March 20th, 2012

Cheerful as is this harbinger of Spring, blooming forsythia always reminds me of chores to be done. It’s my signal every year to prune the rose bushes. I suppose I read that advice somewhere and I follow it every year, as if my life…well at least my roses…depend on it. There are other jobs that need to be done now, too. Here is the short list:

When the forsythia blooms, it’s time to:
1.  Prune the aforementioned rose bushes. Cut stems as low as 4” – 6” on most varieties. Always cut at an angle just above an outward facing leaf bud. This assures that the new growth won’t be too dense in the center. Roses like good air circulation as they are prone to mildew and other fungi. Also be sure your pruners are clean. Some people dip them in bleach between cuts. I don’t go to this extreme.

2.  Remove dead foliage from last year’s perennials. Clean up leaves, twigs and debris from flower beds. Be careful, as new growth may have already started to come up.

Tender hosta shoots were buried beneath a blanket of oak leaves.

3.  Remove tree leaves that have fallen onto azaleas and other shrubs. This is a job best done by hand, if possible. A leaf blower may help dislodge leaves in shrubs too tall to reach. While you’re inspecting these shrubs, remove any dead or damaged wood.
4.  Cut back ornamental grasses and liriope. You can use a string trimmer or lawn mower if you get to this chore right away. If you wait until the new growth sprouts, you will have to use hand trimmers to avoid damaging the tips of this season’s foliage.

5.  Trim boxwoods and other non-blooming evergreens. Get them into the shape and size you want so that when the bright green new growth appears, you won’t have to cut it all off.

Don’t prune flowering shrubs or fruit trees like this Celeste Fig. You can already see tiny fruit emerging.

6.  Apply pre-emergent crabgrass control to kill new crabgrass seedlings as they begin to sprout in the lawn. I loathe crabgrass.
7.  Pull weeds! They are easy to spot in the spare garden growth. The earth is soft and moist right now, so pulling them is easy. The weeds you pull now will not be able to flower and produce seeds, which means fewer weeds later in the season.

The forsythia is blooming and the weather is beautiful. Get out in the garden and get dirty!

March 13th, 2012

Meet Jerry, your new best friend. Jerry is a very dapper, pure-bred Parson Russel Terrier. On a warm spring day, he would like nothing better than to take a long walk with you or play catch in the backyard. In the evening, he wants to be your cuddley-wuddley snuggle bug.

Two year old Jerry currently lives with his owner who used to raise show quality Parson Russels. She is no longer interested in this pastime, and so Jerry needs a new home. He has been neutered, and is in good health. Since he has been a kennel dog, he is not fully house-broken. “about 90 percent” is how his progress is described. Terriers are super intelligent, so with a little patience and training, learning to potty outdoors should not be a problem. Jerry, like many terriers, does not like cats, but gets along great with other dogs.

This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to adopt a young, small dog with a wonderful, sweet disposition. And can you believe how cute he is?

I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing in the world as rewarding as loving a rescued dog. If you want a companion, a buddy, who will adore you and warm your heart every day, consider adopting Jerry.

If you would like to meet Jerry, please contact my good friend, Debbie Lipscey at springerfarm@aol.com or 804-690-9157. Debbie once fostered one of the loves of my life, Toby. She is helping Jerry find a new home and a new best friend forever. Maybe that best friend is you.

March 11th, 2012

In 1929, when this bathroom was built, there were no en suites, jetted tubs and steam showers. Bathrooms were utilitarian spaces, and usually quite small. This one was no exception. It was not even the size of a decent closet. Roughly 5’6” square, plus a 32” square shower, this bathroom was situated between the master and another small bedroom, with doors from each side which opened into the bath. To make matters worse, there was also free-standing radiator. A small closet from the master bedroom jutted into the room, as well. The only storage was inside the tiny 18” x 20” vanity which was also 30” tall. Pretty dreadful.

Here are a few of the things we did to make this small space live large. You may be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your next small space make-over.

First, we eliminated the doorway into the smaller bedroom. This allowed for a 66” vanity with two sinks along one wall. By having the vanity custom built, we were able to make it shallower to save space. The wall mounted faucets allowed us to use these fabulous wading pool sinks without adding to the width of the countertop. The cabinet shop also made the wall mirrors.

Another custom trick: we added electrical outlets inside the back of the cabinet. This is accessed by way of a drop front panel below each sink. This often unused space is the perfect place to keep a blow-dryer and electric shaver plugged in and ready when needed.

We also broke through the old closet and incorporated the small amount of extra space into the shower. A large shower head adds drama and style while the handheld makes cleaning the shower (and an occasional dog) easier.

Since radiators are still used as heat in the house, we replaced the old cast iron one with a sleek, wall-mounted unit. It also serves as a great towel warmer.

Vintage style glass block on the upper portion of the shower partition wall provide privacy but allow natural light to enter the enclosure. No shower curtain is used. The stall is large enough to enter at one end, with the water at the other.

The door from the master bedroom was converted to a pocket door. The Toto toilet, the Drake model, has a round bowl instead of an elongated one, again to save a few inches.

By keeping the materials and color palette to a minimum, the space feels clean and soothing. In a small space, it is also important to use surfaces which reflect light, where possible. Polished marble, semi-gloss paint, glass block and polished chrome fixtures add to the feeling of lightness as do the tall mirrors. Avoiding clutter is also important when each inch counts.

The bathroom is quite small by today’s standards. But with careful consideration of every inch of space, it feels and functions as a much larger space.

Custom cabinetry by Mill Cabinet Shop – see link at left.

March 3rd, 2012

Merry Powell Interiors…First Place in the category of “Favorite Interior Designers” in R Home Magazine’s Readers’ Favorites, 2012 ! The announcement was made in R Home’s March 2012 edition.

R Home is published by Richmond Magazine. Each year, the magazine conducts a survey asking people to vote for their favorite home related businesses. From architects to window washers, there are 72 categories. I am thrilled to have been chosen from among a field of so many wonderful decorators and designers.

I sincerely thank each of you who took the time to vote for me. I always say that I have the most wonderful clients in the world. You all have humbled me with this very special recognition.

Thank you!
For more information about Richmond Magazine, visit: https://richmondmagazine.com

March 1st, 2012

There once was a time when Lovers’ Key was only accessible by boat. A tiny island nestled among many along the southwestern tip of Florida; it was a place where lovers would go to commune with nature on a beautiful secluded beach. Today Lovers’ Key is a state park. It is home to dozens of species of birds, many of them endangered. Manatees and dolphin also live here, as this lesser known island is often overlooked by tourists.
That’s Naples off in the distance.

The beach is literally covered with shells…

…and crowded with “locals”.

one of two bald eagle nests on Lovers’ Key

As a storm blew over the southern sky, a huge double rainbow appeared. The tiny white buildings in the picture are actually high-rise condominiums in Bonita Springs.

Fallen trees at the tip of the island make dramatic sculpture. Someone had decorated these roots with shells and natural objects.

Always the decorator, I added a couple of horseshoe crabs.

A great blue heron does not want to share his favorite fishing spot.

“got bait?”

As the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, our time here came to a close. We would leave Lovers’ Key, but the memories of this special place, like love, will last forever.

A sailboat seems to balance on the horizon.