When Color Could Kill: Stories In the History of Paint

Victoria Finlay is the author of Color: A Natural History of the Palette and Jewels: A Secret History. She resides near Bath, England, and is writing a second color publication for the Getty Museum. Her research has led her around the world and deep into the history of color — and the risks we’ve taken to bring the most beautiful hues into our houses.

“[I am] sorry to find that the Green paint which was made to provide the dining room another coat must have turned out so awful,” composed the 45-year-old George Washington in the battle in 1787. The summons to the farmer-turned-soldier to take the role of commander in chief of the continental army had come at a somewhat inconvenient time for the decoration at his home at Mount Vernon, and he wrote home frequently, asking updates on each aspect of the job, for instance, long-running saga of the green to be utilized at the massive dining room.

The large dining room at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

George Washington’s paint in question was verdigris, a pigment produced from suspending copper over a tub of vinegar; it was very trendy in both Europe and America at the close of the 18th century. Looking at its restoration (using hand-ground paints) at Mount Vernon, Virginia, now it still seems so exotic — you can see why the upcoming president obsessed about it. However he and his craftsmen hadn’t done their compound prep, to miserable effect.

If Washington or his works manager, Lund Washington, had had access to the 15th-century classic Il Libro dell’ Arte (The Craftsman’s Handbook) from the artist Cennino Cennini, they would have discovered that, according to the publication:

A shade called verdigris is green. It is very green alone. And it’s manufactured by alchemy, from vinegar and aluminum. This shade is great on panel, tempered with dimensions. Take care to not receive it around any white lead, for they’re mortal enemies at each respect. Work it up with vinegar, which it retains according to its own nature. And should you want to generate a perfect green for bud … it’s beautiful to the eye, however it doesn’t last.

But Lund set lead white about the finishes, and within a month or two, the bright turquoise had darkened and had to be replaced — though it was finished again in time for G.W. along with his family to be in this room in 1789 when they learned he was to be the first president of the USA.

Notorious green

The paint that afterwards became notorious for being toxic was discovered almost accidentally in Sweden in 1775 by a scientist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele. It was a bright and almost shocking shade, reminiscent of deep emerald. He predicted it Scheele’s Green, also by the start it was a feeling. Parents particularly adored it for their children’s bedrooms, as it was much brighter than the dull grays and browns they were used to, but it was also used for artificial flowers, rugs and clothes, and it remained in vogue for a century.

Yet this shade was a killer: Children and invalids died from sleeping in their green chambers; a Persian cat locked in an darkened bedroom has been found covered in pustules; Napoleon expired rather mysteriously on St. Helena Island at a green bedroom, and it was just in the 1980s that anyone was able to do an analysis on his own hair. It’d traces of a few of the vital ingredients of Scheele’s green: arsenic.

Why England’s article boxes are reddish

The color of England’s pillar post boxes, which we now take for granted, was a topic of profound consternation once the post office began using them (rather than home collections) from the 19th century. The first boxes were green, until people complained that they were constantly bumping into them so from the early 1880s they were repainted an eye-catching reddish silicate enamel. The tooth didn’t survive, and in a number of places faded hopelessly to a pinky white inside a month or two.

The problem was, for years there wasn’t any paint available that was bright and yet could withstand the competing challenges of sunshine and frost. From the post office archives there are lots of letters from members of the public complaining about the color. One person suggested they paint them grey like battleships, which at least could have had the virtue of staying color consistent — because surely people knew by then in which their regional post boxes were to be found.

Crisp Architects

Color becomes constant

As part of my study, I went to deepest Dorset, England to visit the headquarters of Farrow & Ball, based in the 1980s when the English National Trust wanted an expert to mix paints for its great homes in need of redecoration.

Nowadays Farrow & Ball paints, using terrific names like Clunch (from old slang for a chalk building block), Blackened (speaking to when soot was utilized to make an off-white pigment using a silver colour), String, Downpipe along with the startling Dead Salmon appeal to people wanting the colors in their sitting rooms to be just like those in British stately houses and then, sometimes, just a tad more eccentric.

Before I went, I had a romantic image of the people at Farrow & Ball using several of the same pigments and ingredients that a 19th-century decorator could have used, but this isn’t the situation. First of all, 19th-century decorators needed to assemble the paint components for themselves (as a young Irish immigrant noticed when he came at Brooklyn in the late 1870s, determining there should be an easier way. His name was Benjamin Moore).

Wall paint: French Gray, Farrow & Ball

Best & Company

Secondly, as Farrow & Ball’s managing director, Tom Helme, pointed out, the quality of these exact fugitive 19th-century paints wouldn’t have been great enough for our modern-day requirements. “Nowadays people want the color on their walls to stay constant. In the past people knew it would change immediately, and they were resigned to it.”

And next, as I found in my trip, lots of the old paint colors are now illegal. These include lead white, which was banned from the U.S. in 1977 but which is still utilized in several nations — as recently as last year, activists at Calcutta, India, were protesting that deities thrown symbolically into the river Ganges through processions should not be painted, as the lead is poisoning the sacred river.

Wall paint: Blackened, Farrow & Ball

Mercedes Corbell Design + Architecture

We can, naturally, be nostalgic for a past in which the colors of those paints were made from real things: stones, plants, galls, soot and sometimes (in the case of carmine) little rounded bugs. But we can be grateful too: Now’s synthetic colors probably won’t poison us they will probably not blend with other paints and have dramatic chemical reactions. And unlike with George Washington’s much-wanted, although quickly evaporating, large green dining room, we can be pretty confident that after it’s on the wall, it is going to stay on the wall until we make the considered decision to paint over it and try something new.

The author using Doreen Tipiloura of the Tiwi Islands, who painted Big Sheep Little Sheep Dreaming, showcased in Color: A Natural History of the Palette, published by Ballantine in the U.S. and Sceptre from the U.K.

More: Back to the Future of the House

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25 Many Bookmarked Colorful Homes of 2012

This was the year of color on . While we still love our grays and browns, saw an explosion of houses with vibrant colours on the website in 2012, and readers embraced the welcome death from many neutrals. Here we provide the most photographed homes on . From a weekend house in São Paulo, Brazil, to a funding remodel in Ireland and also an unfolding flat in Manhattan, these houses have daring, beautiful color.

Rikki Snyder

1. An Antique Cape Cod House Explodes With Color

This homeowner — an artist and sheep farmer in Massachusetts — did not hold back in her home’s decor. Bright chartreuse walls, handmade background and eclectic details cover every available surface in this wonderful home.

S / Wiley Interior Photography

2. Lively Meets Thrifty in Southern California

The turquoise front door of the happy home opens into a collected but refined living space. Splashes of turquoise draw people thorough the entryway, pattern-filled living room and family-friendly kitchen and dining space.

DKOR Interiors Inc.- Interior Designers Miami

3. Modern, Entertaining Home in Florida

This Florida dwelling proves that contemporary and minimalist do not necessarily imply sparse. Color makes its presence known in each room. Yellow office shelving, orange and blue artwork, a chartreuse kids living room and the enjoyable teen room shown here help bring the clean-lined house to life.


4. Gloriously Untamed Shade in a Manhattan Home

The unbiased casing of the New York City home plays host to an Unbelievable array of colorful accents. This office, coated in Orla Kiely background, is just the tip of this iceberg. ers adored the homeowners’ daring style, beautiful blue lacquered piano and contemporary custom made playroom.

Caitlin Wilson Design

5. Energy and Color Aplenty in a Live-Work Lease

simply because you’re a renter does not mean that you can not own fashion, as this colorful Philadelphia house proves. This designer outfitted her family’s flat in female hues which nevertheless feel family friendly. readers adored her bold but girly fashion — observed within this peppy pink couch.

Louise Lakier

6. Little, Vivid Island Home in Washington

Affectionately called the Salsa House for its dinner made on the property, this bold-colored home lives up to its vibrant nickname. Salvaged materials from all over the neighborhood give the interior character, while the vivid exterior speaks for itself.

Lindsay von Hagel

7. Colorful Hand Painting Bedecks a Creative Home

It is clear these homeowners like to take risks in design — the purple, ombré, Southwest-style walls in the dining room function as evidence. Pattern, color and handmade details burst in each room — it is no wonder so many ers spared this one for inspiration!

Alisha gwen interior design

8. Shade frees a Family-Friendly Show House to Life

rather than opting for the normal beige palette which often appears in show homes, this designer paid tribute to her love of Dorothy Draper and cheerful hues. ers loved the mix of patterns in the living room and the unexpected shots of apple green.

Shannon Malone

9. Colorful, Architectural Gem in Ojai

Japanese, Southwestern and California Mission styles come to life in this charming California home. Citron and a wealthy red-orange adorn the entry and the kitchen’s habit built-ins and cabinetry. From the kitchen to the more relaxing bedrooms, this house has plenty of ideas that ers desired to recall.

Sarah Greenman

10. Flea Market Glamour in Texas

in case you have plenty of patience and a fantastic eye, hunting for furniture in flea markets may pay off. This Texas couple loves to attract old items back to life, reupholstering, painting and refinishing flea market finds to make them contemporary treasures.

Valerie McCaskill Dickman

11. Budget-Friendly Bohemian Ranch in Dallas

This Dallas ranch house demonstrates how a paintbrush and a few good colours can alter everything. A combination of DIY details and amazing furniture provides this house a unique, eclectic texture. Shade adds depth to each part of the house — from the black dining room to the bright yellowish master bed to the turquoise front door.

Design Manifest

12. Eclectic Jewel Box Loft in Philadelphia

This Philadelphia attic has a divided open space with colorful nooks on almost every wall. Wallpaper, royal blue paint and a daring black permit for specified living, bar and working spaces.

Michael K Chen Architecture

13. 400-Square-Foot Unfolding Flat

A size of 400 square feet does not exactly look amusement friendly, unless you’re seeing this revolutionary New York apartment. As a result of some custom unfolding unit against one wall, a bed, desk and storage space could all be confined to a spot, leaving plenty of room for hosting guests and cooking dishes.

Believe Contemporary

14. Colorful Quirkiness in an Irish Home

This Irish couple wanted a house that would constantly feel uplifting, but they did not have the budget to do a massive remodel. Even though the kitchen cabinetry, bathroom tiling and flooring stay exactly the same, the creative use of color and layout gave the house a brand-new look.

Madison Modern Home

15. A Cabin of Curiosities in Los Angeles

This Hollywood costume designer lives in a House that feels almost like a film set. Eclectic cloths, collected taxidermy and knickknacks fill just about every nook and cranny. ers adored the homeowner’s unabashed style and artistic consequences.

16. Sunny Colors Lighten a Century-Old Home

Colorful textiles interject playfulness to this classic East Coast house. The eye-catching mix of colours feels natural too. Classy vaulted ceilings and warm wall colours contrast with vivid upholstery and patterned curtains, giving this traditional house a contemporary undertone.

Sarah Greenman

17. An Oregon Cottage With 21 Flavors of Shade

This Northwest cabin has color on its most attractive architectural details. Red trim and a soft blue door perfectly match with all the flowers on the front porch. A purple and green kitchen and a soft blue bedroom offer just a flavor of this cheerful color palette inside.

Natalie Younger Interior Design, Allied ASID

18. Colorful, Casual Hawaiian Vacation Home

To blend the outside and inside, this designer made use of Hawaii’s most vibrant greens and blues. Natural cloths tie each of the spaces together, and ers fell in love with this home’s soothing, tropical and contemporary color palette.

Chimera Interior Design

19. Splashy Colors Spark a Contemporary Guesthouse

This Arizona family refused to let their guesthouse feel second rate compared to their beautiful home. While they used durable materials that could stand up to kids, bright contrasting colours and dashes of chartreuse liven up the cement flooring and easy layout.

Carolina Katz + Paula Nuñez

20. Eclectic midsize Home Embraces Trees

Even though the interior courtyard (complete with four ficus trees) first drew ers to the house, readers fell in love with all the diverse color palette. The dining and living areas remain fairly neutral, however this Chilean house explodes with color in the office, bedrooms and kitchen.

Michael J. Lee Photography

21. Boston Home Goes Ironic conventional

This home’s ancient 20th-century architecture seems traditional but was injected with a brand new take on preppy style. From the outside it is difficult to believe that rooms full of oversize plaids, bold orange upholstery, zebra rugs and chevron armchairs reside inside this shingle-style house.

Holly Marder

22. Plastic Is King within an Out-of-This-World Home

Straight from the 1960s, this retro-inspired, plastic-furniture-filled house makes use of virtually every daring color imaginable. Located in the Netherlands, it has been remodeled into a retro design lover’s dream. Bright oranges, blues and yellows are offset by white and brown modular shelving. The homeowner’s decorative dish collection is in vivid shades of crimson!

Kaia Calhoun

23. Sunny and Cheerful DIY Home in Minnesota

Sweet and simple, this Minnesota duplex was famous for its livability and happy fashion. The youthful owners fixed up their new home on a budget, using paint and wall art to produce affordable design announcements.

Marco Antunio

24. Splashy, Sustainable Shack in São Paulo

A patchwork-style interior and exterior set this little weekend house apart from its São Paulo environment. This Brazilian designer couple wanted a retreat that would incorporate their love of nature and color. The multicolor design, which blurs the lines between the inside and outside, does exactly that.


25. Distinctive Edwardian ‘Design Lab’

For many designers, their home becomes a place to experiment — according to this beautiful San Francisco Edwardian. Even though the original structure was retained, the house’s unique color palette gives it a fresh, contemporary texture. ers adored the contrasting trim throughout the house and the magnificent darkened kitchen backsplash.

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Guest Picks: Lighting to Perk Up a Powder Room

Selecting lighting to get a powder room gives you an opportunity to choose fixtures which are little prettier than what you’d choose for a main tub or en suite. After all, guests will probably use it. As powder rooms occasionally do not have any natural light, a blend of a ceiling fixture and wall sconces may be in order. Whether you’re trying for a modern, vintage or glam look, there are lighting options in every style. — Vanessa from Decor Happy

Vanessa Francis

The lighting option should match the bathroom’s style. In this toilet, my customers fell in love with the vintage feel of those sconces from Restoration Hardware. They really add to the overall charm of this bathroom.

Colors of Light

Well Appointed Bath Light, 2-Light – $269

I love the vintage vibe of the brass wall sconce. Paired with the milk glass shades, it strikes just the right note.


Z-Lite 3-Light Warwick Semi-Flush Ceiling Light – CAD 225

Apothecary lights are a long time favorite, and this one is accessible and reasonably priced.

Restoration Hardware

Edison Milk Glass Sconce – $159

If space is at a premium in a narrow powder space, these slender milk glass sconces are the best answer.

Pottery Barn

Quinn Beaded Double Sconce – $129

The beading on the backplate and the aged look of this double sconce would add rustic charm to a powder room.

Restoration Hardware

Lugarno Triple Sconce – $155

If your powder room is big, then a triple sconce hung above a mirror will offer ample light.

Colors of Light

Soft Contemporary Sconce – $55

This very simple sconce with a metal ring on the color will look smart when put on either side of a very simple mirror.

The Home Depot

Brookside Collection Antique Nickel 1-Light Wall Lantern – CAD 97.45

I would place just one of those above the mirror, as two can overwhelm a powder room, which is generally on a small scale. It would work nicely with a white and navy colour scheme for a contemporary look.

Ballard Designs

Rylan 3-Light Pendant – $249

In case you’ve got tall ceilings in your powder room, then this fairly glass sphere will add interest and glamour.

The Home Depot

Pillar Collection 1-Light Chrome Wall Sconce – CAD 108

This slender sconce in a chrome finish will add a modern element into a room.


Elkins Sconce – $415

I love the combination of the bronze and brass finishes on this double sconce. Ensure you’ve got loads of space on both sides of the mirror to install these.

Schoolhouse Electric

Northwestern 2.25″ Lighting Fixture – $85

This ceiling fixture is indeed unusual — it is a light in a light! I adore its simplicity.

The Home Depot

Luxuria Collection 1-Light Chrome Wall Sconce – CAD 186

I have to acknowledge this sconce is not one I would pick for my own powder room. However, if you’re opting for something over the top, these would add just the ideal amount of glam.


Boston Functional Library moderate – $465

I’ve seen these flexible wall sconces in a toilet. They have quite a presence and lend a Hamptons/nautical vibe into the space.

Hudson Valley Lighting

Nyavk 450-AGB Wall Sconce

Modern, easy and fairly, this brass sconce has it all.

Schoolhouse Electric

Hamilton 2.25″ Pendant Light Fixture – $125

In case you’ve got the distance, hang two of these from the ceiling on either side of a mirror using a natural wood frame.

Restoration Hardware

1920s Factory Sconce – $259

I’ve utilized these retro sconces in a toilet, and they include just the ideal amount of industrial-cool style.


Lillholmen Wall Lamp – $16.99

For those on a limited budget, these cheap wall sconces just can work. I’ve observed similar sconces for ten times the cost.

Hudson Valley Lighting 6220-AGB 120 6 Light Pendant – $1,605

Lanterns are so flexible they work in just about any space. This brass one will add glamour to make a statement in a powder room.


Pottery Barn

Metal-Head Single Sconce – $99

The hexagonal color on this aged brass sconce is indeed unique.

Bed Bath & Beyond

Quoizel Downtown Wall Sconce With 1 mild – $149.99

The soccer ball detail on this wall sconce is fairly yet not over the surface.

Next: 8 Tiny Bathrooms With Big Personalities

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12 Great Ways to Use Home Office Corners

Corners can be tricky, but you can trick them into making them work hard for you. Thus far we have looked at clever ways to take advantage of corners at the kitchen and corners at the living room and living space. Now we will tackle corners at the home office. Here’s a peek at clever ways designers and homeowners have approached office corners, making them considerably more stylish and functional.

Mary Prince Photography

Angle shelves round the bend. Bookshelves that move ‘around the bend make the most of a corner storage potential. This creates a fantastic place in which to float a comfortable reading chair or chaise longue.

Bertram Architects

Stretch a panoramic perspective. A desk before a corner window receives a huge, uninterrupted view.

b. van hecke – Canmore Interior Design

Nestle at a work place. A curved desktop countertop provides smooth and easy access to file and office drawers in addition to additional desktop space in arm’s reach.

Holly Marder

TransFORM | The Art of Custom Storage

Tucking an office chair to the corner takes advantage of space where cupboard drawers would have been knocking into each other and creates additional leg space. This approach also works good in a little space or at the corner of another room, like a kitchen or an office. The cabinets provide enough storage space to keep the office clutter tucked off.

Mark pinkerton – vi360 photography

Insert cushioned chairs to get a comfy, versatile meeting space. When people dream of scoring that corner office, two sides with a perspective is exactly what they’re actually after.

Inside this office, the desk and two comfy chairs take pleasure in the corner viewpoints. Versatile swivel chairs let the lounger choose which way to confront.

David Howell Design

Take wall shelving up to the ceiling. This unique corner shelf by Jim Zivic corrals newspapers and supplies, using space all the way up to the ceiling. Assessing the background to the corner adds work surface and allows the owner to enjoy the view out the window while still hard at work.

See the rest of this loft


Here’s another take on corner shelves.

IN Studio & Co.. Interiors

A blend of shelf units and floating shelves articulates this corner and gives the back wall an open atmosphere.

Tracy Murdock Allied ASID

Let two workspaces meet. This corner allows work spouses to segregate their distances.

See the rest of the home

Highmark Builders

This office for 2 makes the most of both sides. Perhaps they flipped to the one with the better opinion!

Erika Bierman Photography

Angle at a desk. If you would like to look out on the whole office, nestle yourself into the corner with all the desk facing to the room. I also like this strategy if a workspace is from the bedroom — you don’t feel so imprisoned in your desk when you have a vast perspective of the whole space.

Margaret Donaldson Interiors

Causa Design Group

Angle shelves and cabinets to the corner behind the desk. This curved desk and angled built in function nicely together.

Laura Britt Design

Insert a comfortable seat. Corners are a excellent place for an extra armchair.

Kathryn Waltzer

Create a cozy space for dialogue. In authentic tic-tac-toe style, sometimes circle takes the square. The corner can be a fantastic spot to meet in comfy armchairs, and a circular table can tuck into the corner between.

Cornerstone Architects

You can always place chairs and tables facing corner shelves. Note how this carpet positioning requires a cue out of the corner.

Doyle Coffin Architecture LLC

Install a fireplace. The worker in this room can take pleasure in the warmth out of the adjoining desk; a lounger can enjoy the cozy perspective of the flames out of the club seat throughout the room.

Conquering the Corner Fireplace

Habersham Home

Choose hardworking furniture made for corners. Some desk units are made for corners, while it is a massive piece like this …

Amy Renea

… or a more compact corner desk.

Adrienne DeRosa

Include a guest bed. If your home office doubles as a guest room, setting the mattress at the corner is a superb space saver. Additionally, having it at the corner makes it simpler to transform it to a daybed, since there are two walls for throw cushions.

The danger in this setup is the temptation to take a nap in the middle of the workday.

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Rotundas are around buildings or rooms, sometimes with a domed roof. The word “rotunda” has its origins in the Latin word “rotonda,” meaning “around”; those structures became popular in medieval Central Europe. Curves in structure consistently require just angled cuts and additional materials and technology, so these major feats of structure were initially utilized in churches, libraries, government buildings, museums and halls as showpieces.

Siemasko + Verbridge

Rotundas have cylindrical walls and most commonly a domed roof. Dormers are bumped into the domed ceiling of the rotunda to let light in.

Deep River Partners

Cove lights circle the dome of the rotunda, and pin lights create a starry-sky effect.

Colleen Brett

A semicircular domed or vaulted space off a main structure of a building is known as an apse. Apses are seen in churches.

Christopher D. Marshall Architect

Although the ceiling is not domed, this room can nevertheless be thought of as a rotunda since the walls are somewhat cylindrical.

Neuhaus Design Architecture, P.C.

This rotunda has a metal domed roof that is comparable to an onion roof.


These duplex homes wouldn’t be known as rotundas, since the walls aren’t cylindrical; they’re spherical.

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8 Pickable Plants for Fall Centerpieces

An alteration in the season often inspires a change in house decor. Bring a bit of your fall garden inside to change things up. Here are some fall floral favorites which make charming autumnal structures and centerpieces.

Amoroso Design

With their big, multiflowered clusters, hydrangeas make excellent cut flowers. The simple fact that they are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors makes them suitable for virtually every landscape. Not just gorgeous at first blush, many turn into an attractive red purple for fall beauty as well. These two varieties are great for cutting:

Smooth Hydrangea
Botanical name: Hydrangea arborescens
USDA zones: 3 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Medium moisture, well-drained soil
Light condition: Partial shade
Mature size: 3 to 4 ft tall and broad

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Botanical name: Hydrangea quercifolia
USDA zones: 5 to 9
Water requirement:Medium moisture, well-drained soil
Light condition: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 6 to 10 feet tall and broad

With the help of a male pollinator, the feminine winterberry ‘Afterglow’ grows abundant orange-red fruit. These berries will persist through winter and provide food for birds. A simple spray of orange winterberry onto a table instantly evokes a sense of fall.

Botanical name: Ilex verticillata ‘Afterglow’
USDA zones: 3 to 9
Water requirement:moderate to moist soil
Light requirement: Full sun to light shade
Mature size: 3 to 6 ft tall and wide

Amy Renea

The bright yellow, fluffy plumes of goldenrod or Soldiago bring exceptional fall color to the landscape as well regarding the dining table. The ease of this table arrangement magnifies its effect.

A native into the U.S., Solidago has been wrongly accused of causing hay fever, which is actually brought on by wind-born pollen from plants with a similar bloom time, such as ragweed.

Botanical name: Solidago speciosa
USDA zones: 3 to 8
Water requirement: Dry to moderate moisture, well-drained soil
Light condition: Entire sun
Mature size: 2-3 feet tall and broad

Debra Campbell Design

Native to dry plains, prairies and meadows in the U.S., late-blooming sunflowers attract cheerfulness to some table arrangement. Easily grown from seed, they are available in a vast selection of sizes and colors for cutting, intended.

Botanical name: Helianthus annuus
USDA zones: N/A; yearly
Water requirement: Dry to moderate moisture, well-drained soil
Light condition: Entire sun
Mature size: 3 to 10 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 3 ft broad

The Holy lotus isn’t just famous for its big, spectacular flowers; its own seed pods are precious additions to drop floral structures when dried. Since this plant could be grown submerged, it creates a terrific addition to pond and water gardens. But it is best to maintain submerged groups of it in containers for manageability.

Botanical name: Nelumbo nucifera
USDA zones: 4 to 10
Water requirement: Wet, boggy soil
Light condition: Total sun
Mature size: 3 to 6 ft tall and 3 to 4 ft wide

Kim Gamel

A vase of tree branches with fall foliage creates a fall arrangement that is very simple. While maples are thought to be go-to trees for fall color, another tree worthy of consideration is the ginkgo, or Maidenhair tree. The unique fan-shape leaves turn a brilliant yellow in fall — ideal for a tabletop display.

Botanical name: Ginkgo biloba
USDA zones: 3 to 2
Water requirement: Medium moisture, well-drained soil
Light requirement: Total sun
Mature size: 50 to 80 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet broad

Debora carl landscape design

Known by many psuedonyms, curly willow hasbranches that include a rustic yet whimsical feel to structures. Whether mixed with flowers or on their own, these architectural branches make a statement.

Botanical name: Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’
USDA zones: 5 to 8
Water requirement: Medium to moist dirt
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 20 to 30 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide

Missouri Botanical Garden

An extremely unique-looking “fruit” to consider for your fall table is Osage orange. A native to Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, this thorny tree contains inedible grapefruit-size, wrinkly fruits which ripen to a bright chartreuse. Put in a bowl on your table and call it a day.

Botanical name: Maclura pomifera
USDA zones: 4 to 9
Water requirement: Dry to moderate vulnerability, well-drained soil
Light condition: Entire sun
Mature size: 35 to 60 feet tall and broad

Tell us What are some of your favorite fall plants to bring inside?

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Fantastic Design Plant: 'Little Henry' Sweetspire

There’s no room in my backyard for prima donnas. Everything has to perform well without fussing or particular fertilizer, deal with herds of deer and thick clay dirt, and look great in the procedure. ‘Little Henry’ sweetspire is a unassuming deciduous shrub that quickly earned a place as one of my favorites.

U. of Maryland Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Botanical name: Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’
Common title: ‘Little Henry’ sweetspire
USDA zones: 5 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Typical to moist
Light requirement: Full sun or partial shade
Mature dimension: 2-3 feet tall and wide
Benefits and tolerances: Attracts butterflies but not deer; tolerates wet soil, although once established it will deal with drier conditions
Seasonal interest: Spring, summer, fall
When to plant: Anytime

U. of Maryland Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Distinguishing traits. If you’re searching for an easy-care tree using a five-star rating, this is it.
Figurines: Masses of pendulous racemes of lightly fragrant white flowers cover this shrub in spring. Foliage: Healthy medium green leaves turn up the heat in fall using a fiery display to equal the omnipresent burning bush (Euonymus alatus, zones 4 to 9). Form: A neat, weed-smothering moundSize: Contrary to its big brother ‘Henry’s Garnet’, ‘Little Henry’ is only 2 to 3 feet tall and wide — perfect for smaller households. Soil: Joyful with wet feet. Clay soil? No issue.

U. of Maryland Arboretum & Botanical Garden

How to use it. I’ve this shrub massed along a stream bank, where the clay land and saturated winter states are a bonus as opposed to a problem.

The modest size of ‘Little Henry’ makes it convenient for the front of the border or perhaps lining a woodland walk, where it combines beautifully with ferns and Japanese maples.

Personal Garden Coach

To me personally the fall color is its best feature, so be sure to plant this where you can enjoy it at that time of year. Complete sunlight brings out the very intense fall color; mix it with other sun-loving shrubs and grasses to draw focus to this attribute.

This picture shows how the rosy tints of ‘My Monet’ weigela (Weigela florida‘My Monet’, zones 4 to 6) make an attractive color echo, whereas ‘Blue Dune’ lyme grass (Elymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’, zones 4 to 9) cools things down in an exciting screen.

Personal Garden Coach

Planting notes. Think in multiples. 1 shrub is pretty, but a bulk of five or even more is magnificent.

No particular treatment is required when planting. Just tease out the roots and water in well. Some gardeners prefer to add fertilizer to backyard shrubs in spring, but I prefer to just use compost as a yearly increase to improve general health and vigor whilst also helping to keep soil moisture.

It’s improbable that pruning will be essential, but it can be done immediately after flowering if needed.

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A Venetian Courtyard Shows Mastery from the Details

From the early 1960s architect Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978) helped transform the ground floor and courtyard of This 16th-century Palazzo Querini Stampalia to the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a museum and cultural Association between St. Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge in the heart of Venice, Italy. In previous years the base had occupied the building, but flood of the earth floor meant the spaces that there could not be used to their entire scope. Scarpa’s interventions helped maintain the building usable and also an important cultural complex in town.

About three excursions to Venice, I have seen the building three times, but the latest trip was the first once the courtyard was available. This ideabook files my trip to the ground floor, the courtyard and other parts of the building. Scarpa has been a master of producing magnificent details, as you’ll see.

John Hill

Being in canal-rich Venice, the Querini Stampalia base is accessed by bridge. (In recent decades, the entry shifted from a Scarpa-designed bridge to a different one on the opposite side of the building). A glance from across the canal reveals the major spaces in Scarpa’s transformation: the entry space behind the gates, the exhibition hall outside and the courtyard in the rear.

John Hill

Access from the bridge means that people move through the entrance sequence differently now. The distance from where this picture was taken was formerly a dead end — an exhibition space that has been permitted to flood throughout the greatest waters. Now it is the primary access from the ticketing booth and the bookstore to Scarpa’s ground-floor spaces and the upstairs library and museum.

John Hill

Scarpa’s treatment of the room behind the two gates is genuinely remarkable. Does his layout nevertheless allow water within the building (not uncommon in Venice), but it celebrates the water by means of a succession of steps at several heights and also a cantilevered border on the raised walkway. The walkway’s surface actually contrasts with the high-water line.

John Hill

Marking the transition between the entry hall and the exhibition space beyond is a glass wall emphasized by an enclosure. The complex articulation of the stone panels makes the enclosure seem to be for something particular, but in fact it simply covers a radiator.

John Hill

A closer look in the enclosure — awaiting the courtyard in the distance — provides a glimpse of the black radiator that functions the exhibition space. The entry hall is an interior space, inside the confines of the building but available to the elements, so this transition is in fact very important. In this regard, giving a lot of attention to the radiator enclosure makes much sense; it marks an important change within the realm of the ground floor.

John Hill

The exhibition hall appears fairly simple, but it consists of concrete, stone, metal and glass in an asymmetrical grid. The lines on the floor and the glass bits in the wall give the distance a rhythm toward the courtyard.

John Hill

A detail view of the wall illustrates how much attention Scarpa gave to the materials. The elegant travertine stone panels on the wall comparison with the rough concrete on the floor. The brass railing separating the 2 groups of travertine was created as a service for lighting fixtures; it certainly doesn’t seem as pragmatic as its objective.

John Hill

At 1 corner of the exhibition hall, a door opens to a distance that leads to the staircase. The form of the door recalls the radiator enclosure, meaning that Scarpa produced a world of details that he repeated to give consistency to the project. As we will see, that does happen again, but the tactic did not limit his saying.

John Hill

The courtyard is a beautiful space characterized partially by two neighbors, a brick wall covered in ivy. In this space Scarpa added a concrete wall to help define smaller areas (behind it is what’s now a café) and also to install distinct components inside the grassy courtyard.

John Hill

One of these elements is a tiny square pool with lily pads. It may seem odd to add water attributes to a courtyard in Venice, but given how Scarpa celebrated the canal’s water, so it is not surprising that he created this aquatic anchor from the backyard.

John Hill

From the cement walls, Scarpa also added a receptacle that collects rainwater. I see it also as a vase for flowers or for carrying other things. The mosaic line that goes across the cement wall is just another detail that Scarpa reiterated; it is observable around the swimming pool in the previous photograph, and we are going to see it later back inside.

John Hill

Yet another water element is found in the courtyard: a linear trough that visitors experience immediately when walking outside. The fountain is perpendicular to the concrete stripes in the hallway, the canal and also the entry walkway. While the overall motion is from front to rear — canal to courtyard — these perpendicular pieces make the motion more meandering than direct. Like the square pool, the fountain is covered in lily pads, but instead of a metallic enclosure it is all concrete.

John Hill

The head of the fountain is a lovely carved stone piece that makes the water trace a circuitous path before it goes on its own way.

John Hill

In the opposite end of the fountain, a scupper deposits the water into a round basin. This detail recalls Japanese gardens with no derivative. While barely repeating design themes from other parts of the building, the dividing of the stone still seems to fit in with the whole.

I love to believe that the predominant motif is a L-shape profile — a balance of both different types of motion in the design — that are available regardless of formal details. Look at the first photograph in this ideabook to see an L-shape profile in the decorative patterning about the metal gates.

John Hill

One such L-shape profile occurs on a wall panel in what was traditionally the main entrance on the ground floor. Although this space has lost its importance in the general fluidity of the building’s promenade, details such as the board, the mosaic floor and the way the walkway is held back from the walls are still present and part of the encounter.

John Hill

The old principal entrance leads to the staircase and to access to the library and the museum upstairs.

The rebuilt portal exhibits Scarpa’s sensitivity together with older buildings. (He seemed to possess specialized in changing older buildings to new uses, given projects like this and Castelvecchio, a castle in Verona, Italy, transformed into a museum)

The architect did not mimic the old details, but he respected them in how he handled the finishes and the way he used the portal site as a transition to the upstairs areas.

John Hill

The last group of photographs focuses on details in the staircase. In this photo we can see three of them: the handrail supports, the opening for the light in the landing and the stairs.

The first two will be discussed soon, but notice the way the risers have a gap in the center. This may seem frivolous, but they draw attention to the fact that the treads and the risers sit on top of and facing the old stone staircase. The 20th-century stone pieces shield the 400-year-old steps.

John Hill

The steel handrail supports are still an intriguing detail, one that I believe is related to the treads. Instead of bringing down them, potentially landing on the new treads, Scarpa gave them a more Z shape (or can it be two L shapes?) To avert this. Hence the handrail is positioned over the tread, but the service is rooted in the old measure, calling attention to the gap between old and new. Similarly, the new wall panels stop short of the treads, revealing the older walls.

John Hill

In the landing, marking the entry to the library, is a round light fixture. Below it is a ceiling using a double-circle cutout, a layout that resembles a single mobile mutating, as though the light has begun to divide into 2.

John Hill

Halfway up to the library is just another light fixture, square rather than round yet picking up on an identical paired theme.

John Hill

This last detail is a view of the landing as the stair turns 90 degrees. This flip is celebrated via the round notch that occurs in the junction of the borders of the tread and the landing. The detail is a version on the square top found from the radiator enclosure. Many people probably wouldn’t notice this stair depth (I did not notice it before going back down the staircase), but it reveals how no detail was too small for Scarpa; they were significant.

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A Melbourne Gem Harnesses Feng Shui

When bed linen designer Tracie Ellis bought her home in Melbourne, she knew that it was special. The home immediately stuck out, a midcentury stone in a neighborhood filled with Victorians, Edwardians, California bungalows and recently developed constructions. Ellis also lists of a number of different features that endear her light-filled residence: “Unlike other houses on the block, our home faces our neighbors rather than the road. In addition, we have loads of outdoor space, a lovely kitchen and a small collection of art to which I’ve grown quite a attachment,” says Ellis.

at a Glance
Who lives here: Tracie and David Ellis and their dog, Max
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Size: 2,000 square feet
That’s interesting: The house’s first architects were John and Phyllis Murphy, known for designing the 1956 Melbourne Olympic pool, one of Australia’s most defining modernist structures.

Sharyn Cairns

Ellis eliminated two French doors from the living room space and replaced them with big sliding glass doors, bringing the living space and the outdoor deck space together as one big space.

“The leading deck contested us. The wisteria tree introduced a few problems, and we made sure to not damage any of its origins. It was planted in 1954, and that I still have this image of this being a tiny shrub,” she states.

Sharyn Cairns

The flooring, a mild wood out in the front deck and also a darker completed blot from the living room, makes a subtle differentiation and transition from indoor to outdoor space.

Although Ellis opened the front living areas, she and her husband requested for hidden sliding doors to close off rooms and make intimate areas throughout the home. “I enjoy a open floor plan, however that I also enjoy the ambiance of spaces that are defined,” she states.

Light pendant: Nelson Bubble Lamp, Y Lighting; chair: Bertoia Diamond Lounge Chair with Seat Pad, Design Within Reach

Sharyn Cairns

Ellis and her husband met with a feng shui expert until they moved into their property. “She informed us that the place had a fantastic feeling, that it was a happy location. But she pointed out the changes we needed to create, such as changing door-opening directions and moving doorways, so that we can keep the fantastic energy,” says Ellis.

Sectional: Bosko, Jardan Sofa; pouf: Fez, Morroco

Sharyn Cairns

Any scratches on the floor are probably from Max’, as Ellis and her husband normally have a shoes-off policy in the home. The walls are clad in Aalto’s Inherent White, Ellis’ tried and trusted shade of inside white paint.

Coffee table: Barcelona by Harry Bertoia, Design Within Reach

Sharyn Cairns

Sharyn Cairns

The kitchen is your hardest-working room in the home. Ellis, a passionate cook, evaluations out various recipes and delights in entertaining her family in the heart center of the home.

“My husband and I spend hours and hours discussing new ideas for our home decoration company, Aura, in the kitchen. We are always reading through books and magazines, using the island as a location to house the clutter,” says Ellis.

A regret? Failing to install undersurface and built in electric outlets for their laptops.

Bar stool: Charles Ghost Stool by Philippe Starck, Space Furniture

Sharyn Cairns

“For good feng shui, we added the walnut wood cabinets and dining table so there’s a grounding, natural component in the kitchen and dining room. Our last home was very minimal and all white, so that I love that the kitchen is not totally white,” says Ellis.

Sharyn Cairns

Like many homeowners, Ellis admits that she cleaned up for the inside shots of her house. “Right now our home office is filled with tear sheets and disposition boards for our country house in Kyneton, Victoria, so we’ve had to relocate control fundamental to the kitchen,” she states.

The couple also stores their big group of magazines and travel books in the home office. “We are constantly dreaming of our next adventure,” says Ellis.

A abstract painting by Ellis’ mother, Robyn Donovan, gives the white and black space some color and feel.

Sharyn Cairns

One of the designer’s treasured pieces of artwork is by Mitjili Napurrula, a gorgeous red and white canvas with “amazing depth and rich red hues,” Ellis says. Her husband bought it on their first wedding anniversary.

Sharyn Cairns

Floating his and hers sinks create this master bath chic, functional and space efficient.

Sharyn Cairns

For someone who layouts bed linens for a dwelling, Ellis has an unexpectedly casual approach into the bedroom. Pendants dangle from the ceiling and take the area of desk lamps, drawing the eyes up. An Eames chair creates a fashionable substitute for a bedside table, because its mould has more depth for stacked novels, the day’s clothes and other loose items.

Sharyn Cairns

“I really like a mattress that is put together nicely and layered, but my own linens are not fitted or crisp. I relish in the lived-in look. I really don’t iron my linen,” says Ellis.

Here, the couple’s beloved pooch adds that lived-in appeal into a energizing ruby-red guest room.

Bed linens: Aura

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