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This Is What Happened . . . When I Worked With Topiarius

Topiarius may not have the reach and influence of Martha Stewart or Chip and Joanna Gaines (yet!) but what we do have . . . is one AMAZING referral network of AMAZING clients and partners.

And this network has got some AMAZING things to say.

So . . . let me introduce you to Shellane.

Craig and I started working with Shellane and her family in 2012. We have landscaped the parkway, front yard, back yard and rooftop of her former home and have completed her garage rooftop and back yard of her new home. (Front yard is getting worked on as we speak!).

Let’s get started:

Topiarius: What was happening with your home landscape/outdoor spaces when you first decided to hire Topiarius?

Shellane: Every time I have decided to hire Topiarius, it has been because I am obsessed about our outdoor spaces. I grew up on a farm. My dad had flower beds everywhere, and in addition to the crops he grew, his flowers were his passion. They were so beautiful, and I knew having flowers in my life, even in the city, was going to be absolute.

So, in 2012, we bought a new house and the backyard was functional, but it wasn’t pleasantly functional. It was not useful in a way that would make it so that I could be outside as much as I wanted to. I knew I needed to hire someone to help me with that and I received a referral for Topiarius from a friend.

In our development plan, we started with the front yard first because it was terribly pedestrian and the part of the house that everyone sees, that was my first priority. We developed the rooftop next and finally, we developed and refreshed the backyard.

And then? We promptly moved to a new house around the corner and started all over again. (Bigger house because more and bigger kids!) That’s the fun part, right? In developing the property at the first house, I learned some things about what was valuable to me, and that knowledge actually helped me select a different type of property the second time. For example, I thought I would love a deck on the very top of my house! I ended up not really loving a deck on the top of my house. So. Many. Stairs. And its really hot up there!

Topiarius: What was your experience of working with Topiarius like? What would you rate as 5-star?

Shellane: Let’s start with the last question.

I like a small family-owned business. That’s definitely a me thing.

The other 5-star quality for Topiarius is they always fix their mistakes. I love that. And there’s no question about it. If I have something that is going wrong, I reach out and you guys are out there within a week fixing it. I like to think I’m a reasonable customer and not particularly needy, but if equipment isn’t working, that can be frustrating for me.   I reach out and Topiarius Is there to help fix whatever is going wrong. A more concise way of saying it is that you stand behind your work.

The other part of the question? I feel the relationship between Topriarius and me is such that you’re part of my family. (I know this sounds hokey.) You’re part of the group of people that help me do everything I want to do and have a beautiful house.

Every single time I walk out into the backyard or up onto the roof of my garage deck, I’m happy. Being outside just makes me happy. You guys are worth every penny, but it’s an investment. And because it can be such a big financial investment, I have worked with Topiarius over a period of years at each house to develop in phases of our property.

In addition to being influenced by my dad growing flowers everywhere, I was also influenced by the fact that my parents had parties all the time.  They loved to entertain.  Therefore I love to entertain.  And I am continuing to do that at my home with my family – we’re having parties six and seven times a year. As I mentioned previously, when we developed the outdoor space at our first house, I learned some things, my priorities changed.  I wanted my entertaining space done!

At our first house, we started with the front yard because it was what everyone could see from the street and that was important to me then.  When we bought the house, the front yard was grass and boxwood – not beautiful, but good enough.  This time around in my development plan, it was more important for me to be able to entertain outdoors in a living space for my family, especially for my older kids who are more independent. They want to be able to watch TV outside and sit outside to listen to music and all that kind of stuff.   So we focused on that aspect of the house first and the front yard came last.  (I’m on the schedule for the end of June and I can’t wait!)

Topiarius: What was the impact of working with Topiarius on you and/or your family?

Shellane: We are outside all the time. I mean, we would be anyway, but now we’re outside and comfortable and happy. This past summer, the kids were outside more than they had been previously. We installed an outdoor TV on our garage rooftop deck – it got installed kind of late in the season last year (due to it being backordered and us being in North Carolina for six weeks) but the impact of the installation was big. We started using it immediately. The kids would have friends over and they would watch Disney movies.

We also have a dining table up on the rooftop deck that I had actually planned for it to be in our lower backyard, so it would be closer to the kitchen and back door of the house. I showed Craig J-S how I was going to lay it out and he’s like, “Nope, that’s not going to work. You don’t have enough room. It needs to go up top.” I was not happy about that, but I trust Craig.  When we installed the planters and the plantings were completed, I realized there was no way that the dining table would have fit. Craig knew better than I did.   He was totally right.  (Is he reading this?)

This past fall, as the weather turned colder, my husband, my mom, and I would often play cards on Sunday nights up on that deck at that table. All warm and snug under our infrared heaters.   My friends and family love the space. Because it has been thoughtfully planned, the space draws people into it, like a magnet.

Topiarius: Let’s say I’m a super skeptical person and I am not quite convinced that Topiarius’ services are worth it . . . what tangible results did you experience as a result of working with Topiarius that would convince another person to choose us?

Shellane: Before I hired Topiarius, my backyard was just cement pavers and dark gray siding. Literally just walls, cement, and an empty sad space. Sure,  I could have just put some furniture out there and been done with it, but the space was hot and sterile and not a place that you want to go sit and read a book. But, by developing the backyard and garage rooftop deck, we have greatly increased the living space in our house. And the cost associated with that has been worth it to my family.

Now, I have a soft, cozy couch with a TV I can turn on if I want to, under warm heaters if it is too cold, and a louvered pergola to close and ceiling fan if it is too hot. I have a wall of hydrangeas that provide  privacy where I see flowers and butterflies. It’s inviting and cozy and meditative. It just makes me happy. But that is me, I’m happy outside.

But a side note, I’m not as happy as Craig J-S is outside in the winter. I hate to be cold.  But, as soon as possible this spring, when it finally starts to warm up, I will take our blue tarps off the furniture and open up the space from its hibernation so we can start feeling and smelling the outdoors.

 – Thank you, Shellane! You’re the best!

Refer/Earn is Our Referral Program That Pays You Back!

 

For every person you refer you you could earn endless credits! It’s like FREE money!

Dermatologists Cheer! Umbrellas!

Have you ever left your dermatology appointment with a high-five because you’re protecting yourself from the sun ALL the time in ALL the right ways? 

I never have.

Erin (my dermatologist) gives me pamphlets, a huge bag of samples of sunscreen, and a stern warning EVERY time I leave her office. Protect yourself!

It’s a hard pill to swallow, not because I don’t believe she’s 100% right, but I just love the feeling of sun on my skin. I also know I gots to take care.

So, what the heck does this have to do with Topiarius?! Cha-ching!

If you want to get that high-five like I do, then you want to protect yourself from the sun by choosing one of these wildly creative SHADE options.

Some of these we’ve installed and used in our designs and others we want to. They are all easy to use and so visually cool.

A wall mounted, cantilever umbrella that requires no pole from Umbrosa! No more tripping around the base. Photo: Topiarius
A Mamagreen personal shade that moves where you do! Photo: Mamagreen
Double your fun! Heavy-duty cantilever umbrellas from Umbrosa that can rotate easily to create shade. Photo: Topiarius
These are for when your only decision of the day has to be whether you put the cover on or take the cover off the Sombrero booth. Photo: Mamagreen
It's not just enough to have shade during the day! You should also have evening light with the Extremis Sol Luna! Photo: Shadescapes

If you want to know more about some of these umbrellas, please take a look at this blog post on our website. AND, if you want to talk with us about your new design and installation, now is a perfect time. Can’t wait to hear from you!

From the gal who is learning to love the shade – 

Sara J-S

P.S. Curious about other ways to beat the heat, check out these posts as well: fans and misters and pergolas!

Yummy Textures + Colors

Gone are the days when you want your landscape to look like your neighbors, right? Our homes, inside and out, are all about expressing who we are and the kind of life we want to live.

This is why textures and colors are a must when it comes to outdoor design.

The combinations of landscape materials, such as plants, wood, metal, and stone, develop the textures of your built space.

Layer your space with furniture, that can have any amazing combination of color choices, and you’ve put the icing on the cake.

Taken as one whole visage . . . it’s an artistic masterpiece reflecting you!

You living beautifully outdoors. 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been posting on social media some combinations that I find inspiring. Scroll through and see if you feel the same.

Texture_Landscape and Fabric_1

JANUS et Cie fabric left to right: Plume (Rambutan), Remarkable (Amber), Conga Lines (Manhattan), Great Ocean Road (Khaki)

Landscape: Ipe (hardwood) decking, old clay Chicago pavers, white/cream Petunias, and Heavy Metal Switch Grass

Texture_Landscape and Fabric_2

Perennials Fabrics left to right: See Sea / Safari (Blanca), Jake Stripe (Black Tie), Bebop (Salt and Pepper), Tangled (Flannel)

Landscape: Custom sized bluestone paver in an herring bone pattern next to river rock next to black-painted cedar fence.

Texture_Landscape and Fabric_3_mammagreen

Mamagreen fabric top to bottom: Sunbrella (Ibzia), Sunbrella (Coral Spectrum), Agora (Coral Dust), Batyline (Gem Cream), Olefin (Aubergine)

Landscape: Sedum green roof and limestone pavers

Texture_Landscape and Fabric_4_Perennials

Perennials Fabrics top to bottom: See Sea (Squares), Ishii (Topaz), Wild and Wooly (Salt & Pepper), Scribbles (Hotsy Totsy), Drypoint Plaid (Watermelon)

Landscape: Artificial green wall and Limelight Hydrangea

Open Air Life|FRILUFTSLIV

The link circulated through various feeds in my social media this past week thanks to our friends. They are like hey(!) what you do is a real thing!  (Teasing. Not teasing.)

National Geographic posted an article about the Norwegian lifestyle friluftsliv
“[It] means a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast.” The phrase translates as Open Air Life.  

(I mean . . . I LOVE when other languages have words for concepts that the English language doesn’t.)

While friluftsliv encompasses outdoor activities, it is also about living outdoors. And since living outdoors – the open air life – is our specialty I thought it timely to share ways we can make this happen for you as our months get cooler, colder, and wetter. 

OVERHEAD HEATERS. An excellent way to heat your outdoor space is through electric heaters like this one from Bromic. In this project, two heaters are mounted to the pergola structure. All of a sudden(!) you can still enjoy being outside in the cooler and colder weather. 

FIRE FEATURE (ON A ROOFTOP). Ore is one of several brands we recommend for gas powered outdoor fire features. No longer do you need to shore up chopped wood for the season, simply click and you’ll have fire.

ROOFTOP SPA. What is it about that enjoyable feeling of being in a spa and the weather is chilly? For some of us, it’s heaven. Integrating your spa into a larger design can definitely be part of the plan.

RADIENT HEAT. This one is hidden below the surface. Maybe shoveling or powering up the snow blower is a pastime, but wouldn’t you rather spend your time watching the snow fall?
We consistently install radiant heat systems in-ground and on rooftops. When the temps go below freezing, the ground warms and the snow melts all on its own.

Modern Prairie

LIGHTING. The perfect combination of lighting in your outdoor space will provide the most inviting atmosphere during the evenings.
There’s a reason “mood” lighting is a term.

Lighting

BLANKETS. Our FAVORITE TIP when there’s a consistent chill in the air, keep a basket of blankets by the door. It makes it so easy to snuggle up next to a fire.

FIRE. For Craig at our house, there’s no substitution to an open flame. We have both built stone fire pits (like the image below) and have also specified pre-built options for projects. 

COOKING & TV. A standard design component for most of the projects we work on includes a cooking space. (Click here for more info on this grill.) The next best option to IRL attendance of team competition in stadiums/arenas, is to watch them on your own outdoor TV.

KINDLE. This product is brand new to us, but we are pretty excited about finding it. They’re an LA company that makes one fixture that provides both outdoor lighting and heating. Tons of options are available.

STRUXURE PERGOLA. As certified installers of the StruXure pergola system, we believe these may be one of the best ways to live outdoors in less than ideal weather. In addition to the movable louvres, they can be designed to be enclosed on each side. To see more about the project below, click here.