May 31, 2010

Give her some LOVE!

Poor Kelly; she has to put up with me.

You see… I haven’t been well the past couple of weeks (no – don’t send ME the love!) and Kelly has had to carry DesignTies. She always writes the BEST POSTS!! But really… she puts up with a lot of #&%$ from me! Not only that… the other day Kelly lost ALL of the blog and inspiration photos she stores on-line with Picasa (I hope she’s been able to recover them!). What a drag for Kelly!!

So this is my plea…
Give Kelly some much needed LOVE!

Because a blog post – even a quick one like this – isn’t the same without photos, here are two that you haven’t seen before…

Close UPA sneak peak at my new drapes… made by me. Can’t share the whole window with you yet because I have some tweaking to do.

And this second DSCF0614photo… that’s Brian planting some Yew shrubs. After consulting some fence contractors for quotes we’ve come to the conclusion that a new hedge is the most financially friendly option. Again… only a sneak peak because we’re not quite finished with this project… and I have what I hope will be a GREAT idea that will be included with this particular reveal. Hang tight! All will be revealed!!

So… a couple photos to help keep our readers happy… and happy readers share the LOVE!

Who are you sharing your love with?

May 28, 2010

Happy weekend!!

If you’re decorating or gardening or cottaging or just hanging out this weekend, have a good one!!

a_gardenweb_Garden_Galleries rightful health

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May 26, 2010

The crossroads of two extremes: Designer and artist Liana Yaroslavsky

liana I recently discovered an intriguing designer and artist named Liana Yaroslavsky in the April 2010 issue of Vogue Living Australia. Liana’s life story is as compelling, fascinating, and extreme as the amazing tables—literally pieces of art—that she creates.

Liana was born in Leningrad and lived a young life filled with art, music, and end evenings at the Kirov Ballet. Her grandfather played the piano, her grandmother painted waterclours, and her father was an art book editor.

When Liana turned 9, she and her mother emigrated to Israel, leaving her father and grandmother behind in Russia. Ten years later, Liana did military service, going for 4:00AM runs and learning how to use weapons. And at the same time, she was taking dance and art classes and becoming a model. By the age of 20, she had been married and divorced.

crystals She left Israel to go to New York with a film director. She learned sculpting, painting, and graphic design at Parsons School of Design and joined the largest graphic arts studio in New York City after graduating. Then she promptly quit to marry a Frenchman and move to Paris. She became the artistic director at a graphic design agency there, and eventually created her own studio.

And then as she wondered if someone would discover her, she discovered herself.

Liana had a Murano chandelier she had fallen in love with, but she didn’t know what to do with it. One day, she decided to change her coffee table. She took the chandelier, turned it upside down, spread out the branches like flowers on a bed of 19th century watercolours, and put it all into a plexiglass cube. It was Liana’s first creation, and the start of the realization of her dream to create art.

Like Liana’s life, her art is the crossroads of two extremes. Paradoxical and sophisticated… Versailles and Rock & Roll… history and post-modernity… purist and baroque… minimalism and exuberance… ordered and haphazard… parquet with crystal… masculine and feminine…

These are a few of Liana’s tables, starting with her first creation…

esquisse titleesquisse render

esquisse 2 esquisse table


le bal title

Inspired by the Tsar’s royal ball in Anna Karenina, Le Bal includes piano keys, wings made from real feathers, 19th century piano compositions, and two crystal chandeliers.

le bal rendering  le bal 

dome title

The juxtaposition of sparkly crystal and raw parquet is a perfect example of “the crossroads of two extremes”.

dome rendering dome lit

O2 title

This table is my favourite — one hundred balls of Murano blown glass floating above a Versailles parquet floor… O2O2 render


O23   O2b

I highly encourage you to visit Liana’s web site to read all about her fascinating life and to explore all of her creations, including interiors…


…and her studio.


Do Liana’s life and experiences inspire you to follow your dreams?? Leave a comment and let me know what you’re dreaming of creating.

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I can help you make your home be what you want it to be. Contact me at or call me at 613.291.2491

All information and images from

May 24, 2010

The Bad Hair Day Plant re-visited

Last spring, I found the coolest plant at our local Loblaws — Juncus Effusus, otherwise known as the Bad Hair Day Plant. I just finished putting together some planters this weekend, and of course included some of these funky plants :-) I don’t have pics of my planters yet, but I thought I’d re-post about my favourite plant in case you missed it the first time…

flilckr closeI’m totally hooked on a fantastic and fashionable little plant called juncus effusus spiralis (JUNK-us eff-YOO-sus). It’s fun to say eff-YOU-sus… say it few times and you’ll see what I mean :-) Its more common name is the corkscrew rush. I found a picture of it on Flickr entitled The Bad Hair Day Plant, and that name stuck in my head :-)

You may be wondering why it was dubbed the bad hair day plant — it looks relatively tame in the picture over on the right, yes?? But don’t be fooled… this is one of the craziest & funkiest looking plants you’ll ever see!!

Some info…

  • Family: Juncacae | Genus: Juncus | Species: Effusus | Cultivar: Spiralis
  • Height: 12 –18 inches (30 – 45 cms)
  • Hardiness: From Zone 4a (to –34.4C/-30F) to Zone 10b (to 1.7C/35F)
  • Soil pH requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic) | 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) | 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
  • Sun exposure: Sun to partial shade
  • Bloom colour: Inconspicuous, may grow brown flowers in early/mid summer
  • Requires consistently moist soil (seems to like being in a pot that doesn’t have a drainage hole). Do not let dry out between waterings. Suitable for bogs and water gardens.

So if you always forget to water your plants, this little guy might not be for you — try a cactus instead ;-) But if you’re like me and tend to over-water your plants, it’s perfect!!

OK, want to see some pictures now?? Check this out!!

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artistic gardener

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How funky is that!!?? It grows in water too…

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Some artsy shots…

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And a couple of close-up shots…

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I bought six of them at the garden center at Loblaws. I’m going to put three in individual pots, and I put the other three into a container with some trailers and a fuchsia-on-a-stick(no idea what the technical term is!!)

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I thought the curly grass would fill in the space around the fuchsia’s stem nicely. But that was before I realized that the fuchsia needs shade and the bad hair day plant likes a lot of sun and moisture. I’ll see how things go, and if the bad hair day plants start to look unhappy, I’ll transplant them into individual pots too. I think a grouping of pots looks great anyway…

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Back to 2010 now… the fuchsia and bad hair day plants got along fine, and looked great together all summer long :-) I just love this plant — it makes me smile :-) And this spring, I found another new plant that I just had to try out. It’s called Cyperus King Tut…

king tut pw certified

I’m waiting till the planters fill in a bit before I post pictures. For now, here’s a drawing I did this afternoon for my Drawing Techniques class. (Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment and going to school in the summer — insane!!) Impatiens are my very favourite go-to annual. Beautiful bright colours, no dead-heading required, and they just keep growing and growing and growing — how can you go wrong?!


Do you have a favourite go-to plant that’s a staple in your garden every year?? Leave a comment and tell me about it :-)

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I can help you make your home be what you want it to be. Contact me at or give me a call at 613.291.2491

May 22, 2010

80% Business / 20% Design

ODNG logo That’s what over 25 decorators, designers, and home stagers adopted as the motto for the Ottawa Design Network Group.

The very first ODNG meeting was held at Custom Home Interiors this past Thursday evening. And I think it’s safe to say that both the turnout and the enthusiasm of everyone present exceeded expectations!! Over 25 people attended the meeting, which also included a blogging info session that I presented and wine & cheese afterwards.

wine and cheese vinsidan

The common thread as we went around the room and we each introduced ourselves is that we all want to find more clients and that we’re looking for ways to do just that. And we’re all in agreement that best way to accomplish our goals is by supporting each other and sharing our knowledge and expertise. Most of us are newbies to the business of design. We have the knowledge, ability, and passion, but we all want to improve our business skills. I’m really excited about where the ODNG will take us :-)

If you’re a designer, decorator, home stager, blogger, or design student in the Ottawa area and would like to join the ODNG, register here.

Next ODNG meeting

Thursday, June 24, 2010
6:30 PM
CHI Boardroom 1

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I can help you make your home be what you want it to be. Contact me at or 613-291-2491.

May 20, 2010

Building Eden, but NOT in a Day!

I am NOT a gardener

Yet because of the wonderful hardscaped garden terraces we created in our front hard, I have to become one… fast!!


Sure I’ve managed okay – not great(!) – with potted flowers… in fact, I’m pretty excited about the pretty ones I planted last week. 




Don’t ask me what kind of flowers I planted because I haven’t got a clue!! Do I like the colours? Do they cascade out of a basket? Do they have a nice aroma? These are the questions I ask myself when I’m at the nursery… all while feeling this overwhelming, fluttery tummy because I have no idea what I’m doing!!

Every year though, I make my flowery purchases, bring them home, plant them and water them… and I seem to do okay. Of course my baskets and pots don’t get as lush and dramatic as some I’ve seen… even though I give them a drink of yummy fertilizer every once in a while.

But I’m determined to get good at this! I am!!

Let me show you what I’m working on right now…

DSCF0579See this photo of our pathway? Well… on either side are mushroom-like path lights. They look fantastic all aglow in the evening! They’re kinda lonely looking, though ~ a long skinny post with a mushroom cap on the top just sitting there all by themselves. Not only that, I’m worried that some punks will come by and – attracted by their fragile appearance – kick them over or pull them out. They’re very obvious sitting there, and very vulnerable!

The best and most attractive solution… surround them with lovely plants! Here’s how things look today. We’ve cut away some of our new-born and still growing grass to make room for some scrumptious plants – beauties recommended by the nursery owner/landscape designer that we consult with.


And here are the plants I’ll be planting tomorrow!

RamapoThese beauties will hug each of the two path lights… they’re Rhododendron Ramapo, or dwarf rhodos growing to only about 2’ high, and each spring they’re festooned in a sweet little purple flower! It’s already bloomed this year so I can’t wait to see what these little shrubs will look like next year!

Then, framing the Ramapos will be an assortment of other plants – some nest spruces, a variegated leafy plant with a name I can’t remember(!) and this fabulous ornamental grass called Elijah Blue.

Note: Chania from Razmataz tells me that the variegated leafy plant is called Eunonymus. Thanks Chania; I need all the help I can get from my blogger friends!


I love the texture and complementary colours! It’s going to look gorgeous!

Come back later today… I’ll post a photo or 2 showing how this little segment of our gardens looks when all planted!

Since our readers LOVE to see before an afters, let me show you what I tackled today.

The photo below shows our upper terrace sitting just below the house and our front deck. Before we built the retaining wall there was a slope of large stones… thinking I could pretty things up a little, I put the barrels you see at the foot of each deck post and at the top of the slope. I also installed these trellises in the hope that the clematis I planted would flourish. Nope. Did I say I wasn’t a gardener?! I’d better learn… fast… because…


Those old barrels are now gone and in their place…

Climbing Petiolaris Hydrangeas!

They’ll look even more beautiful when they work their way up and trough the deck railing!!


This is what the flowers of this wonderful climbing hydrangea look like… lovely clusters of small white flowers that have a fragrant aroma! It’s deciduous, but the bark of the branches are cinnamon-brown in colour and peel away a bit… like a birch… so even in the winter it will be lovely to look at!

I’m so excited about these vines!!

Please keep in mind that we’re a work in progress… the wood and ladders under the front deck will be removed eventually, I promise!

Want to hear something funny? As I was planting the vines this afternoon – in the pouring rain, by the way! – someone driving by stopped their vehicle across the street and was taking photographs of our house and our handiwork! I can’t tell you how many people stop as they walk past, and drive past, to tell us how they love watching our yard and house’s transformation! My son says I need to put a sign out that says “Follow our progress” with the URL to DesignTies and my business name… why didn’t I think of that?! Now I have to figure out how to make a great looking sign at little expense!


I obviously have some more plants to place in this terrace… heck I have a gazillion plants that I have to place in ALL our gardens!

So much work to do! So much for me to learn!!

Now I need to confess…

While all our energy is going into creating a beautiful front yard, our back yard is looking hideous! It’s filled with house renovation junk making it challenging for Brian to keep it cut back. He’s definitely going to have to head out there soon with the whipper snipper!

WE may not like all that long grass, but it’s proven to be a bit of heaven for a certain lion in our household!

DSCF0581What a guy!! Every chance he gets he’s hiding here and peering out at us between the blades of grass! It’s particularly funny to see him scamper to this spot when ever we come into view, thinking that he’s hiding from us!! If you don’t know much about our cat Scotty, you HAVE to read about him here. He’s truly a character!!

Thanks for dropping by!


P.S. I got to bed after Brian last night only to find Scotty sleeping in my spot. Rather then scoot Scotty out of the way I attempted to squeeze in between them. I found myself so intent on not disturbing the cat that I almost jiggled Brian awake to ask him to scootch over and make room for me!! Am I nuts?! Right then and there I had a giggle fit! Here I was, ready to disturb my husband’s sleep in an effort to keep the cat happy! Fortunately my snickering and giggling didn’t disturb Brian, but it did cause Scotty to indignantly shift his body over a little – enough so that I could squeeze myself in between the two of them. The things we do for our pets!