• Default design philosophy

Archive 2016

Modern Design ideas

Our house sits on a low-lying area within the neighborhood – basically at the bottom of a hill. With hard rain, water pours down the street and floods our side yard.
photoThe September rain from Isaac did a fair amount of damage (about a 15 foot wide area of flooding) to our side yard. When we returned from vacation, we were shocked to see just how much grass had been killed – Hence the swale. What’s a swale, you ask (other than my new favorite word)? According to Merriam Webster, a swale is a low-lying or depressed and often wet stretch of land.

This was one of those “necessary” projects – Not the kind I typically get excited over, and usually the kind that requires a lot more work than we anticipate. This is one of those projects where my husband says, “It will be fine,” and I end up not being able to move for a week.

Modern design ideas

Within a matter of days, we were well on our way to planning and designing our very own swale. Based on the amount of water that pours down the side of the yard, we decided that the swale would need to be about three feet wide, which meant we would need more than a couple of shovels – see what I mean?!

Yup! That’s right – a back hoe and a bobcat. Luckily we knew someone who knew how to actually drive these things. Digging the trench took six hours and produced about ten truck loads of dirt that needed to be hauled away. Design philosophy can be achieved by articulating what is useful and what is not and working upon that.

And, lucky us – At the same time we were doing this project, some major construction was underway on the same corner:
I’m sure the neighbors were extremely appreciative that the whole street was completely blocked.

The next step was to lay down some heavy weed barrier. You can also see here just how much of our grass is dead. 006We had seven tons of large river rock delivered. The rock needed to be large enough so it would not move, and we opted for river rock so it would look pretty. We also wanted to make sure that we could use the bob cat, while we had it, to help dump the rock into the swale.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong! Once the bobcat scooped up the rock, it was way too heavy to maneuver in the grass without doing damage. So, the seven tons of rock had to be moved by wheel barrel…can you say Arghhh!

It took me two days to move and arrange the rock. If you are ever in search of a great lower body workout, just squat down in a swale for two days – it works great.

A few days later, after power washing the street (yes, I’ll admit to that) and grading and aerating the yard, we were ready to lay down some sod and seed the side yard.
A couple of weeks later, with the help of a little sun and rain, our sod looked fantastic and our seedlings were starting to sprout.
For those of you wondering whether or not it works: Hurricane Sandy dumped seven inches of rain on us and the swale worked swell!

Before moving to Modern design ideas you should have an idea about Simple design ideas beforehand.…

Simple Design ideas

Those of us in the Mid-Atlantic region are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Sandy (a.k.a. Frankenstorm).  So, as we await to see what this storm might bring and whether or not Halloween will be cancelled, I thought I would share some recent Halloween favs.

First, my new BFF – Menacing Mummy:

Isn’t he great?  I love him.  I first spotted him driving through a nearby neighborhood.  He was lurking in an upstairs window.  I thought “I must have him.”  A quick Google search for scary window mummy poster and two days later Menacing Mummy was mine.  I have him displayed on my front doors.  He looks incredibly three dimensional like he is actually trying to get out of the house.  The effect comes from back lighting.  This is just one of many posters available from Wow Window Posters.  You need to also check out Shrieker and Green Demon…Absolutely Frightastic!

Simple design ideas

Halloween is also all about the sweets.  My brother and sister-in-law just had a Halloween Party (see their costumes below).  Ali is quite the baker (check her out on Facebook at Solano’s Kitchen).  Everything tastes as good as it looks.   Here are some ghoulishly yummy dessert ideas:

Pumpkin cupcakes with shards of glass

Cow Intestine (actually nutella stuffed in puff pastry) – so grossly awesome!

Brain Matter cupcakes with cherry blood clots inside

I made these food tags using You Murderer font that I downloaded for free.  I then took a little red food coloring tinged water and splattered them for that special little touch.  They really do make the food that much more appetizing. You can integrate basic design principles from normal ideas and it will go a long way.

Every Halloween table could use a brain (cauliflower) centerpiece.

I love to see how other people express their creativity with a costume.  Just as long as it isn’t a scary clown…I hate the scary clown…think Killer Clowns From Outer Space – Now you know where I am coming from.

What a great idea for a costume – she is a Pinterest page.  Better yet, she chose a bunch of pinned images where you say to yourself “Why would anyone want to pin that?”

And, for all you Game of Thrones fans: 

Yes, that is Viserys and Daenerys of House Targaryen – Very creative!  How about that house sigil (three headed dragon) on their blackboard wall – great touch – my bro has skills.

Core designing skills are also very important.

Happy Halloween everyone!  For those of you in the Mid-Atlantic region, stay safe!…

Core Designing Principles

This project was definitely an inspiration for me to start recording all of our home renovation projects. I’m a little late in posting this (been too busy with other projects – stay tuned), but I am really excited to share.

With our last few moves, there have been certain “must have” features that we have looked for in the home:  Features like a wood burning fireplace, two car garage, and mature trees.  With this last move, we added a screened in porch to our wish list (be on the look out for starving mosquitoes).


We were lucky enough to find a home with everything we were looking for, except the screened in porch – Nothing a little construction couldn’t fix.  99% of the time I am totally a “I can do that myself” kind of girl, but this required a bit more brawn.  So, after the laborious process of obtaining five different estimates, we finally had a signed contract – Woo hoo!  Not so fast…the start date got pushed back several times, and what I thought was going to be a Memorial Day unveiling didn’t happen.

This several week delay had me in a funk (not the smell…the state of mind).  What I needed was some motivation to keep me excited.   My first purchase – Pillows!

I found these at Homegoods.  Fell in love with them as soon as I saw them…the perfect shade of yellow.  They make me very happy.

But let’s see where we started.  Can you say Ugggly! 

Finally – groundbreaking day – very exciting.  This is Lou and his concrete crew.  He had the brawn and the equipment needed to get this project started.  Hey Lou, strike a pose for the crowd. Then only you can find basic design principles.

Eeeek!…no turning back now.
The demolition process took a few days, and of course we had pouring rain immediately after the huge hole was dug.  I know it doesn’t look like much, but it was very exciting to finally see a shape emerge.

We thought we were finally on a roll, but unfortunately we failed the first inspection – the footers needed to be adjusted – more digging.  This again set us back several more days. In an effort to feel like we were making some progress, Shawn and I rented a uhaul and made rounds to pick up all the goodies that were going to go on the porch.  At this point, I had the garage filled with furniture and other item.…

Basic design philosophy


With the foundation finally complete, the framing took almost no time at all to go up.  Other than one of the framers falling through the garage ceiling (What?!), that pretty much went off without a hitch.

After several more inspections, we were finally down to only needing siding, roofing, and screens – oh my.  Check out that stamped concrete.  Lou did a fantastic job (www.cipollonibrothers.com).  The pattern is Ashler Slate.  The base color (desert tan) is embedded into the concrete and then a darker color (nutmeg) is used for antiquing.


Design Process

Between inspections and other delays (like the wrong shingles being delivered – ugh!), we were now into July.  To say it was a painful process would be an understatement.  We were both anxious for it to be over, to move the furniture into the porch, and to reclaim the garage for the purpose of parking our cars in it.

Finally – Move in Day. Yay.  Drum roll please…

We had vinyl bead-board installed on the walls and the ceiling, but decided to keep the brick exposed just because it looked fantastic.  Since the porch is on the Northwest side of the house, the skylights let in some great afternoon light.

And a view from the other side:

I was definitely on a budget, and most of these items I got on sale.
Shopping List:
-Outdoor arm chairs, dining chairs, and bench from Pier 1 Imports
-Hutch, dining table, coffee table (spray painted with ORB), and Hovas sofa from Ikea – A super  comfortable sofa was a must.  This sofa is not an outdoor sofa, but because it is under shelter I thought I would try it.  It has a removable and washable cover that I sprayed with Scotchguard fabric protector, and so far it has worked out great.
-End table from Target (spray painted with ORB and Valspar in Eden)
-Ceiling fan from Lowes
-Other throw pillows from Pottery Barn
-And, of course, my fabulous Homegoods pillows.

The canvas art above the sofa is from my photo collection – visit the Art Store
Some of the oars I have had for years and others came from Pottery Barn Kids.  I painted them to complement all the other bright colors in the room. You can improve your print by mixing some colors.
The fish flags are a tribute to Shawn’s love of fishing.  We hung them on dock rope from a boat cleat.  The colors work nicely with the rest of the room and add a bit of man friendliness.
Why not a bright yellow door?  The yellow  matches my fav pillows perfectly – Valspar in Gold Abundance.

This studio print sums up the attitude of our porch – Monorail Studio

Let’s take another look:

We absolutely Love It!  It has definitely become one of our favorite rooms in the house.  This wasn’t exactly a DIY project, but we definitely had fun with helping in the design process and adding all those special little touches that make it feel like “us.”

Thanks for reading.  I hope you will check back to see all the other great projects we have been working on.…