Urban Gardens | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


My fascination with gardens takes me to a constant research to find innovative solutions for my clients and for my garden as well. I do gardening and grow the food I like to eat as a form of relaxation and as another way to get closer to Mother Earth.

I came across this new idea called “Urbanana” created in Paris by French practice SOA Architects. The building of Urbanana sits between two residential buildings in the middle of the city and it is an open glass space dedicated to a cultivation of most bananas species, especially the type that is no longer available in Europe.
Inside of the building, on the bottom floor, there is an exposition area, a restaurant and even a boutique. There is no flooring above the exposition area, where the plants are growing, but a system of bridges fill the interior spaces to provide access to each section and to give maximum daylight to the plants. In this giant green house, artificial and natural lighting help plants maturing naturally, following the succession of seasons.

(All Urbanana images belong to SOA)
Transformed Mason Jar Herb Garden from Camille Styles
Vertical Garden photo Associate Press
Haricot Vert and Hanging Sun-dried Peppers photos ©Valentina Cirasola

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This is a superb initiative and I hope more people will come up with similar models to reproduce many types of vegetation. Looking at the bird’s eye view picture, all those banana trees add a feeling of a tropical island in the middle of a busy city. I can smell the banana scent in the middle of Paris!

For homegrown food, we can take this model to make a less imposing structure and still produce natural food with only natural light, water and love. Vertical gardens can be attached anywhere in the outdoor space, on walls, on heavy fences, or made as freestanding structures. This has been my goal since several years ago, when I decided to become a weekend city farmer and turn my backyard into a healthy source of tasty food my way.

I have made wreaths of tomatoes and peppers to dry under the sun. In a few days the will be turned into sauces and compote for the winter. My winter table promises well and my friends will be really happy. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior 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.
Check out her books on 

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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


Garden Inspiration | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


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.


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,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


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

Emptiness And Serenity In Japanese Décor | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


I have gone into many homes in my life, some very attractive, some less interesting, every one with its own particular style but not always reflecting the homeowner’s personality. The other day I had lunch at a Japanese friend’s house. It is not my first time visiting a Japanese home, in fact, a few years ago I was in Japan where I had a taste of the original Japanese décor.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Strangely, I find that Japanese-born people living in the western world tend to appreciate the western décor more than their own traditional style. Is it because they want to blend in with the hosting country, or because the western décor is new to their eyes and want to embrace it? Probably, I will never ask them these questions, but one thing I felt in my friend’s home: a certain serene atmosphere and subdued colors.

Colors in Japanese décor are never too strong or too visible, ranging from browns to beige, from light green to light pink or peach, their function is to balance the environment and provide a resting place for the eyes. Although red is a perfect color for the coloration of their skin, therefore it can be found often in their garments, Japanese hardly paint walls in their homes in red or place huge pieces of red furniture in their décor. Red might be present in a small amount inside of a painting or blended softly with other colors in throw pillows.
Furniture is sparse, barely the minimal even in large homes, leaving wide unused spaces for a free flow of positive energy.

After lunch my friend served a gentle lemon grass tea in a British blueish-green porcelain cup with gold designs rolling in a white background, accompanied by white linen napkins and brushed stainless steel flatware for tea and dessert. In this home white is the color that pulls the soft colors together. White interior doors and frames, white window panes and frames, white marble floor in the foyer and corridors, white kitchen and service areas floors, white ceilings and some upholstery all play that role, in some cases even table and bed linens.

Fresh flowers and natural plants are part of the Japanese interior décor, but they are graphic, mixed with stones and kept in one color scheme. I have never seen a flower arrangement in a riot of colors, as I see it often in western homes. Japanese people like the gentle simplicity of nature, they will never recreate what nature does not create. They keep the shapes organic and natural even in garden arrangements.

Rocks are an important element of a Japanese dry garden “Karensansui”, designed for meditation and to restore heart and mind. It is meant to be contemplative while sitting down in one place and seeing it at eye level. By gazing at different size rocks, sand and gravel, one is to imagine ocean water flowing and waterfall cascading down hills and mountains. My friend told me that the rocks resemble the island of Japan, sand and gravel placed around the rocks are designed as ripples resembling the movement of water. The gardener will use a rake to create this movement.

She gave me a little insight on what kind of rocks to choose for a dry Japanese garden and the meaning of each rock called Ishi. There are only five types of rocks to choose, very important for keeping the equilibrium in the mind and soul:
• Vertical rock or “soul rock” as it is called. It gets interspersed randomly in the landscape.
• Body rock is a tall rock, which is placed towards the back of the garden because is the tallest stone and also represents a God.
• Heart rock is flat, almost like a stepping-stone and balances all the vertical rocks.
• Branching and Reclining rocks balance all the forms and shapes, vertical and horizontal.
• Rocks to avoid are the broken ones and the Dead Rock, which are long and can only be used horizontally, making a figurative dead person.

Spaces in the garden must be empty, not crowded with plants. Empty spaces will create something in the viewer’s imagination. The contour of all the elements around will create a sense of time in space, a sense of solitude and a cure for the spirit.
As the rule demands, my friend’s Japanese dry garden is well enclosed on all sides by a wood fence and surrounded by tall trees and maples.

Her rock garden was designed outside a traditional tatami room with shoji doors, complete with a spa room, soaking tub, steam shower, lanterns, silk kimonos and bamboo fabric bathrobe and slippers. Particularly I admired the exquisite herringbone woodwork on the ceiling. This Japanese wing of a French Chateau house in California (what a mixture!) was detailed to the letter to make a real, traditional and original setting. It was a surprise to see it, as it is not visible from any part of the house. I was impressed to see all this beauty and serenity created as a secret island in a home that vibrates with everyday routine as all the busy homes do.

Leaving any Japanese home, don’t forget to thank the host for the courteous hospitality and to bow down to show your appreciation for being in their home and for the special care received. Japanese hospitality and courtesy always leave me astounded.

Has my experience in a Japanese home been useful to you? Do you feel you need a serene secret island for your mind and soul? Sometimes it might take a little study, but any décor can be recreated anywhere, let me know what you need by leaving a comment below. Ciao,

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works on consultation and produces design concepts for remodeling, upgrading, new home, décor restyling and home fashion. “Vogue Italy” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’ s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Find her books on

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


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