Check out my tips for easy ways to upgrade your home’s exterior for curb appeal.
One of the hot trends for plant and garden enthusiasts is plants-under-glass. While terrariums and mini indoor greenhouses aren’t so new, hanging glass balls with plants inside have become the newest way to have a little garden all year long. I decided to jump on board and hang a pair in my bathroom window. This way, I always have a little green to see when I look outside.
Want to do the same? Here are the things you should know about plants in a jar.
It’s a tradition in my family to bring some outdoor elements in when we celebrate Christmas. In fact, I start getting festive the moment the smell of fresh evergreen greets me at the front door.
So, this year I am sharing my home with you so that you can see how we do it, in hopes you might get inspired to run out and cut some boughs right before your guests arrive.
Choose your branches carefully
Cedar smells great but dries out really quickly. I love using fir and cypress because they hold their needles longer even when they get crispy. I also mix in some boxwood because the round leaves are a visual counter to the long and slender needles of the other evergreens in my arrangements.
One of my favourite parts of the holidays is the reappearance of red! That deep crimson or scarlet colour that ‘pops’ when the light levels are low and the skies are cloudy.
Often associated with Santa’s coat, this red is the perfect outdoor accent colour for your home to get you through December.
Before you run out and buy a lot of red elements, there are a few design tips that you should follow to make the outside of your home stand out:
Offset your red elements with green
I’m a huge fan of red with green boughs of cedar or balsam. The two play off each other extremely well because they are on opposite sides of the colour spectrum.
One of my many pet peeves around the holidays is the use of hanging baskets filled with branches and boughs. Now don’t get me wrong … I’m all for adding a little green to the front of the house, and using the existing hooks on the porch or on each side of the door is a great way to do it. Just make sure you do it right.
The reason hanging baskets look so good in the summer months is partially due to the trailing ivies and sweet potato vines that dangle down the sides. This hanging element creates a vertical line and fills the space (and hides the bottom) of the planter. I think the holiday baskets also need a hanging element instead of just a bunch of branches sticking out the top.
So here are two simple ideas for you to try at the front of your own home this year.
Planning a reno in the backyard this spring? Do you know how big you need to go when creating useable space? Most DIYers get it wrong when planning their own backyards, especially when it comes to calculating the useable space they really need.
So how big should the deck or patio be? It comes down to what you want to use it for. I always tell homeowners to start with the patio furniture. At the store, large patio furniture is shown as compact as possible so that they can get more sets on the showroom floor. Don’t be deceived by this. Too often homeowners plan their outdoor space and can’t find the furniture to fit it.
The easiest way to answer this question is to go to the furniture store and pick out want you really want for your space and then measure it. Bring some friends and make sure to measure your potential set with people sitting in it. Also consider how much room you need to walk around the furniture if it’s being occupied.
Like some Canadians, I was lucky enough to ignore winter for a week this year and escape down south. I needed a break from snow and cold and wanted a little sun and colour back in my life. These types of trips are very dangerous for those individuals like myself who find themselves looking at all of the bright tropical plants, and planning their next outdoor improvements. I’ve been guilty of bringing home my share of painted ceramics that I thought would be great in the yard.
It’s a well-known fact in the retail world that Canadians buy bright colours in the spring after a long winter — we crave colour after so much grey and white! Bright pinks, oranges, greens and yellows fly off the shelves at clothing stores … and at garden centres. As a designer, I have made the fatal mistake of adding these colours as permanent components of a backyard makeover. In my defense, the homeowner wanted Caribbean, and she definitely got it.
So far we’ve covered line and light for your outdoor space (make sure you check www.thechronicleherald.ca/Homes to catch up); now let’s have some fun and talk about texture.
For me, putting texture into the garden is my favourite part of the design because texture creates a lot of emotional responses. I love to watch my guest’s expressions when they see a combination that was unexpected. Texture naturally invites you to touch with lots of visual and tactile cues.
With man-made objects, I love using patio stones, pea gravel or even heavily grained woods in combinations so that the different shapes play off each other. This combination of textures makes the space more visually appealing. Plants are even easier to create opposing textures by mixing wide and thin leaves.
I know how busy everyone is at this time of the year, so it means a little more when people make the extra effort to host a party. So I always try to do a little extra around the holidays for anyone who makes the effort to have me over for dinner. This year, instead of a bottle of wine, I’m doing something a little different.
Truth is, I didn’t get all of my fall jobs done before winter moved in. One of the big ones was planting my bulbs. Now I have a ton of daffodils and tulips sitting in my garage. This year as hostess gifts, I’m going to force these bulbs and plant them as decorative hostess gifts. Here’s how you can bring a little outdoors in for the holidays.
I was recently surprised to find out that my new front door has the best return-on-investment of all my home renovations. That puts the front door ahead of the new kitchen, the updated bathroom and my back patio, according to Remodeling Magazine, 2014. It makes sense in an odd sort of way. Think of the front door the same way you would tires on a new car. It may not be the reason to buy, but everyone checks them out to make sure they are in good shape before driving away.
The front door also goes a long way to making a great first impression for buyers, or even just guests coming over for dinner. This holiday, I decided to step it up a little and here’s how I did it.