Faced with an awkward second story rooftop patio that had no practical purpose, my client hit me up with an idea. "Can you build a fairy garden for my daughter?" He asked. Then the cementitious siding, synthetic decking clad box mulled through my mind.
It was a winning idea once it merged with their young daughters wish for a fairy garden and a new dog house for her puppy.
Being a bit of a plant geek, I had fun incorporating some of my favorites and offering lots of texture and color play. For my fellow geeks you'll spot Aspidistra, Clerodendron, Echium, Persicaria Red Dragon, gigantic Ornamental Rhubarb and some annual Musque De Provence pumpkin. Most of the plantings are perennial and winter hardy, although I did mix in some annuals for instant color gratification.
People love to bring the outdoors in and I am asked to play Brutha Nature and create trees all the time. Big ones, little ones, realistic and modern. So here I am poised once again to create a one of a kind piece for a client, I had to go idea browsing. We settled on the idea of a tree shaped bookshelf. One that was modern and architecturally interesting. So I gathered together a Pinterest board with a variety of tree ideas.
You can see in the tree that I built, there are angles and pieces that point downward. These provide vertical strength, so the shelf can't be pulled down or tip down off the wall.
I'm a bit obsessive with building things straight and true. So this tree stands perfectly upright, the backing is all on the same plane. Great you think...but no, I mean NO! The wall I was to mount it to had been where a doorway was covered up, so it was really out of whack. I had to loosen my branches to tip them back a bit. This left gaps in my seams... oh hell no! So I went through painstakingly and finessed bondo into every little gap, sanded it and primed it. The final finish was to coordinate with a maple counter across the room so I faux painted the piece using a series of color washes and treatment with faux finishers graining tool. A topcoat of shellac gave it that amber wood tone I needed as well as protect the piece as a non-toxic clear coat. Shellac is safe for little nibblers that put their teeth and mouths on everything. Remember this is a pediatric dental office. I'm sure there's some little munchin munchkins giving it the beaver treatment as we speak....gnaw, gnaw, and gnaw.
Jump over to my Pinterest for these and other photographs of inspirational trees. I've included the following tree bookcases we've made here in the studio.
Other tree shelving ideas by Embellishments studio
This week I'm celebrating the launch of my new collection of kids wall art entitled Cosmos. The series is about space, robots and loving someone to the moon and back. Well, on that trip of love from here to the rock in the sky, you best take some provisions. Forget the dried astronaut food, I'm talking cookies! What if they were meteor cookies...ooooohhhh?
Here's a simple way to turn any cookie recipe into ones that look like meteors. Think about it, a meteor shower of cookies, you can't get any more deliciously spaced out than that!
What you'll need:
Black Food Coloring
Your preferred cookie recipe and ingredients.
The secret is to incorporate chocolate rocks. But, unlike chocolate chips, if you mix them in only a part of them will show and the effect won't be as obvious.
You could alter any cookie recipe for this. Keep in mind that the chocolate rocks are similar to M&M's so you'll want to expect that crunch. For this post I am making the classic Tollhouse cookie recipe and have simply left out the chips. I'd suggest choosing a cookie that's dark in color so you only have to use a minimal amount of food coloring.
First step is to make the cookie batter according to your recipe. Once it's mixed, add in black food coloring to override the cookies color. Fold it in thoroughly. The second step is to load your cookie sheet with dollops of dough. I separated the chocolate rocks into colors.
Now that your dollops are placed you'll need to pile on the chocolate rocks. They will settle and spread out as the dough cooks. Be sure to place some around the edge of the dough. Then bake the cookies according to your recipe.
Allow the cookies to cool. In a bowl add hot water into the a cup of confectioners sugar. Mix until it becomes smooth and free of sugar clumps. You'll want to add enough water to make the mixture thin enough to enable brushing it on. Holding the brush at a steep angle and simply dry brush across the surface in a couple directions to hit and highlight the texture and rocks. Let the sugar mixture dry.
My favorite color ended up being the turquoise blue. They gave the cookies that gem stone look.
The chocolate rocks look like well,.... like rocks. I imagine you could try this technique matching the rock colors to colored cookie dough. Yellow on yellow, red on red would be very space like. If you try a variation let me know how it goes and send over a photo I'll add it to the post. -Enjoy!
I'm happy to reveal my latest collection entitled "Cosmos". It's available now in my shop.
Are you hosting a birthday party, decorating your astronauts room or looking for some fun space themed activities? Be sure to follow me and visit my Space Themed Pinterest Board.
Digging through my old analog photos of kids room projects, I realized that I had photos of one project that had never been seen by the public. So, in retrospect here's a project where we built a bed for a boys room that looks like a truck. Circa 2005.
The one of a kind custom bed was for a young man named Zac. Both he and his sister had their Embellishments bedrooms featured in the 2005 Street of Dreams, Luxury home tour.
Despite looking like an actual vintage truck, the piece is completely hand made from scratch. It had to be, in order to fit in his bedroom. It measured 4.5 feet tall.
Each element was hand carved, primed and painted to mimic a old truck. The faux chrome emblem on the hood says "Embellishments" for fun.
Beyond being a show stopper for the luxury home tour, the truck bed and photographs of it topped HGTV's Rate my Space for the number one boy's room for multiple years, beating out its closest competitor by thousands of votes.
The truck bed was under construction before the home was completed. Despite blue prints and on site measurements along the way, the final door opening was 3/4's inch too small for the parts to be carried in. Therefore, we had to take out the second story boys room window, lean two extension ladders and push/pull the piece through the window. From a far, on lookers only saw two men pushing a truck up two ladders. It must have been quite a site.
The bed had enough room for Zac to play truck driver. The studio's faux garage door panels were to give the impression that the truck was in a garage.
In subsequent years, the studio created custom beds and play structures like a train car, princess carriage, tree houses and a pirate ship.
I'm always on the hunt for new bedding styles and designs for my customers and I often get asked what bedding works with my sports wall art lines. So here are my picks for new and tried and true pieces from my favorite haunts. I rarely use themed bedding with sports graphics on it, for me it's usually too expected and often tacky. In contrast I applaud my friends over at Land of Nod have done a great job of offering up some very simple understated pieces, I've included below. The top picks include bedding from Restoration Hardware Teen, PBteen, Ralph Lauren via Nieman Marcus, Rejuvenation Hardware and Schoolhouse Electric.
Having worked with several large retailers on the development and coordination
Okay Lax lovers, here we go... I proudly present my lacrosse wall art series collage. Available as a one piece, nine image design or you can pick and choose any of the nine as individual prints in canvas and on archival paper.
According to Thomas Vennum Jr., author of American Indian Lacrosse: Little Brother of War "Apart from its recreational function, lacrosse traditionally played a more serious role in Indian culture. Its origins are rooted in legend, and the game continues to be used for curative purposes and surrounded with ceremony. Game equipment and players are still ritually prepared by conjurers, and team selection and victory are often considered supernaturally controlled. In the past, lacrosse also served to vent aggression, and territorial disputes between tribes were sometimes settled with a game, although not always amicably."
With it's rich history and evolution into one of the fastest growing sports here in the States, it's time to be wall proud and art up! I hope you enjoy them, I'd love to hear your feedback.
Need some inspiration for your lax loving walls? Here are three style mood boards to give you ideas and inspire. Feel free to pin, post and print!
I love the opportunity to bring a clients vision to life. When my clients, whom home school their children, moved into their new place, they called looking for my help. You see, they had a huge room over their garage and wanted to convert it into a classroom for their kids and maybe other cooperative homeschoolers. Waving his arms around Micheal, the owner, asked how can we make it bigger than life, something the kids would go crazy over. Well... I was happy to oblige. Here are some first round photos. I need to go back with a wide angle lens to capture the entire room.
This concept won their hearts. It's a pretty grand in scale so I broke it down into parts.
One thing that is not illustrated in my sketch is the stair well leading to the classroom. We decided on a mural starting at the base with the dawn of time, and winding up through the years as the stairs ascend. Here I picked out some notable events, interesting facts and persons to illustrate a time period. The video below captures most of it.
If I were to identify whom might be my number one influence in my artistic endeavors, it most certainly would be Dr. Seuss aka Theodore Geisel. While Walt Disney the man, not the brand is close, Seuss was a bit more of a rags to literary wealth success story, which for me embodies the American dream. He single handidly changed the way in which young people learn to read and in turn see the world around them.
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss
On this special day acknowledging Mr. Geisel, please allow me to geek out for a bit and share some of my favorite Seuss and Seussisms.
The task: Create a loft bed, fort, reading nook incorporating two double beds.
The clients: Two young twins- one drawn to performance arts, the other drawn to horseback riding. One wants pink, the other says yuck. Ones a bit tidy the other not so much.
The challenge: The mom wants something unique, more fort than furniture! She loves modern yet has a rustic touch to her style. The girls need organizers bulletin boards, space to stash their collections of things and an extra bed for sleepovers.
The result: A studio built grey and white washed horizontal planked custom bed loft fort unit. Custom wall organizers with pegs, dry erase, paper and storage. Extras: a display wall for art and a whimsical mount of their senior aged basset hound Clementine.
By popular demand, I've added a new series to my Speedway Racing Collection of wall art. The new pieces explore the thrill of speed with images of a race car, mx motorcycle, mechanic type ephemera, vintage signage and more. The works are available as individual images or combined into a nine image collage with either a cream or black grid border.
Visit my shop's Transportation category to see this piece and many more race inspired pieces perfect for boy's rooms, teen spaces and of course the man cave.
I hurriedly met with Mr. D as a response to his heartfelt plea for help. You see, he and his wife just divorced and their three year old daughter was not adjusting well. Her world of routines, togetherness and familiar places had just been turned upside down. The sale of their home had mom and dad leaving for separate new places. Mr. D found a quaint farmhouse to rent. He had one week until Jane's first visit and that's where I come in. His plea- "will you make her room amazing?"
Finding myself with little notice and a newly divorced man's budget I scoured my retail haunts for furniture and findings that would fit lil' Jane's personality. She loves to draw, make forts, play dress up, be read to and the colors purple and pink. The plan was for me to help her adjust to her new home by making her room "hers". Outside of a few stuffed animals and some dress up clothes, I had to find treasures to fill the room from floor to ceiling, and stay on budget.
One week later, the white walled, dark floored room was filled with what I would hope she would come to love as "her room" and "her things". The end result....well....
Rather than my babble further, here's what Mr.D sent me- "Aaron, I wanted to extend to you my sincere appreciation for your hard work with Jane's room. There are so many wonderful options for Jane and her new room signifies the wonderful girl she is. At one point while she and I were in the room playing I almost broke down crying because it just felt so right, right for Jane and I in this moment. She adores her new room and I can't even tell you how special it is to have you come into our life at such a difficult time and help make it better. We couldn't be happier!"
I'm happy to report that Jane is doing much better, she and her new kitty "Tiger" are enjoying her and her daddy's new home. Mr. D, having experienced this makeover, now has me working his new bedroom into a manly refuge. I'll post about it soon.
To fill Jane's room on a modest budget, I relied upon some big bang for the buck items and a few fast and effective fixes.
If you have a trick or tip on transforming a plain white walled rental, I'm sure my readers would love to hear about it. Your comments are welcome!
One of my greatest sources of inspiration and joy are my two children. Although they are technically no longer children but young adults, and very amazing ones at that. My son, whom defines himself as a creative, is always challenging me to see through his eyes. He has a great eye for what's important, interesting and meaningful to a generation that I'm purely an observer of due to the age difference.
This year marks an important milestone for him, as he graduates from COLLEGE. He's a student at University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon.
Four years ago we put together a fun high school graduation party for him that I intended to post about. Well, here we are four years later and it never quit appeared on the blog. So to reminisce and enjoy it all again here's the details of that special day.
The goal of the party was to acknowledge and celebrate his accomplishments in high school and build excitement for his college experience. One of the very basic things I started with was working out some common ground between the two school's color palettes. His high school colors were cardinal and gold and his college was green and yellow. So I tweaked both into my preferred color palette of vintage look colors. We were now working with burgundy reds, ochre yellows and olivey greens mixed with the neutrals of parchment, kraft and burlap.
I can't take credit for the concept but I can take credit for the execution of the little suitcase pictured. His school asked that we create a box keepsake and fill it with insightful and inspirational items, quotes and sentiment. I covered his in stickers I created that represent many of the stages in his academic journey. Many were logos I already had on hand from events and projects I had a design hand in through the years.
The box itself contained items that were adorned with small kraft tags. On each tag we came up with short explanation as to why we chose the item. Some of the items were toys he had as a boy.
The handsome heads you see are blow ups of my son's face. We used them as markers to reserve the family and friends seats at graduation. They we fun to wave in the air during the moments we could get noisy and revel.
At the house I used a lot of props, which as a prop hoarder it wasn't too difficult to do. Globes, encyclopedias , typewriters, flash cards, things with letters and ones that reflect the 12 in 2012. A hand painted burlap pennant streamer spans our front porch welcoming guests through the garden.
Small vignettes of photos and props were placed throughout the house. I used books to create fun shapes and opportunities to stage items. While its something we don't showcase year round the digital photo frame was a great addition to the displays. Having k-12 photographs scrolling through time was enjoyed by our guests.
Having a very large backyard gives us many opportunities for merry making. The problem often becomes scale. How to make a party look intimate and special on such a large scale is often the issue. To remedy some of that I strung very long strands of lights to bring the "ceiling" down a little and offer light as the evening waned past sunset. The combination of clear bulbs and paper lanterns were very handsome.
In the revised color palette, collections of school logo cutouts, paper goods and decorative details bring it all together. I found some amazing natural leaf made plates that had great texture. They were combined with the more graphic striped traditional party plates.
A multi layered dimensional height display of suitcases, manipulated books and other props made for a perfect dessert table. Letters and numbers were cut using my silhouette machine.
Now, we're in the planning stages of his college graduation. I might revisit some of these props and ideas to create a new but familiar and welcomed look. Hopefully, I will be good about posting those before another four years passes.
I hope you find a few things inspiring or just fun to look at. Shoot me over any questions or sentiments for the graduate. I look forward to your thoughts...
I've taken the liberty to host the photos above on Pinterest for your pinning! Be sure to follow me.
My friends at Boy's Fort in Portland referred a wonderful family to me. They wanted a loft bed for their daughters room, one that was rustic, modern and that worked well with the other furnishings in the room.
After a couple rounds of drawings and pouring over finish samples, the idea came to fruition. It was to be made of reclaimed old growth fir. I designed into it a headboard that had a classic shape to it. The horizontal lines from the boards were highlighted by not butting the boards together. The finish complimented the bed underneath and drew in the variations of cream and gold around it.
My clients loved being part of the design process. The final product definitely reflected the points they were enthusiastic about. I also loved the opportunity to put my personal spin on those elements.
The finishing techniques allowed the grain, vintage saw cuts and character to come through. Light sanding and application of multiple coats of matte clear and a final waxing assured that the texture would not be rough to the touch.
It's always great bringing to life the dreams others have. In a way its like being an interpreter of sorts. Translating vision into reality. I love my job.
A local pediatric office commissioned us to create a treehouse for their lobby. The office was going through a remodel and a new waiting area was being carved out of obsolete storage areas and halls.
The office has a jungle theme. There are creatures in terrariums like a chameleon, turtles and tanks of fish. The doctor wanted something unusual to tie into the theme. We discussed lots of options and came up with a tree house. Now, the word tree house is a bit broad in concept considering 1) there is no tree in the office and 2) the ceiling is low at 8 foot.
I worked out a way to elevate the play space of the tree house, giving the illusion of a height and created access through a hollowed out pretend tree trunk. The exterior is designed to look as if it was built using various parts from other structures. A palm and banana tree were created to look as if they hold up part of the structure.
If you cruise the blog and our social media sites you will see we specialize in creating unusual things. If your professional office, home or business need something unique to entertain your customers give us a call. We'll dream something up for you.
Welcome to my Embellishments Journal, it's a new feature. I will be posting about some of our projects, sharing pictures and interesting things. Chime in, ask questions and keep your arms and hands inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop. -Aaron
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