Don’t forget that you need to market yourself to make a living

“If you’re going to be successful you’ve got to spend half your time doing marketing, PR and selling. I once had an argument with a professor at the Slade [School of Fine Art] when I suggested students there should do a marketing course. He didn’t agree. But students are sent out completely unprepared. I once met an aspiring artist who said to me ‘I paint, I draw, I’m not very successful – I suppose you have one of those website things’ – well, yes! If you’re an artist, you’re essentially selling a non-practical item, its only value is emotional, so you’ve got to present it well. When we went to the CLA Game Fair, we spent 10 days building our stand, with a pond and waterfalls. People see a sculpture, they feel good and they buy it because they want to recreate that feeling. We pay attention to packaging. If you’re sending a sculpture to a client, you want them to have a wonderful experience unpacking it. So many galleries send out an invitation that simply tells you what’s on and when: it doesn’t make you want to go! There has been a big change in the role of galleries over the past 15 years. Clients used to have to buy through them, but now you can find any artist you like online and buy direct. Auction houses are also moving into direct sales. Artists can do the marketing themselves.”

Showcase your passion

“I’m most proud of what we’re doing here [in Dorset], which is not only creating the sculpture, it’s also creating the park. I now tend to sculpt for here and this whole place becomes a work of art. Some of my sculptures wouldn’t work in a gallery – the scale would mean there was no point of reference, you wouldn’t be able to see the differing perspectives. The effect the park can have on people is important. When we first opened, we didn’t know what to expect. We were nervous: we thought people might want their money back! Very early on, one man said to me ‘I’ve never really understood sculpture – but now I get it.’ Art is a visual language. If it doesn’t convey its meaning, it has failed. If you can do art in a way that people can understand, you bring them into the contemporary art world. You’ve got to give people ideas, stimulate them as to what’s possible.”

Isis by Simon Gudgeon can be seen in Hyde Park, London, and in his sculpture park in Dorset

Isis by Simon Gudgeon can be seen in Hyde Park, London, and in his sculpture park in Dorset

Take the jump

“Whatever you do in life, there are going to be difficult bits. What’s important is to look at the skills you’ve got and take the jump. It’s following the creative imperative, you’re almost forced to do it, even if you’re not sure how it will sell. If you’re creating out of passion, it will go well. If you’re creating in a dull, formulaic way that you think will sell, you’re killing your market. That’s one of the reasons I don’t do commissions. What somebody else wants won’t necessarily fire you up, you’re doing it for the money rather than because you want to. I have a long gestation period for sculptures. I think and get fired up and then I have to go into the studio and create. For the Isis sculpture in Hyde Park, the only commission was the question ‘If you put a sculpture here, what would you put?’ And that was perfect.”


Article source:

Public offers ideas for revamped downtown streetscape

BLOOMINGTON — A master plan for the downtown streetscape should compliment the assets the area already has, planners told Bloomington residents during two forums Wednesday morning.

About a dozen people attended the morning forum and another followed in the afternoon at the Government Center in downtown Bloomington.

The master plan will recommend type and location of light fixtures and placement of plantings, benches, trash cans, bike racks and other fixtures for the downtown area generally bounded by Olive, Lee, Locust and Prairie streets. It will build upon work already performed on some of the 82 segments of street that are being examined, including improvements around the McLean County Museum of History and down North Main Street.

“I think we want to work with what you have,” said Jeff Martin, landscape architectural manager with Farnsworth Group, the firm hired to write the plan. He listed downtown’s historic architecture and overall heritage as an asset.

“We want to preserve that and a master plan gives us flexibility to do this,” he said.

Martha Burk, former co-owner of Main Gallery 404 and a member of the Downtown Bloomington Association design committee, said at the morning event she liked the work already done. She asked if the city could put electrical outlets near any trees to allow for holiday lights and turn the narrowest alleys, which can no longer handle trucks, into pedestrian walkways.

She and others in attendance noted a need for additional flowers, trees and bushes throughout the study area.

Martin said that can be an especially challenging aspect to downtown beautification because with the “nature of an urban environment, it’s just going to get walked on” unless plantings are elevated.

Joe Haney owns and is rehabilitating a building at 407-409 W. Washington St. “That is actually the entry point to downtown,” he said.

He said out-of-town visitors to U.S. Cellular Coliseum enter the city by taking Market Street to Lee Street until they hit Front Street. For that reason, Haney said the area around his property needs additional attention.

Jeff Woodard, marketing director at the McLean County Museum of History, agreed with other forum participants that the museum is a downtown “showpiece.” He supported the incorporation of tourism and the idea of preserving heritage.

He added that the museum hopes to rebrand its block into a “museum square” with additional landscaping to “give it more of a campus feel.”

Those unable to attend Wednesday’s forums are invited to weigh in on what they’d like downtown to look like by calling Assistant City Engineer Bob Yehl at 309-434-2225. Farnsworth is expected to complete the streetscape master plan report in early March.

Article source:

Garden calendar: Get ready for growing season

Welcome back, !

We now need to verify this email address. Please review our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy below and then click Verify Email. You will then receive an email at this address. Just click the link in the email, and the verification will be complete.

We now need to verify this email address. Click Verify Email and you will receive an email at this address. Just click the link in the email, and the verification will be complete.

If you cannot verify your email address, please call Customer Care at or toll-free at .

Article source:

Home of the Week: Sold by the City for $550000, relisted for $899000


ASKING PRICE: $899,000

TAXES: Yet to be assessed

LOT SIZE: 17.5 by 112 feet

AGENT: Leonard Fridman (TCS Realty Inc.)

The back story

The house at 114 Ivy Ave. had been vacant for a couple of years when it was put on the auction block last year by Toronto Community Housing Corp. as part of a move to reduce its inventory of properties.

The properties are being sold over the course of two years in order to reduce a repair backlog that stood at $750-million in 2012 and continues to grow. Many of the properties are vacant and in poor repair. They have been wildly popular with homeowners and builders who aim to buy a timeworn property and renovate.

The team beat four or five rival bidders last June and began to tear apart the old interior the day after they took possession.

“It was in pretty rough shape,” says designer Mazen El-Abdallah of Mazen Studio. He teamed with builder Matthew Kosoy to bid on the semi-detached house near Greenwood and Gerrard.

Mr. Kosoy says he had missed out on other properties in the east end.

“I was trying to buy houses in this area and it was insane.”

On Ivy, the house was a maze of tiny rooms, say Mr. El-Abdallah and Mr. Kosoy, who paid $550,000 for the property.

They removed walls, plaster, wiring, plumbing and stairs in the back-to-the-bricks renovation.

The house today

Mr. Kosoy added new insulation, reinforced the joists, replaced sub-floors and built a wider staircase to the second floor.

From there, the builder added skylights and installed huge windows throughout.

“We wanted to go with the industrial window feel,” says Mr. El-Abdallah. “We like the vibe.”

The main floor is an open plan, with the living area at the front and a large kitchen at the rear.

Doors lead to a cedar deck and an enclosed backyard with a stone patio.

Mr. El-Abdallah says the aluminium-trimmed windows fit in with the low-rise brick buildings and warehouses that are part of the view from the kitchen window.

“It’s very urban – it’s amazing,” says Mr. El-Abdallah of the backdrop across the lane.

Upstairs, the house has three bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor.

The bathroom has a marble mosaic floor, walk-in shower, bathtub and a marble countertop.

The attic was renovated to create a third-floor retreat that could be used as an office, playroom or master bedroom.

On the lower level, Mr. Kosoy created a playroom, second bathroom, laundry room and guest bedroom.

“We really imagine a family with a couple of kids living here,” says Mr. El-Abdallah.

Outside, the team designed the exterior to appear unified with the other half of the semi. The front porch was rebuilt and the front and rear gardens were redone with new landscaping.

Mr. Fridman says the neighbourhood appeals to people with small children. Nearby Greenwood Park offers a swimming pool, a dog off-leash playground and ice skating in the winter.

“It’s a very neighbourhood kind of street,” he says of Ivy Avenue.

The best feature

The large kitchen was designed for avid home cooks, says Mr. El-Abdallah. It has a stainless steel chef’s-style range, Fisher Paykel refrigerator and marble-topped counters. The peninsula also serves as a breakfast bar.

Article source:

Great Big Home + Garden Show offering displays, demonstrations

1/30/2014 – West Side Leader

By Maria Lindsay

CLEVELAND — The 2014 Great Big Home + Garden Show will return to the Cleveland I-X Center Feb. 8-16 with more than 1,000 home industry experts and 650 exhibits to explore, according to organizers.

Presented by Carrier®, the event will feature home improvement ideas and appearances by home and garden celebrities.

“The Great Big Home + Garden Show is a must-see for homeowners wanting to check out the latest trends, be inspired or get advice from the area’s leading home improvement experts,” said Show Manager Rosanna Hrabnicky. “With more than 1,000 experts under one roof, attendees will find what they need to turn their home and garden dreams into a reality.”

Produced by Solon-based Marketplace Events, the event will offer visitors the opportunity to shop for home improvement contractors, lawn and garden services and equipment, home décor and other products and services to transform homes or gardens, according to organizers.

Among the new features and attractions this year are:

  • Perrino Builders Interiors will return for a second year to build the Idea Home that will inspire visitors with ideas for building, remodeling and decorating their own homes. [See related story below.] A Vacation Home built by Weaver Barns also will be on hand. Landscaping surrounding the homes will be provided by Morton’s Landscaping.
  • Belgard Hardscapes Inc. will feature outdoor living spaces.
  • There will be several Networking Nights throughout the show.
  • A Home Depot Kid’s Workshop will offer children an opportunity to build something and take home an orange workshop apron.

According to event officials, returning favorites to the show will include:

√ The Garden Showcase will feature international-themed gardens created by Northeast Ohio landscapers. These gardens will represent exotic locations from around the world and will be partnered with local restaurants that will offer samples during special tasting events Feb. 10 and 11 from 4 to 8 p.m.

√ The fully constructed Dream Basement will showcase a large audio visual theater designed by Xtend Technologies and will be surrounded by low-maintenance landscaping created by Morton’s Landscaping.

√ The combined Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage will offer attendees home improvement celebrity appearances with the opportunity to taste and enjoy food.

√ The show also will feature Celebrity Designer Rooms, the Petitti Gardening Stage with gardening seminars and outdoor furniture and plants for purchase, and the Playground Worlds’ KidsZone, which will feature a variety of safe, high-quality playground equipment and giveaways for parents.

Celebrity appearances, which will appear on the show’s Main Stage, will include: DIY Network and HGTV’s “Yard Crashers and Turf War” host Ahmed Hassan, Feb. 8-9; History Channel’s “American Pickers” co-star Frank Fritz, Feb. 15; Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” and “Cupcake Wars” cooking personality Emily Ellyn, Feb. 8-9; and HGTV’s “Room by Room” creator and co-host Matt Fox, who also produced and cohosts the “Around the House with Matt and Shari” series.

Also during the event, the Cambria Bistro will offer full-service dining, located around the Garden Showcase.

More details about the show are available at

Great Big Home + Garden Show hours are Feb. 8 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 9 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Feb. 10-14 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tickets for adult admission cost $14 at the Box Office; $11 through the website or at Discount Drug Mart and AAA locations; $10 for seniors ages 65 and older with identification; and $9 each for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger.

The I-X Center is located at One I-X Center Drive.


Article source:

Salt alternatives for the homeowner

Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 9:56 am

Updated: 9:57 am, Wed Jan 29, 2014.

Salt alternatives for the homeowner

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


It is minus 8 with the windchill at minus 25 as I write this from my chilly, (53 degree) living room on Jan. 22. I have to drive to Walton NY this morning in Delaware County and I will be wary of any “wet” spots on the highway, since they will surely be black ice. Thank goodness for road salt!

It is not uncommon in the Capital District/Hudson Valley for heavily traveled roads, such as the Thruway, to receive 40 to 80 tons of deicing salt per lane mile per year. That works out to about 15 to 30 pounds per linear foot. It is surprising that any roadside plants can tolerate that much salt, but most do. If they received a fraction of this much salt during the growing season, the roadsides would be devoid of vegetation. There is little the homeowner can do to change the road salt situation but there are some alternatives to salt that may be used in the home environment.

Road salt or deicing salt is mostly unrefined rock salt, containing about 98.5 percent sodium chloride. Calcium chloride is sometimes used when temperatures are extremely low (Rock salt is useless at temperatures below + 10) but it is about eight times as expensive as sodium chloride. Rock salt causes injury to plants by absorbing water that would normally be available to the roots. Even when moisture is plentiful excess salt can create a drought like environment. In addition, when salt is dissolved in water it breaks down into sodium and chloride ions. Roots readily absorb chloride ions and then they are carried through the sap stream to actively growing portions of the plant such as leaf margins and shoot tips. High levels of chloride are toxic and result in characteristic marginal scorch patterns. (Brown edges around the leaves) Excess sodium in soil also hurts plants by encouraging soil compaction, leading to restricted uptake of oxygen and water. Calcium chloride is not nearly as damaging.

Plants most likely to be affected in the home landscape are those that receive lots of salt laden snow. For example, if you routinely apply salt to your porch or steps or deck, the plants growing nearby are most at risk, especially if you shovel snow on top of their root systems. Likewise, plants along your driveway or roadside are more at risk then those in the backyard. So what are the alternatives?

First, buy calcium chloride instead of rock salt or purchase one of the newer deicing materials that are reported to be even less toxic to plants. In recent years several new products have been developed that are very effective at melting snow and ice.

These new products are quite expensive but so are replacement plants! If you just want to improve traction try using sand or kitty litter or even fine gravel. Keep in mind however that you will most likely be tracking these materials into the house along with the snow on your boots. Never use soiled kitty litter for this reason! Wood ashes have also been used for traction, but too much wood ash spread over your plants can raise the soil pH to damaging levels. Wood ash will also be carried in the house with the snow on your boots and it leaves an unsightly gray residue.

I no longer will need any kitty litter, as I lost my beloved cat two weeks ago. My friend Lester Gass shared this quote with me, that he attributed to a woman named Amy Ahberg “Taking on a pet is a contract with sorrow.”

Indeed it is.


Saturday, January 25, 2014 9:56 am.

Updated: 9:57 am.

Article source: