Cottage Makeover: Progress in the Garden

Outside in the garden, things are really starting to come together!

The front gate has been installed and the brick pillars painted to match the rest of the house. I am so excited about the gate. I designed it to match the railing on the rear steps, and it is one of my favorite exterior elements!

If you remember, I previously mentioned that some dramatic focal points were going in the center of the small parterre gardens on either side of the front door. Well...

Here they are. A pair of giant urns now flanks the front entry. They are a sleek, updated twist on a very classical design which makes them perfect for my home's blend of contemporary and traditional styles. And, at 4.5 feet tall, they definitely make a statement! My plan is to plant them with eyecatching displays that will change seasonally. For their first planting, shown here, we used purple cordyline, scaevola and asparagus fern.

Flowering shrubs and other plants are starting to go in, as well, along with several benches which have been placed throughout the garden.

The finishing touches of the landscape lighting are also underway. I am using a combination of full- and low-voltage systems, as well as both up- and down-lighting applications to achieve the various effects I want.

The hollies have now been planted and improve the feeling of the garden immensely. The space between the hedge and the street will become a gravel parking area for guests.

And from within the garden, they offer a real sense of intimacy and (eventually) total privacy. This space on the side of the house will become a hallway-like perennial garden, billowing with blossoms.

At the end of the perennial pathway, another garden space is being created with more boxwood hedging and is anchored by four flowering crabapple trees. This room will eventually have a fountain as a central focal point.

The privacy fence that will surround one side and the back of the property is also being installed and stained to match the house. Like the hedges found elsewhere in the garden, this fence will help define the various living spaces I am creating outside and will offer some privacy. I chose to stain the fence the same color as the house to create a cohesive look and to elevate the fence a little bit in terms of sophistication.

Not to be forgotten, the Cabana/Garden Room has received a new carpet of green! As a whimsical touch, I decided to use some nice artificial turf that was left over from a rooftop installation to carpet this tiny outdoor retreat. It adds a lot of color, feels great underfoot and is virtually indestructible, so dirt, grime and spills are no worry.

Last month, I revealed a few of the major pieces of furniture that will anchor the main living and dining rooms. Here are a few more key pieces from the den and bedroom I would like to share.

Here is the sofa that will go in the den. It is made by Lee Industries and is another slipcovered outdoor piece, similar to the loveseat in the living room. It is full size, which will give me plenty of room for stretching out during movies, and is comfy, casual and inviting. The slip cover is made of an outdoor fabric that has the look of a raw silk or burlap in a really nice mushroom color that is between gray and brown. It is perfect for tying together the 'Dorian Gray' painted walls with the antique barn wood accent wall.

Also in the den is perhaps my favorite piece of furniture. This chair, by Sutherland, is handcarved from teak in the Louis XVI style and upholstered in outdoor fabric...in my case a boat vinyl that looks like distressed leather. For my chair I chose an optional upholstered back, as well, to make it more comfortable and 'indoorsy'. Along with a matching ottoman, it will be the perfect place for enjoying morning coffee or just relaxing in the den.

Another piece made of teak that will go in the den is this outdoor credenza by Brown Jordan. It has a great, mid-century look and will provide storage, as well as a surface for displaying books and curiosities.

As you might imagine, there is not a lot of outdoor bedroom furniture to be found, so this room has definitely been the most challenging! Consequently, what I decided for the bedroom is that all the fabrics (including drapes and custom bedding) would be outdoor and that I would design and build a prototype outdoor armoire to house the television. The result of that endeavor is pictured above. The legs are powder-coated steel, and the cabinet is ply-wood painted white with outdoor paint and clad in Ipe, an exotic hardwood similar to teak that is often used in decking and other outdoor applications. The doors, instead of swinging, slide open along oversized tracks originally meant to serve as drawer glides.

Although this piece would need a few modifications if it were truly going to be fully exposed outside, it is a solid prototype, and I am pleased with the results. The design came about as a hybrid of two projects we recently completed (pictured below). Both spaces required many custom-designed elements, including television enclosures. For one, we designed a large piece of artwork (by Fayetteville photographer Jake Aslin) that slides open to reveal the television. The artwork is printed on aluminum to withstand the elements. For the other project, we designed a multipurpose structure that serves as buffet, room divider and television cabinet. It is clad in the same Ipe decking as my armoire, but in this case, the wood is backed with semi-translucent plexiglass and is lit from within to provide a dramatic effect for nighttime gatherings.

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