Monday, February 6, 2012

Urban Garden Design

Living in a city presents a number of difficulties when you want to have a garden. Small spaces, concrete slabs and busy lifestyles all make gardening a challenge. However, having an urban garden is possible when you have a clear idea in mind about what you want and what you need to do.
Oftentimes, the biggest challenge in creating an urban garden is not any of the things mentioned above. More often than not, it's imagination that hinders city dwellers from making the most of their metropolitan spaces.
When planning an urban garden design, certain things need to be kept in mind. With such a small space to work on, you need to be careful with every little detail to make your garden come together. Here are some ideas that you can incorporate in your urban garden design:
1. Make a rough sketch of your garden. The best way to plan for your garden design is to see it on paper. This will help you visualize your garden and will also allow you to plan your space more effectively.
2. Create an optical illusion. To make small spaces appear larger, use mirrors in your urban garden design. Weather-resistant mirrors are perfect for outdoor use and can be positioned in a sunny area in the garden to reflect light to shadier areas.
3. Paint your garden happy. Light colored walls and fences open up garden space. They also make your plants stand out more.
4. Hide unpleasant views. Your neighbor's wall, busy street and other unpleasant views can be altered with the use of small trellis. A trellis can also double as a hanging or climbing post for some of your plants.
5. Research about your plants. Some plants thrive when mixed with other plants, while others need a space of their own. There are those that thrive in sunlight and there are some that prefer partial shade. Knowing how your plants behave will help them grow more favorably. This is particularly applicable to herbs and vegetables, but may likewise be relevant to other plants.
6. Plant strategically. You need to ensure that your plants get enough sunlight as required, so you need to plant strategically. But other than that, you need to know where exactly to place your plants to achieve cohesion in your garden. This also allows provision for putting other landscaping materials in your garden.
7. Use space saving planters. With such small garden space, you cannot place all your plants on the ground. Containers and raised beds help in stretching out your garden space and allow you to accommodate more plants in a tiny space. Use planters which you can hang or place on different areas in your garden.

Terrace Grill - Urban Spaces Demand a Different Approach to Grilling

Today's urban lifestyle often calls for a special kind of grill, one ideally suited to apartment, condo, or townhouse living. A terrace grill would need to have certain characteristics. First, it would need to be light and compact. Next, it would need to remain cool to the touch, no matter how hot it got inside, so you could place it on a tabletop. Finally, to be a true terrace grill, it would have to set up in a jiffy, cleanup quick, and pack up for storage in the blink of an eye. It would be a real bonus if this terrace grill consumed very little charcoal.
Let me introduce you to The Cobb Premium Portable Grill. It's got "terrace grill" written all over it... well, not literally, but you get the idea! Some have called the Cobb a kitchen-in-a bag. Others have named it a complete portable cooking system. Whatever you call it, the Cobb is sure to please demanding apartment, condo, and townhouse dwellers everywhere, especially those with limited space and a discerning palate.
The limited space is perfectly answer by the Cobb's small footprint... about a square foot to be exact. And, at a shade over eight pounds, it's light and easy to move around and store. The discerning palate is addressed by the Cobb's ability to perform all sorts of cooking duties with style - steaming, grilling, roasting, pan-frying, or even smoking! The Cobb also has a secret "flavor-well" that lets you add the liquid of your choice - wine, beer, water, whatever - to keep your food moist and impart whatever flavor you like! Go ahead... experiment!
Experimenting won't cost you much either, because the Cobb is miserly when it comes to using charcoal. This little beast will burn up to three hours on just a few charcoal briquettes - only eight to ten to be exact! How's that for efficient? No need to buy and store that big bag of briquettes... why not grab the small bag instead?
You can accessorize your Cobb any way you like, from the roasting rack to the griddle, from the frying dish/wok to the frying pan/skillet. This gives you tremendous flexibility while preparing meals your family and friends will praise loudly. Go ahead, let them!
When it comes time to clean up, the Cobb's aluminum and stainless steel construction mean ease and speed. Just toss it in the dishwasher, and go do something else. The mesh base stays cool while you cook, making the Cobb a true tabletop terrace grill, and allowing you to safely move it around, even while you're cooking.

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The Legendary Urban Style For Small Living Spaces

Urban style is the most appropriate approach to interior design of smaller living spaces. This is perfect for condominiums and apartments because the furniture pieces and other fixtures are designed in the right scale for a metropolitan and upbeat look. This metropolitan look evokes a minimalist and edgy feel that leans towards the contemporary theme but will still retain some decorative elements and more relaxed and tapered profiles and lines. If you are looking for a contemporary look in your home interior, then you may consider using darker finishes, ceramic or glass top inlays, furniture pieces with metal elements, and a leather recliner in place of a loveseat or sofa.
Urban Style in your Living Room
You have to decide if you are going to go for light or deeper color palette for the windows treatments, walls and other areas where you are going to put fabrics and rugs. However, you must remember that you have to make them earth-toned or as neutral as possible. You also have to carefully select the entertainment center, end tables and coffee tables that have generally dark and smooth finish. Your safe choices include espresso, java and ebony. When planning your urban style living room it is essential that you carefully consider your picks in terms of furniture pieces and other elements to make sure that these become the definitive focal points of your interior design.
In urban style of interior design, you don't necessarily have to go for just one type of element. Even if you are working with a limited living space, urban style allows you to use conversational groupings that create more than one focal point within the same room. Thus, this is a perfect approach in the interior design of your living room. You also have to choose the right kind of couch that will take into account the limited space that you are working on. This means that your range of choices should include a sleeper sofa or a convertible sofa. This is another important aspect of urban style; it's multi-purpose and highly functional.
Urban Style in your Dining Room
You get a trendy look when you adopt the urban style in the interior design of your dining room. Still, this retains the character of timeless sophistication. The overall design of your furniture pieces and other fixture will have to be compact. In addition to this, the profile of your accent elements such as the servers, china cabinets and sideboards must have a crisp and clean look. Just like in the living room, the lines must be relaxed and slightly curved or tapered. You can use dining chairs with curved back while the legs of your dining table can be elegantly shaped.
In order to achieve a contemporary look when using the urban style in your interior design, it is essential that you go for upholstered chairs with earth-toned finish. You can use rich colors as backdrop to these furniture pieces. In this way, you are able to keep your overall interior design simple while creating a dramatic break in the elements with the infusion of bright color splashes that easily grab your attention. While this makes for a strong impact on the right places, your dining room will still retain its homey and warm character.
Urban Style in your Bedroom
Urban style in your bedroom will definitely give it a trendy look. While this approach to your interior design is generally contemporary in style, it gets you one step further by giving you an overall interior design that is flexible and adaptable in specific urban settings, especially for those we normally find in apartments and condominiums. A 4-piece bedroom set with leather panel platform makes for a great focal point for your interior design of your bedroom. It takes on a relaxed and understated elegance which is a distinctive character of urban style bedroom design. The lines are generally simple with metal accents that are highly-polished. The leather elements of the bed panels provide the cosmopolitan and luxurious feel of your bedroom.

6 Design Tips For a Small Garden

Tip One:
A successful design for a small garden in a town or city is centred on a hard structure such as a paved or hard surface area. The planting beds should also play a pivotal role by providing a distinct focal point that sets the tone of the garden especially, if it can be viewed clearly from inside the house.
Tip Two:
Begin your planting with a small set of structural plants as this will set the gardens theme. Use other matching plants to build up the planting beds. As with any small urban garden keep the structure simple as over complicating things will make it look overcrowded.
Tip Three:
If you want a low maintenance garden then minimise the use of grass lawns and replace this with either paving or decking. You can also have a low maintenance garden by the plants you use and where you plant them. For example, choose plants that are evergreen such as shrubs and long grasses in different shades to add more variation and colour. Construct raised beds as designated planting areas as this will stop the plants spreading out and keeps them in confined areas where they are easily controlled.
Tip Four:
If you live in a dry climate then, you need to ensure the soil and your plants do not starve of water and dry out. You can prevent this by using mulch on a regular basis to prevent the loss of moisture from the soil. Plant low growing plants that spread out and make sure you irrigate them early in the morning and late in the evening. Consider using Mediterranean or desert plants such as cacti or shrubs like lavender as they enjoy growing in dry conditions.
Tip Five:
The design of the garden is also very important. For example, in small urban gardens with limited space the design you choose can enhance the sense of space and area. For a small urban garden use a design that incorporates long straight lines. For larger gardens you can incorporate more curves and circle shapes to provide a softer look and theme.
Tip Six:
Due to the limited area in small urban gardens the use of accessories can help to create more of an impact to your design. You can incorporate lighting to accentuate warmth. You can use outdoor mirrors that can be attached to walls to increase the perception of space. You can also use garden furniture to create a focal point and sitting area.

Using California Poppies for Urban Spaces

You may assume that you can only enjoy the beauty of flowers if you have a garden, whether its a large or small space. If you live in an urban area, getting access to outside areas other than public parks can often be difficult, especially in the modern world where sky rise apartment blocks are becoming increasingly common. This doesn't mean that you can't grow a range of plants and flowers to bring color to your environment. And if you're looking for a great group of plants which suit small containers and baskets then California poppies are ideal.
Growing California poppies in small urban spaces makes perfect sense. They are quick growing, do not need a lot of space, and their soil and food requirements are little. California poppies are also annual in their nature so that they only last a year. In an urban environment this can actually be a great positive because at the end of the year you can simply collect seeds, throw away dead plants, and not have to worry about trying to over-winter specimens. Containers can be cleaned out for the colder months so that they look neat and tidy, and when the warmer weather appears you can simply sow new poppy seeds for another year of beautiful color.
You do not need a large amount of space to grow California poppies in and you can also pack plants tightly together meaning that even the smallest area can have some life brought to it. Balconies are perfect for poppies and you can use a collection of containers all planted up with different varieties of this wonderful poppy family to bring a vast array of hues to your home. If you don't have a balcony then do not worry as California poppies also work incredibly well in window boxes. Planted in mass or alongside other plants they will grow profusely, spilling over the edges and producing vibrant blooms. Even hanging baskets can be made using California poppies and you will find that plants will quickly begin to cascade over the edges, creating a waterfall effect of intense and cheering flowers. Meanwhile, if you have steps up to your apartment then you can easily brighten the spot by adding a couple of California poppy containers.
It is very easy to forget about the beauty of greenery when living in a town or city, only enjoying it when you take rare trips to the park. But there is no reason not to enjoy gardening and plants every day by simply including a few easy to grow flowers in your daily life. There is almost always somewhere in your home that you can grow flowers if you try and think outside the box, and with California poppies you can bring some extravagance to your home. Once you've started growing these great little plants you'll soon recognize their benefits to both the environment and your mood. And before long you may even find that your neighbors have followed your lead and started growing poppies too.

Using a Corner Vanity to Optimize Small Bathroom Space

If you have a bathroom with limited space, you need to consider how to make the most of that space. Often times this means selecting a pedestal sink rather than a full bathroom vanity sink.
However, another option would be to select a corner bathroom vanity. These have become more prominent in recent years, possibly because of the increased rate of urban redevelopment for upscale living. People are working hard to make the most of limited space in these environments.
Vessels and Pedestals of the Past
In the past, people mostly just did what they could with a very small bathroom vanity sink, a vessel sink attached to the wall without a cabinet or perhaps a pedestal sink with some make-shift furniture used for storage and counter space. However, now you can take advantage of efficient corner vanities that help you make the most of every nook and cranny of your bathroom.
The Corner Bathroom Vanity
A corner bathroom vanity fits flush against two walls into even the tiniest bathrooms. It can either be an out-of-the-way vanity to function as counter space and mirror for getting ready for that hot date, or it can be a full blown cabinet vanity with plenty of storage. In some cases, you might even have a bathroom sink cut into a corner vanity.
A corner bathroom sink vanity is a great option if you already have plumbing running through the corner of the room, but it might be too expensive to implement if adjusting the existing plumbing makes it prohibitive.
Thinking Outside the Box
But do not hesitate to think in terms of a bathroom vanity without a sink. Often times people get kind of stuck in a rut of thinking that the vanity and the sink must be all-in-one within smaller bathrooms. If you have the luxury of an adjacent powder room than this isn't a concern for you, but in most cases where people deliberate vanities with or without sinks they are trying to maximize limited space.
A wall-mounted vessel sink or pedestal sink in one part of the bathroom with a corner bathroom vanity in the other can make for some interesting design choices as well as great functionality. It empowers you to easily swivel from sink to vanity without leaving the room and without cluttering your sink with your grooming devices.
The optimum use of floor space would be to integrate the corner vanity with the sink, but in addition to being limited by existing plumbing, this also squeezes a lot of functionality in a very tight space. So often times it is best to sacrifice floor space for more efficient elbow room.

A Touch of Brilliance - Water Gardening in a Small City Space

If you think that because of your small city yard or patio you can't have
a water garden, you will be happy to know that you can! Containers that need very little space can make very charming gardens.
When you think of water lilies and water hyacinths being grown in
a garden, you may picture them in large pools or ponds. They
grow just as well in containers, though. Water plants need 5
full hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably with shade in
the afternoons when the sun is the strongest.
A deciduous tree
may not be the best option for the shade in the afternoons,
however, since the falling leaves in autumn can clog the pumps
and harm the fish.
Suggestions on Starting A Water Garden
You need to be able to access water easily to fill and maintain
the level of your garden. The water will evaporate, so it will
need refilled as this happens in order to keep the plants
healthy. If you use water that is chlorinated, allow the water
to sit for at least 2 days before adding it, so that the chlorine
can evaporate and not harm the plants.
Some areas use a
different form of chlorine called chloramines. If your area does
this, you will to go to a water garden supply store and buy a
product that will remove the chloramines from the water garden.
The container that you use for your water garden can be any
waterproof container that holds at least four gallons of water.
A popular and very stylish option are old wooden whiskey barrels
cut in half. Make sure that you line it with gauge plastic
to protect the plants and fish from substances that may
have been absorbed into the wood. A container this small will
only have room for one water lily with some water grasses around
the sides.
Other interesting options for containers are glazed
pottery crocks and old cast iron bathtubs with feet.
After you choose a container, you can choose plants to add to it.
Remember that tropical water lilies have larger blooms than
regular lilies. They are also the most fragrant, bloom more
often, and come in a larger variety of colors. You will have to
store them in a cool place in the winter though (in colder
They can't be left in the cold weather. They can be
planted in temperatures of 75 degrees during the day and 65
degrees at night.
After you choose the plants, you can begin to plant them. To
begin, you will place a layer of garden soil in the bottom of
each pot. Then, you should position the plants at their
recommended planting depths before filling the rest of the pot
with soil.
After the plant is in the soil, a half inch layer of
gravel should be added to the top to keep the soil in place. Use
potting soil with NO fertilizers, chemicals, perlite, or
vermiculite. Last, you should water the plants until the soil is
saturated, then place them in your chosen containers on top of
bricks. Last, you can add the water to the container.
You can be very creative in small space garden designs
by including water gardens even in very small areas with small containers. An urban garden with the peaceful
sound of flowing water can help to relax you and feel like you
are in the country instead of the city.

Small House Plans - How to Make the Most Out of a Small Living Space

There are a number of ways to design small house plans to maximize the amount of space available. These approaches are particularly important in urban areas where space is very limited. Most architects who design  plans for small houses know the tricks of the trade needed to make the rooms and space look larger. However, a homeowner should also be educated on the different approaches and techniques for the interior design to make the best use of their tiny house plans.
A common characteristic of small house plans is an attempt to make the room seem like it is bigger than the actual footage of the room. One of the ways architects compensate for the square footage in small home plans is to build high ceilings, thereby making the space feel larger regardless of the actual square footage.
There a number of design tools a homeowner can apply to accent this feature. The owner can create a horizontal border across the room and paint the lower half a slightly darker color and top half a lighter color. This creates a visual illusion of more height. Homeowners can also compliment their small home plans by buying small paintings that are similar in size and hang them in a vertical line in a prominent area on the wall. This also creates an illusion and draws the focus to the vertical height rather than the length or width.
Another facet homeowners must consider when deciding how to use their small house plans is the placement of furniture. A common mistake made by interior designers for small house plans is using large furniture that does not fit the space.
A huge, overstuffed couch may be a beautiful piece, however in a small space it becomes overbearing. It is important to understand about these plans that every inch is important. Homeowners must avoid over decorating the rooms to compensate for the size, as the over decorating can emphasize the smallness of the area. The best approach to design for tiny house plans is to keep the furniture and decorations minimal.
The furniture should also range in height. A large lamppost next to the couch will make the couch look less cumbersome.  Instead of a heavy bookcase that takes up space, homeowners should use shelves for their books that vary in height, thus saving space and creating a visual illusion

Interior Design and Decorating in Limited Urban Space

When new home owners try to picture out the interior design and decorating, they might cringe at the thought. Most people who can already afford their homes have set aside a budget for the interior design and decors but do not like the idea of having to plan and start the theme for their house. That is when the idea of hiring interior designers comes in handy especially when the owner has no background or idea of the right way to spice up their living space in the big metro.
The idea of limited space in urban homes is a reality. Most of these city houses have a few square feet spare for patios or small yards in the front or back. The idea of urbanized living space is to find a functional limited space and transform it into a chic but livable place for young professionals or starting couples. This can be challenging for lay persons who could only look at the confined area of small condos or apartments in the big city.
But with the development of decors that are affordable and easy to find, decorating your urban space can no longer be that of a hard work. Metal materials generally swamp decors sections in most shops since they are durable, malleable for easy designs, and look sophisticatedly modern. A great example would be metal wall clocks that can last for a long time, great in many interior designs, and modern pieces. Innovative décor companies also include organizer furniture and decors like the shoe rack and many others that can help your place more organized and spacious.
Cabinets and pantries are usually incorporated into the interior design of a room and seem to be concealed for the most part. The many compartments for the modern kitchen in most condos, for example, are placed underneath kitchen counters or overhead to strategically maximize the tight kitchen space. Good thing that most appliances are made in mini modes and are easily placed in small places around the kitchen. Targeting for a minimal but functional theme can truly help in maximizing the rest of the limited space in the condo or apartment units.
Getting the right kind of designer to do your design and décor can also be a great contributor for your urban zone revamp or start. Ask for recommendations from friends or families who have a great place to boast about and ignore the pricy tags of commended professionals who ask for too much for their service fees. Settle for a designer who can recommend lesser but not less creative alternative design schemes for your living space.
Remember that your living space and the interior design and decorating are essential to keep yourselves happy and calm in your own little private sanctuary. Couples should seriously consider the right designer to guide them in design and decors. Do not try to invest in novice designers who can disappoint you with too much enthusiasm and your place might end up looking like an art experiment. You must also stay clear of the most in demand designer to do your living space for you as they can end up doing too little for too much payment. Settle instead for someone who understands you concept and respect it no matter what.
Richard Mckeown enjoys writing for which sells wall picture frame and 8x10 picture frames as well as a host of additional products.

Indoor Gardens for Small Urban Spaces

When I was living in a small studio apartment in New York City, friends used to wonder why I always kept the curtains closed -- until they saw my view. My one window overlooked the back wall of another building, and it wasn't a pretty sight. But curtains are just one solution for covering up a less than inspiring view. Another is to create an indoor garden in your urban home.
If you've never had a garden before, don't worry. Employees at a florist shop or plant nursery usually have a wealth of information that they are more than happy to share. You can help them make informed suggestions for your future garden by doing a little home research before you go. Here are a few things to consider:
Light or Shady? Some plants need lots of sunlight. Some prefer shade. So make a study of the site of your planned garden. How many hours of sunlight does it get? Is that light strong and direct, or is the light blocked by other buildings? Is the average temperature hot and dry, dark and damp, or something in between?
High or Low Maintenance? Urban gardener, know thyself. How much time do you want to devote to your new green friends? It's important to be realistic because although some hardy plants need just a little water and light to thrive, others are more finicky and will shrivel up and die if they don't get exactly the right care.
Stationary or Climbing the Walls? Most people think of potted plants when they think of indoor gardens, but why not let your imagination soar? If you dare, use that old curtain rod as a support for a trailing vine to add color and interest to your windows.
Lemon or Lime? Just because you live in an urban environment doesn't mean you can't have a small orchard growing in your home. Ask your local plant expert about how to install temperature and light controls if your apartment isn't naturally warm and sunny. And by the way, bonsai trees are another great option for small spaces.
With so many indoor gardening choices you can turn even the smallest of urban spaces into an oasis of green. Just take a few minutes to observe the light and climate conditions of your future garden's site. Then consult with your local gardening experts to get that indoor garden growing in your home.
Lara Fine is a home design aficionado. Her areas of expertise include finding creative home decor solutions for small spaces and recreating period looks on a budget.