Lush, Beautiful and Low-Water Use Landscaping IS a Reality

I live in Los Angeles where the sun is abundant but the rain, not so much. Or actually, we do get rain it’s just not spread out of the year and it’s not predictable. One of the best ways to conserve our precious water is to cultivate a garden that doesn’t use a lot. The EPA estimates that 50% of residents potable water is used outdoors. In Los Angeles they say it might be as high as 70%. The EPA also estimates that as much as 50% could be conserved with better planning.

In Los Angeles we are starting to see a real change in how people landscape around their homes, and by and large I’m very excited about this change. However, I’m very concerned about the lack of plantings that I’ve seen in some of the lawn remodels, and also concerned about the overuse of synthetic grass. The iconic landscape designer Mia Lehrer recently co-authored an OP-ED in the Los Angeles Times titled “Don’t Gravelscape LA” that echoes a lot of my concerns.

Below I wanted to illustrate some examples of grass-free landscaping that suits a variety of styles of home: from Asian in the top right, to modern in the bottom right, to traditional in the bottom left. None of these homes has grass (real or synthetic), nor are they overly dependent on gravel. As someone who was trained in sustainable-design (I am a LEED AP and I practiced landscape and interior design for many years), I want to point out that IT IS POSSIBLE to have a LUSH, beautiful and colorful yard, without using a lot of water. My home uses less than 50% of the water of the average home in LA, and that is with a lush, verdant frontyard (I even still have a small patch of grass!) AND a large pool.  It IS possible.  Check out these beautiful examples of low-water use yards and a parkway.

Lamps are like Earrings for a Room

My living room looked good but not “finished.” “It’s missing something,” I thought to myself. I allowed my subconscious to ponder the problem, I find these sorts of things are best solved indirectly.  You can’t number crunch your way to knowing what’s missing.

Then my family went away for the weekend and booked a room in a century-old Spanish-style home in Santa Barbara. The owner had done an amazing job of furnishing the space, and I was struck by the humongous Chinese silk lamps on the dresser in the bedroom. “That’s what I’m missing,” I thought to myself, “My living room needs some earrings!” You see the reason I had never thought of lamps as a solution, was because this area wasn’t in particular need of LIGHT, and my conscious mind kept thinking “Nope, no light needed here.” But my subconscious immediately recognized the sparkle that lamps would give to the space.

I scored the pair below on Ebay for about $100 and prayed that they would arrive intact with all that glass. Thankfully they did, and once I put them in place I knew immediately I needed to paint the bases black to help delineate them from the bureau that they sit on. You can see how nicely they set-off the space.  Just like earrings, an outfit might be great without them, but find just the right jewelry and suddenly you have an ensemble. These vintage lamps completed my tableau perfectly. (Enter sigh of satisfaction here…)

Be a spark in the world!





Easy Earring Organization Hack

When my daughter started playing with my bowl of earrings I needed an earring organization option that would move my jewelry out of her reach ASAP. 

So I ran to my “miscellaneous hardware” box and found a random length of chain. Then I grabbed some aluminum/steel push pins, which I use instead of nails for everything from hanging artwork to having a handy place to hangup my dog’s leash, and simply hammered the chain into my closet wall. 

I had my closet lined with wood for easy hardware installation so you might have to use drywall anchors and screws, etc, if you can’t find a stud to hammer into. 
I’ve loved the ease this hack has allowed me of visually taking in all my earrings at once so much that it’s become a permanent part of my closet. I also love the industrial/creative look. It’s not fancy but it works brilliantly and cost $0 which are always signs of a good hack.