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Relaxing In A Small Space

You Just Need 2 Things!

I don’t know about you, but complaining drives me bonkers! No, hold up, I need to refresh that . . . what really drives me bonkers is when an individual chooses to be confused because they’re just too [fill in the blank] to think for themselves. 

Who’s still with me? 

There should be no confusion around having an outdoor living space and making it your very own oasis. There are too many positive outcomes to your own health when you spend time outdoors to throw up any road blocks. 

So let me clear up a common road block about small spaces: small spaces are conducive to relaxing. 

You just need 2 things – only 2!

  1. You need a comfortable place to sit and kick back.
  2. You need it to be inviting – a Siren of sorts to woo you outside.

So the first one is obvs. (practicing the art of not being confused). If you are not going to be comfortable while sitting or laying down then there is definitely NO way you’re going to say, “I want to be outdoors in this space.”

The solution: Invest in comfortable, correctly-sized outdoor furniture. (Yo, large overstuffed furniture is not always the jam.)

Number 2. Let’s take a look at these two balconies, which are not large (i.e. imagine what you can do if you have more space . . . but that’s another missive). 

Here’s what’s wooing me out into these spaces, in addition to the uber comfortable lounge chairs:

  1. The are clean and clutter free.
  2. They are showcasing a few planted containers. 
  3. They have some sun protection.
  4. They both have minimal, but helpful lighting.
  5. They both use carpet to create a room feeling.
  6. Artwork (I’m giving props to the lion container as “artwork”) and the option of a faux green wall (upper photo). 

And guess what? I didn’t even mention anything about the view, which means if you don’t have an amazing one (bonus points if you do), you can still have a small amazingly comfortable and desirable outdoor oasis with just these 2 things – comfortable seating and an inviting environment.

If you are all in on this, then one of the best next steps to choose not to be confused is to actively look for guidance . . . that’s where we step in. We will create your dream outdoor oasis – no matters its size – so that you can master the art of living beautifully outdoors. 

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

Self-Care: Outdoor Relaxation

Self-Care Outdoor Relaxation

Craig could rarely find me in our house this spring, summer, and fall.

Mind you, our home is not large, and we’ve not done a whole lot of leaving our house this past year.

At some point in his search, he’d finally open the door to our upper terrace, see me lounging on our sofa with a book or my computer, and with an exasperated laugh say, “I’ve been calling your name. Haven’t you heard me? I should know better because you are always out here!”

The reason I was always out on our terrace . . . I loved being surrounded by nature and I needed to relax. I needed some serious self-care.

I have a strong hunch you are planning for 2021 and thinking about your priorities. This is the reason why I STRONGLY recommend you book a consultation with our team now because it’s too important for your well-being to put it off.

Our terrace reno was new this past spring (pre-COVID) and we had been jonesing for it for over 12 years. (Trust me –patience is not a virtue of mine.)

It wasn’t that we didn’t want to do the project, we just kept bumping it down the list because it didn’t seem as important as other items. And, it wasn’t just about a coat of paint and a new chair. Real work had to be done to get it in tip-top shape. But . . . had I known that we’d be so rejuvenated and calmed, and so able to relax, by being on our terrace . . .  trust me we’d have made it a priority.

Listen, we see all kinds of defunct spaces. We see how the dog controls the back yard because it’s their playground and not yours. We see how if you sat on your deck too long it would totally annoy you because it’s falling apart. With no sun protection why would you bother being out there during the day? And the alley streetlights! It’s like living in Greenland. And . . . rodents claiming residence in the most expensive pieces of property in Chicago. Gross! Oh . . . (one of my favorites) the previous owners stained everything rust/red . . . stressful! Blah!

I know we all know that spending time outdoors is good for us. But did you know that research done by Harvard Medical School proves that interacting with natural spaces offers therapeutic benefits? Calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response. That visual aspects of nature can have a soothing effect. Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.

So, if this were a game of Would You Rather . . .  it’d go like this: Would you rather have the most amazing outdoor living space that allows you to relax and provides you will multiple health benefits OR would you rather have the broken-down space that pisses you off because you hate being out there and it doesn’t provide you with any benefits?

Easy to choose, right?

But, yet it’s winter. It may seem that right now it’s an easy priority to bump down the list, but when the weather turns and our COVID lifestyles begin to change (cuz that gonna happen!), having the additional space to submerge into nature is going to be become invaluable to you.
 
With your newly redesigned (non-annoying) luxurious outdoor space . . .

Your investment will have an 100% ROI . . . for your mind and body.

Your connection to nature . . . will provide proven therapeutic benefits.
 

Making this a priority by contacting our team now for your complimentary consultation is the best prescription for self-care.
 
If you’re curious and want to dig deeper into what we do, join us for our FREE webinar Nature as Healthcare on Thursday, January 28 at 11 a.m. CT. It’s gonna be soo good.


Sara J-S, “Doctor of Self-Care”
 

Thank you, Mood! Outdoor Fabric.

Outdoor Fabric

I know I’m not the only one that has done this.

The fan base is too huge for this to be unique. But . . .  we still had to go.

We (Craig and I) rode the elevator to the 3rd floor. The doors opened and the angels sang!

Okay, no angels just buttons, zippers, and notions everywhere. (Yup, I geek out over notions.)

We had entered MOOD Fabrics in NYC!

Let me catch you up: The epic TV series Project Runway, with the help of coach and mentor Tim Gunn, made the store even more famous. Each time Tim and the competitors were leaving the store they showed their manners and said, “Thank you, Mood.” I mean . . . I got the T-shirt to match.

Topiarius Mood Fabrics

So what’s the deal? Why do I believe that fabric is so interesting? Why do colors, patterns, and textures make my mind work on overdrive?

3 Reasons

It’s about all the options, about all the possibilities, about all the unique outcomes.

With the switch of a color, the whole mood can change. With the addition of a pattern, a rooftop can get interesting. With a textured, furry cushion, you now want to relax on the sofa and watch the game outdoors.

The beauty is that no two outdoor spaces will ever (or need to be) the same! You can have the design that speaks to you, and your neighbor can have theirs. Bonus! For all the designers at Topiarius, this is so not boring. We get to bring you the best possible design.

So how do you find outdoor fabric, particularly if you can’t go to Mood Fabrics in NY or LA?

I suggest you start here with these companies. Fabric can be purchased and provided to an upholsterer to make the cushions, pillows, etc. 

Perennials
Janus et Cie
Nomi
Link Outdoor

You’ll notice I have not listed Sunbrella. Sunbrella is ubiquitous in the outdoor fabric world. It’s almost like asking for Kleenex, when really you’re asking for a tissue. It’s a great option as well, but I want to make sure you’ve got the inside scoop to all things luxurious.

Who’s On First?

Abbott & Costello Who’s On First came to mind this week. (A Classic Must Watch!) I thought, is this how confusing it feels when you just want to find the right company to work with when you’re pursuing design and construction for your outdoor space?   

My inspiration on this topic came from a conversation I had this week with a potential client. (Thank you, Brian G.) 

I realized how important it is to understand the who’s who in the professional world of landscaping because the lay of the land (pun intended) can be very confusing. 

So, I have broken it down into 4 categories. There are 

  1. companies that only do design work.
  2. companies that only do the installation.
  3. companies that do both.
  4. companies that do both and then some.

Each company or person has an area(s) of expertise and that is how they will design your experience for you. (Note: these do not include any home builders or architects. These company descriptions specifically focus on landscaping.)

Companies that do the design place a high value and premium on the design they will create for you. (Such as architects that design landscapes, landscape architects, landscape designers – different levels of education and expertise.) You will be buying your design from them. Because you own it, you can then take that design to whomever you want to do the installation. Often times, these companies will offer you their management services as well. You pay them to facilitate the multitude of subcontractors needed to implement your project. These subs may be companies that they have developed relationships with and will choose to use only them. Because they are working for many clients at the same time, these subs will operate on their own timeline, which can cause management headaches and longer timelines.

Companies that do the installation will work with a plan that is provided to them. (These are often the companies subcontracted with by the first category.) Depending on the scope of work needed, there may be need for multiple companies to complete your project, and then you become the project manager. Quality companies that do the installation will not have any issue reading plans to complete the work, but if there are any changes with design or construction, you also take on the responsibility of making these decisions.

Companies that do both the design and the installation are a perfect combination. Not only are the designs of high quality, but they are also implemented by teams under the same roof. These companies know their staffs’ skills and manage their timelines. If there are any issues that come up with design or with construction, the designers are immediately accessible.

Companies that do both the design and the installation and then some are the crème de la crème. At Topiarius, we not only provide high value design (with our in-house landscape architect and designers) and installation (with our general contracting license, our full staff of carpenters, a 5,000 square foot wood shop, and our full staff of landscape construction crews), but we continue our service with fine gardening and seasonal rotations (with our fully staffed maintenance team). So once the project is complete, we will continue to provide care and annual color through all seasons. We stand by our installations and want to help you enjoy them for years to come.

This information will start you off on the right foot.

Always ask questions so you have the clarity you require.

Contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have for us.

We’d love to get started with our complimentary consultation.

Feeling Alive Again

When my cousins and I would visit my grandparents’ house, the five of us would walk over to the nearby school and playground. Like most kids, we knew how to make each other laugh (I mean, really belly laugh) with small dares and ways to keep the youngest at bay. 

This was back in the days when the hard earth was your landing pad, sharp metal edging was on the really tall slide, and the swings could send you flying feet into the air as the swing-set poles thudded around in the ground.

The swings were a favorite because all five of us could do it at the same time. Between the underdogs and showing off how far we could jump, I can’t forget swinging to the highest arc. I’d feel fear creep in, the chain do a small gitty-up, and then POW! my stomach would drop! Oh, that could make me scream and laugh all at once.

Over the past few months, we’ve been forced to slow down.

A lot can happen when we slow down.

For me, I’ve remembered simple things like being on the playground with my cousins and I’m reminded how much fun there is to have in life. How simple acts like swinging on a swing make me feel alive.

There’s no good reason such lighthearted moments should only be for kids.

So, while these hanging chairs (below) won’t get you 10-15 feet off the ground or cause your stomach to drop, they will keep your heart light and a smile on your face.

Having your home’s outdoor space be a place that brings you joy is what Topiarius does. 

Especially now, as we spend so much more time in our homes, you have every reason to need this and make it happen.

– Sara J-S

Outdoor Living for Pets

Outdoor Pet Beds

We Love Our Pets!

Comfort isn’t just for us two-legged folks.
Our four-legged friends need some attention too! If you’re in the mood to pamper your pet, here are our suggestions. 

1. BEAU DOG HOUSE by Kelly Wearstler  |   2. ADAMS TICKING GREY DOG BED by Annie Selke  |  3. JUXTAPOSE DOG HOUSE by Kelly Wearslter  |  4. MEDIO PRETTY KENNEL by Pretty Kennels  |   5. ARCTIC SHAG BLANKET by Jax & Bones  |  6. AVANT DOG HOUSE by Kelly Wearstler  |  7. RIVIERA DOG BED by Serena & Lily 

Finding Luxury IS this easy!

Outdoor Furniture Rooftop

Tired of only seeing what Restoration Hardware, CB2, and Wayfair have for outdoor furniture? Want something that is more unique and speaks to your style?

Luckily enough . . . you’ve got us! We can help you find all the luxury outdoor furniture companies that don’t float to the top of your Google search.

What you need to know is luxury brands sell in 3 different ways

You can

    1. buy directly from companies and purchase pieces at MSRP (manufacturer suggest retail price)
    2. buy from a company that sells specific lines of furniture and purchase at MSRP or a bit less.
    3. buy directly through your landscape design company. We have access to all of these outdoor furniture companies and can provide you with better deals.

To get started, start viewing furniture by going directly to a company’s website.

Janus et Cie

Brown Jordan

DEDON

Or, you can go to a website for a company that represents multiple lines of outdoor furniture, which then directly connects you to more websites.

There is no reason to have luxury outdoor furniture shopping being the “thing” that is frustrating. We can help directly you to more sites and other luxury furniture designers that we work with.

Need to know how else to eliminate frustration, download our “No Surprises” Guide to Planning Your Outdoor Space: 9 Practical Tips To Maximizing Your Budget For Patios, Rooftop Gardens and Backyards .

PS No kickbacks from these folks . . . just want to share our love of great design in furniture.

9 Practical Tips to Maximize Your Budget for Rooftops and Gardens

Outdoor Space Guide Topiarius

If you’re thinking about renovating your outdoor space, but aren’t sure where to begin, Topiarius can help. Click on The “No Surprises” Guide below for your free download.

In this article you’ll

  1. Learn how to prioritize spaces.
  2. Identify how you want to live in your outdoor space a MAJORITY of the time.
  3. Determine what views are the best.
  4. Understand the importance of roof construction.
  5. Learn how to incorporate water and gas sources.
  6. Think through your flexibility.
  7. See how your interior esthetic impacts your exterior design.
  8. Figure out your first steps in creating a budget.
  9. Learn how different landscape design companies are organized.