Saad S. Hallak

East County's Premier Real Estate Broker!

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Premier Realty & Investments
250 E. Chase Ave Ste 107
El Cajon, CA
92020

 

At first glance, this living room appears to be quite sophisticated, yet very simple. In reality, it is not simple at all, but rather a complex variety of textures, tones, styles, and contrasts.


Located in a desirable suburban area just outside of Toronto, Ontario, this 1,600-square-foot home, built in the 1960s, has eight-foot ceilings and builder-grade finishes. The owner wanted the relatively small (12-by-16-foot) living room reimagined into something functional with a light and fresh new feel. “We had to seriously consider every design decision to completely transform this space and bring it up-to-date,” explains Elizabeth Metcalfe of Mississauga, Ontario-based Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors & Design. “While this project appears to be simple, the process of creating this beautiful living room was much more involved.” 

 In theory, Metcalfe agrees with the famous quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” But she also knows, through her own experience, that simplicity isn’t that simple. The existing walls, ceiling, brick fireplace, and moldings were gutted so Metcalfe and her staff could start the project at the very beginning. “New drywall, beautifully proportioned moldings, and a custom fireplace design were instrumental in getting the architectural bones of the room correct,” says Metcalfe. “Although our client intends to stay in her home for many years to come, we, as designers, are always sensitive to adding value to a home.” According to Metcalfe, many houses in this upscale area have undergone renovations in the last few years, and it was important to her to maintain a level of quality and sophistication that would be expected for resale.

 Once the basic architectural details were completed, Metcalfe began layering textures to update the decor. She affirms that an interesting play of contrasting textures is a key component to making a room warm and inviting. “It’s about pairing tighter, smoother fabrics with rougher, heavier fabrics,” she explains. “You can never go wrong combining linen, silk, and velvet.” She suggests avoiding manmade fabrics whenever possible. There is a modest luxuriousness to linen sheers that you can’t replicate with a polyester blend, according to Metcalfe. She adds that her company’s signature style is similar to that of Barbara Barry—quiet, luxurious, and simple. “We appreciate that [Barbara Barry’s] products are thoughtfully designed with attention to detail,” she explains. “We use several in this project.”

 Textures come into play in accessories, too. The mother-of-pearl mirror offers a lovely alternative to the traditional framed mirror. Metcalfe feels it delicately echoes the soft blues and grays of the overall color scheme. The gray marble surround of the custom fireplace mantel continues the subtle color palette. A variety of metal finishes adds spark to the room. “We always try to mix metals in our designs,” she adds. “It’s so much more interesting than keeping everything the same. But the trick to mixing metals is repetition. If you want to incorporate brass, replicate it on several pieces.” The area rug is straightforward—a 100 percent natural wool fiber with a serged edge. All the upholstered pieces were custom-made locally. Additional texture was added to the sofa with the cut velvet Barbara Barry sculptural throw pillows.

 Custom draperies are always an integral part of Metcalfe designs. “It’s hard to explain in words what custom draperies bring to a room. But when they’re installed, something magical happens,” she says. “Well-crafted draperies provide a subliminal message that the room is comfortable and complete. They demand attention.” Metcalfe feels draperies are as vitally important as a sofa or an area rug in creating space that feels harmonious, coherent, and luxurious. The 100 percent wool drapery panels in this living room hang beautifully because of the sumptuous fabric.

Those at Metcalfe’s design firm truly believe that “A home well loved is a life well lived.” And apparently, those they design for agree. The owner of this gracefully redesigned living room says, “Although I have lived in my house for close to twenty years, thanks to Elizabeth Metcalfe Interiors & Design, this is honestly the first time I can truly say that I now love my home.”


As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2015 By Design Publishing
All rights reserved.


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Spring is truly an awakening. The first season of the New Year transforms the landscape into layered blankets of color. It’s a subtle celebration of longer and warmer days with fresh new produce arriving daily. Farmers’ markets and local farm stands start to open, and grocery store bins lined with fresh fruits and vegetables offer inspiration for a new season’s menu. Edible flowers come into season during spring. The floral accessory complements any course, but looks especially lovely atop a watercress and avocado salad that’s been laced with a subtle but vibrant lemon vinaigrette. Lamb chops and spring leeks are at their peak of flavor and lend themselves beautifully to a simple and flavorful meal. Shrimp cakes served with spicy apricot dipping sauce make lush little nibbles for a spring gathering or celebration. And a fragrant sweet pear and cardamom crisp served with vanilla bean whipped cream is a cleansing end to a meal. Spring never tasted so good. 



WATERCRESS AND AVOCADO SALAD WITH

EDIBLE FLOWERS

Click Here for Recipe


SHRIMP CAKES WITH
SPICY APRICOT SAUCE

Click Here for Recipe


ROSEMARY- AND GARLIC-CRUSTED LAMB CHOPS

WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Click Here for Recipe


ROASTED SPRING LEEKS

Click Here for Recipe


SWEET PEAR & CARDAMOM CRISP WITH

VANILLA BEAN WHIPPED CREAM

Click Here for Recipe 




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Between work, home, and family obligations, we go, go, go from the minute our alarm clock rings to the moment our head hits the pillow at night. It’s no surprise then that most of us face fatigue from time to time and turn to quick pick-me-ups like triple-shot lattes and power naps to help us get through the day. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a slave to short-term energy fixes to remedy your fatigue. Nor do you have to just grit your teeth and bear it. Instead, try introducing a few of the following fixes into your life and watch your energy levels soar.  

How to Boost Your Energy With Ease

EAT BREAKFAST
 If you’ve been relying on a cup of black coffee to jumpstart your day, you need to improve your morning meal. Think of it this way: after a night of sleep, your body has been fasting for hours so you need to replenish your stores with a well-balanced meal to help get you going. Ideally you should seek out meals that are rich in protein and whole-grain carbohydrates to help your blood sugar (and energy) hold steady throughout the morning. Try scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted wheat bread or even a bowl of instant oatmeal. In a study conducted at Tufts University, researchers found that participants who ate a bowl of instant oatmeal made with a half cup of skim milk were able to stay alert throughout the morning.

COMBAT DEHYDRATION 
 If you feel like you spend your day in a fog, you may be dehydrated. A 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that healthy women who failed to replace just 1.5 percent of their water weight experienced mood swings and low energy levels. You could follow the old eight-glasses-a-day rule or let your bathroom routine indicate if you’re getting enough. If you are well hydrated, you should have to use the restroom every few hours and your urine should be light yellow. If it’s not, you need to get more fluids into your body throughout the day.

EMBRACE LIGHT
Sunlight increases your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that is thought to lift your mood and increase your energy. If possible, start your day by waking up to natural light and then make a point to get outside often as the hours pass. When you spend time outdoors and expose your body to real light—not artificial light from a florescent bulb or computer screen—you’ll boost your serotonin levels. You’ll also raise your levels of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that experts suspect plays a role in fighting fatigue as well.

MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT 
 It may seem counterintuitive to expend energy to increase it, but research has found that regular exercise can help individuals combat fatigue. The good news is you don’t have to endure an intense workout to receive benefits: In a study conducted at the University of Georgia, adults who participated in a low-intensity aerobic activity, like walking, for twenty minutes three times a week faced less fatigue than individuals who completed a higher intensity workout for the same amount of time.

KEEP MOVING 
Our bodies weren’t meant to sit and stare at computer screens all day long, but many jobs require it. To fend off that inevitable afternoon energy slump, incorporate regular bursts of activity throughout your day. Try taking phone calls at the office while standing up or walk to pick your kids up from school instead of driving. These small changes will promote good circulation in your body and help your blood transport the oxygen and nutrients that provide fuel for your muscles, brain, and more.


As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2015 By Design Publishing
All rights reserved.
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Gigi Salisbury’s husband had a surprise question for her. “We were coming back from a fishing trip in the Bahamas and my husband said, ‘How would you like your own little piece of paradise?’” she says. At that point, Salisbury’s husband had already done his homework, figuring that Grand Bahama Island’s proximity to the US—a mere one hour by plane from Miami—would be the perfect complement to the couple’s already impressive real estate portfolio, which includes homes in Manhattan and Miami’s South Beach. “My husband had done the research on the area, and all we did was select the piece of property on the ocean and on the back side of the canal,” explains Salisbury. “We truly felt like we could be here and have the beauty and serenity of being in Thailand, but not have to fly sixteen hours to get 
there.”  

Thailand, as it turns out, played a major role in the couple’s decision to design their new home around a modernized Asian aesthetic that coupled Old-World touches with modern-day amenities. The inspiration: The Jim Thompson House, the historic home of James H.W. Thompson, a self-made American entrepreneur who was also founder of The Thai Silk Company. “We had been to Thailand many times and fell in love with everything there,” says Salisbury. “We were enchanted with the architecture. . . . Each of the villas [on Thompson’s property] has teak 
floors, walls, [and] ceilings. It’s such a beautiful, dense wood. . . . The wood was so soft; it felt like butter. I told my husband, this is how I would like my next house to be.”
 With that in mind, the couple enlisted Stephen Ewing of de Reus Architects located on the island of Hawaii, to draw the plans for their newest dream home. They call the home Nandana, which means 

paradise in Sanskrit. “As soon as we saw Stephen’s drawings, we knew it was exactly what we wanted,” says Salisbury. The layout, similar to the Jim Thompson House, was one story but consisted of several stand-alone dwellings or villas that connected via open-air pathways to the main living quarters. “We love it because you and your guests can get together in the main hall, but when you need downtime you can retreat to your own bedroom,” she says of the five one-bedroom suites including two 1,000-square-foot beachfront pavilions, two garden bungalows, and a 2,000-square-foot safari-style tented canopy suite.

Each dwelling, though, was similar in that teak—imported from Burma—encapsulates the entire space from floor to ceiling, giving each area a true Asian aesthetic. Intricately hand-carved teak serves as stand-alone artwork while the buttery smooth floors give way to expansive ocean views from every room on the property. To complement the Burmese teak floors and walls, the couple, who designed the interiors themselves, opted for Balinese limestone accents and Italian marble fittings; a true departure from their modern apartments in New York and Miami. 

 To furnish the interiors, Gigi and her husband opted to fill the home with pieces from their travels abroad to countries including Saudi Arabia, India, and Cambodia. Antique rugs throughout the home are from Iran yet were purchased in Saudi Arabia, while a statuesque antique lion was picked up during the couple’s travels to Cambodia, and the front doors of the home are from a temple in Bali. “We wanted to keep it a simple interior,” says Salisbury. “We wanted our guests to come in heels and beautiful dress and then also feel comfortable in a bathing suit.”

 The jewel of the property, though, is the outdoor living space. Large sliding glass doors in the main hall open to an expansive veranda and infinity pool, which is surrounded by limestone and overlooks the ocean. Three hundred palm trees and tropical plants provide an intimate, tropical feel while a private, deep-water canal provides dock access for yachts as large as 200 feet long. “In the evening we can have dinner outside on the terrace,” says Salisbury. “You can listen to the beauty of the ocean.”

Though it took nearly five years to complete the home—not to mention 200 logs, eight shipping containers, and twenty-five yacht carpenters from a yacht finishing company—the couple is enamored with the end result. “Anywhere you go, you look at the location and the people and the food,” says Salisbury. “And if all three things are perfect, it makes for an amazing experience.”  That’s exactly what they were searching for. 
 

As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2015 By Design Publishing
All rights reserved.
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Entertain your guests with the flavors of the season!

 

A fragrant and sumptuous table of food is a delightful way to bring family and friends together any time of year, but even more so during the celebratory holiday season. Winter flavors are caressed with a bit of indulgence to enchant and welcome guests—making any event a most memorable occasion.






FIVE-SPICE ROASTED WINTER SQUASH


Click Here for Recipe 


BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BACON 

 

Click Here for Recipe 

 

CRAB AND BRIE MACARONI AND CHEESE 

 

Click Here for Recipe

 

SEAFOOD PAELLA

 

Click Here for Recipe 

 

ROSEMARY CRÈME BRÛLÉE


Click Here for Recipe 

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In this technology-focused world, it’s hard to unplug from digital devices.And 

sure, modern inventions like smartphones and tablets exist to make your life

more convenient and to entertain you. (Who hasn’t used Google Maps for directions or watched a YouTube video online for a good laugh?) But when you rely on technology too much, all that screen time can end up distancing you from real life, damaging your personal relationships, and feeding your need for instant gratification from 

sunup to sundown.


Fortunately, you don’t have to go off the grid entirely to get a handle on technology addiction. Instead, institute these small changes to tweak your personal habits, and start dialing back your dependence on digital devices today.

 

SCHEDULE SCREEN-FREE TIME

Dedicate some device-free time each day to give yourself a chance to unplug and reconnect with the real world. You might avoid screens for the first hour of each day, and read a book in bed or take a walk outside instead. Or you could place your devices out of sight after work so you can reconnect with your friends and family over a digital-free dinner. Even if your work or family requires you to be available at all times (if you’re a doctor, firefighter, parent, etc.), you can still distance yourself from your devices. Simply assign a separate ringtone to your important contacts and only respond to texts, e-mails, and calls when that special alert goes off.

 

TECH-FREE TIP: If you’re an iPhone user, activate the Do Not Disturb feature to silence incoming calls and messages during a designated period of time.

 

SCALE BACK ON SOCIAL NETWORKING

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can be endlessly entertaining and oh so addictive. But if you’re overly involved in posting to your pages and feeds, you run the risk of interacting with the digital world more often than the real one. If that’s the case, consider setting some simple rules that will help you put down your phone or step away from the computer, live in the moment, and experience activities in real time—not through the lens of an app or a website. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you are posting a picture, status update, or link just to rack up likes or impress your online audience, consider keeping it to yourself. If the post in question would bring joy to others or teach them something useful, post away.

 

TECH-FREE TIP: Got a real addiction to social networking sites? Download the free app SelfControl, which allows users to block their own access to digital distractions for a designated block of time.

 

LIMIT MINDLESS SURFING

Raise your hand if you’ve started channel surfing or scanning internet forums to kill a few minutes then looked up at the clock and realized you’ve been at it for hours. You can avoid the time suck of your digital devices by pledging to use them in more purposeful ways. Instead of reaching for your phone or the remote out of boredom, use them for defined activities like video chatting with an old friend or watching the latest episode of your favorite show.

 

TECH-FREE TIP: Don’t want to give up mindless surfing entirely? A simple solution is to set a timer for a designated stretch of time and switch the screen off when the timer is up.

 

STOP MULTITASKING

With so much technology at your fingertips, it’s easy to find yourself scheduling online appointments while chatting on the phone, or firing off a few quick e-mails while simultaneously instant messaging with your mom. These multitasking behaviors might make you feel efficient, but they also prevent you from being completely engaged with one activity. Instead of trying to do multiple things at once, focus your attention on one task—and one device—at a time.

 

TECH-FREE TIP: Whether you’re waiting in line at the bank or riding the subway to work, challenge yourself to slip your phone in your pocket, observe your surroundings, and be present in the moment.

 

SEEK SUPPORT

As is the case with most personal challenges, you’ll have an easier time meeting goals if you seek social support from people around you. You might invite your coworkers to go tech free at lunch together, mention to your spouse that you’re quitting channel surfing, or decide as a family to put your cell phones away each night so you can spend some quality time together.

 

TECH-FREE TIP: If you’re really struggling to reduce your reliance on technology, sign up for a device-free workshop or retreat. Companies like Digital Detox aim to teach attendees how to disconnect with their devices and create balance in the digital age.

 

 

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A Holiday Retreat on Greece’s Tinos Island Celebrates the Homeowners’ Love of the Cyclades





Furniture store owner Leon Messinezis and his wife Ophelia Dikeakou love to bolt out of the noisy hustle and bustle of Athens and sail off to the Greek island 

of Tinos. Situated between the islands of Andros and 

Mykonos, Tinos is famous for its unspoiled architecture and beautiful scenery lined with extensively long stone walls. Hundreds of churches are dotted on slopes and hilltops, while masterpieces of local architecture and dozens of derelict windmills are found in its gullies and valleys. The island is dramatic in its rugged and mountainous beauty with many villages clinging to the marble cliffs. Strong winds sweep across the island bringing refreshing breezes and the resounding waves of the bracing sea.


 

Messinezis, the owner of the long-standing, quality furniture and decor import company Ivy Home Collection, and his wife fell in love with a particular plot of land on the edge of the seventeenth-century village of Berdemiaros. The atmospheric views of the landscape and the solid blue Aegean Sea beyond this sacred spot left them speechless. In 2004, Messinezis and Dikeakou acquired the 3,660-square-foot plot and commissioned local architect Nikos Balis to build their home. Deeply inspired by their travels to the Cycladic islands, the homeowners achieved a 1,290-square-foot gem that Messinezis describes as “warm and traditional, yet with a modern twist.” 

 


The traditional Tinos house the owners called Elia, is one of two entirely independent houses standing side by side on the property. “Tinos Island has its own unique architectural style standing out for its simplicity and functionality,” says Dikeakou. “We wanted a modern house with traditional elements, which coincide with the rules and balance of the typical residential forms.” The major priority was to maintain the character and local Tinian architecture, but with a twist and modern, fresh take. In fact, small with a few windows and storage rooms, Elia house is painted completely white and consists of curved forms and exposed stone formations according to the Cycladic layout. It was also important for them to achieve a comfortable environment on the terrace. “It was imperative for us to protect our privacy, [and] create shaded and sun-exposed areas as well as corners for resting and dining,” explains Dikeakou.

Perhaps the most characteristic architectural Tinian elements are the handmade arched ornamental fanlights (yperthyro) above the doors and windows. “In the past, the fanlights made of marble allowed more light and fresh air to enter the house,” says Dikeakou. “They are genuine creations of the folk stone builders of Tinos, showing important examples of the artistic singularity of Tinos. They are of great aesthetic value.” The homeowners have a natural eye for streamlined forms. “We wanted to combine style with functionality, balancing traditional elements and materials with contemporary spare lines,” says Dikeakou. In terms of the layout, the couple opted for a thoughtful separation of public and private realms. The ground floor is home to the living room and open-concept kitchen whereas all three bedrooms and two bathrooms are situated on the upstairs levels. The interior finish is beautifully crafted with floors made from natural Tinos stones. The central and most characteristic feature forming the gate to the living area is the Volto—the arch that derives from the period of the Venetian occupation of the island.

 It took the homeowners four months to furnish their home. The credo was to create a simple yet jovial mood, and the decor was intentionally void of lush visuals and clashing hues. With Messinezis’s decor company at his disposal, it’s no surprise that the majority of pieces, including the sofa and the coffee table in the living room, the dining table by the kitchen, and all the outdoor furniture, were sourced from Ivy Home Collection. According to Dikeakou, however, the most pleasant aspect of the interior project was exchanging design ideas with her husband and tracking down furniture and accessories in Tinos. The couple visited local antique shops and slowly put together an array of furnishings that would complement the existing pieces. In the course of a couple of months, they acquired little treasures such as the bright blue wall-mounted kitchen cabinet, the bathroom mirror, and the mini sculpture on the bedside table in the guest bedroom.

Whether enjoying a breakfast on the sun-dappled terrace with locally sourced products, a relaxing afternoon nap in the cooled-down bedroom, or a sunset dinner party with friends, it is evident that the couple has a great appreciation for the exotic beauty of their holiday home. 


 

As featured in

 

Home By Design

 


 

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

 

All measurements are approximate.

 

Copyright 2014 Network Communications Inc.
All rights reserved.



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When interior designer Zach Azpeitia is first approached by a client, especially one building a new home, he generally knows that the plans are going to inevitably change. Which is exactly what happened when the designer with Atlanta-based Pineapple House was enlisted to transform one couple’s dream home into a comfortable and sophisticated place to relax, live, and host their growing family and grandchildren.


“It’s a collaboration,” says Azpeitia of working with the homeowners, architect, and builder to create an optimum living space for clients. “Once the homeowners came to us and gave us the plans . . . we started working with them and found out [their needs] and we altered the plans a little bit.” Those alterations included some major erasing of walls and heightening of ceilings on paper to open up one of the home’s most important rooms: the kitchen.

 The kitchen—a 1,000-square-foot space boasting an open floor plan that seamlessly connects the casual dining 

area with the family room—is the highlight of the golf-course set home located in an Atlanta suburb. The space originally had a couple of walls dividing the three areas into separate yet cozy spaces. But after talking more with the homeowners, who wanted to be able to host large family gatherings in the 8,000-square-foot home, Azpeitia redrew the plans and eliminated the segregating walls. “The homeowners’ kids are grown up so they really live in this space the most and wanted it to open to the family room,” he explains.

 Next, in order to open up the entire space, the ceiling was heightened significantly from 12 feet to an impressive 16 feet with a large cathedral ceiling in the family room area. “We actually raised the ceiling to give the room more volume and added more windows to be more connected to the outside,” says Azpeitia. As the home sits perched on a hill, the outside patio boasts a stunning view of the golf course and pool, and by connecting the inside with the outside it extends the living space dramatically.

 The focal point of the kitchen is the dramatic limestone-covered range hood, which, says Azpeitia, was so heavy even the builder was concerned with how it would remain in place. But after much tooling and engineering, the team figured out a way to install the massive piece, which resulted in a stunning fixture in the transitional-style kitchen.

 To keep the three spaces seamlessly connected, walnut hardwoods run throughout while the furnishings—which boast a neutral color palette of grays and tans with pops of green and blue—are similar in their transitional lines. Granite countertops and a limestone backsplash pair well with custom cherry cabinetry that extends into the family room. To keep the cabinetry from feeling too “kitchen-y,” Azpeitia designed it to look as if it were pieces of oversize furniture. To break up the granite, though, one of the large islands features a wood top, while to keep the space cohesive, two fireplaces—one in the dining area and the other in the family room—are prominent fixtures at both ends of the expansive yet cozy room.

 To enhance to the dramatic ceiling height in the family room, Azpeitia added wood trusses from reclaimed barnwood. A large chandelier from Fourteenth Colony Lighting serves as one of the focal points of the family room while custom draperies in a soothing green floral pattern by Lee Jofa soften the rustic elements. An Indonesian hutch featuring a gray finish achieves the same soothing, softening effect in the kitchen area. 
 In order to let the major elements shine such as the limestone hood, reclaimed barnwood trusses, and stone fireplaces, Azpeitia kept the base of the room neutral. “There’s a lot going on in this space,” he says. “We just wanted the background to complement the space. We just wanted that background to go away.” 
The result of tearing down and moving walls and heightening ceilings—on paper at least—was well worth the time and effort, says Azpeitia. “The homeowners absolutely love it,” he says, adding that the open floor plan works well for their growing family. “They’re really enjoying the house.” 


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This time of year, farmers work overtime to bring their wares to our dinner table. The flavors of the autumn harvest are unlike any other, and they beg to be enjoyed. But instead of rushing to create a meal, take your time in the kitchen and appreciate all it has to offer.

 The kitchen is our haven. It expresses our very being and sometimes who we aspire to be—maybe a gourmet chef or a foodie on a mission to find the next delicious recipe. It’s also a place of comfort. A place to find a hearty and creamy kale and potato gratin sitting on the stovetop, just waiting to be enjoyed after a long day at school.  

The kitchen is where conversation finds a table filled with mouthwatering recipes of the season. Moist and juicy chicken breasts stuffed with tart, diced apples and melted Brie cheese is complemented by a platter of crisp tender green beans topped with crumbled chèvre, sweet dried cherries, and toasted pine nuts all beautifully laced with a balsamic vinaigrette. Bringing these lovely dishes together is a crisp and bubbly apple cider champagne cocktail that makes dinner feel just a little special. Dessert is served, and family and friends linger over gorgeous pumpkin coconut tarts topped with whipped cream and warm caramel sauce. This treat offers the perfect ending to a perfect meal created in the most treasured space—the kitchen.

Click on the pictures for the recipe!

GREEN BEAN AND SMOKED GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES  AND TOASTED PINE NUTSBRIE-AND-APPLE-STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH APPLE CIDER PAN SAUCEKALE AND POTATO GRATIN

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There’s a synergy in this exquisite kitchen designed by John Starck, president of Showcase Kitchens in Manhasset, New York, who describes his clients’ taste as an ornamental blend of beaux arts and traditional. “We pushed the envelope with ornamentation as far as transitional that is refined, which makes it all the more enticing,” he says.


The open layout of the freshly renovated and expanded space fits the young family who hosts everything from charity events to house tours. “They’re great people who were lovely to work for. We had a lot of fun together,” recalls Starck who worked in conjunction with architect Thomas N. Fox, from Manhattan-based Fox Diehl Architects; Fox planned an expansion of the original layout.

Typical for 1930s homes in the area, this one was without a spacious kitchen that was conducive to entertaining. “They wanted to take away the small eat-in kitchen and create a family room that connects to the kitchen and breakfast area for entertaining and for everyday life,” says Starck. “It’s open and airy and it flows rather than being compartmental.” Eileen Kathryn Boyd Interiors, located in Huntington, New York did the interior design.

 Classic architectural features include custom cabinetry and carved embellishments such as the appliqués on the base of the hood. The Calacatta marble counters and backsplash feature a dramatic pattern that provides the perfect contrast. “It all boils down to texture and movement with a very subtle white for the overall palette and the veining of the marble that adds charisma. Together, they have an edge and a new feel,” says Starck.

“Because they have an old colonial, we modernized it a bit with the decor,” adds Starck. Fox says the fact that it 
wasn’t a very large space was one of the challenges. “Now people walk in and turn the corner and say ‘wow,’” says Fox. “Some details like the millwork were taken into other areas of the house for a more seamless transition.”  
 Vintage-inspired lighting above the island lends some edginess to the overall aesthetic, while the color palette and the classical architectural details bring it back to the traditional and beaux-arts blend, says Starck. Recessed and task lighting were part of the overall plan, and wood floors ground the space.
 
The well-equipped kitchen includes two ranges, double ovens, a microwave, a warming drawer, two freezer drawers, a large refrigerator, and a dishwasher. The bar area features a butler’s pantry and a food pantry. “It has a lot of purposes and an entrance to the dining room, so it’s like a staging area for entertaining,” says Starck. “The kitchen is perfect for entertaining. They obviously want to have fun there.” 

 Starck, who has been in the business for almost thirty years, says not a year has gone by without a request for white. “White kitchens remain in demand because of their timeless aspect. The cleanness of it and the lack of trend means it will never go out of style,” he says. “What has changed is that they’re not as ‘safe’ as they were ten to twenty years ago with white cabinets and black counters. They have more of an edge.”

 Kitchens have become the star of the show. “Thirty years ago, kitchens were a place to chop, prep, and cook. They were not conducive to entertaining, and they were not a family hangout or nucleus,” says Starck. “We migrated 

away from the compartmental kitchen to an openness that flows so much more. Today, cooking and not going out to eat as much really hit home with the healthy lifestyle, farm-to-kitchen trend.”

 Modern-day kitchens make a fashion statement. “Before, it wasn’t a lifestyle room for entertaining family and friends,” says Starck. “Now, it’s like buying that hip dress or that cool car. People want that hip kitchen to be the focal point of the house. It’s like dressy couture; it’s really very important, like the next shoe.” 
Despite the modernization, the fact that Starck continues to borrow from the past lets this design endure. “It’s so essential that it’s timeless. I’ve always been proud of projects that look great twenty years later,” he says. And no doubt, it will. 

As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2014 Network Communications Inc.
All rights reserved.


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Birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and hummingbird moths are just a few of the beneficial and beautiful creatures that might populate your garden—if you provide the right environment. Every living thing has three basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Provide for those needs, and they will come.


ATTRACTING BIRDS. Birds play an important role in contributing to the balance of our complex ecosystem. Many birds feed on insects, consuming thousands of p

ests a day, making them one of the best natural means of insect pest control in the garden. Plants are a key to making a garden bird friendly, providing shelter, nesting sites, refuge from predators, and a source of food. If you have the space, create a combination of wooded areas and open space, thus pleasing the widest variety of birds. 
Like people, birds have individual food preferences. A wide selection of plants with different fruiting and seeding habits will attract the greatest number of bird species. In birdfeeders, the food that attracts the widest selection of birds is sunflower seed. A blend of proso millet, unhulled sunflower seeds, and cracked corn will satisfy an even larger number of seed-eating birds. Fatty foods such as suet and peanut butter are also good and provide energy. Keep bird feeders and feeding tables clean, and be sure the food is protected from moisture. Different bird species look for different features in their homes. Purple martins, superb for insect control, are social birds that like to nest in high-rise apartments. Bluebirds like a 5-by-5-inch floor space and a 1.5-inch entrance
hole. Check reference sources for more detailed information on birdhouse specifications for different species.Birds need water both to remain hydrated and for fun. To draw birds closer to your home, provide a birdbath. They love splashing about in the shallow water and taking occasional sips. The gentle sound of moving water also is an attraction. Place it in an open space so there isn’t nearby cover for a cat or other predator.  

BUTTERFLIES: FLOWERS IN MOTION. Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment. They also are lively, colorful additions to gardens, providing hours of viewing pleasure. To thrive, butterflies require nectar for energy, water, shelter, and sun for orientation and to warm their wings. And they are attracted to all sorts of things that most people aren’t, such as dead plants, rotting logs, manure, dead animals, and decaying fruit. Swallowtails,
little blues, the sulfurs, and red-spotted purples revel in muddy puddles from which they derive important minerals.
 It is possible to compromise between an environment that a butterfly would consider a dream home and one that you’re happy to live with. Plant a selection of nectar-rich flowers such as sweet alyssum, marigold, asters, purple coneflowers, daylilies, and butterfly bush. Check with your local Cooperative Extension to find out what plants are the best for the butterflies and caterpillars in your area.
 For water, provide a birdbath or create a low-lying area that can collect water to create a drinking pool for the butterflies. You may get to see the males of certain species gathering by the dozens to drink. These congregations are known as drinking clubs.
 In a wildlife habitat, avoid any chemical insecticides, including Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Although it is nontoxic to other creatures, Bt kills all leaf-eating caterpillars. Fungicides, rodenticides, and herbicides should also be eliminated from your gardening arsenal. Instead of using chemicals, handpick large pests such as Japanese beetles, and use liquid soap to control smaller pests.
Attracting beneficial wildlife to your garden is a rewarding mission that brings both aesthetic and environmental benefits. Provide for their basic needs, then sit back and enjoy the show. 


 

Other Beneficial Creatures for the Garden:
Aphid Midge
Diet: aphids
How to attract: pollen plants

Damsel Bugs
Diet: aphids, small caterpillars, leafhoppers, thrips, and others
How to attract: alfalfa

Ground Beetles
Diet: slugs, snails, cutworms, root maggots, Colorado potato beetle larvae
How to attract: plant ground covers and perennials, provide stones or logs where they
can hide

Lacewing
Diet: aphids, thrips, scale, mealybugs, whiteflies
How to attract: angelica, coreopsis, cosmos, sweet alyssum

Parasitic Wasps (such as Braconid)
Diet: aphids, beetles, caterpillars, flies, sawflies, scale insects, and true bugs
How to attract: pollen and nectar plants

As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2014 Network Communications Inc.
All rights reserved.


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Crown Point Cabinetry Creates an English-Cottage Kitchen in New Hampshire

Goose Pond is a 625-acre lake located in Grafton County in western New Hampshire. A secluded body of water with beautiful views, it offers a tranquil, peaceful location for homeowners and vacationers. “We had been looking for the perfect spot to build for several years. We saw a home in South Carolina that had a lovely modern English-cottage feel, but we weren’t completely happy with the location,” explains Audrey Brown, owner of this 6,500-square-foot home. “When we came upon this lot on Goose Pond in Canaan, New Hampshire, we fell in love with it and the area. We knew that this was the right place to build our cottage.”

The Browns wanted to capture that English-cottage style and designed the exterior with that in mind. When they started on the interior, they consulted Crown Point Cabinetry, a family-owned and operated business, handcrafting custom cabinetry since 1979, and located in Claremont, New Hampshire. “The Browns were very specific in their desires,” says Mark Wirta, then Sales Designer for Crown Point, and currently Sales Manager. “They wanted a functional kitchen with lots of space for their family to spend time together.”

 Wirta created a kitchen design with an Early-American feel. “Our kitchens are 100 percent custom, so we were able to accomplish everything the Browns were looking to do,” he explains. “They wanted pine, which we stained an amber brown. Then we hand-brushed a pitch black milk paint over the stain giving the cabinetry a burnished, warm, worn feel.” The under stain gave the pine an aged wood look according to Wirta, so the cabinets took on the appearance of a lived-in, well-loved kitchen. A baked-on finish provided exceptional durability.

 The 12-by-15-foot kitchen opens to a dining room and a living room. “Whenever someone is cooking, it seems like everybody ends up in the kitchen,” says Brown. “We wanted a gathering area for our children and grandchildren to socialize comfortably, so we left a generous space behind the island, between the kitchen and dining room.”
 The cabinets create the impression of fine furniture with toe-kick detail and custom touches. There’s a paneled back to the island for a finished look. “The turnings that provide additional support for the Vermont Danby marble countertop, keep the island light and open looking,” adds Wirta. “In the butler’s pantry, the cabinet has divided panes of glass and therefore has the feel of a buffet rather than a kitchen cabinet.” Brushed stainless pulls blend with the stainless appliances.

 Because the kitchen is open to the other rooms, the Browns were concerned that it look attractive from a variety of angles. “The 48-inch Wolf range and vent hood became a focal point from the living room, so we wanted that view to be particularly appealing,” says Brown. The professional vent hood is inserted into a custom-finished cabinet frame. There is a recessed rail with lighting in the cabinetry and the homeowners had a brick backsplash installed to reinforce that warm, welcoming home feel. Copper pots hang on a rack for an Old-World touch.
 There’s no refrigerator in the main kitchen area by choice. “We have a large, deep refrigerator and felt it would be overpowering in the kitchen, so we tucked it discreetly in the butler’s pantry,” says Brown. “However, there are two drawer refrigerators in the island cabinet for easy access to milk, juice, and those things used most often.” The Kohler apron-front sink adds to the English-cottage ambience.

Crown Point Cabinetry delivers its products nationwide, as well as to the Bahamas and Canada. “Since we often do our designs long distance, we supply samples of working cabinet doors before we begin building the cabinets so the homeowners know exactly what they are getting,” explains Wirta. “Some customers, like the Browns, become intimately involved in the design. Others give us a general overview and then let us carry the ball. We work comfortably either way.” Brown absolutely loves her kitchen, and, for Mark Wirta, that’s what really matters. 

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When you buy an older house, it takes effort to personalize it and make it your own. Just ask designer Tammara Stroud of Seattle-based interior design firm Tammara Stroud Design. “The previous owners of this home installed a kitchen island that was about five feet tall and functioned as a display cabinet rather than an island for food prep, entertaining, and dining,” Stroud explains. That choice worked well for the former residents, but Stroud’s clients needed to make a change. “For this young family, the kitchen represents the heart and soul of the home. The original island placement made the space feel disconnected from the rest of the house. It did not feel friendly or welcoming,” says Stroud.



Besides the island, other design updates included removing open shelving, replacing
 the range hood venting, repurposing a built-in water dispenser niche, and modernizing the appliance garages. Stroud takes a sustainable approach to remodeling. Before demolition, Stroud first assessed what could remain. “The perimeter cabinets were in good condition. Some did not have doors, but that was easy to change,” she explains. 
Stroud kept the flooring and window treatments as well. Once the designer knew what was staying, she contacted Second Use, a Seattle company that retrieves and resells building materials from remodeling projects, and they took the original island cabinetry and countertops.
 
 
After demolition, work on the new island began in earnest. With each project, Stroud asks her clients to create idea books with pictures that show colors and styles that appeal to them. “Many clients have a hard time verbalizing what they like. Having visuals makes it easier for me to see what makes them happy,” she explains. Here, the homeowners’ idea book revealed an affinity for turquoise, blues, and sunny yellows. Those clues helped Stroud choose turquoise for the island color.


Of course, in addition to looking good, the island also had to function for the family’s needs. Stroud asked, “How many people would sit there? What activities would they do there? How did they want to use it?” Stroud notes that 
many times functionality is ignored in a kitchen because homeowners do not think through how they will use the space. She says, “Ask yourself, when you open your refrigerator, where will you set food when you take it out? When you take something off the stove, where do you set it? Where do you prep your food before cooking it?”
 
The new island is multifunctional. The expansive surface provides plenty of room for prep. A chrome faucet sits above the white-porcelain sink. Orange-red barstools add seating. One side of the island holds trash and recycling 
bins and a dishwasher. The opposite side offers cabinets for extra storage.

Once the island design was complete, Stroud addressed the other features that 
the new homeowners wanted to update. The open shelving design dilemma was resolved by adding Shaker-style doors. The previous water dispenser niche was repurposed as wine storage. A new stainless-steel range hood provided adequate venting. And retractable doors were used to streamline the appliance storage space.  
 
For the new countertops, Stroud chose quartz for durability. The gray tone works well with the vibrant accent colors and the neutral perimeter cabinets and flooring. A stripe of cool-colored sea glass tiles contrast with white subway tile. Yellow, blue, and orange-red chairs pop against the simple white table.  

A good lighting plan provides an essential but often forgotten element of good kitchen design. “If you don’t have adequate lighting, your kitchen won’t function well,” says Stroud. “Again, you have to think through how you’re going to move in the kitchen.” Natural light from the windows and can lights provide general illumination. Glass pendants over the island offer task lighting and add a decorative and personalized touch. Strip lights along the top cabinets provide ambient lighting to create a softer mood.

But it’s not only the practical elements of the remodel that make this design a
success—it’s also the emotion. “I love the vibrancy of color in this kitchen,” says Stroud. “It seems like such a happy place.” 


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It's not often that one of the world's most well knownand respected fashion designers decides to step outside the drawing room and off the runway and into the world of design travel. Though it’s commonplace for an interior designer to lend his name and expertise to the decor of a hotel or resort—there’s the Kelly Wearstler-designed Viceroy in Miami and the Christian Lacroix-designed Hotel du Petit Moulin in Paris, for example—for a fashion designer to do so is outside the norm.

 But no one ever said Oscar de la Renta was just any fashion designer. The Dominican Republic-born designer has a residence on property at the luxury Puntacana Resort & Spa, the main property to the boutique and more intimate Tortuga Bay Resort & Spa. It’s the latter, though, that bears de la Renta’s signature design aesthetic—luxurious and refined—with a touch of casual Caribbean comfort. As a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and the only AAA Five Diamond-awarded hotel in the Dominican Republic, Tortuga Bay boasts just thirteen luxuriously appointed villas along a private three-mile stretch of white sand beach. It’s the perfect setting for the designer’s pet project, where he showcases a mutual respect for both his Caribbean heritage and his high-fashion lifestyle.

The plantation-style interiors of Tortuga Bay—from the alfresco lobby to the luxurious oceanfront suites just steps 

from the white sand beach—is where de la Renta pays homage to the privacy and sense of calm the designer loves deeply about the Dominican Republic. Working closely with architect Rhina López Marranzini and Dominican Republic-based designer Aurora de la Rocha, de la Renta established a playful yet sophisticated color palette of white, beige, and yellows, which add warmness, calmness, and simplicity to the rooms. The backdrop of the crystal-clear, turquoise-blue Caribbean water serves as the perfect complement to an otherwise wholly neutral aesthetic—which is exactly what de la Renta had in mind when he made the serene setting the focus of this intimate yet luxurious property. 

But it’s the addition of locally sourced materials such as wicker, sea grass, and mahogany, which were used to create the custom chairs, rugs, four-poster beds, and all other furniture in the suites all made by artisans from the Dominican Republic that are the highlight of the property. Rustic natural elements mesh seamlessly with white walls and crisp, white 350-count Frette linens while pops of color are scattered throughout. It’s the perfect coupling in paradise.

Design was not the only focus when Tortuga Bay was dreamed of. While relaxation is one of the key elements to this luxury property, adventure is also an integral part of what makes Tortuga Bay so appealing. (Regarding the former, the Six Senses spa on property is exquisite, featuring an extensive spa menu and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas overlooking the turquoise-blue water and white sand beach.) Professional golfers come to Tortuga Bay to play its forty-five holes of championship golf boasting six oceanfront and fourteen ocean-view holes on the Tom Fazio-designed Corales and P.B. Dye’s La Cana. Set between rocky cliffs, coral reefs, and the expansive Caribbean Sea, Corales is the true draw to Tortuga Bay. The ocean, inland lakes, natural cliffs, and coralina quarries prove to be impressive if not challenging obstacles for even the most experienced golfer.

 For those who don’t hit the greens, the property offers half- and full-day excursions that allow you to experience Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic fully. Between zip-lining the island jungles and exploring the Dominican Republic’s natural caves to horseback riding on the beach and snorkeling the nearby reefs, there are ample opportunities to leave the chaise lounge behind in favor of adventure.

But while de la Renta has certainly put his touch on the property, it’s an understated elegance that makes Tortuga Bay so special. From the serene privacy to the elegantly-appointed suites, Tortuga Bay is a can’t-miss destination on the growing island of Dominican Republic. 
 
As featured in
Home By Design

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
All measurements are approximate.
Copyright 2014 Network Communications Inc.
All rights reserved.
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It was a matter of fitting a square peg into a round hole. Even though Jacy Painter Kelly and her husband, Kevin, had both grown up in homes that skewed traditional, the couple knew they wanted to live in a more industrial and modern home—which meant the super traditional Charleston-style home they’d been living in for the past five years was not going to mesh well with the aesthetic they longed to have. “I wanted to make our old house work for us,” says Jacy, who has her own eponymous design business, “but building a new home would give us the opportunity to get exactly what we wanted. We wanted to go modern and funky.”


In fall 2011, the Kellys purchased a lot in Baxter Village’s River Arts District located in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a growing suburb just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. After enlisting Jeanine DeVaney with Charlotte In-vironments to draw their architectural plans, the couple broke ground on the 3,400-square-foot home just weeks later. Though the interior would have an industrial-meets-modern look, the facade would be Dutch Colonial, inspired by Kevin’s upstate New York upbringing. “We wanted something modern but not harsh,” says Jacy. “We still wanted it to feel comfortable. We like the industrial touches but didn’t want to go overboard.” 

The color palette is simple and modern, as well; white walls and thrice-finished black oak wood floors run throughout the open floor plan, reminiscent of an urban loft, while sleek industrial accents are complemented by rustic elements such as an oversize barn door. Pops of color via artwork such as the large canvas painting by Jacy’s mother, which hangs above the dining room table, and other accessories are sprinkled throughout. The kitchen boasts the same clean lines with sleek white floor-to-ceiling cabinets from Ikea and honed black granite counters, both of which are complemented by a dash of color in the aqua penny-tile backsplash. Two Harry Bertoia–style counter stools sit at the wood butcher-block island where the Kellys’ two kids—Painter, six, and Lucy, three—eat snacks and do homework. The open floor plan leads into an oversize mudroom complete with built-in cubbies and lockers, acid-stained concrete, and custom-fabricated raw metal handrails, a subtle nod to the industrial-style look.

The adjacent family room keeps with the minimal design. Kevin and Jacy opted for a no-nonsense fireplace featuring simple, clean lines as a focal point, while a sectional from west elm completes the look. But not everything in the room is brand-new. Jacy refinished a midcentury modern chest with chalkboard paint and a coat of polyurethane. “I like to mix new and old,” she says, “so if I like the shape of something I’ll find a way to make it work.”   


In the sitting room, a quiet space where the Kellys unwind sans kids or entertain some of their friends, Jacy painted the walls black but countered them with lighter accessories in creams and whites with a set of 1950s leather Copenhagen chairs featuring hair-on-hide seats, a Moroccan-print rug, and rustic burlap curtains. “I wanted this room to have a more grown-up feel,” says Jacy. “It’s really comfortable and cozy but sophisticated, too.”

Upstairs, the master bedroom continues the sophisticated, transitional look 

with a black, white, and gray color palette with pops of yellow juxtaposed with natural fiber-like carpeting layered with a Brazilian cowhide. To keep the rustic yet modern feel, the wall behind the bed boasts a modern gray grass cloth wall covering layered over a metallic gray paint by Sherwin-Williams. In the adjacent master bathroom a large Victoria & Albert soaking tub made from finely ground volcanic limestone, is framed by a mantel painted in gray. Sleek black-and-white Carrara marble penny-tile flooring finishes off the modern, urban aesthetic.

Down the hall from the master, Jacy took advantage of the home’s otherwise unusable spaces by adding a homework station for Lucy and Painter, featuring industrial-style metal chairs and open wood shelving. On the same floor are the kids’ bedrooms as well as a large playroom, which features Sherwin-Williams grass cloth wall covering, an ottoman reupholstered by Jacy in a Cynthia Rowley quilt, and a west elm sectional and drum pendant.

The guest bedroom, though, is another room where color comes into play. Jacy repainted the headboards and dresser (all three Craigslist finds) and the antler chandelier a bright turquoise to add doses of color in the room. Jacy also created the chevron-inspired canvas painting to introduce more colors. The modern look is juxtaposed with traditional, simple white matelassé coverlets and navy-and-white monogrammed pillows.
In the end, the home is a complete departure from the traditional look the Kellys were so accustomed to—which is exactly why they’re smitten with the result. “We wanted it to cater to our casual lifestyle even more,” says Jacy. “We merged a lot of different styles, and sometimes we just picked what we liked. . . . [Building this house] gave us the chance to build something that was totally us.” 


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Color is a powerful force in the garden. It can soothe, excite, be restful, imbue energy, or make a space feel larger or smaller. Armed with a little knowledge and the willingness to engage in trial and error, you can create color combinations that set the exact tone you want in your private garden paradise.


HARMONIZE WITH COLOR COUSINSHues next to each other on the color wheel, such as blue and violet, take on the properties of each other and blend. These monochromatic color schemes are generally most successful when you vary the flowers’ scales and textures. Sometimes, monochromatic color theme gardens can go too far. The early-twentieth-century British garden maven Gertrude Jekyll wrote, “. . . people will sometimes spoil some garden project for the sake of a word. For instance a blue garden, for beauty’s sake, may be hungering for a group of white lilies, or something of the palest lemon-yellow, but is not allowed to have it because it is called the blue garden, and there must be no other flowers.” 

INSPIRED COMBINATIONS. Complementary colors make a strong statement. Vincent van Gogh poetically described his love of color complements in an 1888 letter to his sister, Wilhelmina, “...there are colors which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple, which complete each other like man and woman.” He suggested combining cornflowers, white chrysanthemums, and marigolds for a motif in blue and orange; heliotrope and yellow roses for a lilac and yellow motif; and poppies or red geraniums set among green leaves for a red and green combination. British plantsman Christopher Lloyd encouraged the bold use of color to create excitement, an element he believed was essential to successful gardening. “Two colors may shout at each other,” he wrote, “but they are shouting for joy.” He advocated using color contrasts because these have the most “pop.” Lloyd suggested combining the purple flowering Verbena bonariensis with a red dahlia such as ‘Grenadier,’ adding the reddish foliage of Canna indica ‘Purpurea’ for further emphasis. Blue and yellow is another classic contrast. Lloyd combinedVerbena bonariensis with the yellow-green flowers of Patrinia scabiosifolia, and placed blue flowering Iris siberica against the chartreuse yellow foliage of Bowles sedge (Carex elata ‘Aurea’).  


FOOL THE EYE WITH COLOR"Illusion is everything in a garden," opined San Diego, California landscape designer W.F. Sinjen. With a little good-natured trompe l'oeil, you can fool your eye into believing that the tiniest of gardens is spacious—or at least less cramped. Color is one of the tools landscape designers use to help pull off this trick.
Generally, warm colors such as yellow and red tend to come forward, and pastels and cool colors tend to recede. To visually enlarge your garden, put cool colors at the back, making it seem even farther away. Alternatively, you can make a large garden appear more intimate with hot tropical colors such as red and orange. 




WHITE AND GRAY. 
A delicate spray of white flowers, such as baby’s breath or Crambe cordifolia can create a sensation of shimmer in the garden, rather like white fairy lights strung in a tree. Beware: bold clumps of white tend to punch holes in the design, leaving a visual void. Use white to make colors appear brighter, giving them definition. In his novel East of Eden, John Steinbeck wrote, “Every petal of blue lupine is edged with white, so that a field of lupines is more blue than you can imagine.”Gray foliage helps to link disparate colors; however, not just any gray will work. Silvery grays tend to be too show-stopping, grabbing all the attention rather than being a silent partner. But blue-gray and plain gray are highly useful for bringing cohesion between two conflicting colors and transitioning from one color scheme to another. Gray is also excellent to calm glare or harsh sunlight. Seeing flowering plants side by side is a huge help in finding the right combinations. Walk around the garden with a newly purchased plant to find the right setting. At the garden center, place flowering plants next to each other to find the color and texture combinations that make your heart sing. Placing plants for the best color combinations is a fine art that often relies on trial and error. But you can’t go wrong by using your favorite color combinations to put a personal stamp on your garden. If you like it, it’s right. 


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