Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Favorite Things: Grasses

Over the last few years, grasses have started to appear in urban landscaping, throughout cities and in suburban gardens. Grasses move and sway in the wind and when planted together they make a gentle relaxing rustling sound.

A beautiful country setting is where True Grasses grow wild.

They often grow along farm fences and in marshy areas we can find Cattails.

New trends in landscaping have brought a piece of the country to cities and suburbs and are called Ornamental Grasses.

This condo complex uses Purple Fountaingrass in their landscaping.

Many shopping centres have planted grasses around medians like this Japanese Silver Grass.

Bronze New Zealand Hair Sedge planted on either side of this bench softens the weight and hard lines of the cement.

By the side of the road, I found Feather Reedgrass.

Timothy Grass is easy to find growing wild around cities.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Color for curb appeal

A friend of mine purchased this 1912 home outside of Montreal a few months ago. He loved its Edwardian charm and beautiful landscaping but the white-on-white exterior didn't allow the home's best features to stand out.

Many friends and family had suggestions of what color to paint the home but I wanted to show him some options in photoshop before he started tackling the job.

The color schemes I chose are respectful of the home's vintage without specifically being heritage paint colors.

The red door is what I wanted to feature in this color scheme and I chose  Benjamin Moore RASPBERRY TRUFFLE and BARREN PLAIN as the background.

This dark color scheme was one my friend had suggested from the start that he wanted to see a dark grey, this is Benjamin Moore NIGHTFALL and I paired it with a light blueish-grey for the door called SMOKE.

This color scheme features a mossy green Benjamin Moore GRAY HORSE with a dark slate green DARK PEWTER.

Which color scheme do you like best?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Garden Path

Welcome to Tara MacWhirter's beautiful five acre homestead located just outside  the town of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. It is here that Tara began Garden Path Homemade Soaps and lives with her husband and two teenage sons.

When I heard that my cousin Tara and her family bought a new home several years ago I was really excited for them. The property was a few minutes drive from her parents farm where she grew up and it was an area that she had always wanted to return to. It's previous owners were avid gardeners, and although Tara and her husband enjoyed gardening, they knew that maintaining this property would be a challenge to take on.

Over the years the gardens took well to their new owners and when Tara's hobby of soap making became a business, she began adding more plants and flowers. Many are used in the soaps such as calendula, chamomile and hopefully by next summer the newly planted lavender will be thriving.

Along with many perennials, the property also has a small apple orchard with seven varieties of trees. There are always more apples than the family can use so I brought some home and made an apple crisp.

Giant sunflowers are a dramatic feature in the garden and every year they thrive here lining the length of one of the barns.

There are so many picturesque spots on this property, a dream for a photography enthusiast like myself. This is the pond at the back of the land, there is a little foot bridge across it and a bench under the willow tree to take everything in.

Aside from the beautiful gardens, the family also has four bee hives. Tara's in-laws kept bees for many years and now her boys have been enjoying carrying on the tradition.

Many creatures call this home, but the monarch butterfly plays a special role. They are raised here and released, the property has been designated a monarch waystation by monarchwatch. This is why Garden Path Handmade Soaps uses this as their logo.

Tara has dozens of varieties of soaps from sweet grass to vanilla, and there are several bars for specific skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. There are even soaps that use local products such as Beau's All Natural Beer and the Vankleek Hill Vineyard.

Not only are there handmade soaps, there are also other products such as laundry soap, bug sprays, facial cleansers and more! Fans of Garden Path can now purchase their favorite products at the new retail shop on the property, which had been dream of Tara's for several years. I think it's pretty obvious that huge smiles run in the family.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to Blogging

After a year hiatus, I am back to blogging!

What have I been up to? Well aside from being an interior decorator, illustrator and designer, I have now become a real estate broker!

Many factors led me to pursue real estate but one of them was this book. "How to buy or build a home of your own", published in 1947. I found it amongst the many old books that line the bookshelf at  our family cottage. This book was written in post-war time and enjoying home life had become a priority again as the soldiers returned home to their families. A housing boom would start in many North-American cities along with my own, Montreal. 

This book documents how to buy a home, it has extensive home plans to build from scratch but it also discusses gardening, landscaping, decorating and organizing the home. I really enjoyed seeing all of these topics in one book about making a home. It was a different time back then, people weren't trying to find happiness by accumulating material things like we do today. Home, family, and simple values were something to be proud of.

With this in mind I chose to approach real estate as a lifestyle, as homemaking, as gardening, as decorating, and enjoying the family nest however big or small!

Throughout my blog posts I will feature lifestyle stories, decorating, diy projects, green home ideas and more...stay tuned!