Happy Summer Everybody!  I took a mini-hiatus from my social media responsibilities…..I hope you’ll forgive my short absence.  I’ve been out and about looking for new inspiration for client projects and custom furniture designs.  And now, I am in the throes of new bathrooms and kitchens amongst other refreshers and remodels.  I’m having lots of fun!  Curiously, one question I get asked so often from clients is “will this _____ be in style in ___many years?”

Avocado-green-appliancesLet’s chat for a moment about what style really means and its significance.  Perfect example: the color avocado….people say it was “in style” in the 70’s and “recently” made a comeback to be found in homes, furnishings and fabrics.  Let me make a very bold political statement here: if you like the color avocado, then you should design with avocado.
KachinaInterior4The Southwestern style with its white washed furniture, peach and sea foam green tones complete with dead animal skulls was all the rage in the 80’s.  If you love Navajo rugs and painted sunsets, then we will find a way to incorporate those elements into your environment.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.54.57 PMToday, industrial design is big in residential and commercial interiors.  You’ll find exposed brick, lots of concrete, steel beams and open ducting, and fantastic light fittings.  If you like your Edison bulbs exposed, then we will find a way to show them off!  Plain and simple!
People…style is what you like, not what others tell you works  Now, if you doubt your style or don’t believe you have any at all (and that is common enough) then that’s a horse of another color.  That’s why you consult a professional like me to advise and guide you. Interior design is about building a space that creates your desired set of emotions.  Be inspired by places you’ve been, people you’ve met and objects you love.  We define who we are in many ways and one of them is by the fabulous way we each contribute to the living environment we inhabit.  We don’t just have to stay within the confines of someone else’s box of what is “in style.”  To this day, I’ve always found a way to incorporate my client’s taste and passion for a fabric, piece of furniture or other object even when I don’t love it in the grand scheme.  At the end of the day, my clients live and work in their spaces after I go home at night.

So I say, fly your flag and don’t be bound by what’s in style and what’s not.  If you loved oil rubbed bronze and your neighbor, co-worker or friend tells you stain nickel is really what’s going on, you stick to your guns on the metal of your choice.  That’s why I define my design style when asked as eclectic because I love to incorporate so many styles without rules. And might I add for all you avocado lovers out there, go any week of the year to your local flea market and guess what you’ll see everywhere?
A V O C A D O! 
Don’t forget to bring your weighted change purse so you can afford to pay for it too!

Spruce Up for Summer

Summer is just about here…the weather is slowly heating up, the kids are out of school and the traffic…well…in LA, there is always traffic!  Just like the notion of decorating for fall holidays or spring cleaning, summertime is a terrific opportunity for refreshing your home, garden and office with some new pieces that reflects this relaxed time of the year. You don’t have to spend a fortune to switch up your space.  Here are E I G H T (8) ideas to give you some inspiration for a season of fun, frolic and enjoyment for those long summer days and nights!


Orange is a fabulous color to add to your scheme in a kitchen or communal space.  I love to mix it with chocolate brown, navy or icy blue, red or pink.  If you have a neutral color couch or chair, these could be a great pop.  If they are made with indoor/outdoor fabric like Sunbrella, throw them on your favorite Adirondack chair on the deck or grass.

image006Speaking of long summer nights, why not add a glow to your deck, patio or estate with some unusual rattan ball string lights?  You can wrap them around your umbrella, string them through your ficus trees or tuck them under the eaves on your home.  Whatever way you use them you’ll love the added light and the shadows they create against any surface.  Why should they only be for a special event?  I keep them up year round!

Ever wonder what to do with glass jars from jam, mustard or Tequila?  Reuse, repurpose and recycle!  I love the idea of taking Kerr canning jars or something like the ones to the left and applying summer color paint and a sealer.  Voila…you have great vases for cut flowers from your garden or a friendly neighbor’s discards!  You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to create these great pieces…really!  Contact me and I’ll tell you how!

PICTURES….when is the last time you downloaded a photo off your camera or iPad and printed it out?  Most people don’t keep physical photo albums anymore but have them digitally on their hand held devices or computer.  I still love to walk into someone’s home or office and glance at their collection of memories whether it is on a wall, a desk or any other surface.  Aaron Bros is having their One Cent frame sale this week…..now is a perfect time to refresh or update photos of your favorite people, vacation or pet.  If framed pictures aren’t your thing, a carosel that holds photos, postcards or other pieces of ephemera is a fantastic way to display what makes you smile!

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Plates are something that I love……..I collect sets of them and nothing speaks more to me than a fabulous John Derian plate!  I’ve been doing decoupage myself for so many years but master of all beautiful things in this art form is John Derian (johnderian.com). Drink a few less lattes for a month and treat yourself to one of his pieces.  It will look stunning on a bookshelf, table top or mantel, not to mention bedside, desk or kitchen counter.  While he is my all-time favorite artist of this genre, there are many other people that do beautiful work as well.  If you want to run the DIY route, I can help you there too.  Just reach out and I’ll gladly point you in that direction.

Curb appeal is an important factor in home appreciation whether you want someone else to love it or it’s for your own enjoyment.  A great way to add something different to the front of your home is your street address numbers.  There are many clever ways to make this simple change but here are just a few!

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I don’t know about you but my hands are always dry.  I touch so many surfaces each day and wash them frequently so I am always looking for something to soothe and moisturize them after each wash.  Rubbing oil on them is great but then I’m greasy for a spell…that’s not a winning solution.  So, I have found a few terrific creams and lotions which I apply generously all the time!  Place a great looking duo like one of these next to your kitchen sink and your counter will be happy and so will your hands!

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image051Last, but certainly not least, some eye candy.  No, I’m not speaking of a full size poster of your favorite movie star.  I mean something that speaks to you and creates an emotional response.  Art comes in many forms and is available at all budget levels. So what if you can’t afford a Monet, Picasso or Agam? Seek out one of the many talented artists that create beautiful work in many styles.  You can purchase a small 8 x 10” print to a 30 x 40” unframed canvas.  Why not look at abstracts, pen & ink, acrylic landscapes, black & white photography, water colors & more.  I love supporting the community of talented folks on Etsy (etsy.com) and have been quite successful in finding striking pieces for our home, my office and that of my clients and friends.

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You can follow me on Pinterest anytime to get inspiration of beautiful things and ways to rethink your space.  Of course, I am happy to help you with a few hours of refreshing to find ways to use what you have and maybe rethink something old into something new again.

Happy beginning of summer to all!



Hardware…does it sound like one of the easiest decisions to make when you’re completing a remodel in your kitchen or bathroom?  Maybe you just want to do a small update or refresh so you exchange the knobs and pulls on cabinetry or furniture?  How about door knobs, locks and key sets?  I haven’t yet mentioned switch plate covers, drapery hardware, shelving brackets….is your head hurting yet?  There are SO MANY choices on the market now and it can feel overwhelming for many of my clients.  Have no fear………..while it isn’t brain surgery or as crucial as selecting a spouse, it is an important decision and one that you want to consider well in the process.  The fact of the matter is I love hardware!  It’s one of the most enjoyable items to plan and select ..…well along with paint color, wood finishes, window treatments, fabrics, carpets, architectural details, garden beds…OK…so I love it all…what can I say!

In terms of metal applications, I’m finding that the most popular finishes today seem to be forged bronze, chrome and satin nickel.  There are also glass knobs and handles, one-of-a-kind and novelty options as well as oversized pieces which my clients are really enjoying too.

Drawers, pulls and knobs are particularly fun these days because of all the options.  Your hands touch them each day…maybe more than other surfaces in your home so getting the right look and feel is key to completing the appearance and functionality of a particular space or piece of furniture.  As I always say, the secret to a fabulous design combination is all in the detail and this is one facet of a project big or small that is a finer aspect not to be dismissed.

So, as there are far too many options for me to list here, let’s begin with a few types.  Drop handles, bars, back plates and more…so many to cover but today we’ll look at bin pulls, glass knobs and novelty options. 


Bin Pulls
This type of pull is from the late 1800s typically found in Shaker style homes.  They tend to have a clean line, minimalist look…very Restoration Hardware-esque.  I think they can have a vintage feel too with their upside –down cup shape.  They generally come in most of the metal options: forged bronze (below left), satin nickel (below right) as well as chrome and brass.  The ornate bin pull to the right would probably be used in a restoration project of a home from the Arts and Craft period of the early 20th century.

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Glass Knobs
Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 1.42.03 PMThere once was a time around the Depression Era when multi-faceted glass doorknobs and draw pulls with mirrored star-burst centers were standard issue in new homes as they were affordable. Today, they are mined like diamonds at salvage yards and flea markets. Their enduring craftsmanship and design of older pieces as well as their ability to work with most modern locksets if they are door knobs have really become a highly sought after commodity for homeowners all over.  The types that are sold less expensively are not made as well as the old days especially if they are constructed of plastic or an inexpensive version of alloy metal.  If they are new, just look them over first to make sure they are solid and not too lightweight with no rough or protruding parts. I have to hand it to Anthropologie…I think they have done a great job in sourcing well-made knobs in this genre that have a great aesthetic.  Here are some of my faves that include mercury glass as well.

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Novelty Knobs
This option is good for a traditional, contemporary or modern space.  They can also work wonders for a stand-alone piece of furniture or cabinetry that lacks personality or is plain and simple.  They definitely make a statement but take caution when you grip some of them, especially if they have irregular edges.  Don’t shy away from them though……they can lend just enough drama to a common area that needs to scream out a bit!  Remember, nothing too kitschy or over the top…less is more on this option.  I must admit…I have found myself drawn more recently to some of these knobs over standard issue pulls and bars.  Some are absolutely stunning and are on my list of beautiful objects these days.

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This one is mother of pearl………LOVE IT! I’ve used it in three very different applications both at my home and for clients.  It looks different and amazing in each place.

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Another time, we will talk about curtain and drapery hardware, hooks and racks, shelving brackets and switch plate covers….all details that can make or break a completion of a room. Send us pictures of your favorite pieces of hardware when you have a moment………..we love to collect photos of beautiful accents.




A Place To Sit Down

preview_1953-m91I love chairs….all kinds of chairs.  Big, overstuffed chubby chairs that can fit two people…well maybe before a big dinner!  How about stand-alone side chairs that look like they used to be part of a big family back in the day?  Chairs are one of the most ancient of all furniture types.  We see examples of chairs today that harken back to early Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations.  Many chairs from these early societies used wood, ivory and metal for sturdiness.  Folding or X frame chairs have been found in tombs and often carved with animal forms and covered with whole skins.

Actually, it wasn’t until the 16th century that we began to see a chair…one with a seat, a back and four legs….become more commonplace rather than a bench, stool or chest.  With the advent of new technology and materials, chairs began to take various forms throughout the last four centuries.  Today, ergonomics (comfort level) is a top consideration in how a chair is built.  France can probably be credited with producing the earliest comfortable chairs and the largest variety.


Swap meets, antique and junk shops and even people’s cast offs can be retooled to become a fabulous new addition in your home. We have taken chairs that seemed to be at the end of their days and given them new life time and time again. Today, you can spend the King’s Ransom on chairs or pick up something fantastic at Pottery Barn or even Ikea.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 3.00.04 PMCase in point:  below you’ll see an example of a fabulous chair…eight of them to be exact…..that we purchased for a client on sale at Cost Plus World Market.  They are paired with a gorgeous zinc topped farm table (not shown) for their Great Room eating area.  These vintage-inspired light walnut finish French bistro side chair look pretty close to ones you’d find in a Parisian patisserie. The wood is distressed, the back splat has a terrific detail and the bottom has a wide, flat seat. Now in this case, the wood isn’t smooth so if you’re hanging out in your Lululemon leggings, you won’t find sliding to be that easy.  To rectify that scenario, we had custom seat cushions made in a stripe that we’ve used in another part of the house.  No unsightly ties hanging down the back of the legs for these chairs.  Instead, we had a small tab created and a white pearl button made them more elegant.  We had each cover made with a zipper so they could be removed for cleaning.


Just for comparison sake, here is Restoration Hardware’s rendition of the popular European café chair which they offer in five different finishes. On sale (today), it happens today to be similarly priced to the one we selected from CPWM with arguably the same level of workmanship.

When it comes to chairs, whether they will be used daily or occasionaly, my rule of thumb is that the inhabitant’s rear must try the seat. This is really the only good way to select a chair or a couch for that matter.  Each client has his or her own set of proclivities when it comes to comfort and style. So if you are purchasing fresh, then you must carve out the time in your schedule to go around and see what is comfortable for you. Then, we can either purchase chairs from a store, order from one of my sources or have it custom made. All are great options dictated by time, budget and availability.

Here are some great seats I’ve seen in my searches for the next great chair.

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What’s the favorite chair in your home, garden or office? Send us a picture and tell us a little about it. We always love a good show and tell!


Recently, a client asked me why her chairs restained wouldn’t look like the ones she liked in a photo. Based on this conversation, I realized that a discussion about wood species was timely. At the risk of sounding like a lumberjack, here is a little intro to woods with some show and tell of a variety of species.


Wood has always been the basic material of furniture and has never really had a serious, non-trendy competitor. Its strength as a material has innumerable virtues with too many to extol. Wherever people have lived, wood has generally been available and it is certainly amongst the strongest of organic materials and sturdiest for its weight. It has so much variety for both structural and decorative uses. Wood as a material is pretty easy to work with and cuts with many tools. That is not to say that woodworking is an easy craft. The best wood workers have been at it for years and may have learned from seasoned people before them. I am forever in awe of much of the handcrafted work I see in furniture, flooring and décor pieces. Wood can be joined together in several fashions including glue, nails or (fancy) joinery. One of many examples of brilliant artistry are the exquisite Windsor Chairs above, created by hand from the Thos Moser company of craftsmen. I can walk through their showroom for hours, admiring each piece of furniture and wanting to take home many of them too.

strength-and-stabilityWood feels so good to the touch.  As it is a poor conductor of heat, it happens to be less startling to the touch than other types of materials.  From our aesthetic point of view, wood has intrinsic beauty unlike no other in terms of color, texture and pattern with its splendor easy to enhance through a variety of methods of finishing and polishing.  The grain of wood  appears different depending upon how it is cut through the log.  Most wood structure consists of long fibers which are placed differently in various species but always in concentric rings from the center of the tree.


To the left is an image of quarter sawn wood. It is highly sought after not only because of its beauty but its strength and durability.

Below are some images of a few of the hardwoods that I have had the privilege to work with through the years.  Some are more common than others but no less extraordinary if treated properly by talented craftspeople. Exotic options are less common and more expensive but absolutely amazing to use in a variety of applications. When it comes to working with wood, I endeavor to be as conscious as possible with regard to deforestation and extinction.  I have been able to source reclaimed wood for many projects and use local purveyors to minimize my own contribution of our collective carbon footprint.


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Bird’s Eye Maple

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African Zebra Wood

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Black Walnut grain varieties


Buckeye Burl

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Wood is exciting to work with and its magnificence can last a lifetime.  One of the areas I enjoy when working with clients is selecting wood species for furniture, casings and windows.  I love to help identify wood and finishes for pieces that clients already have in their possession and to re-purpose pieces for a new and exciting application in their home, garden or office.

The Adamson House, Malibu

Nothing screams Los Angeles more than a beautiful day at the beach!  However, the sun and sand aren’t the only amazing visuals to enjoy if you are going coastal.  Run…don’t walk to The Adamson House in Malibu which, is adjacent to Surfrider Beach, the Malibu Lagoon and the Bird Sanctuary.  Find someone who loves gardens, architecture and amazing tile work as much as you and take them along as I did my friend Alice for some amazing sensory overload.

The Adamson House was built by Rhoda Rindge Adamson and her husband Merritt Adamson in 1930.  It is a Spanish Colonial Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.05.51 PMstyle home that has a very interesting place in Southern California history as Mrs. Adamson was the daughter of the last owners of the Malibu Spanish land grant. The full history of the property and how it passed throughout the generations is actually quite interesting but I’ll leave the details to your tour when you visit.  However, to bring it to modern day, the State of California purchased the property in 1968, intending to raze the buildings to make way for additional parking for beach goers.  But, in 1971, the Chancellor of Pepperdine University moved in to Adamson House as part of an effort to maintain the home until it could be properly restored. The Malibu Historical Society was formed to preserve the house, which became a California Historical Landmark in 1985. The Malibu Lagoon Interpretive Association, now known as Malibu Adamson House Foundation, was formed in 1981 and presided over the opening of the house as a museum in 1983.

The stunning display of decorative tiles dates from ancient history and continues today. It’s hard to imagine a more brilliant pageant than can be enjoyed at Adamson House.

image002California was awash with tile-producing companies in the 1920s. Malibu Potteries, the company founded by May Rindge stands apart as producing the most beautiful work of that era.

May Rindge started the firm after discovering her land was rich in the natural resources needed to manufacture ceramic tile. She hired a ceramist and draftsman named Rufus Keeler whom many considered a ceramic genius for his secret glazes known for their color and clarity as her plant manager. The factory, spanning 1,500 feet of beach just east of the Malibu Pier, opened in 1926. At its height, 125 employees worked there producing up to 30,000 square feet of tile a month, sold mainly to contractors, architects and designers.

I don’t want to spoil your visit but for those of you that may not make it so soon, let me share some photos I took and others that I’ve collected so you too can enjoy the splendor of The Adamson House.


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Indigo May Be My New Black

SDNY0SYD-3GARl_largeFrom the time I was little, red was my favorite color.  Now, not any color of red but a wonderful garnet or cranberry red with just enough purple in it so as not to confuse it with fire engine or tomato red.  I probably derived my adoration for red from my Mom, who to this day, still loves it more than any other color…except for yellow…most specifically yellow roses.  But I digress…………..while red remains a true love, I have learned through my years as a designer that there is room in my heart….and within my design palette… for many other colors.

Most of my clients will tell you that I like to begin a design of any space with an inspiration that ultimately leads to at least one thematic color. Through the years, I’ve developed a deep fondness for several other pigments not the least of which include grey, taupe and brown.  But recently, I have become excited about a new neutral that is one of the seven colors of the rainbow.  We all learned about the color in elementary school….red, orange, yellow, green, blue, INDIGO and violet.  Indigo…that’s it…my new paramour!


Indigo is actually the forgotten color of the rainbow because it isn’t visible to the human eye.  While it is always present when there is a rainbow, it gets sandwiched in between blue and violet.  Indigo was named after the indigo dye which is derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria.  Egyptians used indigo striped cloth to wrap the mummies.  It has been used in painting since the Middle Ages and its exotic flair comes from its long tradition as a dye from India.  From a symbolic realm, indigo conveys trust, truthfulness, and stability. It also may have some of the authority and royalty of purple as indigo was considered a royal blue. Back in the day, blue dyes were quite rare so indigo had great value in many civilizations.  Today, the primary use for indigo is as a dye for cotton yarn for which the major utility is blue jeans.  Indigo has presence as a mainstay in the fashion world and that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime too soon.  In the world of design, indigo’s versatility runs for being a neutral to creating a vibrant accent.  We see indigo in nature and in its artificial form as well.


dec-rugs-indigo1-435I love to pair indigo with ivory or taupe, greys or pinks, reds or orange. Who doesn’t love the look of a navy blue suit with a pop of color as an accent. Classic, clean and mysterious all at the same time! So too is it in a room…take a look below at just a few ways indigo is a show stopper.

One of my favorite indigo inspired paint colors is Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy.  Currently, I have used it on the walls in my office, in a client’s guest bedroom and on a kitchen island.

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Photos Courtesy of Houzz
I love it for a sofa…although I would be careful to not have it near sunlight or it will fade rather quickly.

il_340x270.524281775_90mfI’m finishing a beautiful home here in Southern California where we’ve used indigo throughout the home. Soon, I’ll post photos of its application and you’ll see just how rich and sumptuous it can look in so many treatments. To see some of my favorite things that are indigo, please check out the Elle Ryan Design board Indigo is My New Black! at www.pinterest.com.

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The Bird House

One of the things I love most about my neighborhood is the tree lined streets filled with homes that have the bird house.  You can tell they were part of a grouping from years past as most of them were built in the 1950’s.  I came to learn years ago that the developer was a man named Robert Mellenthin and this article is a great read about him and his approach.  He took pride in making sure that each dwelling had a slightly different character to it.  Maybe he knew that after a few Martinis on a Saturday night, it would be helpful for the residents in a particular pocket of these homes to be able to know which one was their own!

Let us know at Elle Ryan Design if you live in a Mellenthin or have one in your neighborhood.  We’d love to see a picture of how it looks today! Read more about these bird houses  HERE


Lighting School 101

When we last discussed lighting, we left off on the various options available today with advancements in lumen technology.  Gone are the days when you could go to the hardware store and just pick out a 60 watt bulb.  Today, it behooves you to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology of lighting.  Additionally, if you are requesting help in selecting types of bulbs, you might be prepared to discuss the type of application you need the lighting for such as task, ambient or mood lighting.  There won’t be a test on this information but let me give you a little terminology lesson.

Color temperature: this describes how a lamp appears when it is lit.  We measure color temperature in kelvin (K) which is a scale that starts at zero and go upwards of 60,000 K.  To give you some perspective, a warm, yellowish “white” (your typical incandescent bulb) is around 2800 K whereas daylight “white” (a fluorescent light) is around 5000 K.  Now, a bluish, daylight “white” will be around 8000 K and a brilliant blue will be 60000 K.  So you see there is quite a variance in color temperature.  For most people in their homes or offices and depending on the application, a temperature of anything between 2700-5000 K is just right.

Lumens: that has to do with the actual brightness of the bulb.  If the lumen value is higher, then the bulb will be brighter and provide more light.

Wattage: this is not a measure of the light rather a measure of the power that is consumed.  So with an electric light source, the wattage defines how much electricity the lamp uses during the operation of it.  Therefore, for a lightbulb to be most efficient, it must produce the greatest number of lumens per watt of energy.  At the end of the day, unless you want to give more money to your energy provider, alternative bulbs are the ticket to annual savings on your electric bill, not to mention the good it does for our collective energy grid.

We know that lighting impacts the way we feel and the mood it creates within a space.  So depending upon how you use a space will determine the kind of lighting you’ll need.  If you are curled up in a chair reading a book, you’ll need a task light that is different from that which you’ll want in front of your bathroom mirror or when you’re cooking food.  Let’s take a look at an incandescent bulb next to a halogen bulb below.  I’ll try to go easy on the science lesson!

Incandescent vs Halogen:
When standard argon-filled bulbs (incandescent) glow, there are trace amounts of tungsten that evaporate from the filament and are deposited as “soot” on the inner shell of the bulb. This burned-off tungsten has two drawbacks: the “soot” gradually reduces light output, and it slowly weakens the filament until it becomes thin and breaks and the bulb burns out.

the cost: roughly 50¢ for a 75-watt bulb
the life span: about 750 to 1,250 hours
the light output: approximately 1,180 lumens for a 75-watt bulb

We know that it is the most affordable all-purpose bulb around. We have enjoyed its utility as good general lighting in bedrooms and other living spaces where we want soft light and for fixtures with bulbs that are in the line of sight.

Now, when high-tech halogen-filled bulbs glow, small amounts of tungsten also burn off the filament, but instead of being deposited on the bulb shell, they combine with argon, which re-deposits the tungsten back onto the filament. The advantages are that the globe isn’t darkened by soot and the filament lasts longer since it’s continuously being rebuilt.

The cost: roughly $4.00 for a 75-watt bulb
the life span: about 2,000 to 2,500 hours
the light output: approximately 1,300 lumens for a 75-watt bulb

Incandescent_Light_BulbThe best utility of halogen lighting is in track and recessed light fixtures in which you want to focus or concentrate light on a particular area or object.  It is also terrific for desktop, reading or other work-area lights that require bright, focused light.  It is also great in fixtures that are tough to reach where you would want long-lasting bulbs or in banks of light where you want all the bulbs (new or old) to glow at the same intensity. Next time, we’ll discuss LED and CFL light bulb options.

I’d love to hear from you on your lighting questions so feel free to leave me a note.  If you’d like to receive my blog automatically, please subscribe and it will arrive to your inbox each and every time we have something interesting to share with you.

Spring is Here!

Spring has sprung in Southern California so let’s enjoy it before it quickly becomes summer. I love traveling through different neighborhoods and admiring people’s gardens. We are so fortunate in this area to have a climate that allows for incredible foliage and beautiful flowers practically year round. However, for me, the best time for incredible gardens is March through May. Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.14.16 PM

To that end, I’ve taken some pictures of gardens that are blooming locally. Now is a great time to walk through your local nursery and see what they have in stock. One of my favorite nurseries in Los Angeles is Vineland Nursery in North Hollywood. The guys there have great knowledge about plants and are quite helpful when it comes to building a garden. I go to them for many of my client’s gardens as they have a wonderful array of perennials, water-wise plants and great prices. Say hello to Adolfo if you pay them a visit and tell him Cheryl sent you!

When selecting a color palette for one’s garden, I like to know what are some of my client’s favorite colors. In this situation, orange was the hands down choice for the pop of contrast to go with a medley of greens, whites and purples. Below, you see amongst the Calla Lilies and white Iceberg Roses, a bevy of Kangaroo Paw.

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Another favorite orange expression is from none other than the Leonotis Leonurus or Lion’s Tail.  It is a wonderful perennial that loves the sun. Lamb’s Ear, which originally hailed from Turkey and Iran, is member of the Stachys family.A perennial plant, it has a very soft grey or white coating of silky hairs. In some countries, it is used for medicinal purposes and in others, a nice border or edging.  It grows profusely in all my gardens and I use it as a staple whenever I can.  When it gets quite spread out, it can be separated and transplanted to other area of the garden that needs lush foliage.

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In Los Angeles, it is commonplace to find rows and rows of white Iceberg Roses blooming throughout the Spring and well into the Fall.  While it is a shrub, it can be trained as a standard tree form too.  The Iceberg Rose comes from Germany and likes to be watered deeply and regularly. The three primary nutrients that these roses need are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

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Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 2.36.36 PMHot Lips is part of the Salvia family and usually has two toned flowers. Hummingbirds and butterflies are quite attracted to the blooms that will appear continuously throughout even the hottest of summers. It is truly a carefree shrub for a water-wise garden.

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In addition to fantastic perennials, I’m always on the lookout for great annual color to spruce up a garden in the Fall and then again in the Spring.


Lantana is another standard in many of the gardens I create for clients. I prefer the miniature version which grows low and spreads beautifully. Purple is my Lantana color of choice although I do like the white too!  Here’s Adolfo picking out some nice one gallons for a recent backyard garden. Adolfo, left and the Boss Man on the right!

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This particular yard has it all….big sun, filtered sun and total shade. Ferns for the shade and purple Veronica for the sun!



As much as I would love to downsize my car, I am always hauling plants, furniture or materials for projects. Just how much did I fit in this particular day? Let’s just say thank goodness for the middle row and the front seats and open sunroof too!

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