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
My display building services were challenged with a contradiction. Can you combine a masculine window and store trim theme with a female sentiment?
The concept of a mechanic, automotive theme combined with some positive affirmations was the winning idea my boutique client chose. Off and running, I had a great time rummaging, replicating and altering automotive parts and car related goods.....continued
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.
Ideas are easy to come by, harder to realize. I sold my clothing boutique client on the idea of a dimensional cactus themed summer window and store display. I've been drawn to tissue art as of recently, and liked the concept of watercolor like tones of tissue combined with the harder cacti form. Figuring out how to bring the concept to life became the mystery. It was my mission to find a simple way to create cacti plants that are lightweight and life like in shape.
After a stint of head scratching and store wandering, the idea came to me when I saw a display of foam fun noodles and little swimmer kick boards. I quickly grabbed a shopping cart and loaded up 20 noodles and 20 kick boards. In the checkout line I was asked by the cashier about my pool party. Still excited by the idea, I blurted out that I was going to turn them into cactus. Why I expected anything more than the half smirk and a random direction head nod from those around me, is beyond me. Huff! I guess my prickly pear making high was clearly a one man's journey.
If you can decoupage and cut shapes with scissors you can have a cactus garden! If you can climb over the fence and take your neighbors fun noodles and kick boards you can have a cactus garden for free, or the price of a misdemeanor. Relax, there is no need to pilfer. This time of year many big box and dollar stores have "polyethylene foam" swim noodles and boards for sale. Plastic suppliers like Tap often carry it in large rolls. It's used as a packing material and insulation, you will want 1/2 inch or thicker sheets.
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.
Rose Gold, Copper, Gold and Pewter - A Custom Mixed Metal Christmas Boutique Display by Embellishments Studio
My younger self was a professional window and holiday display designer and visual merchandiser for high end department stores. 20 years ago when I left that world to start Embellishments Studio, I retained a few of my freelance clients. Flash forward to 2016, I've created dozens of trims for several clients. The trims that quickly comes to nostalgic memory are the ones I've created for my client in Vancouver, Washington called Willows. It's a clothing and accessories boutique.
FREE VINTAGE LOOK CHRISTMAS CRAFTS SPRAY DOWNLOAD BY AARON CHRISTENSEN
Just for fun! I'm sharing my original Holiday spray labels. For me they represent all the years I've spent creating retail Holiday trims. I think of them as mementos. For you, they can be a fun item to display, create hijinx with your Elf on a Shelf or beef up your Jack Frost street credibility.
The images are sized for a traditional spray can. If you need them larger just dial up your print percentage. I recommend using empty spray cans of course. You wouldn't want lil' ones spraying black spray on your frosty windows.
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!
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.
I've been working on some new mood boards for boy's rooms and keep coming across terrific DIY's and uses for old baseballs. Then it dawned on my... I should share them! So, here are 11 great ways to use baseballs for home decor and 1 accessory I thought was clever for you moms to check out.
I've worked hard to find the original sources for these DIY's. Please, if you share or Pin them always link back so the original source can be found. If you want creatives to share their ideas in the future, then please honor and reward them with the original source link. I've also watermarked the images with the sources so they don't get stripped by the pinning sites.
#1- BASEBALL BOOKENDS
Amanda over at Kaleidoscope of Colors grew up with great baseball memories. Here she busts out the power tools to create these terrific bookends. They're simple and perfect.
#2- RECLAIMED PALETTE BASEBALL FLAG
Heralded as a Fourth of July project, Courtney from Sweet C designs has a DIY that's perfect, at least I think so, for a boy's room, nursery or man cave. It will have you rubber necking while you drive, looking for palettes to transform.
#3- SHADOW BOX BASEBALL FLAG
The age old tool brand Craftsman is offering a how to video that will walk you through the steps to create this timeless treasure. For a kids room friendly variation I'd suggest painting the bats. Imagine them in a grey toned color scheme or the classics red and white.
#4- BASEBALL LAMP BASE
Kirsten dons her gloves and hopefully protective eyewear to drill some baseballs turning an inexpensive lamp into a custom home run. She blogs over at Paint Speckled Paw Prints.
The workshop is hot today. Not only are we hitting weather highs in the nineties , I have found myself under a welding mask creating fireworks welding. I have to be careful I might just slip on my own puddles of sweat.
I'm welding together framework for a faux bois table. You often see faux bois in historic gardens as benches and archways and in theme parks as railing and fake trees.
While I've sculpted many things in my life, this is my first attempt at cement furniture. Hey, I just dive in with both feet. I've worked with cement before. I sculpt trees from other materials all the time. Why not combine the two?
This table is destined for a retail boutique. It will be merchandised on as a fixture. I'm personally handling the store design for the owners. I want a variety of textures, finishes and hand wrought signature pieces throughout. I'll journal about the store soon, as we are just beginning construction.
Here's my finished armature. I will be wrapping it in metal mesh to provide stability and a surface for the cement to adhere to.
As a feature in the garden, faux bois was very popular in the 1940's. If you own a vintage piece you are very lucky. Given most pieces were exposed to the elements, many have degraded and sadly disappeared.
I'll pop back in and update this journal entry with progress pictures. I'd love to hear from you if you own a piece. I'd be curious how you came to own it.
Update- July 3rd
I neglected to take a picture of the piece wrapped in metal lathe. I was just so excited to get into it. The first coat of cement was to cover the rebar and the lathe. I also shaped the first coat to start creating some of the twists, turns and scars one would see on an old branch. In the photo above you can see the rough first coat in the back (the darker horizontal branch) The two foreground branches are after the second coat which is a finer mortar mix. Once that mortar sets up a little I started carving, brushing and stamping details. I'm excited how much they look like old driftwood with the natural cement color. Once the finished piece is stained they will look more like a wood in tone. More updates soon...
update - July 7th
The legs have dried thoroughly so it was safe to finally flip it right side up. Now I will start applying mortar to the top and sculpting it.
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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