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By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.

We all remember this rhyme from our childhood.  It was usually chanted while holding hands with our little friends and dancing around in a circle under the warm spring smile of the sun with a light breeze blowing through our hair and visions running through our young minds of Mary tending her garden of beautiful effortless flowers.

We all now know what a load of malarkey that vision was!

Gardens are hard work and when they are not looking great they make everything around them not look great and, as far as those effortless flowers go, there’s no such thing!

When we moved into our home on almost a quarter of an acre, I remember saying to my husband how excited I was that we could finally have gardens (having moved from a condominium this was a big deal).  Well, nine years later, I am here to tell you, yes, the dream of a garden was all that it cracked up to be, but the reality of a garden is far more work than initially thought.

Between the raking of leaves, pruning of shrubs, weeding, replanting, and overall tending, one finds oneself more exhausted by the garden than they do with time to enjoy it.

It’s amazing to me how much time and effort the upkeep of a few garden beds take.  By the end of May my back hurts, my hips feel like they may give out and my knees are shaky—I’m falling apart!  My gardens look AWESOME, but I will never know that, as I will be convalescing for the next couple of months and then it will be time to do it all over again.

Well enough of my whining about the work gardens take and onto my singing the praises that a well-kept garden deserves when it comes to lending great curb appeal to a home.

Yes, gardens take work, but the reality is that everything does.  Just as the inside of our homes need maintenance and care, so do the outside spaces of our properties.

A beautifully tended and cared for garden and lawn can make a home standout and seem welcoming just as a poorly maintained yard can turn people’s initial opinion of the property sour.  When the beds are cared for and the flowers are blooming and the yard is lush and green it speaks volumes about how the homes occupants feel about and care for the property.  When the flower beds are not well tended then the perception of the general populace is that the inside of the home is probably not well taken care of either.

You may consider taking a little time to look over your yard and flower beds and asking yourself if they are adding to your properties perceived value or detracting from it.

Recently, I spent a little time examining my own flower beds with a discerning eye and found my old strawberry bed to be less than appealing.  So over the Easter weekend my family and I made a spur of the moment decision to fix it up.  We started by weeding the bed, leveling the soil, and laying new bark in the space.  One of the main problems with strawberries, as many of you probably can profess to, is their appeal to slugs and snails.  We decided instead of planting the plants back in the ground we would buy some large containers and use them as raised strawberry beds.  I love the splash of color the planters add to the space and how clean and tidy it now appears.

The fact is that homeownership is a never ending cycle of replacing, maintaining, cleaning, and upkeep.  As our friends at Nike would remind us, “Just Do It” and then make sure you take time to enjoy your investment.

Happy gardening and have a great spring!

garden

 

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By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

The twittering birds are here again, the sun is up earlier and setting later, the days are warmer and the flowers are blooming: It must be spring!

If you are anything like me this time of year energizes you.  I start to feel excited to do some cleaning and decorating and refreshing (okay, the truth is that those things actually excite me pretty much year round, but definitely more so in the spring).  I start to look at the world around me with new eyes.  I notice the leaves budding on the trees, all the little bulbs shooting up through the warming soil, the bees that are emerging for a spring flit around the yard, the grime on my patio, the table covered in moss (*needle scratching across the record!).  What?  Wait a minute!  My patio is looking gross!?  Yikes!  I need to get to work on that!

Cleaning up our outside spaces and getting them ready to be enjoyed can be both daunting and exciting.  Here are some things to consider when decorating your decks and patios this spring/summer.

  1. Clean Them: Just take 30 minutes and get out a bucket of warm soapy water (biodegradable soap that is environmentally friendly is preferred) and scrub down the space. Get the slimy mossy green film off the floor and railings. Scrub down the table and chairs, etc. It doesn’t take long and you’ll feel 100% better about the space even before you do anything else to it.
  2. Spruce up Your Furniture or Buy New: If you have patio furniture that is in good shape then all it probably needs is a good pressure washing. If it’s in decent condition, but the paint is chipping or it has a couple rust spots you can just use a steel brush to remove the flaking paint and rust and spray paint them –they’ll look like new and you can add some color to your space by using a bright hue. If you need some furniture then consider checking out craigslist.com or purchasing some new. Depending on what you use the space for will make a difference about what furniture you’ll buy. If you like to read outside and relax then a small wicker love seat, chair and table might provide what you need. If your family likes to eat outside or play board games out there then a rectangular table and chair set is better. If you have a large enough space or a couple different spaces you may want all of the aforementioned.
  3. Rugs are not Just for Inside Anymore: There is a huge variety of indoor/outdoor rugs to choose from. They come in all different sizes, shapes, colors and patterns and add a comfortable homey feeling to decks and patios. They remain cooler to the touch than concrete or wood that is being baked in the sun and they do not retain water and moisture for long. They are easy to clean too—just hose them down and that’s that.
  4. Lighting is Important: Most of us have a back porch light that is fine for providing light by the backdoor, but is not necessarily great mood-light. A patio area needs lighting that sets the mood when we are using it in the evening hours. There is any number of cute lighting options for outdoor spaces. I love the café light strands that you can string around the patio or in the trees. They give a French-quarter feel to any space and provide a nice warm glow. The other option I am partial to is the solar lamps. These are table top lamps that have solar panels on the top of them. They turn on automatically when it starts to get dark and look absolutely sophisticated on a garden stool or side table on a deck.
  5. Sun Protection: Many people like their outdoor spaces to be sunny, warm and bright, but what happens when you want a little shade? Pergolas have come a long way and are the perfect option to add some shadow to your outdoor space. There are a couple different varieties. One style has an affixed canopy that provides constant shade while the other option has a retractable canvas cover and can be adjusted to provide as much or as little shade as you would like. A third option that is relatively new is a shade-sail. These are large triangular sheets with grommets and nylon ties that attach to anything they can be tied to (i.e. trees, railing, roofs, etc.) and do not have the metal framework that the pergolas do. This makes them far more versatile and cost effective.

Okay, I have to go work on my patio now, but I hope this has been a helpful piece for you and inspirational when decorating your outdoor spaces.  Enjoy!

Patio

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Wine with Everything!

March 24, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger As you have probably already heard, or at least read in a not too distant blog post of mine, Marsala is the Pantone 2015 color of the year.  This color is rich, deep and warm and was a fabulous choice by Pantone, but it got me thinking about all of the ‘wine’ […]

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7 Quick Tips for Decorating Any Room

March 10, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Good design, as with most things, is made harder by what we don’t know and instantly easier once we gain more knowledge. It makes no difference if you are a free-spirited bohemian, a more traditional-classic soul or a straight-laced contemporary up-and-coming; there are several design ‘rules’ that can help you put a […]

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5 Guest Room Essentials Every Good Hostess Needs to Know

February 24, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger We’ve all been there:  You go to visit friends or family and end up feeling like you were an afterthought on their agenda, your bed some cot in an otherwise storage-room and you conclude your visit suspecting they are breathing a sigh of relief to see you go. Of all the things […]

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Do Paws Give You Pause When Decorating?

February 10, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Cats and dogs are our four-legged extended-family members.  We want what is best for them and we love them like they were our own blood-kin.  That said, they can prove as challenging to live with as any toddler of the human-form and decorating around them just might be even more discouraging. As […]

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Are you ready to hire a designer?

February 2, 2015

As designers it is our honor and privilege to be invited into your home/office to help you interpret your unique style.  We are hired to help define a design for your home that will reflect you.  We strive to listen to your individual story and to come up with a plan that you will love. […]

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Marsala–Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year

January 27, 2015

Submitted by Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger We were not only wrong, but way wrong. You may remember that, in October, Kelly and I made our color predictions for the 2015 Pantone color of the year picking such colors as frothy greens, deep blues and intrinsic blushes.  We had spent lots of time researching, gathering information and observing […]

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5 Must Remember Tips When Remodeling

January 13, 2015

We have a client who is embarking on a kitchen remodel. Demo for this project takes place in one and a half weeks.  So, many decisions have been made, products have been ordered, and now the “mess” of it all begins!  She asked me for my top 5 ‘tips’ to remember when starting a remodel. […]

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Clutter Out! Focus In!

December 10, 2014

Submitted by Marlie Bilbuck-Boerger Happy New Year!  Woo Hoo!  2014 is going to be AWESOME! Wait a minute!  What do you mean 2014 is almost over?  Wasn’t it just yesterday we were heralding in the New Year?  What?  It’s Christmas 2014 already?  Huh?  Yikes!  Mom and Dad were right; the older we get the faster […]

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