Well then, What about Plants for Moist Shade?

Dear Readers, In our last post we talked about plants for dry shade. Several of you wanted to know what to do with areas of moist shade. They also are problems, as molds run rampant, the plants can’t get enough sun, and often are close to drowning in the moisture.

Unlike plants in dry areas where a good layer of mulch holds in moisture, we don’t mulch moist areas; it just encourages mold, mildew, slugs, and other foliage eating pests. But such areas do still want a composted enriched soil.

A few good plant choices for these areas are:Miniature Mat Daisy

BELLIUM MINUTUM, “Miniature Mat Daisy”, which covers itself with a multitude of 1/2″ white daisies from late spring all through summer. It’s a dainty plant with tiny, light green leaves that form a dense mat of foliage in shade. It’s not picky about soil, but may need watering to keep the soil moist. This is a good substitute plant for Creeping Thyme where it’s too shady for thyme. A small plant that will get lost amongst ground covers, but great between flagstone or pavers in shady spots. Zones 5 – 9

Comfrey-Hidcote BlueHIDCOTE BLUE, “Blue Flowering Ornamental Comfy” has clear blue nodding flowers that look great with yellow daffodils. It spreads by underground stolons to form a dense, weed resistant carpet of deep green foliage. Grows in most soils in zones 4 – 9  

COTULA SP., “Tiffindell Gold” /Creeping Gold Buttons is a vigorous, deep rooted groundcover that grows in both dry and moist conditions, in partial or dappled shade. It develops a carpet of mosslike bright green foliage that blooms in late spring with golden button-like flowers. Accepts most soils except wet clay. Zones 5 – 10   COTULA-Creeping Gold Buttons Plant

Sharon Breay, Principal of Breay Design has been helping homeowners with their interior and exterior design problems for many decades, She is a popular, certified, awarded designer, instructor, workshop facilitator, speaker, and author on design. Contact her by clicking the Contact button at the top of this page.

What does Buddhist architecture, Islamic architecture, Notre Dame and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth all have in common?

golden-ratio of a RoseWhat does Buddhist Architecture, Islamic Architecture, Notre Dame, and Mies Van der Rohr’s Faarnsworth house all have in common?   Sacred Geometry!

Sacred Geometry, as architect Robert Armon  has described to reporter Erika Christiansen, ASID, is based on the Golden Rule, that “map” of divine proportions which simultaneously reflect the beauty of the human body’s proportions, the proportions of the nautilus shell, and everything else in  the natural universe. Studies have found that humans tend to feel more at ease and more energized whey viewing and experiencing structures with sacred proportions.

If this is so, then =sacred proportions can increase individual and employee emotional wellbeing—-which can cascade into positive effecdts for physical well being, and on to employee productivity. Compare this with similar outcomes of many environmental design practives, such as using natural light and no volatile organic compounds, and we can see that sacred geometry may be as practical as “green”/environmental design.

Green/environmental design is focsed on life-style, comfort, health, safety, welfare and respect fot the Earth. The same with the sacred arts, the ultimate goal being the metaphysical state, or enlightenment, rather than the basic physical realm. Change the thinking and the physical will follow.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., Allied NSA, principal of Breay Design Associates is not only a popular, awarded designer with degrees in design from University of Michigan, but is also a speaker, instructor, mentor, and author on design and design issues. Contact her by clicking the contact button on the left of these pages. She often asks clietns, when discussing their spaces, “Does the Shoe….FIT “you” …..like your favorite shoes do? If not, then some adjustments are necessary.

More ways Design is Fighting Obesity

Child-on-StairsHello again!  Last post (March 31, 2013), we described some ways design is helping to battle obesity problems in our society. Here are  a few more:

* We are beginning to see traditional school chairs with attached desks set up in rows being avoided for a more open space environment. The idea is to encourage movement within the classroom. There are stand-up tables, beanbag chairs, and WittFitt yoga balls with udders that prevent rolling. Furniture that stacks & rolls not only allows students to move around, but also permits others to configure space as they wish.

* Shower and locker facilities need to be safer to encourage exercise rooms; bike storage areas also need be more safe. Often these areas have been tucked in dark corners. N ow, they are beginning to be more exposed. For instance, in a multi-family residence, you may find a gym for adults with a glass wall separating it from a play area for children. The kids feel secure that the parents are watching them, and the parents feel secure seeing their children, so they tend to spend more time in the gym.

“The goal of active design is not to make exercise more convenient for those who already do it, but to increase everyone’s activity level. ” Many thanks to ICON (ASID, American Society of Interior Designers) Magazine, Spring/13.

Sharon Breay, ASID, Principal of Breay Design Associates is a certified, awarded, and popular designer, speaker, workshop facilitator, and author on design issues. She has been in the field for 24 years; starting Breay Design Associates in 2002. Contact her at sbreay@breaydesign.com.

Design is about more than “pretty;” what you’ll be seeing…..

Child-on-StairsHi Readers!  I’ve mentioned before that true design must not only be lovely–it must be functional for the user. Most designers are very interested in their client’s and the general public’s well being. As such, you are/will be seeing more and more design meant to counter todays obesity in America. Data tells  us that simply posting signs that say “Burn calories, not electricity,” near  elevators can lead to a 50% increase in taking the stairs. Stairs will become more attractive than elevators, with bright colors, artwork, etc.

In the workkplace, a treadmill desk called the Walkstation allows an office worker to do more than just sit long periods. Sitting for long periods not only aids obesity, but also contributes to several other health problems.

The office copy/fax/print machine(s) will once again go back to a central place on the floor, as opposed to the last several years of having small units in each workstation to make the worker more efficient.

Stair landings will be increasing in size, as will corridor niches, equipped with benches and drinking fountains. This is to encourage impromptu meetings with coworkers, generating better creativity and better ideas than locking oneself into the office or cubicle. It also means getting the workers to move about more, thus fighting obesity.

Next blog, we’ll talk about some ways design is helping children to battle obesity. Until then….

FOR ALL OF MY JEWISH FRIENDS—Hope your Passover was Deep, Meaningful, and full of Joy
FOR ALL OF MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS–Hope your Eastertime is Happy, Spiritual, and full of Light.
FOR ALL OF MY MUSLIM FRIENDS–May the teaching of Mohammed fill your mind with Joy, Love, and Understanding
FOR ALL OF MY BUDDHIST AND NOT YET MENTIONED FRIENDS–May the Ever Faithful coming of Spring Blossoms give you renewed Peace, Wisdom, and Happiness.

If I designed for an HGTV program

WHAT an opportunity! What fame! My design process on a 1/2 – 1 hour TV program for all to see. But then I thougtht about that “opportunity.”

Programming, the extremely  important step of learning about a client’s lifestyle, personality, living and personal habits, allergies, pets, etc. would be extremely downplayed on a progam 1 hour or less….if it was allowed at all. This would give viewers the impression that “real” designers design for their own preferences rather than the clients.

This would seem even moreso as no mention would be given to providing the client various sucessful alternatives or choices for the areas to be addressed, perhaps on the floor plan, the colors, furniture, fabrics, flooring (material, styles, colors of  each).The  televised show would only air a second or so on it’s installation. And in a 1/2 –  1 hour show, it would never reflect on the time a client may need to make such choices. It is YOUR home, the decisions should be guided by a knowledgable designer, and made by—YOU.

In a televised progam, during which the entire project is done while the home-owners went to the theatre, you are led to believe this whole thing is a pretty quick & simple process. IT ISN’T; there is much to consider, with one thing leading up to another. You, as homeowner, need to be informed of the Schedule of Events, and what will go into each of them.  Ninety percent of the time, the process is much longer than a couple hours, much messier than television programs, and you, as homeowner are inconvenienced. This is particularly true if the work is done in stages, as is often the case.

The HGTV shows are very interesting, and make people aware of the need for design, but they don’t reflect the possibility of a back-order of a material, or faulty (or incorrect) product being delivered, or workers running into unforseen obstacles.

SO IS THIS ALL WORTH IT? Clients definitely think so, because they have been made aware of the ups and downs “up front”, at the project’s beginning. There is no apprehension or outright fear; after all, the client makes all final decisions from various successful alternatives. There’s very little surprise because everything fits them and their life style like their favorite shoe.     Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need a little help, just tune in to HGTV’s programs—or get a reality check with a professional designer.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is a certified, awarded, popular designer, speaker, instructor, and author on design. She has designed for home-owners, apartment dwellers, hospitals, corporations, home-businesses, single people, couples, families—and even pets! Her speaking company, “Does the Shoe ….FIT” offers various programs & workshops. This blog is posted on the 15th and the end-of-month; her facebook page with quick tips, questions & answers, comments, is at http://www.facebook.com/BreayDesignAssociates

Yeechy Stuff that hopefully won’t go Bump in the night!

Well, it’s the season for Halloween preparations here in America, and tales of yeechy, gross creatures and things. What better time for an interior design blog than to talk about toilets or water closets! Perhaps not the most comfortable subject to discuss, but nonetheless, we all have them!

One of the reasons we grimace when thinking about them, is the process of cleaning them, and cleaning around them. The floor mop never seems to fit into the nooks and crannies behind the toilet for thorough cleaning, and we end up on our hands and knees doing it by hand. But with the 100% raised from the floor models today, we needn’t do such things any more! What a relief! Also, if we are over 50 years of age, or have a movement challenge, we can install these models a bit higher on the wall to help us sit easier, with less bending. We couldn’t do that with a floor model!

For those using wheelchairs, raised from the floor models are great as they allow space underneath. One of the biggest hurdles to bathrooms is that the rooms are small. If there is an injury in the family, the wheelchair often can’t turn around in the bathroom; just these few inches can help so much! And yet, these models never look like they belong in a nursing home–they don’t! They are sleek and modern to fit into any home for any user.

One floorless model also has a concealed tank that fits into the wall cavity (as shown), taking even less space in the room, and allowing the room to look even more attractive. A Gerberit Concealed Tank & Carrier System claims to support 880 pounds (400 kg) with its 16 gauge steel support. And it also utilizes water-saving, dual-flush technology. I give the brand name not to endorse it, but to allow you to find this type of system should you be interested.

While we’re on the subject of toilets & water closets, one American manufacturer is producing a model that water-washes and dries the underside of the user. Water temperature and water pressure are adjustable.

Well, that’s a few solutions to yecchy things! At Breay Design we know YOUR interiors need to fit YOUR lifestyle like your favorite shoe. That’s why Sharon Breay, certified and awarded interior and yard designer named her speaking company “Does the Shoe……FIT?” If you need some help, or wish a program or workshop, contact us; we’ll be happy to work with you.

Starting your Home from Scratch?

Sometimes a client wants to start all over with a new home. And we are seeing this as the economy picks up more and more. This, of course, involves both an interior designer and an architect. The first question is WHERE will it be? I have found an article by architect Michael Gallagher in Mountain Magazine so very helpful, I’m filing it in my Give To Clients file. It’s simple, but important questions can be such a help. Here they are:

Consider this site-selection checklist as you begin the exciting process of building your dream home:

1. General location and proximity to what is important to you, whether that is your place of employment, recreational amenities or shopping and nightlife.

2. Cost. The neighborhood’s reputation and resale value will affect initial and long-term cost.  

3. Views are extremely important, especially when selecting a site in the West. 

4. Topography, which is often not considered. A sloping site might offer excellent views but can result in higher construction costs.

5. Privacy. Consider the location of nearby existing homes, future construction, trails, easements and other factors.

6. Size and buildable area. Make sure you read and understand your HOA design guidelines before purchasing the property.

7. Good solar access, and geothermal and wind resources are important considerations for the home’s operating cost, overall value and quality of living spaces.

8. Access to municipal water and sewer, or the need for and feasibility of a well and septic system.

9. Does it feel right? Visit the property at different times of the day or year, if possible. Can you picture yourself waking up every day with this view?

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D. is an awarded, certified interior and exterior designer, speaker, and author on design. Sharon knows your environment must fit you like your favorite shoe fits, which is why her speaking company is named, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” Projects are generally located in the mid-west and western U.S., although many projects are completely worked out by electronics. To contact Breay Design and Sharon Breay, prinicipal, click the Contact button on this website.

Is the material REALLY green?

Many of us wonder if the home materials we want to use for finishes are truly green/good on our environment. Here’s what one leading local design firm, Associates III considers, per information it provided to ML Magazine. It’s a big list, but something you just may wish to file somewhere. After all, we only have one Earth!

1. Does it reduce material? (Look for dovetailed joinery and multi-functional pieces.
2. Are the products made with pre-consumer content, post-consumer content, and post-industrial content?
3. Is the product renewable? (Examples are wool, cotton, jute, wheatboard, linoleum, cork, bamboo)
4. Do the companies that manufacture it minimize waste and packaging, conserve energy & water, commit to fair trade and sustainable business practices?
5. Are Toxic emissions reduced by using low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, finishes, and adhesives? Lineed oil and wax finishes? Waterborne stains and topcoats?
6. Are the materials low-impact such as locally harvested wood, wheatboard cabinetry and counters, jute rugs?
7. Is the manufacturing done locally, with local stone and reclaimed wood from buildings being demolished?
8. Are the materials durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance (examples: tile and stone)?
9. What about multi-functional furnishings or pieces you already own that can be repaired, refinished, or reupholstered?
10. Look for biodegradable adhesives, nontoxic dyes, and natural fibers.
11. Does it allow for great indoor air quality by using low VOC paints, water-based adhesives, and solvent free finishes and sealants.
12. Is Packaging minimal, returnable, and/or recyclable?
13. Does the manufacturer use eco-friendly carriers (like UPS)?
14. To reduce samples, do the manufacturers provide only digital initial samples?
15. And lastly, is there third-party certification of the product’s environmental standing by a technical, comprehensive, independent, and unbiased person or group?

Remember, your spaces should fit your needs like your favorite shoe fits your foot. Ask yourself,”Does the Shoe….FIT?”  If you need help, contact us. Sharon Breay is an awarded, certified interior designer, garden/yard designer, speaker, and author.


How to Make a TableTop Fountain–

Most of us just love the sound of fountains, in our homes and gardens, on our decks, etc. The sound is healing to us both physically and emotionally; it is a great aid to meditating, and moving water is good feng shui. However, few of us have room for a full size fountain or water fall inside our homes or on our decks, and often one is difficult to install in our gardens.

Well, my friend Lissa A Forbes says making her own was not hard, and tells us how to do this:

It is worth clicking on folks, as she has given us all directions & photos from one who has “done” it! Lissa commented to us that she got her water pump at PetsMart, telling them the size of her pot. Her pot needed a Rio Aqua Pump 50; yours may vary.

Remember, your home needs to fit you like a favorite shoe; ask yourself, “DOES the shoe…fit?” If not, contact us; we’ll make working together fun and results-oriented!

Sharon Breay, ASID/NCIDQ is an awarded, certified, designer, speaker, and author. She has been helping folks with their interior and exterior spaces for decades. Her degrees in design are from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

What can you do with twelve square inches of dirt?

(Sorry, readers, remodeling going on here, and I forgot about the blog going out Sunday!)     This week-end we visited friends for dinner. Bill, the cook, (and is he a cook!) uses as much as possible from his own vegetable garden. Although vegetable gardens generally aren’t thought of as being designed–good ones are! Many types of vegetables are attractive enough to be planted right in the flower garden. This is particularly good for those without alot of space. Another type of vegetable garden design is planning companion plantings, which we’ll talk about in another blog and on the Breay Design Associates facebook page.

Bill’s garden was set up on the side of his back yard using the Square Foot Garden Principle. This is a method of gardening that works with a one-foot square grid laid on a 5′ x 5′ garden (or gardens). What can be grown in a square foot? Actually, almost anything, using a base of sterile topsoil, vermiculite, and a mix of sterile compost types. Vine crops are trained up a trellis, those with produce heavier than green beans are held up by women’s panty hose tied to the trellis. A few plants may take two square feet of the grid, others may be planted 9 seeds to a square of grid.

There are no rows in a square foot garden, so all space is used efficiently, and the gardener can reach right into the middle of the garden from either side. Once the soil and grid is laid out, little labor is involved. Little labor is involved in weeding since gardening is not done your own soil–and there are no soil-born diseases to be had. And this intensive planting system gives approx. 100% of harvest in 20% of the space!

If you decide to try this, read the website (www.squarefootgardening.com) or book for further details. I had planned to try it this spring until I broke a bone in my foot rock-climbing. If some of you readers have personal experience with square foot gardening, please share your story here with us!

ALL design should fit you–the user–like a favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” If you need a little help, contact us; with computers and scanners, distance is not an issue to teamwork.