Garden For The Soul | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

In most American homes, usually one must enter the home through the garden. Some people like it beautiful, manicured and structured, some like it a bit natural, low maintenance and some like it made into vignettes (me). I adore going through gardens and find many elements of surprise and various sceneries. A well-designed garden is based on elements of designs or elements of architecture, then textures, forms, colors and clearly marked pathway.

Plants variety enhance the garden and make beautiful sceneries. Follow the rule of sizes for the best look, tall plants go in the back (wall, fence or island), they are the sentinels of the garden,  short plants go in the front and then ground cover to finish.
It’s important to study the rotation of the sun around the house. The area with the most sun during the day takes plants that can stand full sun.
Use container planters and potted plants to move around and change the scene. Today, conserving water is of the utmost importance. Consider an easy maintenance xeriscape made of plants that are not temperamental and don’t need much of anything, only water, and seldom nutrients. I sing at my plants.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Corner Vegetation

Corner Vegetation

Colors. Can we ever do anything without thinking of colors? Absolutely not. Have you ever noticed when driving on highways, traveling miles after miles, that the colors of trees change from light to dark, and from monochromatic to complementary colors? The change of colors assures a harmonious drive to avoids boredom and to keep the drivers attentive. Color schemes in the garden are just as important for a great composition of light and dark, soft and bold, cool and warm, they just add pleasure in our eyes.

Succulent making pink flowers when in bloom

Succulent making pink flowers when in bloom

Style of the garden – classic with symmetry or free form?
In a classic garden, it’s important to create symmetry. If you look at buildings in Italy, you will see a row of windows with a triangle pediment, and a row with arched windows. Then look down and will see two columns of the same size framing the entry of the building. In classic architecture, details are symmetrical to infuse peace in the eyes of the viewers. It is the same when creating a classic garden. The position and the cut of plants must be symmetrical. Curves are the details of a classically designed garden, which is usually an area with flower beds all around the curves to make us feel embraced. Most often in the center of a curvy area, there is a water source, a fountain, a pond with colorful fish, or a small pool.

Allied Art Round Area Garden

Allied Art Round Area Garden

A free form garden is made of whatever you want, just don’t mix the styles. For example, in a Japanese style garden, there will be a small bridge, stone lanterns, maybe a Buddha, stones of different shapes, and some sandy area. In a fantasy garden, there might be fairies and gnomes, whimsical metal sculptures, funky statues and everything that strikes your fancy.

Garden Fairies

Plant an orchard. If space allows it, in between flowers, you might want to cultivate some of the food you eat. We know how effective color blocking is in fashion and in interiors, use the same method to create a color blocking for products in the same family, for instance, red and green romaine lettuce, purple and green cauliflowers, green and purple cabbage, yellow and multicolor corn. You get the idea.

My orchard with funky characters

My orchard with funky characters

Lighting – I can’t stress enough how important lighting is for the garden, mainly for security purpose and to beautify. The entry landing should be always well illuminated, that’s where we greet people, the light should feel welcoming. The light around bushes under windows will keep unwanted people away and pathways must be clearly defined. Led lights are the best solutions today – https://bit.ly/2LDa4zU.

Led Solar Light

Led Solar Light

 

Following these simple criteria will help to conceive a beautiful garden. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina is an Italian Interior Designer since 1990 designing for the USA and Europe’s markets. She loves to remodel homes and gardens. With her many years of experience, she is able to cover a wide range of design solutions. Often her clients ask to design the landscape concept complete with lighting to complement the interiors she restyles. She creates “exterior rooms” as she calls them and limits the garden design only to vignettes, no structural work. She offers design consultations online anywhere in the world through Skype and Zoom. Valentina is the author of four books available on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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Arrow To The Front Door | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Choosing a design for an interior space, a garden or outdoor space for some people is an overwhelming task. To get ideas a long process of collecting things starts: photos from magazines, roll millions of Pinterest and Instagram images, color chips, textures and hard material. Some people put those pictures in folders, some create visual boards, some other scatter them all over tables, on the floors, stick them on the walls, fill up their computer, get confused and make the task more difficult than anticipated. If all the ideas are there, why is it so difficult to choose colors, style, appearance of a room, or create a nice corner in the garden? The reason is simple. Each design has its distinctive style, if the designer’s work has been done correctly, each room we see in magazines and online reflects the customers’ personality. Trying to compose a puzzle with a color from one picture, a detail from another picture and a style of furniture from one more picture will never work. Designing to follow own personality and lifestyle is the way to go to assure a successful design. (Click on each photo to view it larger).

EntireView(Before) 

This project was developed online, I knew nothing about the virtual client, but soon everything became clear during our conversations online. She mentioned the existing driveway was too straight and long, too gray, too much concrete, too much grass and no harmony or colors in the vegetation. To her eyes the driveway seemed more like a spear shooting straight to her front door. I also kept hearing themes of mysticism and Feng Shui in her conversation with me. Right there I had her answer. I thought of adding games of lights between plants, running water and create a moon garden with plants that would shimmer silver highlights under the moonlight.
exist.cond(Before)

Her house is a contemporary Mediterranean style, in fact the area where she lives is called “Tuscan Hills”. It is located in a newly built development area, clinging to the hill where weeds grew freely and now huge houses propped in clusters take over the hill.  All the houses resemble large cubes missing the true elements of Tuscan Hills and especially missing the Tuscan personality.

©CortileSolut1
First, I tackled the small courtyard at the entry by adding flag stone on the pavement, travertine quoin stones around the door, round travertine landing steps with step lights, window sills and a colorful mosaic fountain with lights. A gazing globe and two larger planters with tall plants would close the vignette. I got rid of the dolphins jumping in the air without water in sight. In a beach house dolphins would have been perfect in a running fountain.

©DrivewaySolut1a

For the driveway I choose an “S” shape designs to avoid that feeling of a straight arrow going directly into to the entry door. Nice colorful pavers would substitute the grey concrete with inserts of medallions in contrasting color pavers forming designs of the sun, moon and star. If she wanted to keep the driveway in a straight line, the view of the second concept offers a harmonious vignette to look at while driving on the long driveway.

DrivewaySolut2a

The two design concepts I submitted to the client are self-explanatory. I played with colors and architectural balance. As the eyes follow the “S” shaped driveway, they will also go the up and down the tall and short plants, stop at the roundness of the rocks and feel joyous looking at the variety of colors. At night the moon will illuminate the silvery plants and in the daytime the sun will touch all the other colorful plants making them even more cheerful.
At this time all flowers and plants are in bloom, this is the time to redo a front yard, landscape, or your outdoor rooms. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val in ParadiseAs a designer in business since 1990, I am interested in helping people designing their interior and exterior spaces with an overall feeling of peace, relaxation and harmony that will draw them home eagerly. I am always looking to add that special touch with original findings to the spaces I design. Featured on Vogue Italia magazine, Gentry and many prominent magazines in California, appeared on RAI, National Italian T.V., my story as a designer continues. Find copies of my three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Don’t Fight Drought, Embrace It | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

It has been said that “brown is the new green”, really?! I cannot bear seeing my garden in brown after I spent so much money planting flowers and time working to maintain beauty, but here in California we are under a severe drought, to avoid incurring in penalties we must not water lawns and I had to adapt too.  I am looking around in neighborhood and do not like what I see outside the homes, some people are letting their gardens go shabby and it is not necessary. Luckily there are many alternative solutions if you are just starting a new landscape or rethinking the old one.

 

Before you design garden and curb appeal, create a landscape that removes the water-thirsty lawn, make a chemical-free environment and enhance the outdoor living with beautiful stones to match the exterior colors of the home. Create a sustainable landscape that is not only beautiful, but provides a bio-diverse environment that is gentle on the earth and welcomes the birds, the bees and the butterflies.

(All images are property of the respective owners)

Plants to choose for the drought are low-water plants that give an all-season appeal. Mix a variety of ground cover, decorative grasses, fountain grasses and wispy green, orange, pink and purple blades grasses, which move in the wind creating a certain musicality, if you can picture it. I have a bunch of them and love the swing. Alternate colors for interest and intersperse these grasses between the stones, cover the ground with pea gravel instead of grass to allow excess water to soak into the earth rather than run off into the street and use lots of colorful pots in which you might want to plant some vegetables, or more cacti and succulents.

Don’t dwell on drought, embrace it, water-conserving gardens can be as colorful as any other and you don’t have to spend your weekends cutting grass anymore. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValHatCelesteStampValentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped people realizing their dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She designs landscape as a complement to the residential design concept to reflect the lifestyle of her clients. She loves creating garden spaces for entertainment, relaxation and for those who cook she likes to create a spice garden. Check out her three published books on regional Italian cuisine and color theory, available on:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Garden Art | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Sure this is true, as my found picture says (author unknown), but what else does one need besides books and a garden? Maybe wines.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

Cicero

 

Garden styles are various and personal. My personal style of garden is a bit rustic, not too manicured and a lot of whimsy. After I create the garden bone, I build around this structure often with recycled items. I find it very easy to create garden art re-using and repurposing items that already had a previous life. You would be surprised how an old bathtub or furniture, such as a unique coffee table, baby crib or an iron bed can be transformed into a beautiful piece of garden art. Just use your imagination and garden art can be almost anything.

Giardino Notte

Trellises or other walkways are ideal to create secluded area with a romantic atmosphere, or to divide a path from another scene; statues of cherubs and angels with fountains are perfect to recreate a classical style garden, bridges and lanterns for a Japanese style, just to name a few.

Wall of plants

Specific plant will determine the style of your garden from tropical to nautical theme, or wildlife habitats.

FAMILY

Metal is not a strange material to include in garden art, it offers many possibilities for benches, arches and sculpture. I would suggest large pieces of metal sculptures, the small things get lost between the foliage. If the metal sculpture gets rusty, don’t worry it looks even better showing the patina of the time. For metal gazebos it might be better to use aluminum looking like old metal, it is less expensive and durable. Personally, I am not into simulations, I prefer the real things, metal must be metal, stone must be stone and wood must be wood. One last thing, have you thought of mirrors as garden art? Keep in mind not to place a mirror directly in the sun, it will catch fire and burn the house down, but placed anywhere in the shadow, under the eave and between heavy foliage will double the beautiful image of your garden.

Mirror

(Exqui Image – Liguria, Italy)

Have you thought of what you might see reflected in the mirror other than the opposite image of your garden? I saw myself as an Opera singer in costume warbling my voice out loud while putting flowers and leaves on my face as make-up. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValentinaBlueStampAs a designer in business since 1990, I am interested in helping people designing their interior and exterior spaces to add that feeling of peace and relaxation everywhere.
Find copies of my three books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Where Is Your Fire? | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Small spaces are challenging, but I never see them as a problem. With a little research work for the right item that matches the measurements of a restrictive area, everything is possible and often one can fit the cutest item in any small space.
barbecue-Sigmafocus

Wall BBQ

Focus, a French company, came up with “Sigmafocus” an elegant wall-mounted BBQ that looks more like a hat hanging on the wall. Made of steel, it opens from the wall and the generous fire bowl comes down at your height ready for BBQing any food. The plate on the wall protects the wall from the smoke. It is perfect for garden or balconies and even for apartment living. The same company produces “Diagofocus”, a beautifully designed cylinder and stylish space-saver BBQ.

Diagofocus
(Photos: Sigmafocus)

Do you live in an apartment? This next solution is a dream. The balcony BBQ mounts on the rail of the balcony as if it was a planter, except that you can cook your favorite vegetables and meats. Check with your landlord, as many apartment managements do not allow any type of BBQ. Price 59.00 Euro, find it here http://www.connox.com/categories/outdoor/barbecue/bbq-bruce-balkonygrill.html

Balcony BBQ
(Photo above:  cdn.shopify.com)

Italians do the Italian things. Hand-painted colorful ceramic BBQ are highly decorative and can be placed anywhere in the garden or patio. Even when not in use for grilling, the grill area can turn into a small counter by covering it with a flat plate, then a wine bottle and glasses can rest on it.
Find it at https://www.facebook.com/romeo.cuomo
There is poetry in something this beautiful !!!

Italian Ceramic BBQ

In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus to give it to the mortals…. Slow food taste so good. Is your fire ready?
If you are looking for something special, I am here to help, just ask. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens, cooking and extensive knowledge of food. She designs for USA and Europe’s markets. She loves to remodel homes and gardens. With her many years of experience she is able to cover a wide range of design solutions. She offers design consultations on-line and anywhere in the world through Skype line. Valentina is the author of three books all available on Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Garden Inspiration | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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In this part of the world, California, we are having a mild summer, very pleasant and conducive for work in the office, or work in the garden and a day at the beach is never scorching.
For a couple of months, we can still make improvements to the garden, before we need to prepare it for the coming winter. The garden should follow the architectural style of the house, at least at the front street side, the curb appeal should reflect it. The interior part of the garden, or otherwise called backyard, might be extravagant, whimsical, dreamy, or it might be kept in the same style of the house.

If I am designing the interior colors, I keep them communicating with the exterior and the garden colors. This will avoid the choppy or disconnected feeling and will keep everything in harmony. A Mediterranean style home with a Japanese style garden is out-of-place. The best way to design an interesting garden, large or small, is to divide the ground in many vignettes and create a certain rhythm that will invite you in. My Pinterest board has been an inspiration; so many good ideas and tips are showing up and I am taking full advantage of all of them. Here there are some solutions I find very intriguing:

Strawberry rocks – No longer need to worry about birds eating your baby strawberries. Place these rocks around the strawberry patch, the birds will bite on the rocks thinking they are biting on the strawberries and will soon learn never to come closer to your patch.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Strawberry Rocks

(Photo above: Spaaz.de)


Broken clay pot
– Do not discard, use them to create a view in your fantasy.

Create islands – Place an island here and there, with loose bricks and rocks, the pot in the center will carry the plants arrangements of your liking and will become the centerpiece.

(PHOTO BY MARK LOHMAN – This Old House)

Simple fountains – Very inexpensive to do, made of simple rocks or leftover construction material, a small lining to collect the recirculating water and a pump; place them anywhere between plants.

(Photo above: http://ahigo.net/4442-garden-water-fountains/water-fountains-with-small-pond)

Pathways – I love to see pathways not designed in the same style. Pathways should change according to the vignette design. Keep them interesting.

 

(Photo above:  http://www.woohome.com/ideas/25-lovely-diy-garden-pathway-ideas)

(Photo above: Tom Mitchell’s display in Plantasia Garden Show)

Playing games – Don’t you love this checkered game area with tall chess pieces?

 

(Photo above:  DIY Network)

Vertical orchard – This is possible to create even if you don’t have a garden, on a balcony or on a terrace. If you can, plant food, it will be better than food sold in stores, guaranteed!

(Photo above found on: http://www.finecraftguild.com/5-vertical-vegetable-garden-ideas)

Paint a color door – Allow only one door leading in the garden to be of a different color, I painted red my garage door leading to the garden. A bit of splash of color among the greenery is intriguing.

 

(Photo above found on: http://loveliegreenie.tumblr.com/post/6354519618)

Do you like vintage? – Look what is possible to do with old china sets, or with an old musical instrument. One becomes bird’s bath with a few modifications and the other one becomes a flower display bed. Actually, a speaker hidden inside the flower display, would a stylish solution, from which the music of a violin diffuses in the air. I often hide speakers under resin rocks. How sweet!

(Photo above – http://www.architectureartdesigns.com/40-ideas-of-how-to-reuse-tea-cup-artistically)

 

A relaxation area – Unused trampoline can change into  a cozy daytime bed where to nap on a Sunday afternoon, or anytime rest is needed.

 

Many different ideas, funky, whimsical, elegant and original will be available. If in doubt call the expert, I love to design gardens that speak of you.
I do offer design consultations on-line through Skype line. Visit my Pinterest boards, when you have some free time: http://pinterest.com/vcvalentina/. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. 
She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors.
She designs landscape concepts as a complement to the residential design concept as a unity.
Check out her books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Up In The Air Or In The Ground | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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We have been accustomed to create gardens and orchards in the ground. Getting down in closer contact to the ground I think is very spiritual. While we attend our garden on our knees we can touch nature with our hands, shape it to our liking, mix the color we prefer and perhaps listen to our favorite music on the iPod. I find gardening time very relaxing and a good way to do some thinking.

Unfortunately a couple of months ago I fell in the street on hard concrete and seriously injured my right knee, lucky me I did not break it, but here I am two months later I still cannot bend my knee to go down very well and my garden as been suffering. As a designer the natural thing for me to do was to research on raised gardens or finding some easy solution for clients who have knees or back problems. I found this attractive creation designed by Patrick Morris called Sky Planter, which can be used indoor for fussy plants and outdoor to save our back.

It is made of ceramics, locks the plant and soil into the place and hang from a ceiling or wall-mount. A reservoir hidden in the top waters plants gradually. I also found the easy reach, the ultimate Pulley System for any plants! I think this is such a brilliant idea for any flowers, vegetables and cooking spices. The pot can even be raised up and down to put the plant in the sun when needed and in the shade when the sun get to hot. Take a look of the video by clicking on the following link:

 

At the Orticola Garden Trade Show in Milano last month, I saw gardens on rotating stairs like a Ferris wheel, easy to attend and to water as the plant comes around. For those people who live in the city and don’t have much space for gardening, I found the eco urban garden, called the “Cavalier”, made by Paris based designers Az & Mut. Hand-made in France, the products are made from a composite of 70% flax fibres. Pot cavalier is designed to be slung over the balcony railing, holding itself in place without any other hardware. The pots are light and frost-resistant.
(photoimage © designboom © morgane le gall )

The same designer came up with the idea of the “Danseuses” a lamp shade that balances on its two cut edges. It can be used either lying down, between plants to emanate a very delicate glow in its surrounding space or hung onto a wall, or suspended looking like many dancers (danseuses). They are made of bleached flax fibres and ecological resin.
(‘danseuse’ image © designboom © morgane le gall)

It is my pleasure to bring you ideas and novelties. Let me know if I can help you with some exteriors or interior solutions. Ciao, Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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VC10Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. 
She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors.
 She designs landscape and hardscape as a complement to the residential design concept as a unity. She is the author of three books available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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