BASIC LANDSCAPE DESIGN- Tips to Design like a Pro!
By Kathy Beaman
Gardening, a necessity and joy since the beginning of time, has become immensely popular. Unfortunately, as the desire to enjoy our gardens has increased, our time to do so has decreased. We all lead such busy lives that gardening time has often been pared down to a minimum. Because of this, a good landscape design is more important than ever.
It used to be that only the very wealthy employed a landscape designer. Nowadays, these services are available to everyone. In fact, the smaller the lot and budget, the more important it is to have a good landscape plan. Whether your plan is designed by a professional or by yourself, there are basic standards to follow and goals that you want to achieve.
A good landscape design will incorporate the positive natural characteristics of your site with your own individual needs and your lifestyle. To achieve this, we first consider the four basic concepts of landscape design:
Suitability: If I designed a backyard with every bit of space planted with formal rose gardens for an active family of six, it wouldn’t be very suitable, would it? A young couple each working sixty hours a week would rather relax in a “moonlight garden” at the end of a long day instead of mowing acres of lawn. Figure out what is important to you and your family, not only now, but in the future, and plan for it accordingly. Today’s sandbox can easily become tomorrow’s basketball court.
Utility: Let’s be practical. We do not want the fuel delivery man to stomp all over our perennial beds. Nor do we want to relax with company on a patio overlooking the garbage cans. Ideally, living areas of the house should flow into the living areas of the grounds and the work areas of the grounds should be accessible from the work areas of the house. Even in small yards, with a small budget, these areas can often be well defined.
Economy: A successful landscape design depends on economy of space, time and money. In the small home grounds, economy of space is imperative. If possible, care should be taken that all of the ground space is not used up by the house, garage and drive. Leave space for the “outdoor living room”. With proper siting and the use of shade trees, wind breaks, awnings, etc., this living space can be used for three seasons, providing visual interest from inside for the fourth.
Simplicity is the key to economy of time. Keep it simple. Cut down on lawn area by planting ground covers. Keep edge clipping to a minimum by using mowing strips made of brick or concrete. Plant a fence with vines rather than grow a high maintenance hedge. Select plant material carefully. Make good use of flowering shrubs, vines and perennials that require little care and buy disease and insect resistant varieties whenever possible. Grow hardy shrub roses instead of finicky tea roses. And grow things where they are supposed to be grown. Don’t site plants that need a lot of sun in a shady spot and vice versa.
A good garden design will save you money in the long run. Using the concepts of suitability, utility and economy to help design your landscape will not only enable you to make less mistakes than the “hit and run” method, but will also increase the value of your home.
This brings us to beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there are basic concepts of garden design beauty, also. Everything must be in balance, in scale. There should be a specific rhythm, which derives from repetition, but not monotony. There must be unity and harmony, but also a center of attraction. For the beginner or untrained, this can be difficult to achieve – the easiest way to do so is with simplicity.
Don’t clutter your landscape with either plants or knickknacks! Tie all beds and borders together by repeating a certain plant material or color. Don’t plant a “specimen garden” – one of each. Plant in groups of odd numbers – three, fives, and sevens – and add diversity by changing the form and texture of the plant materials.
Group three plants with a rounded blossom and lacy leaves in front of five plants with bold foliage and spiky blooms. For a calming effect, use colors that “harmonize” together – different shades of pink, lilac, and purple interspersed with grays (such as Dusty Miller). Pair red with yellow or blue with orange for a bold look, but use sparingly. Such intensity can have an unsettling effect. Use annuals to add season-long interest and to fill in the gaps while perennials grow.
By using these basic concepts, or hiring a designer to help you, you should be able to have the time to enjoy your outdoor environment – one that is as pretty to look at as it is practical to use. If you need to justify hiring a designer, look at it as a long term investment. A livable, as well as attractive, outdoor landscape is much more desirable than one that is neither.
A JEWEL BOX HOME is a small home designed with top-quality materials, upscale detailing and custom finishes.
The term JEWEL BOX HOME is not new. Famed architects Louis H. Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright used the term to describe some of their favorite designs.
The popularity of the JEWEL BOX HOME and the lifestyle philosophy it represents has reemerged!
There has been a nationwide decline in the “McMansion” craze. Separate formal living and dining spaces are out, kitchens, great rooms and outdoor entertaining spaces are in.
Many factors play a role in the desire to downsize – less to manage in terms of energy and water consumption, a desire for a lower maintenance lifestyle, a focus on livability and a less is more philosophy and the opportunity to now own homes that operate with optimal efficiency using smart home technology.
These JEWEL BOX HOMES appeal to a wide variety of demographics including young professionals and newlyweds, as well as two fast-growing segments – empty nesters and retirees. Living spaces are built to human scale. Architectural details add beauty and character. Human needs take priority – the focus is on good design – not size.
To today’s home buyer/builder, utilizing low maintenance, long-lasting and locally sourced materials are a priority. Lifestyles are taken into account during the design phase; the home is tailored to the owner’s way of life. JEWEL BOX HOMES are meant to meet the needs of home life, not follow trends.
Many JEWEL BOX HOMES utilize “Aging in Place” techniques, enabling owners to stay in their homes longer during their later years. Everything is on one floor, the hallways and doorways are wider, bathrooms contain large walk-in showers, kitchens have raised dishwashers and wall ovens and countertops are at various heights, making it easier to work either sitting down or standing up. Cabinets are equipped with roll-out trays and washers and dryers are on the main level.
Passive solar, day lighting and proper siting of the house on the lot are all practices often used when building the JEWEL BOX HOME. Using the sun to warm and light the home and utilizing proper window placement for optimum ventilation cuts down on heating, cooling and electric bills. Sitting in a bright cheerful room full of sun on a cold winter day or filled with cooling breezes during the hot summer is a much nicer experience that being shut in with all the lights on and air conditioning running. This is the JEWEL BOX HOME experience. Beauty, harmony and function defined by the owner’s needs.
Just as a jewel box displays the gem inside to its best advantage, the JEWEL BOX HOME enriches the lives of its people. A living space that is filled with light, full of fresh air and extremely comfortable to live in, as well as being beautiful to look at, that is what a JEWEL BOX HOME is.
An interesting article from Kitchen and Bath Design News:
“Technology and performance continue to be driving forces in cooking appliances, as technological innovations allow today’s consumers to cook faster and better – all while saving energy. But while technology is hot, waste is not, with the most popular technological features ones that can provide true value and ease of use for users of all ages and abilities. Design wise, color is coming back, but the look is still clean and classic with simple lines or soft curves. Induction cooking remains a hot trend, along with flexible designs that give the designer the ability to create a beautiful and efficient kitchen in any size space.
Below are a few of the hottest trends in kitchen appliances right now.
–While technology and performance continue to drive the appliance industry, a more value-conscious consumer is looking for useful technology that improves the cooking experience and easy-to-use digital controls rather than trophy-style bells and whistles.
–Flexibility is important as smaller kitchens and a greater variety of family and space configurations require appliances that can be placed at the point of use, rather than in some outdated work triangle which may no longer be practical with fewer walls, more islands and Great Room layouts changing the kitchen landscape.
–Time-saving features — from faster pre-heat to speed cooking — are popular right now, along with cooking appliances that include technology to help the user cook better.
–Drawer appliances remain hot, both for their flexible design and accessibility to children, seniors, those with mobility concerns, etc.
–While stainless steel remains a timeless favorite, consumers seem less afraid to use color right now, and colored appliances – including white, black and midnight blue – are gaining ground. Still, design continues to favor simple clean lines, or soft, organic shapes that blend seamlessly into the design.
–Energy efficiency remains important to many consumers”
Materials and Tools:
paint for base coat
1. After removing the cabinet doors, wipe them with warm soapy water to remove dirt and grime, and then rinse thoroughly.
2. Sand the surface completely so the primer will adhere and remove the dust. Note: Don’t skip this step; it’s critical for a long-lasting paint job.
3. Prime the entire cabinet (tint it as close to the final color as possible for faster coverage). Let dry.
4. Apply the top coat with a roller (for large areas) or brush (be sure to lay off the paint in even strokes for a nice finish). Let dry. If you want to take a short break, cover the roller and bucket with a plastic garbage bag.
5. To add texture, roll glaze over the top coat and drag a weaver brush held almost parallel to the cabinet vertically, and then horizontally right away to create a basket weave pattern.
Here is an interesting article I found on www.forresidentialpros.com.
“Kitchen Cabinets Favor Transitional Styling, Painted Finishes
When it comes to kitchen cabinets, consumers continue to favor clean lines and timeless design, with transitional styling, painted finishes and well-organized interiors in high demand right now.
Interest in eco-conscious products seems to be declining in today’s more cost-conscious climate, however consumers remain willing to spend on interior fittings that maximize space and increase accessibility, as these are seen as adding tangible value to the product.
Below are some of the latest trends in kitchen cabinets right now:
–Sleek and simple styles remain hot, with distressed and glazed finishes declining in popularity, along with ornate door styles and heavily carved moldings.
–Painted finishes are trending, with color choices favoring neutral tones and shades of white, though bold pops of color are being used sparingly as accents.
–Gray is the hot color of the moment, but it’s anything but drab, with kitchen cabinets showcasing myriad richly textured shades of grey with plenty of depth and dimension.
–Maple and cherry remain the most popular wood choices, though beech, bamboo, lyptus and alder are also gaining ground in some areas.
–The interior of the box remains a key concern, with consumers willing to spend to increase accessibility and ease of use, and maximize interior space.
–The green trend seems to be slowing when it comes to kitchen cabinets, as homeowners are less willing to pay a premium for these products in today’s more cost-conscious climate.”
I am seeing these same trends in my own business and is pretty much the way I design, anyway. You just can’t go wrong with clean lines and well designed spaces.
If you own an outdated kitchen, but don’t have the budget to do a gut remodel, don’t despair. There are lots of quick fixes and medium size rehabs that will freshen up your space and not drive you into bankruptcy.
You can begin by doing a little dreaming. Clip pictures of what your ideal kitchen would look like. You probably won’t be able to replicate that exact image, but you can certainly get the same feel.
Next, take a hard look at your wallet. Set a realistic budget, with a 10 – 15% safety pad in it. Have a basic understanding of what things cost and what kind of quality you want.
Now do a thorough inspection of your present kitchen. This is where it really pays to bring in a professional, even if just for a consultation. Very often, this set of new eyes will see things you don’t and can come up with innovative ideas that can save you money in the long run.
The following are some of my favorite ways to freshen a space without breaking the bank:
• Color. Nothing updates a space more than a fresh new color. How you use color depends on your personality and can be very tricky. I like to either use a muted background and bring in bright splashes of color with accessories or use a bright color on the walls or cabinets and accessorize with whites or neutrals. Visit the Paint Quality Institute at www.paintquality.com for great advice.
• Cabinets. If your cabinets are of a decent quality and in good shape, you can update them in several ways. They may just need a really good cleaning or they can be painted (not an easy task to do correctly) or they can be refaced, sometimes just the doors. Roll out trays and drawer organizers can be installed to make them more functional and trim pieces, perhaps not matching but contrasting, can be added to update the look. An example would be to add a black (or red or ?) crown molding, light rail (to hide your new under cabinet lighting) and toe kick to existing wood cabinets and then pick up that color in other spots, perhaps in the hardware, faucet or countertop.
• Countertop. Nothing dates (or updates) a kitchen quite as much as the countertop. For most people, granite is king, with quartz being queen, but there is a whole new world of laminate out there. Check it out.
• Appliances. I think the best thing invented in the last decade is the counter depth refrigerator. It is awesome how this one change gives any space a custom look.
• Backsplash, faucet and hardware. Tons of beautiful choices, at all price points. These three items will really set the tone of your new kitchen. If you can’t do anything else, update these and paint the walls a warm, neutral tone.
So, now that spring has arrived, let’s perk up our spirits and kitchens a bit!