House and Garden
April 4, 2016
At last, Spring is in the air and currently I am working on a number of design projects that include both the interior and exterior. For me, this is one of my favourite areas of my design work as it gives me the chance to make the most out of our clients house and garden. Not only does it allow me to develop the best plan tailored to suit their style of living but also to take advantage of the best views of their gardens from the interior. Allowing rooms that will be most lived in to have full reign over the best views and maximizing on the sunlight is key to all my designs.
The images above are from one of our design projects which was a new build. We arranged the floor layout of this home so the garage and cinema room were located where the least amount of sun shone during the day. The kitchen and living room are always bright as they were designed to get the sun late morning and all afternoon. The giant feature window in the kitchen was added to allow a breakfast area and to enable our clients to enjoy the four seasons of change in their garden, which was surrounded by a pastel brick wall and mature trees. French doors were added to the kitchen for easy access to the garden and the Irish version of an outdoor barbeque eating area was designed. Irish al fresco dining requires a cover from the rain, an outdoor fireplace and heaters for the chilly evenings. I wanted to make this area inviting for my clients to enjoy their garden, so I added what I could to make it comfortable, functional and Irish weather friendly all year round.
Although my hands are rarely in the soil, I can honestly say I truly appreciate the importance of garden design and I always like to be involved in the exterior planning of each of our projects to maximize its potential and enjoyment for our clients. Inside and out, house and garden should marry and compliment each other. It is important that your design team (Architect, Interior Designer, Landscape Designer) take the prime outlooks of your home and your landscape preferences into account when creating your design as this is often overlooked early on in the design process.
My husband Nigel is ‘Mr Greenfingers’, having grown up in the Lake District in England, he has taught me so much about gardening over the years. Working in the grounds of Levens Hall in Cumbria, England as a teenager, Nigel began his love affair with landscaping. Levens Hall’s topiary garden is the oldest in the world showcasing over a hundred designs. If you ever find yourself in the Lake District it is definitely worth a visit. Perhaps I could convince Nigel to do a gardening blog post for us …I will begin to work on that one!
I have included a few ideas below that I hope to include in some of our current designs, and others that are just beautiful designs worth mentioning . You may also get some ideas for your own garden as it is that time of year again when the buds are beginning to open.
Plant pots, you can never have enough. They are a great “attention to detail” which can be easily added at anytime to your garden design. Collect big pots of different sizes, the bigger the better. I prefer to have less and have them in large sizes as you get much more impact out of them when planted.
Plant pots are great to make a screen with (as in image on the left above), which takes the boring look off the side of a garden shed, or group different sizes together and fill them with hydrangeas, white daisies or petunias. Placing a planter box on your window sill (image to the right) can bring your garden into a room, cast iron are best as they can withstand the wind. I think it can look beautiful not only from the exterior but also from inside your home especially in full bloom.
Box hedging is another way to bring impact to your garden. I love to mix wild flower beds or giant hydrangeas and then give structure with the conformity of box hedging around the edge. In the image above they have the round box hedging planted in beautiful urns to give all year round greenery and surround it with summer flowers placed in front of the windows so they can be seen and enjoyed from inside. I also like the way they have planted close to the house as green is a great contrast to any brick, wood or stone exterior. Interiors can be accessorized similar to the exterior by using large urns, pots or statues, adding drama indoors and out.
If I ever spot a beautiful window or unusual plaque at an antique fair or salvage yard I tend to buy. I would tie them in to a design, perhaps adding an oval window to a bootroom or hallway, in a position that can be married with planting from the outside like the image above.
To define the different levels in this garden above they successfully created a stunning arch of flowers which defines the area and connects the planting to the house.
This image is one of my favourites and an easy outdoor dining concept to create. The down-side at the beginning of this creation is the few years waiting for the amazing wisteria to grow, but it is always worth the wait as wisteria is so romantic.
Create a frame for the wisteria to grow across and add plant pots around the base of the frame supports as this will take the bareness away and help with the Wisteria wait! Give your garden table a lick of whitewash and enjoy your outside space.
This is one of my favourite designs bringing together the interior with the exterior seamlessly. Obviously not the most suitable in a city pad, but perfect in this amazing setting created by the Brooke and Steve Gianetti. My business can be serious so much of the time that I love adding some boldness to each design where possible. I think they have done an amazing job with this ‘in touch with nature bathroom.
When commissioned to design a Fishermans Cottage directly on the waters edge of Connemara, my ambition was to take full advantage of the spectacular sea view. I achieved this by adding a sliding glass wall to seamlessly blend the outside eating area with the interior space.
There are so many ideas out there that are easy to create. It is all in the planning. The fun part is as your project unfolds you will possibly spot beautiful planters, plant pots, urns and even windows, don’t be afraid to buy as you will always find the right spot. Keep your eyes open for that perfect garden accessory.
Now back to work for me…
Miriam (aka Minnie)