Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Real Simple Secrets for Selecting Outdoor Statuary

(ARA) - You’re not alone if you find that the piece of garden statuary that looked so elegant at the garden center just doesn’t seem to fit your garden back home.

A common mistake gardeners make when buying a piece of garden statuary is one of size and quantity, according to Peter C. Cilio, creative director of fine garden accessories for Campania International. “Purchasers tend to choose pieces that are just too small for their space or they overload their garden with too many pieces,” he says. “In garden statuary the guiding principle usually is that less is more.”

Here are some simple guidelines that will help you choose the perfect piece of statuary for your garden.

Keep It in Context

According to Cilio, the most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing the right piece of statuary is the overall style of your home and garden.

“Whether you have an urban, contemporary or country garden, the statuary you select should be compatible with the style and feeling of your house and garden,” he says. “Most likely, you wouldn’t place a classical statue in a contemporary-style garden. However, classical statuary makes wonderful features for a more traditional home or garden.”

This is not to say that you can’t mix it up a little bit. There is always the opportunity for personal expression. Eclectic mixes of styles can create original and exciting garden compositions, but Cilio believes that this is most effectively accomplished by the gardener with a sure sense of his or her own personal style.

Tres Fromme, planning and design specialist of Mesa Design Group in Dallas, suggests cutting a piece of statuary out of cardboard and placing it in different locations throughout your garden. “This will help you get a feel for where the piece looks its best,” says Fromme. “It will also give you some time to think about why you want to add an ornament to your garden setting.”

Cilio suggests thinking about your garden as a blank wall in your living room. Before choosing what to hang on your living room wall, you take cues from the style of the room. Think of your garden in that context, from the size of the space to the arrangement of trees, shrubs and flowers. These will be the cues used to choose and place your garden statuary.

Keep It Simple

Fromme finds that gardeners trying to introduce too many pieces into their garden create too many distractions for the eye to absorb or enjoy. The garden becomes complicated and cluttered.

“Under the less is more principle,” advises Fromme, “one well-suited piece will create a presence and a focal point, introducing harmony rather than chaos into the garden.”

The less is more principle does not mean you are limited to symmetrical arrangements of statuary in your garden. Multiple pieces and styles can work comfortably together if they are not part of the same compositional frame.

According to renowned garden designer, Jon Carloftis, each part of your garden may have a different mood or feeling and can provide an opportunity to incorporate different types of garden sculpture. Such pieces create interest year round and serve to animate and personalize a space; a strong design element can even inspire the theme for the plantings.

“For example, the right type of statuary can look equally well in bold foliage such as elephant ears or hosta,” says Carloftis. “A shady naturalistic area may be the perfect spot for a small animal figure or bench.”

“I like to incorporate small cast stone pigs into my vegetable garden to give that particular area a sense of whimsy,” adds Carloftis.

Statuary need not be placed front and center and often should not be. Nestled in among the plantings, they do not distract from the overall composition. However, discovering such pieces as one strolls in the garden brings a wonderful element of surprise and magic to the garden.

Create a Frame

Just like a picture on your wall, garden statuary looks best with some kind of frame. A background of traditional clipped box, yew or a mixed border of grasses frames your statuary in the landscape. A stone wall or trellis covered with roses or even a simple wooden fence is all you need.

Personally, Cilio prefers the simplicity and versatility of garden containers such as jars and vases, but believes following the simple guidelines of style, color and proportion will lead you to a choice of statuary that will enliven your garden without overpowering it.

To view Campania’s wide selection of cast stone garden statuary, visit

Monday, June 11, 2007

Five Simple Summer Spruce Ups for Outdoors

(ARA) – Summer is finally here and you plan to spend every spare minute wearing a permanent indentation in the cushion of the patio chaise. But before you kick back and enjoy the lazy days of summer, you know you need to do something to spruce up the outside of your home.

First decide how much time and money you want to invest. Some outdoor improvements offer big bang for not much buck; others may cost more but can still be accomplished with a relatively modest investment of time. Here are five simple summer spruce ups that can add up to greater outdoor enjoyment without emptying your wallet.

1. Get fresh with your patio or deck. If your deck is looking drab and your patio pallid, it may be time for a power wash and a coat of paint or stain. Simply removing winter dirt and debris will make your outdoor living space look newer and more appealing. Putting a new finish on your existing deck or adding color to your patio with a concrete stain can make your environment feel fresh and updated.
2. Water, water everywhere … Adding a water feature is a great way to introduce motion and emotion to your outdoor environment. Want to add some fun to an outdoor party? Consider a mirthful fountain, the kind you can buy at many home improvement stores that you simply add water to and plug in. For a more peaceful effect, place a shallow birdbath in your back yard. For the ambitious (and adventurous), do-it-yourself fish pond, waterfall and even streambed kits are available online and from many home improvement stores.
3. Mount a mural. A flat exterior wall, architectural niche or sliding glass door – you can place a mural on virtually any smooth outdoor surface. Not only will the decoration spice up your outdoor décor, a mural can act as a conversation piece for al fresco gatherings and create continuity between your interior and exterior design. Wallpaper mural leader Environmental Graphics offers a variety of wallpaper murals, many of which are durable for outdoor use, at The murals, which range in theme from city skylines to tropical beaches and underwater scenes, are as easy to install as wallpaper. Sizes can be customized and the company provides detailed instructions on how to install the murals in virtually any setting.
4. Rock on. When it comes to outdoor design, rock may be considered the ultimate homage to Mother Earth. Landscapers use rock to create decorative effects. On the practical side, adding stone or rock to certain areas can aid in drainage. Also, it’s a great way to avoid mowing a troublesome spot in the lawn. If you’re feeling ambitious, try creating your own rock garden. If your aspirations and needs are a bit more modest, consider adding some colorful stone touches – such as a glass fishbowl filled with polished river stones – around your patio or deck.
5. Refurbish outdoor furniture. Bright, fresh cushions and finishes on patio furniture elevate the impact of your outdoor décor. If a new patio set isn’t in the budget right now, it’s easy to breathe new life into an old set. Clean cushions with a good quality upholstery cleaner, or, if they’re stained and worn beyond hope, visit your local home goods store to pick up some replacements. Refresh finishes with a coat of spray paint. Many manufacturers now offer paints that will mimic finishes popular in outdoor furnishings today.

A few simple spruce ups can go a long way towards improving the appearance – and your enjoyment – of your outdoor living environment. And get you into that chaise lounge that much sooner.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Find Speedtraps in Your Town

Check out your town on this site to find out or report where the cops are hiding.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

(ARA) – Does your home have curb appeal? Better make sure the answer is “YES” before you put it on the market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it just may make the difference between selling your property quickly, or having it linger on the market for months.

Just a few short years ago, when mortgage rates were low and the economy was booming, homes were selling almost as quickly as they hit the market. NAR statistics show it is now taking an average of four weeks to sell a home.

If it’s taking longer than that in your case, there may be a good reason. Perhaps your asking price is too high, or there’s too much competition in the surrounding neighborhood. Both are problems you can easily deal with.

Ask your realtor to run a report on comparables to see if your price is indeed too high, and in the meantime, drive up to your home and pretend you’re a potential buyer. What is the first thing you notice?

If your attention is focused on cracks in the driveway, paint on the shutters that’s peeling and dead branches hanging from the trees, it won’t take long before you come to the realization that your home isn’t selling because it lacks curb appeal. So what can you do about it? Make a list of the projects you need to complete right away, then run out to the closest home improvement store and buy your supplies.

* The driveway

Often the first step a perspective buyer takes on your property is on the driveway, so make sure it makes the right impression. If your driveway is gray and weathered, or worse, cracked and crumbling, this may scare off buyers. The good news is that repairing and beautifying your driveway can be done quickly and easily, and wow, what a difference it makes.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface with a spray on driveway cleaner and letting it dry completely. Once the surface is clean, you can apply your sealer using an applicator that has a squeegee on one side and a brush on the other to spread and smooth the mixture.

There are a lot of asphalt sealers on the market, but do you and your eventual buyer a favor by investing in a product that beautifies and protects. Black Jack Drive-Maxx 700 is a better quality blacktop filler and sealer that contains sand particles to help fill in the small cracks in the surface and it is enhanced with latex which helps with durability. It is a gel based sealer that applies faster, easier and with less mess, what a combination!

It would also be a good idea to have a bottle of Black Jack Blacktop Crack Filler on hand in case cracks should form after the driveway has been resurfaced. You can find both the crack filler and blacktop sealer at Lowe’s and other home improvement stores nationwide. Log on to for access to a store locator.


If the paint on the shutters is peeling away, but the rest of the house looks okay, take the shutters down and repaint them. You may want to repaint the front door to match as well. It would also be a good idea to pressure wash the house and sidewalks, particularly if there are water or dirt marks from the sprinklers.


As far as the landscaping goes, start by removing all the dead branches and leaves from your trees and shrubs, and making sure they have shape to them. Overgrown plants are a big turn off.

You should also be sure the lawn is well maintained. If you don’t have time to cut it every week, and remove the weeds, hire someone to do it for you. And if there’s no color in the yard right now, add some. Pansies, petunias, marigolds and daisies look great whether they’re planted in flower beds or in pots by the front door. Either way, be sure to cover the dirt with mulch, which holds moisture and prevents weed growth.

Other tricks you can try to improve your home’s curb appeal, get a new front door, wash the siding and front windows and replace the weathered mailbox and house numbers. In the grand scheme of things, these small investments will pay huge dividends. They’ll set your home apart from the competition!

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Look inside your closet

Your closet doesn't have to be dreaded. Here are some tips for organizing it:

.Take everything out of the closet, and decide what you will wear again. Donate everything else.

.Divide your clothes into seasons. Only keep things that you can wear now hanging in front. Put formal wear together.

.Divide your shoes into seasons, and pack the ones you're not wearing. Throw out old shoeboxes, and invest in a two-tier rack.

.Choose metal shelves, rods, wooden shelves, drawers and/or plastic bins to organize your closet.

.Buy a special hanger for belts, ties and scarves.

.Fold everything that can be put into drawers and on shelves.

.Hang blazers, shirts and blouses on the top rod, and put pants and skirts on the bottom.