Design Journal

Blackberry Farm Part 1

 

In the early 90’s before I was married or had children and  was learning  to cook, I read an article in Bon Appetit about a woman named Kreis Beall. Gorgeous photos of Beall showed her at her beautiful home in Alabama on Mobile Bay. The pictures  painted a scene of kids,  friends, dogs and fun chaos among what seemed to be an easy-going life where only food and entertaining were taking seriously.  Beall’s description of her days… biking to pick fresh  tomatoes and only cooking things in season…had me dreaming. This was before the farm-to-table movement and I was fascinated with her emphasis on fresh seasonal food being so important.  It is funny why something resonates with you. I can’t remember why I came downstairs to get something most times, but I can remember that article and even the dishes she cooked…fried chicken and peach pie! Over the years I kept seeing her in articles, her beautiful homes and an historic country inn she started called Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. I always wanted to go, but the timing never seemed to work.  Long story short, I was able to go with some dear friends for my 20th wedding  anniversary  and we had the most amazing time!  I thought it would take years for me to get back there, but by happenchance I found out that Suzanne Kasler, one of my favorite designers,  worked with Beall and  was doing a design workshop last spring.   The itinerary seemed like a simple one that included a joint lecture by Suzanne  and Kreiss about their design process through the years. There was also a wine dinner in the Barn that Saturday night. My design-loving friend who accompanied me  thought the rest of the time was  lightly scheduled so we  could enjoy the activities at the inn.  Boy were we in for a surprise!

 

Driving  by the turn-of-the century converted  Red Barn where dinner is served.

Playing with the Lagatto Romagnolo pups before dinner…the “truffle dogs”  that are bred and trained at Blackberry Farm.

We were escorted to our cozy cottage and were told to freshen up. The owner had arranged for us to have welcome cocktails at her home. What a lovely way to be greeted!

Sitting room with a beautiful view and real fireplace which  they will light for you…”Just call us”!

 

 

Arriving at Kreis’ charming converted farmhouse for cocktails, which previously housed the inn’s spa.

 

 

 

 

The next morning we arrived at the barn to see Kreiss and Suzanne Kasler’s lecture and to hear about their collaborations over the pasts 20 years.

 

The lecture was fantastic and we thought that was the end of the event until dinner.  The real treat was ahead. They told us there were golf carts outside waiting for us to take us on a tour of some very special properties on the grounds…(to be continued)

Please sign up to receive the Design Journal! Everyone who subscribes will be entered in a drawing for a very special gift from Blackberry Farm at the end of the series.

 

 

The Timeless Charm of Awnings

Source: Travel and Leisure

 

My obsession with awnings began over 14 years ago when I was relocating my retail store and had  the opportunity to re-design the exterior.  While looking for inspiration pictures, I was most attracted to the charming store fronts of Europe with the gorgeous millwork, colors  and small awnings over the windows. I knew I wanted to convey the same charm of a European shop.

Here are some inspiring awnings from my recent travel in Europe. The charming storefront, Laduree, in a perfect shade of green.

 

Eating steak frites at  Relais de l”Entrcote

One of my favorite hotels, Plaza Athenee…beautiful awnings with coordinating flowers

Maybe it is a coincidence since I have been paying attention to the charming store fronts in Europe, but I have seen so many awnings and outdoor draperies  in all of the design magazines!

Here is a lovely awning with drapes from Tobi Fairley from Traditional Home

Photo by Nancy Nolan

Love this one from Architectural Digest

Photo by Francois Dischinger

One of my all time favorite backyards is this design by Shelley Johnstone in her own home.  It is so full of charm and details.

It is also the inspiration that I am using for a current client’s patio.  I saw she had touches of pink throughout her house and when I saw this picture I was hoping she was game  for pink for her outdoor furniture.   She loved it and we just ordered some  outdoor fabric in a very soft petal pink! She also has the most incredible vintage Ficks Reed furniture that we are going to re-upholster and order new outdoor sofa,  drapes and accessories so we can transform her back porch into a place for her family  to relax out of the heat.  Love when a client is game for something different and this client is light hearted and fun!

My client’s  before shot of her doggie posing on her beautiful   vintage Ficks Reed furniture.

I would love to add an awning to my back patio.  It was supposed to have a pergola built in to provide a little shade and structure, but it never happened. (The perils of being married to a builder/developer…you are last on the list!).  I think I may like to add an awning to up the charm factor, but I have a wood shingle home so need to find the right look.

How about this in a different shade of blue?

Image from House and Garden via The Glam Pad

Keep checking to see what we choose!  I am making lots of transformations to my yard and home.

 Once again, thank you for taking the time to read.  Please sign up to receive my Design Journal posts. I have lots of posts in the queue with many  new projects to share!

With gratitude,

Debra

Kids Rooms that Grow

 

I just finished  a favorite project with the most charming family.  They live in a beautiful old rambling historic home in Chapel Hill  that sits up on a hill.  It is a home I’ve always admired as I would drive by it often to drop  my son off at a friend’s house. Imagine my delight when I got the call to help  with the design of 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.  The wife is this very petite powerhouse at her job, mom of 5 children and a successful author. She has style to spare but what she did not have was…time! As her children got older, they were outgrowing their rooms and furniture.  The little ones would hop around from  room to room,  so our main goal was to  tailor  each bedroom to the children’s colors, style and needs so they would feel that space was made especially for them.  I loved interviewing each of them to find out their favorite colors and hobbies and we went to work  to create spaces that were truly their own.   The first thing I noticed were stacks and stacks of books everywhere.  The children loved to read and be  creative  so every room needed built-in storage  to house all of the books, trophies and projects.  The mom really wanted the rooms to grow with  the children using quality pieces since the first time around she purchased a lot of toddler/child sized furniture that they outgrew.  We added new paint, beds,  wallpaper, rugs, lighting, and bedding. We saved some original lighting and a few antique and special furniture pieces.  Through color, fabric and artwork (that sadly did not make it in time for the photo shoot!) we created beautiful  bedrooms and bathrooms that the children just love!  The mom has reported back to me that  we have acheived success…all of the little  ones are sleeping in and loving their very own bedroom!

We can start with the one sweet little girl’s room which was a dream to design.  She wanted pink which was such a thrill for me since my own daughter was always anti-pink.   She loves to read and snuggle with her mom  so lots of comfortable reading spots were a must.  The highlight of the room is the built-in window seat  that has  the softest pink fabric and the sweetest ribbon  light fixtures.  Every fabric in this room is as soft as it looks.  We mainly used pink and white with a touch of soft green in the room using a variety of textures..cottons, velvets, chenilles and mohair.   The final touch was the rug we found that was made in India.  It has an old world touch that is fitting with a historic home, but the color makes it fresh and modern.

 

All after photos by the amazing  Anna Routh Photography

 

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We took a little used office that turned  into a storage room and made that the oldest son’s room. He loved navy and red so it worked beautifully with the wood paneling.

 

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The adjoining half bath was a simple space with light blue paint but was a little serious.  We took this as an opportunity to add some more red and bright blue color to the windowless half bath.  The angles of the deconstructed stripe wallpaper were fun to play off of, so we added a pedestal sink with an angled corners, hardware with strong geometric shapes…even the fabulous towel ring had an interesting shape!

 

 

Since all the  boys liked blue, we were lucky that each child also wanted a secondary color to go with it to individualize each space. The child in this room loved blue and orange so we were able to have another great color combo.

 

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The next room was the most challenging of all  because it was going to be shared by 2 boys and was the smallest room but had the biggest bathroom and the most closet and storage space.  We went back and forth  but the tiny closet and smaller bathroom in the larger room  would just not function for two people.   Since the space was more compact, we did  a built-in bookcase  with a small desk. We also found twin  rattan beds that would offer less visual clutter and keep the tiny space clean and neat.  One boy loved green and one boy loved blue so we put this classic color combination together that looks fantastic together but we were also able to individualize each bed and make them more personable.

Before pictures of the room:

After:

 

Here is the bathroom that had plenty of space for 2 boys to get ready for school every morning.  We kept the beautiful marble top that the mom had picked out years ago but gave the room a more kid-friendly punch of color.

 

 

 

I loved working with the parents of these sweet children.  They are two very highly respected and accomplished  professionals in their field and were amazing to work worth. They really understood how hard it could be to make a fresh start when change is needed and time is limited.    It  can be very difficult to design your own home since we tend to  be sentimental about furniture and items in a room.  They gave me lots of creative freedom to make it happen.  I will really miss working with their children, too!  They were some of the most polite and well-behaved kids I have ever met…yes all 5 of them! It was fun to create a special room for each of them and it is a memory and job I will cherish.

 

 

 

Kitchen Stories: Cooking Couples

zinn_annarouthphotography_018   There is a joke in the design industry that we are not  only designers but counselors and psychologists. When you are working with two people who are making decisions about a room they have dreamed of designing, all kinds of issues can come up. Designers frequently get caught  in the middle when one is hoping you will take their side.  I recently worked on a kitchen/breakfast room/bar remodel with a couple who thankfully had none of those issues!  Usually  one person drives the design and the other adds wanted or unwanted input!    This husband and wife team had  strong opinions about what they liked, but always worked out a solution that satisfied both of them. There was lots of give and take and it  really was  wonderful to see them interact with each other in such a thoughtful way.

 

They moved into a home that had a white dated kitchen with formica countertops and wanted a total redo so we demolished  the entire kitchen and once again, donated everything  to Habitat for Humanity. They wanted a  classic white kitchen  with some black, grey and modern elements thrown in.  This kitchen had to be durable because they love to cook. We increased the size of the island and  mixed it up with black  and white quartz counters that are basically bullet proof, industrial lights and  white and light grey cabinetry.  They wanted  a few high-end appliances and really loved the  restaurant quality  Blue Star range top and double ovens.   We demolished a set of pantries and added a Sub Zero fridge with a large countertop for extra prep.  This is a real cook’s kitchen! There was a cramped space with a small breakfast table so we added   custom built-in seating with cushions  that follows the curves of the window to maximize space.   They were totally open to doing a dramatic black tiled bar off of the dining room  that  is perfect for entertaining.

 

The mix of materials, colors and elements make their kitchen  special, interesting  and so representative of them.   I say it in every post and I am so afraid I will jinx myself, but I am lucky to have worked with this exceptional couple.  When I had to tell them  the light they loved was back ordered for the 3rd time, they really could have went off the edge and may have after I left, but always treated me with such patience and kindness.  I am so grateful for their  thoughtfulness to me and the other team members.  We all loved them and wanted to bend over backwards to make them happy since they were so darned nice when we kicked them out their kitchen for so long!  Thank you  #projectrossburn2  for being so positive, fun, open-minded and creative!

 

All of the beautiful after photos are by Anna Routh Photography.

 

Side note:  The before pictures were  taken while the previous owners were still living there and in the middle of  packing so it is  more chaotic then the usual before pictures!

Before: stove and fridge wall

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After:  Blue Star range and double ovens

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Before: pantry wall

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After: new Sub Zero fridge and work station

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Before:  sink wall

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After:

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Before: breakfast room

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After:

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Before: Island

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After: larger updated island

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Before: Butler’s Pantry

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After: black tiled bar

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"Beautiful" Book Giveaway

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One of my favorite designers and bloggers, Mark Sikes,  came out with his first book “Beautiful” recently and it is a real gem! His passion for blue and white and natural materials speaks to my heart. It is a wonderful coffee table book that has so much detail in every picture that you discover something new every time you open it which I do quite frequently. He has designed the last two Reese Witherspoon stores, Draper James, and they are  stunning..so stylish yet warm and welcoming just like someone’s home.  I pre-ordered it before it came out  and in my excitement must have ordered it twice!  Instead of sending it back, I have decided to give it away and share Mark’s vision and  amazing talent and style. All you have to do is subscribe to  my Design Journal posts and like or comment on my Instagram or Debra Zinn Interiors Facebook page to be included in the drawing!  We will pick a lucky winner at the end of the week.

 

Draper James

Draper James

 

 

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Kitchen Stories: A Well Deserved Kitchen

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Today I wrapped up #projectparkside with a client that I will truly miss working with. She waited a long time to remodel her kitchen and if anyone deserves a new place to cook it is her! Her children have  food allergies that require her to prepare almost all of her meals at home. Do you hear that folks…she has to cook almost everything, so no more complaining like I do most nights when I am cooking dinner! This mom takes so much pleasure in preparing meals  for her family that it makes me want to cook like that again for mine. She inherited the original kitchen that was dark and had outdated formica and linoleum floors. Since she does spend so much time in this space, the current layout of the island made her feel like she was isolated. The job called for a total gut and the only thing that we saved was the microwave! Her wish was to have a light and bright blue and white kitchen that  included a range with two ovens. She also wanted tile floors and resisted my attempts to have her run hardwoods through it. I am glad she stuck to her vision, because we found a pretty fabulous hex tile that warms this beautiful kitchen. The kitchen is not a large space so we partnered with CKS to make it as efficient as possible with some extra hidden storage space.

This client was pure joy to work with and we had so much fun!  She is so full of positive energy and always tries to find the humor or bright spot in any situation. I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to work with her and her lovely family.

All pictures by the amazing Anna Routh Photography!

BEFORE:

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After:

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Close up of the new gorgeous Thermador range

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New fridge, dishwasher and stainless steel farmhouse sink and cookbook storage center…which is more navy then it appears!

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Hidden extra storage

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New hardware

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Cheers to #projectparkside!

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Kitchen Stories: A Stylish Family Kitchen

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I am so excited to show you my latest kitchen remodel photographed by the wildly talented Anna Routh. The family I worked with happen to be dear friends of mine and I know how unhappy they have been with their kitchen for quite some time. It actually had a nice footprint, but the island was dysfunctional and it caused chaos every morning when the family would get ready for school. The island sink was on an angle and  there was little prep room to the left of the sink, so everyone clustered over to the right to make breakfast and prepare lunch. The trash can was next to the stove across from the sink. Lastly, it was a very dark kitchen with cherry cabinets and black granite. We decided it was best to take the whole island out and start fresh by centering the sink in the island so there was plenty of prep room on both sides. We had Habitat of Humanity come take apart most of the kitchen. They resell what they can and it is one of the few ways they make money to support their mission. They were the most professional and grateful group of men and women…please consider them if you are gutting your kitchen!

The end result is quite a large island with a beautiful curve to handle the bevy of boys that are eating at the counter at any given time. The island is a beautiful blue grey complete with a new sink, faucet and hot water dispenser. The perimeter cabinets and the gorgeous quartz countertops are the warmest and softest of whites, so it is bright and sunny but not at all harsh. We also created a wine bar/coffee station with a wine refrigerator and ice maker. The gas Wolf cooktop was high on the wife’s wish list and was a must. However, the star of the kitchen is the gorgeous blue tile. I was so happy when my clients gave me free reign to present them with some special selections. This beautiful Walker Zanger mosaic tile in the most stunning shade of blue made their kitchen over the top special. As you can see in the photos, every color just pops and comes alive against this stunning blue backdrop. The husband wanted some industrial style lights that added a little edge and kept the kitchen from becoming too pretty…if that is possible! A kitchen remodel is a full collaboration with many people and many details and can be hard when you are living in the house and can not use this space. My clients were patient and kind when they were displaced for 2 weeks without a functioning kitchen. I am forever grateful to you for your calm and unruffled demeanor. A kitchen remodel is not all glamour and fun as they found out but the end result is!

Before: Outdated two-level island with sink in the corner:

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After: New spacious functional island:

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Before: Wine and Beverage Center:

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After: New Wine refrigerator and ice maker:

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Before: Cooking Center:

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After:

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Kitchen Stories: An Artist's Kitchen

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Last  fall, I went to an art show opening to see a friend’s work as part of an Emerging Artist Series.  Her colorful and original art was fantastic and it was a huge success! While I was there, she told me she was going to call me in another year or so because she was ready for  a kitchen renovation. To my delight, she called a few months later to tell me she could not wait any longer  to change her dark kitchen into a lighter and brighter space. She is an artist and loves color and wanted to push the envelope a little, but also wanted to create something timeless that would not date.  Her cabinets were solid wood and in great shape, so we painted them instead of tearing them out  and made a few cosmetic changes like cutting out the appliance garage among other things.  We  pretty much gutted and replaced  everything else  in the kitchen with new appliances, light fixtures, tile, sink, faucet, hardware and countertops.   She wanted light grey cabinets that felt light and bright but had a little more color then white.  We found a beautiful soft  grey that fit the bill.  Since we didn’t  go too crazy with color, we added some of her personality by finding some special tile and light fixtures that were a little unusual. The first tile  she liked was from an Australian company and we loved it but could not find it locally.  We  searched high and low for something similar and after a pretty extensive search, we found a perfect geometric shape.  We had our cabinet maker build  a custom bulletin board into her desk to display  pictures of her children. We then added some bright color with chartreuse fabric on the bulletin board and a fabulous striped rug. The final result was a classic look with some unique twists. I absolutely loved working with her!   She knew exactly what she wanted but was completely open minded to new ideas and even  encouraged them. She smiled all the time even if I had to deliver unpleasant news. You get to see a person’s  bright or dark side when you are tearing apart their kitchen and they can’t access water or use the stove for a few days. I can tell you that this client, who is a physically beautiful woman, is just as beautiful on the inside. Thank you #projectivy for being a dream client!

 

Before:

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After: New appliances, tile countertops, hardware and paint

 

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Before Desk area:

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After:  New desk area with custom bulletin board and a shot of chartreuse!

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Please subscribe to the blog for more projects updates!

 

With gratitude, Debra

Random thoughts...

In the spirit of how we receive information these days, I am introducing a new series of “quick hit” topics. It will give me an opportunity to share things that I really love. Sometimes I want to write briefly about something I love but don’t want to write a whole post about it.  So here it is….

 

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I have been taking a lot of long weekends this summer to look at colleges with my oldest son and we have been having so much fun visiting many towns and cities together.  It is a sweet moment that I am savoring knowing that this time next year he will not be living with me full-time anymore.  We were in Philadelphia this weekend and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Oyster House, a Philly institution.  Besides the delicious oysters, I really loved  the space.  It had the spirit of an older restaurant without looking tired and worn.   Painted white brick, to the ceiling subway tile, old fisherman lights and large floor to ceiling windows gave the space lots of character.

 

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I loved the refined millwork with the rough painted white brick and the charming vintage oyster plates that hung on the wall.  It goes to show you that timeless design is always a winner!

 

Speaking of winners, Acme in Carrboro rarely disappoints.   I decided to “cut back”  on my meals after really enjoying my summer vacations.  August is a great time to eat fresh and healthy foods because almost every restaurant has the most amazing tomato plates on their menu.  One of my favorites has been the heirloom tomato plate at Acme  that comes with a creamy deviled egg on the side.  I eat about half of it and I am totally satisfied and don’t feel deprived at all. You must try it before tomato season ends!

 

 

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I did sneak a piece of their scratch-made skillet cornbread.   It was amazing…just a piece won’t hurt too much!

 

 

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And finally, we are putting the final touches on one of my kitchen renovations…a custom bulletin board in the desk area and new light fixtures are getting installed next week.  I can’t wait to see  how these look over the island!

 

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Please subscribe to my blog for updates! I have lots of projects that I can’t wait to share in the next few weeks!

 

With gratitude,
Debra

 

 

 

Outdoor Inspirations: Gravel Pathways

Patina FarmBrooke Giannetti’s enchanting Patina Farm

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As much as I love designing interiors for clients, I am completely obsessed with landscaping.  Curb appeal can be instantly transformed with beautiful  gardens, mature trees and shrubbery.  I can only dream of having landscaping like Brooke Giannetti’s  Patina Farm, above.  Her home, gardens and outbuildings on her property are amazing. It is newly built, but because they designed their home around mature trees it has a sense that it has been there for a long time.  Visit her gorgeous blog Velvet and Linen to see her home that she and her architect husband Steve  built.

I love how they have gravel pathways all around the house.  Gravel gives  a relaxed charm to gardens. Gravel also gives you the ability to create wide and narrow paths and not stick to a specific outline.  I grew up in Florida where the landscaping is lush and tropical.  I had a tiny garden outside of my bedroom window with a gravel pathway and hibiscus bushes.  Even though a road was not far from my window, it was like a little hidden secret garden. Right now I am scheming up some ideas for my own secret side yard garden complete with a gravel pathway.

 

I loved this gravel side garden at The Sanctuary in Kiawah Island where we stayed for spring break.

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The stone edging and steps that integrate with the gravel in this villa is beautiful. I showed my husband’s company landscaper this gorgeous inspiration photo and told him the plants, trees and shrubs that I liked and he kind of chuckled knowing what my husband would think #$$$$$$.

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I really love the landscaping in the front of my house that my sweet friend Shelley Cook from the Carolina Garden Company installed.  I was going for New England charm with stone walls, pathways and hydrangeas to complement my shingle house.

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My favorite time of year is when my viburnum trees blossom in my yard!

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Unfortunately, the rest of my landscaping does not look like the front of my house.  Here is a tight shot of my side yard when I was unsure of what I wanted to do and stopped.

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In reality this is what I really have to work with….my poor neighbors!!! I became paralyzed with what I should do and the final result is…nothing!

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I am working on a design that will have a gravel pathway  and hope that I can have it  installed it in the fall.  I’ll keep you posted!  In the meantime, I will keep dreaming that I can come up with something as charming as Patina Farm.
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