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.

Ice Dams do Interior Damage!

Icicyle-2This blog is concerned with interior and exterior design; I seldom write about our roofs. However, so many people this winter are being blasted by heavy snowstorms. And in Colorado, our heaviest snows are always in March. There are precautions we can take to save both our roofs AND our interiors from water damage. I got this information from my trusted roofer, Jim Cambron of JBC Roofing & Gutters.

So what are ice dams on our roof? Ice will build up on the edges of the roof, and can cause serious damage when  some of it melts, seeps around the shingle nails or at cracks and openings, and runs down into our walls or through our insulation to interior ceilings.Even on a good roof, the ice dam can grow as it is fed by melting snow above it; the dam will limit itself to the portions of the roof that is below 32 degrees–and freeze. Overhangs are often colder than the rest of the roof, and icedams are common on north facing slopes. Since the ice forms on the edges of the roof, it must melt from a heat source coming from the house itself or from the sun shining on the roof.

You may wish to remove the heavy snows from the roof with a roof rake. but this is dangerous. For a long-term solution, prevent ice dams by using ice and water shield under your shingles. (I always specify it to go 3′ up the roof, from the eave.)

Another solution is to have heating tape installed on the roof’s lower edges. Do not wait until you have ice to turn on this tape, which is laid in a zigzag pattern across the lower roof.  You need to turn the tape on as soon as it snows, to keep it from freezing as it melts and runs down to the lower/colder portion of the roof, creating an ice dams.

If you’ve ever had the shock of water dripping from the ceiling–and the concern about the ceiling caving in, or watched the drywall turn to mush, and wallpapers get bowls of water behind them, slowly moving down the wall and ruining the wall—you’ll wish you’d thought of ice dam prevention!

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., principal of Breay Design, is an awarded recognized designer, speaker, and author on design. Her degrees are from University of Michigan; she currently resides just west of Denver, CO in a mountain canyon.

L.E.D.’s are Improving–

People I’ve talked with that tried the new LED (light emitting diodes) light “bulbs” have disliked them. This new way of producing light for our homes and offices uses MUCH less energy to produce light than any other artificial light source so far. (The sun, not an artificial light source, is obviously the brightest light.) We’ve been able to retrofit our recessed can light fixtures, and our exterior light fixtures with LED lightiing. We’ve purchased pucks to use as undercabinet task lighting. ……And we just haven’t liked any of them.

 The LED light is glaringly blu-ish, reminiscent of yesteryear’s fluorescent bulbs, before technology discovered how to build a full spectrum, color corrected fluorescent. People prefer a warmer looking light for their homes; it “seems” more relaxing and cozier. This is part of our psychology, because back in our cave-inhabiting days, the cave fire-pit gave us warmth and protection. The cave fire-pit light was warm colored. We associate feelings of comfort and security with warm colored light.

But LED’s, unlike fluorescents, aren’t lit by a gaseous arc to spark a light within the bulb. In fact, there is no actual “bulb” to an LED.Scientists have discovered that by combining the black body radiation curve, which relates light wavelength to light intensity within an incandescent bulb, with a  logarithmically-based dimming technique, and then correcting for temperature variation, a light is produced  in LEDs with the color between amber and white, much like the warm colored incandescent bulbs we are so accustomed to. And the extreme energy efficiency still exists. 

Now this is more like it! By people expressing their dislike of a product, it is being improved, and soon we may all like the looks of LED lighting!

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is a certified, awarded, and widely recognized interior designer and yard-garden designer. She works with clientele at Breay Design, speaks frequently on the subject of design, and has authored several booklets on the subject of design. To contact Sharon directly, hit the Contact Us left button on her website (http://www.breaydesign.com)

This room is too narrow! It’s like a bowling alley!–Part 2

Last blog we discussed three things you can do to make a narrow room more functional, as well as long good. We discussed lighting in a narrow room, color, furniture scale, and creating furniture groupings for areas of activity. Here are some examples concerning furniture groupings:

You want to fully utilize the space. Think about a small dinette or game table with chairs added to a living room or bedroom space. You could add a rather solidary area for one or two, just for reading, with some bookshelves in this area of the room, a few more chairs just for this area, and perhaps a round table with table lamp. Area rug(s) can define an area of activity.

Fireplaces are always a wlecome, cozy addition to any room; even warmer climates in the U.S. have chilly (if not darn right cold) evenings. It needn’t be an expensive built-in fireplace; think about the thousands of choices of portables, in the style to fit your decor.

If the Dining Room is the “wind tunnel” of your home, take away its strickly dining mood. Add some bookshelves on either side of a window, with a rocker and table with a table lamp. Add a settee or even a sofa perpendicular to the table seating arrangement for people who may wish to visit without dining. Add a portable fireplace in this room, as mentioned in the paragraph above. Use a few dining room tables, instead of just one long one (that will accentuate the too-long room). Make the room livable; so many dining rooms are rather formal and “set” for only one activity–dining.

Your spaces need to fit you like your favorite shoe. Ask yourself, “Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need help, contact us. We have clients cross country, thanks to electronics. Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D. is an awarded, recognized, certified interior designer and garden-yard designer, speaker, author, and instructor on these subjects.

This room’s too narrow!

Feel like you’re in a bowling alley–in your own house? Narrow rooms can be a problem. Often there is space that is not functional. But not with a little thought given them.

First of all, make them as light as possible. You can use mirrors at either end of the room.Having light on the long, narrow walls will visually push them back, also making the room look wider. This can be done with recessed ceiling lighting aimed at the wall, or sconce lighting or track lighting.

Secondly, I also like to paint the two small walls (or at least one of them) a warm medium to dark accent color. This makes the wall visually advance, giving the room some visual square-ness, vs. the bowling alley rectangle. 

Third, I like to use furniture in a smaller scale. Yes, you may have plenty of room to spread out longwise, but larger scale furniture just accentuates the narrow parameters of the space. And I want you to have groupings of furniture and various activities, so you’ll need to have space for circulating from one area to another within this room.

Join us the next blog, for details on furniture groupings and activities to plan for in narrow rooms.

Your spaces need to fit YOU like your favorite shoes. Ask yourself…”Does the Shoe FIT?” If you need help, contact us. Our clients are cross-country, thanks to todays electronics. Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., is an awarded, certified, popular interior designer and garden-yard designer, speaker, author, and instructor on  these subjects.  





































































































































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

Holiday Arrangements–

Here are some holidayt decorating tips from another designer, Melissa Svenby, as posted in Colorado Homes and Lifestyles. Although not new to many of us, she did such a good job of condensing the main ideas, I wanted to share it with you.

Find things you already have in your home and make vignettes with these items and some decorations. Think of placing them in a corner of a bathroom counter, a guest bedroom dresser, an end table, and/or a mantle, on a porch if they are large enough, and/or the center of the dining room table. (Sharon’s note: Vignettes are so much more interesting than a single decoration, and they are great for small spaces. Another idea for a vignette are an assortment of house plants with holiday lights and brightly colored ribbons.)

Vary the height of the decorations to add interest. (Sharon’s note: And also vary the textures and shapes–some narrow and taller, some short and fat.) A few lighted pieces in the arrangement gives a special aura at night.

Wrap gifts beautifully; it doubles the enjoyment for the receiver. AND– beautifully wrapped gifts setting around the house in small groupings give holiday cheer with their bright colors. Place a few over the curtain rods, a few more in a hall corner, etc. (But don’t forget where you put them all come gift opening day!)

Whatever is best for you, enjoy the holiday decorating! Make it a fun family event, a yearly tradition, whether the decorating is elaborate or just a few simple items. If you need any help, give us a call or e-mail. I know that your decorating and it’s style must fit YOU and your lifestyle, like everything else in your home. We’ve been helping people with their homes for decades, and each one is unique.      

Sharon Breay,principal of Breay Design and her speaking business, “DOES THE SHOE FIT?” is a certified and awarded designer, speaker on design, and author. Feel free to send questions or call her for a consultation or project.


Holiday table–

For those of us in the United States, Thanksgiving dinner is in our minds; what foods to fix, and how to adorn the table. Here’s something we don’t see every year on our tables, and it’s easy to prepare. Take the smallest size of terra-cotta pot, line it with a plastic bag that has been trimmed to fit the pot, and fill the bag with water-soaked florist’s foam. Then gather a few chrysanthemums or other autumn-colored flowers with stems. Wrap the stems with floral wire or green floral tape, and insert the grouping into the florist’s foam. Cover the florist’s foam with moistened sphagnum moss. Perhaps tie a pretty ribbon around the stems.

I’ve also used this idea with ice cream in the (new and washed) terracotta pots, then inserted a flower stem and covered the ice cream with chocolate sprinkles for edible soil. Freeze the pots of ice cream until serving time. Then add the flowers (silk or real stems wired or put into a straw for strength) and the sprinkles.

Whatever you use, may you have a Blessed and Joyful Thanksgiving. We know you home must fit you as an individual or individual family, like your favorite shoe fits you. Ask yourself, “Does the shoe…FIT?”  Contact us if you need any help with your home’s interior or exterior design. Sharon is a certified, awarded designer, speaker, and author.