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Sourcebook for Cultivated Living

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    A few days ago, I visited a garden in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, a city where the average lot is 25 feet wide by 100 feet deep. On a piece of property that size, it's inevitable: the house is going to gobble up most of the space. Yet the Lilliputian backyard behind this particular house felt enormous. The secret?

    Designer Alma Hecht subdivided the area into several distinct "rooms" of roughly equal size but of different shapes to maximize usable space. The technique, which she calls "gardening by the square inch," is also a clever way to avoid making the space feel like a claustrophobic box:

    Photography by Marla Aufmuth for Gardenista.

    Above: The suggestion of a wall creates a living room in the back corner of the garden. The freestanding fountain is tall enough to interrupt the sight line; the seating area is not visible from the house.

    Above: The view from the house. The outdoor living room is tucked behind the fountain (R). A path runs past all four "rooms." In front of the fountain is the vegetable and herb garden.

    Last week members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers were in town to tour this and other gardens in the Bay area. In coming days, we'll be featuring more of these gardens not usually seen by the public.

    Above: In the outdoor dining room, hand cast concrete pavers of varied sizes are set in gravel to create a loose naturalistic look; it feels more expansive than a tightly woven grid of pavers.

    Above: Hardenbergia violacea 'Happy Wanderer' (Purple Vine Lilac) is an exuberant, bushy perennial in this climate. I actually pulled the shrub out of the garden at my house a few years back after it threatened to eat the front porch. Here, though, it was charming, carefully thinned and espaliered against a wall. (N.B.: For a tamer option, see "Indoor Vines as House Plants.")

    Above: A Meyer lemon tree that Ms. Hecht installed in the garden to replace an apple tree that was lost because of an irrigation break. "In a garden, you are going to lose things," she says. (N.B.: To learn how to grow your own indoor lemon tree, see "DIY: Potted Indoor Citrus Trees.")

    Above: Ms. Hecht's client cooks frequently and entertains guests in the garden; a half wall of empty wine bottles helps delineate the dining room area of the garden. The bottles light up like jewels in sunlight.

    Above: Beyond the dining room area, a cutting garden is in the other back corner of the yard. This was possibly the most fragrant rose I ever smelled and I am hoping Ms. Hecht will discover its name in her records.

    Above: An evergreen clematis grows up the wall and ...

    ...creates a bower for visitors who walk down the driveway. The clematis continues on its way, creating a shaded roof above the first-floor terrace on the back of the house.

    For another small Bay Area garden that feels enormous, see Garden Visit: A Modern CA Garden Inspired by the Classics.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published September 25, 2012.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    It sounds redundant to say "midcentury modern." True classic design that hails from the middle decades of the 20th century deserves a simpler label: modern. This week our intrepid Remodelista editors reminded us of several examples—from butterfly chairs to beach houses—that illustrate that point beautifully.

      Martin Gomez Arquitectos beach house in Uruguay ; Gardenista

    Above: On a grassy knoll overlooking the sea, Julie visits A Simple Modern House in Uruguay where architects Martin Gomez Arquitectos designed sliding glass doors that blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces.

    Modern wooden staircase ; Remodelista

    Above: Julie finds a stairway to heaven—ten, actually—with simple, space-saving solutions ways to add warmth to white stairwells. See her pickes in 10 Favorites Warm Wooden Stairs.

    Stone House Sea Ranch ; Gardenista

    Above: Christine cycles over to Sea Ranch to celebrate the classic Northern California beach town's 50th birthday. For the rest of the story, see Channeling the Spirit of Sea Ranch, Anniversary Edition.

    DIY Wall Mounted Leather Knife Rack ; Gardenista

    Above: Ugly knife rack? Alexa solves that problem decisively with a DIY: Wall-Mounted Leather Knife Rack.

    Apartment 34 Butterfly Chairs ; Gardenista

    Above: The Classic Butterfly Chair. In this week's Object Lessons column, Megan reminds us why we love it so.

    For more from Remodelista, see this week's full report on Modest Modern design. Wondering how to create a similar look in your garden? See Steal This Look: Modern White Patio.

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Take a look at what's on our radar:

    Sonoma Garden | Gardenista

    • Above: In California's wine country, landscape designer Thomas Woltz turned a 1920's gas station into a tasting room and garden. Photograph by Marion Brenner
    • Have you ever tested the pH levels in your soil? 

    Dahlias | Gardenista

    Shane Connolly Royal Floral Designer | Gardenista

    • Above: Learn floral arranging from the UK's Shane Connolly, the appointed floral designer to the Prince of Wales and the florist behind Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials. For £45 you can attend the June 12 workshop from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm at the Idler Academy in London. Image via Si & Jen, Flickr.
    • We love Kaufman Mercantile's curated collection of Father's Day gifts, including a wood and leather camp stool

    Succulent Candles | Gardenista

    • Above: Succulent shaped candles for burning through the summer nights. Photograph courtesy of Terrain. 
    • Recipes for iced drinks to go with the warmer months ahead. 
    • The Chelsea Flower Show's cream of the crop.

    For more posts from this week on Gardenista, take a look at our City Mouse issue. And don't miss Remodelista's Modest Modern issue. 

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    When the same image appears in our Pinterest feed multiple times in one day, our curiosity is piqued and we need to know the story behind it. This irresistible rooftop garden kept popping up, so I dug around the Internet to find the source.

    Sleuthing, step 1.  A reverse image search led back to a number websites in Greece, the first clue. I learned the rooftop is in Patras, Greece on the corner of Filopoimenos and Riga Ferraiou streets, to be exact.

    Almost every website that posted the photo linked back to Spitoskylo, a popular Greek website for design and home decor. And Spitoskylo turned out to be the original Internet source for the photo.

    With a little Google translating, I learned that the structure in the photo is located on a street of abandoned buildings. I also discovered that a reader sent this photo to Spitoskylo in April of 2012 and two years later, the image remains a Pinterest regular. 

    Photographs courtesy of  Spitoskylo.

    Rooftop Garden on Abandoned Building in Patras, Greece | Gardenista

    Above: What we like about this setting is how polarizing it is. How can there be such a lush garden atop a forgotten building? And who has the dedication to tend to all this greenery? 

    Rooftop Garden on Abandoned Building in Patras, Greece | Gardenista

    Above: The graffiti on the walls gives good insight into what the rest of the urban environment must look like. 

    Is there an image that keeps finding its way into your Pinterest feed? Curious about the origin? Let us know in the comments section below and it might make it in our next installment of You Pin It, We ID It. 

    Michelle uncovers another Pinterest mystery in You Pin It, We ID It: A Kitchen Table Bouquet. And have a look at how Diane Keaton discovered the inspiration sharing network in How I Learned to Love Pinterest

    More Stories from Gardenista

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    Table of Contents:



    Winning projects will be covered with full posts on Remodelista or Gardenista, and winning entrants will receive a Jielde SI333 Signal Desk Lamp in bronze, designed exclusively for Remodelista and Gardenista.

    Above: The Jielde SI333 Signal Desk Lamp in bronze, at the home of Remodelista editor-in-chief Julie Carlson.


    Frequently Asked Questions 

    Who is eligible to enter the contest? 

    Individuals located in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are welcome to enter. We regret that we cannot open the contest to projects from all countries at this time. Designers and owners/tenants are invited to submit their spaces. Entrants need not be design professionals; gardeners, homeowners, architects, DIYers, interior designers, and landscape architects are all invited to submit. See our Official Rules for exceptions.


    What are the 10 Remodelista contest categories?

    Best Kitchen Space — Designed by Professionals

    Best Living/Dining Space — Designed by Professionals

    Best Bedroom Space — Designed by Professionals

    Best Office Space — Designed by Professionals

    Best Bath Space — Designed by Professionals

    Best Kitchen Space — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Living/Dining Space — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Bedroom Space — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Office Space — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Bath Space — Designed by Amateurs


    What are the seven Gardenista contest categories?

    Best Garden — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Small Garden — Designed by Amateurs

    Best Outdoor Living Space — Open to Everyone

    Best Edible Garden — Open to Everyone

    Best Hardscape Project — Open to Everyone

    Best Professional Landscape — Designed by Professionals

    Best Garden Shed or Outbuilding — Designed by Professionals


    Will you explain the Gardenista categories in greater detail?

    Best Garden: Best overall outdoor garden designed by an amateur.

    Best Small Garden: Houseplants, indoor gardens, window boxes, fire escape gardens, container gardens, vertical gardens, etc. designed by an amateur.

    Best Outdoor Living Space: Outdoor sitting rooms and lounge spaces, outdoor kitchens, outdoor dining rooms, outdoor showers and baths, etc. open to both professionals and amateurs.

    Best Edible Garden: Kitchen gardens, vegetable patches, raised beds, outdoor herb gardens, etc. open to both professionals and amateurs.

    Best Hardscape Project: Stairways, decks and patios, driveways, pathways, fences, swimming pools, garden gates, trellises, etc. open to both professionals and amateurs.

    Best Professional Landscape: Best overall outdoor garden or landscape designed by a professional.

    Best Garden Shed or Outbuilding: Garden sheds, storage sheds, barns, garages, carports, greenhouses, pool houses, backyard studios, outhouses, guest houses, etc. designed by a professional. Though an outbuilding is typically detached from a main house, it's not required here.


    What if my project has been covered on Remodelista or Gardenista before? What if I am a member of your Architect/Designer Directory?

    If we have featured your project on our site(s) before, please do not submit that project for consideration. All are welcome to submit new projects, including members of our Architect/Designer Directory.


    Can I submit more than one entry?

    Yes, you may submit one entry into each category for which you qualify. You must complete an entry form for each submission. Please use the same email address for all of your submissions, as well as the same public-facing name. 


    Can I submit a project for more than one category?

    One project may be submitted for more than one category, but a single photo may not be submitted twice. For example, if you would like to submit two spaces from a single project—say a kitchen and a bedroom in the same home—choose up to six photos of the kitchen and submit them as a single entry. Choose up to six different photos of the bedroom and submit them as a single entry. Entries will be excluded if the same photo is submitted for more than one category.


    When are entries due?

    Monday, June 30 by midnight PDT.


    What kinds of photos are you looking for?

    Please upload a maximum of six photos per entry. Look through our sites to get a sense for the kinds of photos we like. Consider the way we cover any single room or space, and follow suit if you can. We need to be able to see the space you want us to consider, but we also enjoy detail shots.

    Photos must be a minimum of 700 pixels wide (whether the photo is displayed horizontally or vertically does not matter). Photos can be in JPG or PNG format and may have a maximum file size of 5 MB each. Photos cannot feature any identifiable person. Please note that we cannot provide individual help with photography or image sizing.


    Do I need to have professional photos taken of my space?

    No. We use both professional and amateur photography on our sites, and we will evaluate contest images in the same way we review images for our sites. 


    What is the Design Statement?

    Please prepare a brief statement describing your project and what you were aiming to achieve. The form will accept a maximum of 250 words. Your project will not be judged on your design statement but it can help us understand your project. If you are a contest finalist, your project will be judged by reader vote. Your design statement can help readers understand and vote for your project. 


    How will you choose the winners?

    A guest judge has been assigned to each category, and the guest judge will review projects alongside Remodelista and Gardenista judges to choose up to five finalists in each category. Remodelista and Gardenista judges will review every contest submission. We will announce the finalists on our sites and the eventual winners will be chosen by public voting. There will be 17 winners total: one winner for each of the 10 Remodelista and seven Gardenista categories.


    Who are the judges?

    The competition will be judged by a panel of Remodelista and Gardenista editors, plus one guest judge in each category. 


    When will finalists be announced, and when is the public voting period?

    Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, July 9 and public voting will begin. Voting ends on Thursday, July 31 at midnight PDT.


    If I am a finalist, can I publicize my project and ask people to vote for me?

    Yes! We will share some tips with all finalists about publicizing your project to maximize your votes. We will share a contest logo with you to post on your blog, Facebook page, etc.


    When will winners be announced?

    Winners will be announced on Friday, August 1.


    Even if I don’t win, is there a chance you will publish my project on Remodelista or Gardenista?

    Yes. By sending your photos and project details to us, you give us permission to use them. We may publish some images to publicize the competition, and we may publish your images on our site at a future date, always with proper credit.


    If my entry wins, who will be credited for the design?

    On the entry form, you will be asked to list the contributors to the project. Listed contributors will be named if your project wins. By submitting a project, we assume that you are entitled to do so. See our Official Rules for details.


    How do I enter?

    Enter online here.


    What if my question isn’t answered here?

    If not answered in our Official Rules, please email feedback<at> with "Design Awards" in the subject line. We cannot guarantee a response, especially if you are requesting individual assistance with your submission.


    Official Rules of the Remodelista/Gardenista 2014 Considered Design Awards 


    The Considered Design Awards (“Contest”) starts on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 12:01 am Eastern Time (“ET”) and ends at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, July 31, 2014 (“Contest Period”).  

    All Contest entry submissions should be received between Monday, June 9, 2014 at 12:01 am ET and at 11:59 pm ET on Monday, June 30, 2014 (“Submission Period”)

    Public voting will take place between 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, July 9, 2014 and 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, July 31, 2014 (“Voting Period”).

    ELIGIBILITY: Contest is open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia, Canada (excluding Quebec), and the United Kingdom who are 21 years of age or older at time of entry.  Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives of SAY Media, Inc. (“Sponsor”), its parent, subsidiaries, affiliates and advertising and promotion agencies, and members of their immediate family (spouse and parent, children and siblings and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and persons living in the same household, whether or not related, of such employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, are not eligible to enter or win. Void in Quebec and where prohibited by law. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state provincial and local laws. By participating, each entrant agrees to abide by these Official Rules and decisions of Sponsor and judges, which shall be final and binding in all respects relating to this Contest.

    HOW TO ENTER:  During the Submission Period, you may enter in one or more of the following categories (each, a “Category”):

    For (each as a Professional and Amateur Sub-Category): 

    (1) Best Kitchen Space

    (2) Best Living / Dining Space

    (3) Best Bedroom Space

    (4) Best Office Space

    (5) Best Bath Space

    For (some Categories are open to all, some to Amateurs only, and some to Professionals only): 

    (1) Best Garden (Best overall outdoor garden designed by an Amatuer)

    (2) Best Small Garden (Houseplants, indoor gardens, window boxes, fire escape gardens, container gardens, vertical gardens, etc. from an Amatuer).

    (3) Best Hardscape Project (Stairways, decks and patios, driveways, pathways, fences, swimming pools, garden gates, trellises, etc. Open to everyone)

    (4) Best Edible Garden (Kitchen gardens, vegetable patches, raised beds, outdoor herb gardens, etc. Open to everyone)

    (5) Best Outdoor Living Space (Outdoor sitting rooms and lounge spaces, outdoor kitchens, outdoor dining rooms, outdoor showers and baths, etc. Open to everyone)

    (6) Best Professional Landscape (Best overall outdoor garden or landscape designed by a Professional)

    (7) Best Garden Shed or Outbuilding by a Professional (Garden sheds, storage sheds, barns, garages, carports, greenhouses, pool houses, backyard studios, outhouses, guest houses, etc. Though an outbuilding is typically detached from a main house, it's not required to be detached for this Category.)

    Each Category will have a Professional and Amateur Sub-Category (each, a “Sub-Category”). has two categories open only to Amateurs (Best Garden and Best Small Garden), two Categories open only to Professionals (Best Professional Landscape and Best Garden Shed or Outbuilding), and three Categories that are open to all types of entrants (Best Outdoor Living Space, Best Edible Garden, and Best Hardscape Project). Enter your project into the Professional Sub-Category if:  (a) you are currently employed as a home or garden design professional, or (b) if you received payment for the project you are submitting.  All other projects should be entered into the Amateur Sub-Category. 

    To enter a particular category, visit (as applicable) either or (each a “Website” and collectively, the “Websites”) and (1) follow the directions to upload up to six (6) photos (each a “Photo” and collectively, the “Photos”) of an indoor and/or outdoor space (as applicable) that you designed and/or you own or rent and that reflects the selected Category, and (2) provide all requested information  (including your first and last name, country/state/province/territory of residence, email address, and description of the project).  You will also be required to confirm that you have read, understood and agree to abide by these Official Rules and are older than 21 years old.  For the purposes of this Contest and these Official Rules an “Entry” shall include the “Photo”.  

    Limit one (1) Entry per person/email address for each Category for which you qualify.  Each Entry must feature a different indoor and/or outdoor space (as applicable) in Sponsor’s sole discretion.  


    • Any Photo must be submitted in one of the following formats: JPG or PNG, and cannot exceed 5 MB.  

    • The Photo Entries should only show the space and must not contain any reference to, or the image or likeness of, any identifiable person.

    Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means or by any means which subvert the entry process are void.  Entrant may only use one (1) email account in connection with this Contest. Entries received from any person or email address in excess of this limitation will be void. Entries will not be returned.  

    PROHIBITED CONTENT:  Each Entry may not contain, as determined by the Sponsor, in its sole discretion, any content that:

    • is derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious, professional or age or other protected group or individual(s);

    • is profane or pornographic;

    • contains nudity;

    • is obscene or offensive; endorses any form of hate or hate group;

    • appears to duplicate any other submitted Entries;  

    • defames, misrepresents or contains disparaging remarks about Sponsor, its products or services, any person or any other entity;

    • contains trademarks, logos, or trade dress owned by others, without permission, to the extent permission is necessary;

    • contains copyrighted materials owned by others (such as music, photographs, footage, sculptures, paintings, texts and other works of art or images), without permission, to the extent permission is necessary;

    • contains materials embodying the names, likenesses, voices, or other indicia identifying any person (living or dead), such as license plate numbers, personal names, e-mail addresses or street addresses, including, without limitation, celebrities and/or other public or private figures, living or dead, without permission, to the extent permission is necessary;

    • communicates messages or images inconsistent with Sponsor and/or its reputation; and/or

    • violates any law.

    Entrant represents and warrants that he/she has all necessary rights, title and interest, including copyright, in each Entry, and that each Entry does not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person, living or deceased, or entity.  If an Entry contains any material or elements that are not owned by the entrant, and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, the entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the Entry, any and all releases, permissions and consents necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the Entry by Sponsor in the manner set forth in these Official Rules, including, without limitation, permissions from any person who took the Photo(s) submitted as an Entry. Sponsor reserves the right to request proof of these permissions in a form acceptable to Sponsor from any entrant at any time. Failure to provide such proof may, if requested, render Entry null and void.  By submitting an Entry, entrant warrants and represents that (a) he/she has the right to submit the Photo, (b) he/she consents to the submission and use of the Photo in the Contest and to its use as otherwise set forth herein, and (c) the use of the Photo by Sponsor as contemplated herein will not violate or infringe upon the rights of any third party.

    By submitting an Entry, entrant represents and warrants that the Entry conforms to these Official Rules and understands that Sponsor, in its sole discretion, may disqualify the Entry for any reason, including if it determines, in its sole discretion, that the Entry fails to conform to these Official Rules in any way or otherwise contains unacceptable content as determined by Sponsor, in its sole discretion.

    USE OF PHOTOS:By submitting a Photo, entrant hereby grants to Sponsor, its licensees, successors and assigns a non-exclusive license to use, adapt, edit, modify, reproduce, distribute, display, perform, create derivative works based upon, or otherwise exploit the Photo in any manner or media now known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity for advertising, promotional and other purposes (including, without limitation, displaying the Photo on the Websites and/or Sponsor’s websites and social media sites as part of a library of Entries) and waives all his/her rights, including moral rights, in and to the Photo, without further compensation, notification or permission. Entrant agrees that Released Parties (as defined below) are not responsible for any unauthorized use of Photos by third parties.  Sponsor has no obligation to make use of the rights granted herein and may take down any Photo at any time and for any reason, in its sole discretion.  

    JUDGING:  All eligible Entries received by Sponsor will be judged by a panel of qualified judges based on the following criteria, with each criterion being weighted equally: (a) simplicity of the design, and (b) compatibility with the overall theme and aesthetic of the or website for the applicable Category (“Judging Criteria”), to determine up to five (5) potential finalists in each Category or Sub-Category on each Website, for a total of up to eighty-five (85) potential finalists (up to fifty (50) per and up to thirty-five (35) per (each, a “Finalist”).  The same individual can be selected as a Finalist in more than one Category. In the event of a tie, an additional, “tie-breaking” judge will determine the Finalist(s) based on the Judging Criteria. Sponsor will not reveal the judging scores for any Entry.

    PUBLIC VOTING: Each Finalist Photo will be featured on each Website during the Voting Period. Visitors to the Websites can select their favorite design. Limit one (1) vote per person per IP address and per Category per day during the Voting Period. For the Categories with Sub-Categories, a person can submit one (1) vote each day in each Sub-Category. The Finalist receiving the highest number of valid votes in a Category (or Sub-Category, as applicable) at the end of the Voting Period, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion, will be deemed a potential winner. One (1) potential winner per Category (or Sub-Category) will be determined by public voting, for a total of up to seventeen (17) potential winners. The same individual may be selected as a potential winner for multiple Categories (or Sub-Categories). Votes received from any person/email address in excess of the stated limitation will be void. Votes obtained or suspected to be obtained by any fraudulent or inappropriate means, including, without limitation, trading votes or offering prizes or other inducements to members of the public, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion, will be disqualified and all associated entrants will be void. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the Sponsor has grounds to suspect any entrant or third party of cheating, deception or fraudulent or unsportsman-like conduct of any kind (including, without limitation, manipulating the Contest, choice of prize winner(s) or any Entry) the Sponsor reserves the right (in its sole discretion) to disqualify any entrant, vote or person it reasonably believes to be responsible for, or associated with, such activity. In the event of a tie, a “tie-breaking” judge will determine the winner based on the judging criteria set forth above. Use of script, macro or any automated system to vote or with the intent to impair the integrity of the voting process is prohibited and all such votes will be void. Sponsor reserves the right to not award any or all prizes (except where prohibited) if, in its sole discretion, it does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Entries.

    The odds of being selected as eligible to win will depend on a combination of: (i) the total number of eligible Entries received in each Category (or Sub-Category, as applicable) during the Contest Period and (ii) the total number of eligible “votes” the entrant’s Photo receives from the Voting Period and (iii) the score the Photo receives by the judges in accordance with the Judging Criteria outlined above.

    For the purposes of submitting a vote in this Contest in accordance with these Official Rules, a “day” shall mean  twenty-four (24) hours from the time a participant submits a vote during the Voting Period.

    WINNER NOTIFICATION: Potential winners will be notified by email within three (3) days of selection at the email address provided at time of entry and may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility and a Liability and Publicity Release or for residents of Canada, a Declaration and Release (collectively, the “Release”) (unless prohibited by law), which must be returned within five (5) days of the date appearing on prize notification. Return of prize or prize notification as undeliverable, failure to sign and return requested documentation within the specified time period, the inability of Sponsor to contact a potential winner within a reasonable time period or noncompliance with these Official Rules by any potential winner will result in disqualification and, at Sponsor’s sole discretion, the prize may be awarded to a runner-up (who received the next highest number of valid votes in the same Category during the Voting Period), who will be subject to disqualification in the same manner.

    Prizes: There are a total of seventeen (17) prizes available to be won (one (1) per Category or Sub-Category). Each winner will receive one (1) Jielde Signal Lamp in a color to be determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $500 U.S. Dollars (“USD”) each.  Total ARV of all prizes: $8500 USD. All applicable federal, state, provincial and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winners. Winner may not substitute, assign or transfer prize, but Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to substitute prize with one of comparable or greater monetary value.  All prize details are at Sponsor’s sole discretion.

    RELEASE OF LIABILITY:  By participating, each entrant agrees to release, indemnify, discharge and hold harmless Sponsor and its parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies, and the respective officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents and representatives of the forgoing (collectively, “Released Parties”) from any and all injuries, liability, losses and damages of any kind to persons, including death, or property resulting, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from entrant’s participation in the Contest or any Contest-related activity, the use of entrant’s Entry, the acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any prize and/or Sponsor’s use of the rights granted herein.

    PUBLICITY GRANT: By participating, each entrant agrees to the use by Sponsor and its designees, of his/her name, voice, performance, biographical information, image and/or likeness for advertising, publicity, promotional and other purposes, in any and all media now or hereafter known, worldwide in perpetuity, without compensation (unless prohibited by law) or additional consents from entrant or any third party and without prior notice, approval or inspection, and to execute specific consent to such use if asked to do so.  

    PERSONAL INFORMATION:  Sponsor and its authorized agents will collect, use, and disclose the personal information you provide when you enter the Contest for the purposes of administering the Contest and prize fulfillment. By entering this Contest, you consent to such collection, use, and disclosure of your personal information. Residents of Canada: The Websites may be hosted on servers in the United States, and the personal information you provide may therefore also be subject to the laws of the United States.For further information about Sponsor's privacy practices, please see Sponsor's Privacy Policy at:

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    Dinner on the deck, check. Hammocks ready for duty, check. Herbs in the window box, check. We'll be spending the week living outdoors (is there any other place to be in June)?

    Table of Contents: Outdoor Living ; Gardenista


    Foxglove brick wall Kendra Wilson ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    Above: Foxglove in the garden: Amanda explains why it's essential (and how to grow it) in this week's Field Guide


    Robin Key Landscape Architect Manhattan patio garden bluestone ; Gardenista

    Above: The typical New York City backyard is 36 feet wide and 200 feet deep. That turns out to be plenty of room for a family to live in all summer; we explore Robin Key Landscape Architecture's clever design in downtown Manhattan in this week's Landscape Architect Visit.


    Cafe style outdoor string lights ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Sweet Thing.

    One of Michelle's jobs as a child was to follow her mother through the backyard, slowly unfurling garlands of glowing bulbs for her to wrap around the trunk of the crabapple tree and to drape across the yews. Sounds pretty, doesn't it? We'll reveal our favorite sources for strings of café-style outdoor lights in this week's 10 Easy Pieces.


      Fire escape garden NYC by Erin Boyle ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

    Fire escapes are romantic places. What's the easiest way to turn one into a romantic container garden? Erin explores the options in this week's DIY Project.


    Shipping container summer guest house ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph via Atelierworkshop. 

    Our Outbuilding of the Week is a shipping container turned summer guest quarters: the ultimate holiday house.

    And don't forget to check out Remodelista's Indoor/Outdoor posts, too, this week.


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    "We had this idea of making a green cube in the back of the garden," says San Francisco-based landscape architect Scott Lewis. And as you can see, it was an excellent idea.

    In a small city backyard, Lewis of Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture created a spacious feeling in a space that's barely 25 feet wide by 40 feet long.  The garden, with both shady and sunny micro-climates, is lush and green; perimeter beds grow around the edges of a wedge-shaped bluestone patio. The clients, a family with young children, originally wanted a lawn. But with San Francisco's foggy, cool weather, "a lawn often doesn't work," says Lewis. "The paving accomplished the same goal."

    In a back corner of the property was a shed that had been converted to an artist's studio. To turn it into a green jewel box, Lewis covered it with ivy.

    The project won an American Society of Landscape Architects national Honor Award in 2010. 

    Photography courtesy of Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden ivy cottage

    Above: English ivy is invasive and will destroy wood structures as well as masonry. To keep Hedera helix 'Hahn's Self Branching' in check, Lewis designed a wire frame to hold the ivy about 3 inches away from the face of the building. The frame is made of quarter-inch-thick wire welded wire bars.

    "It's basically a rigid framework, and you can get behind it to trim off any tendrils that escape," says Lewis. "It's in some respects an easier and much less maintenance-intensive solution than a green wall, because you just have to trim the ivy a couple of times a year."

    scott lewis parkside san francisco gardenoverview

    Above: Seen from above, the artist's studio is in a back corner of the property. The bluestone pavers were laid in a running bond pattern and dry set to create a permeable surface.

    The red planter, a concrete pot by artist Mary Collins, holds a lemon tree.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden view from house

    Above: The recently renovated house has new steel sash windows and doors that go up to the ceiling. "We wanted a garden form that would be harmonious with the contemporary style of the windows," says Lewis.

    When you step out onto the wood deck, you enter the garden beneath a canopy of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) trees.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden view from dining room window

    Above: From the dining room, the clients look out onto a woodland. A giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) was placed close to the window to emphasize the feeling of being enveloped by shady woods.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden raised beds and staircase

    Above: On the opposite side of the dining room window (and not visible from indoors) are stairs to the basement. Concrete planters house a collection of shade plants. 

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden solomon's seal

    Above: Shade plants include hellebores (Helleborus niger); violets (Viola odorata 'White Czar'); sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), and white bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa 'Alba').

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden bluestone patio

    Above: The Edwardian style shingle house had been recently renovated to give it a more contemporary profile.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden before

    Above: This "before" shot shows the heavier wood detailing; the deck is the same one that exists now.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden design plan

    Above: The bluestone patio's wedge shape, which is obvious on the site plan, is something you're not really aware of in real life when you are standing in the backyard. The wedge shape makes the space feel wider and naturally extends the indoor living area into the garden.

    The left side has much more shade than the right side, and the patio creates a natural demarcation between the two distinct climates. "We wanted the plantings to be compatible throughout the garden, and the paving pulls it together," says Lewis.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden overview

    Above: The clients requested a palette of serene green and white. "This turned out to be a texture garden," says Lewis.

    scott lewis parkside san francisco garden close

    Above: Surrounding the artist's studio, Lewis planted white dwarf deutzia (Deutzia gracilus 'Nikko'). "It's typically an old-fashioned plant, a deciduous shrub that blooms in late spring and early summer," says Lewis.

    For another of Lewis' San Francisco backyard gardens, see A Jewel Box Townhouse Garden. And for everything you need to know to install a bluestone patio, see Hardscaping 101: Pennsylvania Bluestone.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post published June 15, 2013.

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    Love your outdoor space? Every day, we show you the gardens we love; now it's your turn to share.

    Above: Photograph by Liesa Johannssen for Gardenista.

    We're thrilled to announce that the second annual Gardenista Considered Design Awards is at hand, set to honor the residential gardens and design acumen of our readers—design professionals and novices alike.

    On Monday, June 9, we will announce the contest categories, prizes, and rules, along with a new feature we're thrilled about: a panel of outstanding guest judges, all experts in their garden design-related fields. 

    Our awards program is open to all readers—whether you're an apartment dweller with a small fire escape garden, or a homeowner who's just installed a new tree-lined driveway—and we have separate categories for the work of professional landscape architects and designers. And for those of you who prefer to design indoors, we're launching Remodelista's awards program the same day.

    So dust off your cameras and stay tuned for details coming on Monday, June 9.

    See the rest of architect Barbara Chambers' California garden in Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley

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  • 06/02/14--11:00: Field Guide: Foxglove
  • Foxglove, Digitalis: "The Queen of Camelot"

    Where would a cottage garden be without foxglove? Or the Tuileries, for that matter? And did we mention that foxglove also will spread like a wildflower? Wild foxglove can be found in the shadier parts of fields in all the colors of silk and satin gowns. Varieties of foxglove are in cream, apricot, mauve, beige, sky blue, and just about any color you can imagine. 

    Field Guide Foxglove ; Gardenista

    Above: For more photos, see Foxglove in our Gardenista Gallery.

    Some of the most beautiful foxgloves have flowers that fade, almost like a tie-dye pattern from dark into light. 

    Tuileries foxglove alice Gao ; Gardenista

    Above: The Tuileries at sunset. Photograph by Alice Gao.

    Cheat Sheet

    • Foxglove is toxic to a variety of invasive species, keeping deer and rabbits at bay while welcoming hummingbirds and honeybees.
    • Works wells as: a middle of the border plant that will lend height without blocking the bloomers behind it.
    • Foxglove has an "awkward stage" when blooms fade at the end of the season. For cover, it needs attractive and hardy companions like ferns or begonias.

    Keep It Alive

    • Foxglove likes full to partial sun, except for in very hot climates, where they prefer even partial shade.
    • In the garden: regular watering and plenty of space (about 2 feet per plant) will help foxglove spread.
    • Happiest in growing zones 4-9.

    Tuileries foxglove Alice Gao ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Alice Gao

    They are at once incredibly showy and laid-back, rustic charmers. Or for a more unusual look, Camelot Cream foxglove boasts milky flowers with exotically speckled, violet throats. You have to see it to believe it.

    Foxglove brick wall Kendra Wilson ; Gardenista

    Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

    Depending on the species of foxglove, it can be a perennial or a biennial and re-seeds itself freely and easily in the garden. Extracts from the common species, Digitalis purpurea, have been used for medicinal purposes—to treat cardiac patients—since the 18th century. An overdose is toxic and so is the entire plant: don't eat foxglove flowers, stems, or roots. 

    Read More:

    Field Guide stories Gardenista


    Above: Read about more of our favorite plants in our Field Guide archive. 

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    The typical townhouse backyard in New York City is a rectangle 20 feet wide by 36 feet deep. So, how do you turn a measly box like that into a garden that feels private, lush, and irresistibly usable?

    The goal for a young family in downtown Manhattan was to create a modern outdoor room that works well both as a play space for kids and a party space for adults. The solution, a design by New York-based Robin Key Landscape Architecture, was to use a unified color palette and plants that would provide year-round interest:

    Photographs via Robin Key Landscape Architecture.

    Above: A peaceful color palette included bluestone pavers, zinc on the retaining walls, and a bleached cedar fence.

    Above: Espaliered shrubs turn the fence into a focal point.

    Above: In the back of the lot, where the trees and neighboring buildings bathe the area in shade, the sorts of plants that thrive include Solomon's seal (L), Japanese painted ferns, and a white-blooming ground cover (R).

    Above: The view from the house, which is located in Manhattan's West Village.

    Above: The steps down from the main garden to a lower level create a sense of more space.

    Above: Three floors above is a rooftop terrace where crape myrtle trees in containers are planted with perennial grasses.

    For a Brooklyn backyard, see Steal This Look: Modern Townhouse Garden on a Budget. Read more about Robin Key Landscape Architecture in our directory of architects and designers on Remodelista.

    N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published October 22, 2012.

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    We've been admiring actress Jennifer Carpenter's Laurel Canyon patio for a while now, from the strand lighting casually laced through the overhanging trees to the eclectic mix of classic outdoor furnishings.

    Carpenter collaborated with Ashe + Leandro to transform a 1930s LA hunting lodge into a color-splashed bohemian abode. The garden patio features bright citrus colors, a vintage glider, and shade-loving house plants; a winning combination. Recreate the SoCal vibe with the following elements:

    Above: In LA, you have the advantage of abundant foliage, which creates an automatic screen. Throw mod furniture and bright accents into the mix and you're done.

    Above: The white Acapulco Chair is woven of flexible vinyl cord with a black wire frame; $435 from Innit Designs.

    Above: Designed by Denmark-based company Hay, the Hee Lounge Chair is available in six different colors, including yellow (shown here) for $660 from A + R Store.

    Above: The Table in a Bag Outdoor Commercial 15-Light String Light Set Up is $67.60 for the 48-foot-long strand from Amazon.

    Sunbrella outdoor pillow; Gardenista

    Above: Crate & Barrel's Sunbrella Outdoor Pillow has an acrylic cover that's designed to resist mold, mildew, and fading. Available in paprika (shown) and five other colors; $39.95 for the 20-inch pillow.

    Above: The Civil War Gettysburg Twin Blanket is made of reprocessed wool and nylon, warm enough for outdoor evenings; $115 from Woolrich.

    Outdoor wooden bench; Gardenista

    Above: The basic white Applaro Bench is 46 inches long, with a curved back for comfort. It's made of solid eucalyptus wood with an acrylic finish; $90 from Ikea.

    Above: Potted pathos and mother-in-law tongue plants live in a bright green Bullet Planter. Made from compressed, molded fiberglass atop powder-coated steel, the medium size is $165 from Design Within Reach.

    Above: Ikea's classic Tarnby Rug is made of flat-woven natural fibers; $99 for the 6-by-8-foot size.

    This is an update of a post originally published June 5, 2012.

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    At the risk of stating the obvious, it's hard to find the best paint color for your house's exterior. White is a classic, but choose the wrong shade and you'll end up with a very expensive mistake. 

    We wanted to take the guesswork out of choosing the best white paint for your house, so we asked the architect and designer members of our Professional Directory to share their vetted shades of exterior white paint. They've painted countless houses over the years, and know what works. Here, they generously share their 10 favorites. 

    What's your go-to shade of white paint? Tell us in the comments below.

    Swatch photographs by Katie Newburn for Gardenista. 

    10 Best Architects' Favorite White Exterior Paints l Gardenista

    Above: Top row, left to right: Benjamin Moore Brilliant White; Benjamin Moore Simply White; Dunn-Edwards Crystal Haze; Farrow & Ball All White; Benjamin Moore White Heron. Bottom row: Sherwin-Williams Pure White; Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee; Benjamin Moore Linen White; Porter Paints Atrium White; and Benjamin Moore Cloud White

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Benjamin Moore Brilliant White, Gardenista

    Above: On this house in Connecticut, Brooklyn-based O'Neill Rose Architects used low-luster Benjamin Moore Brilliant White, which principal Devin O'Neill calls "a standard that always looks good." The firm worked with Donald Kaufman on the palette for the house, and chose Donald Kaufman Color DKC-44 in semi-gloss for the porch and ceiling.

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Sherwin Williams Pure White, Gardenista

    Above: Interior designer Meg Joannides of MLK Studio in LA recently completed this Brentwood Park home. On the exterior, she used Sherwin-Williams Pure White, a true white that barely hints toward warm. The charcoal gray shutters are painted in Benjamin Moore Onyx

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee, Gardenista

    Above: Architect Tim Barber chose Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee for this new house in Santa Monica. The color is also a favorite of SF Bay Area–based designer Nicole Hollis.

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Benjamin Moore White Heron, Gardenista

    Above: Donald Billinkoff of Billinkoff Architecture in NYC rarely uses any other white than Benjamin Moore White Heron. Says Billinkoff, "In bright light it is warm and in low light it is bright."

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Benjamin Moore Simply White, Gardenista

    Above: NYC-based 2Michaels worked with midcentury antiques dealer Larry Weinberg in choosing Benjamin Moore Simply White for this outdoor room on Martha's Vineyard. Interior designer Kriste Michelini also recommends this shade.

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Dunn Edwards Crystal Haze, Gardenista

    Above: LA-based DISC Interiors painted the exterior of this Loz Feliz home in Crystal Haze from Dunn-Edwards. This shade has the deepest tan inflection of the paints recommended here. 

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Farrow and Ball All White, Gardenista

    Above: SF Bay Area designer Nicole Hollis chose Farrow & Ball All White as her pick—the whitest white of our recommendations. In this image from Farrow & Ball, the door and metalwork are painted in Pitch Black.

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, PPG Porter Paints Atrium White, Gardenista

    Above: Nashville architect Marcus DiPietro chose PPG Porter Paints Atrium White for the exterior of this modern, Japanese-influenced home in Oak Hill, Tennessee. Next to Linen White (below), Atrium White is the second warmest of the bunch. 

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Gardenista

    Above: NYC-based Steven Harris Architects painted this Upper West Side townhouse in Benjamin Moore's Cloud White. Photograph by Elizabeth Felicella

    Best Exterior White Outdoor House Paints, Benjamin Moore Linen White, Gardenista

    Above: SF Bay Area-based landscape architecture firm Pedersen Associates admires Benjamin Moore's Linen White, shown here on a house in Mill Valley. Says principal Pete Pedersen, "Here in Northern California, the quality of light is such that you need to take a little off of the whites to keep from too much reflective glare." Linen White is the warmest of the 10 whites shown here. 

    Looking for a shade of white to paint an indoor room? See 10 Easy Pieces: Architects' White Paint Picks.

    Gardenista also consulted architects for their picks for exterior shades of gray and black. For more color ideas, visit all of Gardenista's posts on Palettes & Paints.

    This is an update of a post originally published September 11, 2013.

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    Here at Gardenista, we're embracing warm weather by venturing outside with a good book and a cool beverage. We've found a handful of outdoor living rooms that are perfect for that, all from the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory

    Creo Landscape Architects Lake District Residence Outdoor Living | Gardenista

    Above: San Francisco–based Creo Architects made this backyard in San Francisco's Lake District accessible and fun for the client's young children, but kept in mind that adults would also be dining and entertaining here. See the rest of the garden in To Lawn or Not to Lawn? With Kids, That is the Question. Photograph by Kayo Shibano. 

    Judy Kameon Room with a View Outdoor Living | Gardenista

    Above: Los Angeles landscape designer Judy Kameon (owner of the firm Elysian Landscapes and author of Gardens Are For Living) calls this project Room With a View. The lawn is set with large concrete squares that "make a graphic composition and lead to a built-in bench, sited for enjoying a favorite view." Photograph by Erik Otesa. 

    Gunn Architects Outdoor Living SoHo Terrace | Gardenista

    Above: This SoHo terrace was designed by NYC-based Gunn Landscape Architects. The client asked for a green oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle, so the designers sourced furniture made from recycled materials. Photograph courtesy of Gunn Landscape Architects.  

    ACLA Landscape Outdoor Ackley Residence | Gardenista

    Above: The Ackley Residence in Atherton, California, is the work of Andrea Cohan Landscape Architects. The designers installed a long fireplace that "divides the geometries of the house, creating a gracious outdoor dining area." Photograph by Marion Brenner. 

    San Francisco City Garden Outdoor Living Landscape Arterra Architects | Gardenista

    Above: This San Francisco backyard was transformed by Arterra Landscape Architects. The steel balls and soft grass "provide a constantly changing source of light, spherical movement and reflected sky." Photograph by Michele Lee Willson Photography. 

    Blasen Landscapes Stinson Beach | Gardenista

    Above: At the end of a dirt road in the Northern California surfer town Stinson Beach, Blasen Landscape Architecture created an outdoor living room, fire pit included, that welcomes the sea without capitulating to its harsh demands. Photograph by Marion Brenner. 

    See more from the Gardenista + Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory in Architects' Roundup: 10 Garden Stairways and 10 Outdoor Pools from Members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory

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    I speak from experience when I say that if one of your jobs as a child was to follow your mother through the backyard, slowly unfurling garlands of glowing bulbs for her to wrap around the trunk of the crabapple tree and drape across the yews, you have most likely inherited a tendency toward twinkly, golden light. 

    We're now solidly immersed in the festive months, fellow outdoor-string-light addicts. If you haven't gotten to it already, let's commence now with the draping and festooning, so we can move on to the important things: warm evenings, clinking wineglasses, and fireflies at dusk. Here are 10 garlands of outdoor string lights at a variety of prices that can give those fireflies competition:

    pleated indoor outdoor string lights

    Above: An 11-foot-long strand holds 10 lights with unglazed, ultra-thin ceramic shades that give off a translucent glow. Pleated String Lights are suitable for outdoor or indoor use; $224 from Pigeon Toe.

      outdoor string lights from etsy

    Above: A 20-light Hanging String of Light Balls is made of rattan wrapped with cotton. Suitable for both outdoor and indoor use, it's $12.99 from Cottonlight via Etsy.

    white festoon outdoor string of globe lights

     Above: This garland of 20 White Festoon Lights uses low-energy-consuming LED bulbs and is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. The starter kit is £45 from Cox & Cox; extension sets also available.

      Tarrazzo Outdoor String Lights

     Above: A 54-foot-long string of Terrazzo Outdoor Lights holds 24 bulbs. It is $199 from NapaStyle.

      outdoor party globe light string from restoration hardware

    Above: A Party Globe Light String, with choice of two sizes of bulb, is currently on sale for $35 (marked down from $45) at Restoration Hardware. The string comes with either 10 large globes or 20 small.

    outdoor black commercial string lights

    Above: The Table in a Bag Outdoor Commercial 15-Light String Light Set Up is $67.60 for the 48-foot-long strand from Amazon.

    solviden solar powered string lights ikea

     Above: A 12-light chain of solar-powered Solvinden Lights is $12.99 from Ikea. For more, see Solar Landscape Lighting From Ikea.

    mercury glass globe outdoor string lights

    Above: A strand of Mercury Glass Globe String Lights comes in two lengths, with either 10 or 20 lights; the price is $39.50 or $79 at Pottery Barn.

    smith and hawken outdoor string lights

    Above: With 10 filament bulbs per strand, a 10-foot length of Smith & Hawken String Lights is $24.99 from Target.


    vintage style string lights from restoration hardware  

    Above: A 50-foot-long Vintage Light String with 24 bulbs and all-weather wiring is marked down from $195 to $155, at Restoration Hardware.

    For a week's worth of ideas for outdoor parties, see Entertaining: Summer Edition.

    This is an update of a post originally published May 16, 2013.

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  • 06/04/14--09:00: DIY: Giant Porch Swing
  • The only thing that stops me from hanging a huge glider in my front porch is the knowledge that I would turn into one of those crazy porch swing addicts who refuses to do anything except nap, read, and yell at the children to bring more snacks. Perhaps you have more willpower? 

    If so, here's a simple DIY giant porch swing, spotted via Nest Egg, that you can recreate with a few simple materials: wood, rope, hooks, cushions, and (optional) a beautiful view. For step-by-step instructions, go to Nest Egg.

    Photographs via Nest Egg.

    diy giant porch swing gardenista

    Above: Nashville-based designer Rachel Halvorson designed this big swing to be suspended beneath the overhang of a barn. To make it, start by building a wooden platform, roughly 6 feet by 4 feet, and add railings for the back and sides. See Nest Egg for details.

    diy giant porch swing on barn gardenista

    Above: To hang the swing, Halvorson used sturdy gymnastic climbing rope. A 30-foot length of 1.5-inch-thick Manila Climbing Rope With Eyelet End is $115.95 from CFFIT. 

    porch swing diy

    Above: Ms. Halvorson had custom cushions made. I recently ordered custom cushions for my own outdoor furniture from Cushion Source. I was pleased with the service, price, and speedy delivery. The site offers 884 different fabrics, seat cushions in three different thicknesses, and all kinds of custom shapes. For more information, see Cushion Source.

    For more addictive porch swings, see 5 Favorites: Porch Swing Roundup.

    This is an update of a post originally published June 20, 2013.

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    Fire escapes are romantic places; just ask Tony and Maria. Add a splash of greenery in the form of potted plants, and an eyesore becomes an urban oasis. But if you live in New York City, remember that the law requires a fire escape be kept clear, in case you need it to escape an actual fire (or for a West Side Story-style balcony scene).

    Photographs by Erin Boyle.

    Walk through nearly any New York City neighborhood in the summertime and you'll see fire escapes draped in plants, despite a law prohibiting fire-escape gardens. Whenever my sister and I visit the Union Square Farmers' Market, we leave with some hardy finds for her fifth-floor fire escape. I don't advocate that you follow suit, but I can offer some advice for a windowsill garden that can be just as lovely, as well as perfectly legal.

    I love my wooden window box, but when you're housing pots in a place where high winds (or the threat of fines) could mean that you'll sometimes need to bring your plants inside, it's better to use smaller containers that are easier to maneuver. A few pots can be more easily incorporated into your apartment décor than a bulky window box. Just make sure that the pots you use are heavy enough—or weighted with stones—so they don't blow away.

    Think carefully about the amount of sun that your particular window gets. My sister lives on the top floor of her building and has direct sunlight on her plants for much of the day. Without taller buildings around to provide shade, she needs plants that thrive in bright sunshine. Ageratum, above, and sweet alyssum both do well in full sun.

    Available at local nurseries or online, Ageratum Blue Horizon is $7.95 per plant from White Flower Farm. A packet of Sweet Alyssum Seeds is on sale for $1.95 from Eden Bros.

    I like to do my potting on the apartment floor covered in newspaper, but my sister prefers the easy cleanup of potting directly in the kitchen sink. In either scenario, make sure that you're working with well-hydrated soil. Plants on windowsills need a lot more water than you might expect. Get in the habit of checking your soil every morning. If it feels dry, give it a good soak. Even though windowsill plants tend to dry out quickly, it's still important that your pots have proper drainage holes to prevent rot.

    In the past, my sister has also kept pots of herbs on her fire escape. If you're growing edibles, make sure that they get plenty of fresh water and that they're not placed directly below a neighbor's air conditioner drip or other source of possible contamination. Herbs grow quickly, so resist the temptation to cram lots of seedlings into small containers.

    A six-pack of Essential Kitchen Garden Herbs (rosemary, garlic chives, thyme, basil, sage, and oregano) is $29.95 from Williams-Sonoma Agrarian.

    Finally, If you amend your soil with fertilizer, make sure you're using something organic, like the Plant-tone that I add to my window box.

    For more container plant ideas, see DIY: A Window Box Grows in Brooklyn.

    This is an update of a post originally published April 4, 2013.

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    When we surveyed members of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory for their favored roofing material, we were surprised by the answers. Did the recommendations vary? NO. Were we surprised? YES. Hands down, the "go to" roofing material was standing seam metal. 

    Standing Seam Metal Roof, Gardenista

    Above: A white barn-style residence in Pennsylvania by Lee Calisti Architecture + Design features a standing seam metal roof. Photograph by Skysight Photography via ATAS International, the metal roofing manufacturer used for the project.

    What is Standing Seam Metal?

    Standing seam metal roofs are made of metal panels that run from the top of the roof to the eaves. Each panel has a high lip or rib on each side. The ribs overlap and fit together, concealing the fasteners and creating raised seams that run from top to bottom. 

    Standing seam metal roofs aren't new: This style of metal roofing was used as early as the mid 1700s. It became more prevalent in the mid 1800s when copper was more readily available. Today, the most common metals used are steel, aluminum, and copper—which is the most expensive. 

    The Benefits:

    • A standing seam metal roof is energy-efficient, reducing home energy costs—especially in hot climates.
    • It is sustainable. Most metal roofing contains a significant amount of recycled content, and it is 100 percent recyclable at the end of its house-topping life.
    • It is long-lasting and durable, not to mention fire- and wind-resistant. While the upfront cost may be higher than composite shingles, metal roofing can last three times longer, maybe more. Most of these roofs carry a 30- to 50-year warranty.
    • It is lightweight, reducing load-bearing structural costs. A metal roof can often be installed directly over an existing roof, eliminating the expense and waste of removal and disposal. Consult with an installer for your specific case.
    • It looks great and is equally suited to barn-style, modern and traditional homes. 

    Here's what the architects had to say:

    Andrew Borges Guesthouse Seamed Metal Roof, Gardenista

    Above: For a cabin in Hansville, Washington, Rohleder Borges Architecture installed a simple gutter-less standing seam roof made of galvanized metal. Rainwater runs down to a bed of river rock below. Image by Cynthia Grabau Photography.

    "Metal roofs are always a great, low-maintenance high-aesthetic option," says architect Andrew Borges. "We love metal for its crisp aesthetic and long-lasting functionality. Metal roofing has been around for quite some time and hasn’t really changed much in its application. The under-layers have gotten more advanced, but in the end the metal itself is there for the ages . . . and is recyclable when it reaches the end of its useful life." 

    James Dixon Architect Dutch Colonial Metal Roof, Gardenista  

    Above: An historic Dutch Colonial house in Ghent, New York, has an antique standing seam metal roof in black. James Dixon Architect matched the roofing material on the addition the firm designed (shown at right).

    James Dixon likes the fact that standing seam metal roof panels are available in many different finishes. "Our favorites are galvanized aluminum and, when the budget allows, copper," says Dixon. "Not only do metal roofs look great, but they are extremely durable—many old barns throughout the Northeast have them. Because of its durability, metal roofs make a great 'green' choice. Shake roofs are lovely, but the material that's available today only lasts about ten years or so, compared to thirty-plus for metal."

    James Dixon Architect Metal Porch Roof, Gardenista  

    Above: Metal roofing can be partnered with an existing shake or composite roof. In this example, the porch's galvanized aluminum standing seam metal roof was installed below the house's shingled roof. James Dixon considers standing seam metal to be especially well suited for porches, since these often have flatter pitches: "The snow just slides right off." 

    Albertsson & Hansen Architecture Cabin, Gardenista

    Above: Todd Hansen of Albertsson & Hansen in Minneapolis uses a variety of materials for roofing, including Galvalume or Bonderized standing seam metal, as shown in this cabin on Wisconsin's Cable Lake. The firm also combines asphalt and metal roofing, using metal for low-pitched roofs.

    In areas where heat is a concern, such as in California wine country, seamed metal roofing is the first choice for architect Amy Alper. The metal reflects sunlight, so the roof absorbs less heat and less energy is needed to cool the house's interior. 

    Lake Flato Pine Ridge Cabin, Gardenista  

    Above: San Antonio-based Lake Flato Architects often uses standing seam metal roofs (as pictured in this Pine Ridge cabin) because they're long-lasting, require little maintenance, and come in a wide range of materials, such as copper, weathered steel, and zinc. Image by Paul Hester.

    Lake Flato Hillside House, Gardenista  

    Above: The roof on this Austin hillside house by Lake Flato Architects is made of a material called "paint grip" steel. Image by Aaron Leitz.

    "We often work in mild climates, and we love the look of uncoated paint grip steel," says Lake Flato architect Rebecca Bruce. "It's steel that has been dipped in a phosphate bath to make it ready for painting. It has a great matte finish that's similar to weathered zinc, but it's much less costly."

    Suyama Peterson Deguchi Architects America's Camp, Gardenista

    Above: Seattle-based architects Suyama Peterson Deguchi topped this San Juan Island retreat with a vaulted zinc standing seam roof shell. Image by Paul Warchol.

    Ric Peterson of Suyama Peterson Deguchi favors zinc for a standing seam metal roof. "Zinc is possibly a lifetime solution if it's correctly detailed and installed," he says. John Dutton, of the L.A. firm Dutton Architects, agrees. "The king of roofs for us is Rheinzinc," he says, adding, "A nice thing about a metal roof is you can do an integrated gutter."

    Instead of metal, are you considering the switch to a green roof? See our Hardscaping 101: Green Roofs.  

    This is an update of a post originally published November 5th, 2013.

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    Leaf prints are one of the easiest DIY projects you can do—and appeal to both kids and adults. The final product is brilliant, either as wrapping paper or to cover kids' schoolbooks, and we like to frame single leaf prints to create impromptu art.

    While we were leaf-pressing away the other day, we were thinking about more uses for the final product: next time, we'll press leaves onto a long strip of butcher paper to make a table runner for a dinner party.

    Gardenista features editor Meredith Swinehart shows us just how easy it is to make leaf prints:

    Leaf Prints

    • Fresh leaves
    • Paper
    • Paint
    • Paint tray
    • Paper towels

    1. Collect leaves from the garden. The thinnest leaves work the best; their veins will show through when pressed onto paper. Remove any obvious dirt or debris from the leaves.

    2. Dip the backside of a leaf into a small pool of paint in the tray. Blot off excess paint on a thin stack of paper towels. 

    3. Press the painted leaf onto a piece of paper. (Be sure to use paper that is thick enough to hold the paint. I used butcher paper.) Set it down and gently press the tips and base of the leaf onto the paper, to ensure you'll have a print of the entire leaf. 

    4. Repeat the process to make as many prints as you'd like. You'll want to swap leaves every so often, after your leaf becomes heavy with paint. You'll also want to swap in a new stack of paper towels to absorb the excess paint. 

    5. Let the leaf-printed paper dry completely. 


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    Sometimes when I'm awake in the middle of the night, I obsess about the zillions of shipping containers in the world. (That is, when I am not obsessing over bills, tomorrow's commute, or why I am not asleep.) What happens to all those corrugated metal boxes in the end? Is there some graveyard where obsolete cargo containers go to be piled into a sad, rusty mountain of metal?

    Maybe I should take a sleeping pill (I think, at 3 a.m.). Or get up and wander around Pinterest until I feel sleepy, or—

    Well, will you look at this pin? A New Zealand architecture firm called Atelierworkshop has transformed a shipping container into a holiday house—or a "bach." (That's what they call a vacation cabin in New Zealand, by the way; it's short for "bachelor pad.") It has clever bunk beds, a tiny kitchenette, even a foldout terrace.

    Photographs via Atelierworkshop.

    portable vacation house in a shipping container; Gardenista

    Above: This particular holiday house—a prototype for a design I'd very much like to see in mass production—is a "port-a-bach," because it doesn't have a permanent foundation. Move it to a nice sunny spot with a view.

    portable vacation home in a shipping container; new zealand; Gardenista

    Above: For open-air sleeping, the bunks fold out like Murphy beds.

    shipping container converted to summer house; Gardenista

    Above: In fact, the whole port-a-bach folds open, Barbie-Dream-House style, to reveal a patio.

    Interior of shipping container summer house; Gardenista

    Above: Indoors, the shipping container has a built-in wood-paneled kitchenette and a shower heated by solar power.

    Shower stall in shipping container summer house; Gardenista

    Above: Louvered doors and a retractable awning aid ventilation.

    View through window of shipping container converted to summer house; Gardenista

    Above: Clever storage shelves don't obstruct the view.

    Shipping container converted to summer house; Gardenista

    Above: Want, want, want.

    I used to think shipping-container cabins sounded like a crazy idea. But now I'm a convert. For another of my favorite shipping-container campsites, see Little Cargo Container in the Big Woods.

    This is an update of a post originally published April 29, 2013.

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    Usually secrets don't stay secret for very long. That's why I was genuinely worried that my "secret garden" in central London would be gone, ruined, or not secret any more, when I went back after an absence of nine years.

    Early one evening, I headed for the Inner Circle in Regent's Park, took a right at the Rose Garden, and followed the road as it curved past the Park Office. And there it was, an alley with one gate open and one gate closed. At the end of this wisteria-clad tunnel, my secret garden was looking more ravishing than ever.

    Photographs by Kendra Wilson.

    Villa at Regent's Park secret garden, London; Gardenista

    Above: Like a country house park in the middle of town, the garden is overlooked by a large Regency villa. A line of potted shrubs separates the garden from the private house, which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

    Villa in secret garden in middle of Regent's Park London; Gardenista

    Above: Our business, however, is the garden, which has been open to the public since 1928. For 40 years before that it was a designed garden, intended by its owner, the Marquess of Bute, as a place for "quiet contemplation." Part of its secret charm may lie in the fact that it was a neglected corner for many years after becoming public. 

    Fountain in secret garden in regent's park london; Gardenista

    Above: It is still a place of quiet contemplation, partly because no one is around. It is also a glamorous garden, and the attention lavished on it by invisible gardeners (do they work through the night?) sets it apart from the other Royal Parks.

    Espaliered tree in secret garden in regent's park london; Gardenista

    Above: Pleached limes are used to enclose two smaller, even quieter gardens, satellites to the main pond area.

    Regent's Park is a highly cultivated public playground, with impressive floral displays. In contrast, the St. John's Lodge Garden (for this is the name of my secret garden) is more personal than civic. The soil is richer and darker, and the plantings are not intended to withstand the hurly-burly of the general public.

    Covered seat at the secret garden, Regent's Park. Gardenista

    Above: A rustic arbor among the pleaching. Some very informal cow parsley stands waist high.

    Tulips and urn at the secret garden, Regent's Park. Gardenista

    Above: Tulips and a giant urn. Similar urns are much in evidence around the avenues of Regent's Park, but here in the secret garden they are put together in a different way.

    Cardoons in the secret garden, Regent's Park. Gardenista

    Above: Cardoons and delphiniums prepare to surge outward and upward in the formal borders. 

    Lupines and woven willow support at the secret garden, Regent's Park. Gardenista

    Above: The lupines are also ready to go. Woven willow structures, long associated with yurts and festivals, are now part of the vernacular of grand gardens. They can also be spotted in the highly formalized front gardens along Peto Place, one of the Regency terraces designed by John Nash in the early 1800s, adjacent to Regent's Park.

    Hostas and white violets at secret garden, Regent's Park. Gardenista

    Above: White violets, hostas, and euphorbia enjoy the moisture of an English dusk.

    Steps leading to sunken garden at St John's Lodge Garden. Gardenista

    Above: Free glamor for those who seek it, in London NW1.

    For more of London's little-known gems, see An Under-the-Radar Food Market, Beneath London's Railway Arches.

    This is an update of a post originally published May 15, 2013.


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