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Use the Elements of Tuscan Design – Stone, Earth, Wood, Water, and Light

Making a statement -

Are you prepared to break away from current decorating trends that emphasize ‘global’ or ‘universal’ styles and which are intended to appeal to the broadest possible range of home buyers? If so, get ready to add character, personality, warmth and the Tuscan design feelings of security, comfort, and ‘destination sanctuary’ to your home.

The Keys for Success

- Functional furnishings with a sense of solidity; rustic finishes and textures

- Balanced use of the elements – Stone, Earth, Wood, Water & Light

- Warm, nature-inspired, color palette

- Simple, uncluttered spaces without ostentatious or pretentious décor.

Understanding the pieces of the puzzle -

Designing “simplicity” can, paradoxically, be a complex undertaking. So, before diving in, let’s review the components and principles of Tuscan design so you can create a little bit of Tuscany in your home.

All found in nature, these four keystone elements . . .STONE – EARTH – WOOD – WATER… provide a foundation for understanding how one may replicate the beauty found in the hillsides of Tuscany. They comprise a true harmonic quadrangle and are the beating heart of Tuscan design. By drawing upon this quadrangle of natural elements, you may build your own haven of comfort, warmth and style.

A fifth unexpected ‘element’ – LIGHT – is also fundamental to adding the warmth of Tuscany to your home.

Stone is the ubiquitous foundational element used for building, for decoration, and for statuary. Types of stone used in Tuscan design will generally include brick, marble, limestone, quartz and granite. The most democratic of all building materials, stone can be found in humble farm structures as well as in elaborate castles, villas, churches, and cathedrals.

Soft, warm woods balance the strength of stone, creating harmony within the Tuscan home. The predominant woods found in traditional Tuscan furnishings, from antiquity to modern times, will be those that have always been a part of the Tuscan landscape; cypress, fir, chestnut, pine, walnut and oak…

This third essential element of Tuscan design is perhaps most easily and readily incorporated through the use of clay – bricks, roof tiles, and pottery. Terracotta (literally baked earth) is seen throughout the Tuscan region of Italy, easily recognizable by its earthy, rusty red hues.

There can be no life without water. It both sustains life and threatens it; that duality making water the most intriguing of the elements. How does water fit into the scheme of Tuscan design? Subtly, discreetly, and naturally. Water may become a strong element in your design plans through the use of decorative fountains in landscaping forms, or via a large ‘villa-esque’ swimming pool. The translucent qualities and movement of water act as a balance to the stronger (stone and wood) elements of Tuscan design.

When one thinks of Tuscan design, often a golden wash of light is the first image that comes to mind. Thus, light has been added as an element, even though not traditionally thought of as part of the elements of Tuscan design.

We know, intellectually, that stone, wood, earth and water are the key elements, and yet it is that ever-present golden light that draws us into its warmth. It is the light that we desire. It is the light that will wash over our stone, wood, earth and water design elements, and provide comfort within the walls of our home.

How can one achieve the light that is so strongly associated with the Tuscan landscape, especially in northern climes and regions not in any way similar to the hills of Tuscany? Perhaps one cannot achieve the light itself, but one can recreate ambient light in a room or even an entire home through the judicious use of color and lighting fixtures (and attention to natural light).

Excerpt from Decorating in the Tuscan Style, the 162-page eBook packed with tips and techniques (and lots of photos) to help you transform your home and garden into the heart and soul of Tuscany. To learn more about Tuscan décor, visit http://www.intheTuscanstyle.com

Balance Is the Key to a Happy Landscape

Balance is important in all types of art, architecture, decorating, and especially in landscaping. With balance all things become equal in a particular setting. It is not always as simple as I make it out to be, but I will put it into terms that simplify it a bit for the inexperienced and the do-it-yourself types among us.

To achieve a sense of balance gardens, landscapes, and other environments whether natural or unnatural, need to be equally proportioned, otherwise the natural look and feel of balance will not be obtained. The majority of landscapes lack symmetrical form. They are most often asymmetrical and lack the balance that would make them more inviting and comfortable. To landscape properly can many times depend on other aspects to bring balance and harmonize that particular environment by uniting the available elements.

Often, the shortage of balance is a result of a need for repetition, or patterns. A pattern of like elements whether it be shrubs, flowers, or stones throughout a particular landscape can bring together separate areas. It only takes a single repeated patterned plant type, hue, type of decor, or fence to make this happen.

A balance shortage is commonly made by putting too much or all elements that fail to match in a single landscape. This will lead to a mess by the time the plants are mature and make for an uncomfortable habitat. At the outset of your planning, less is more, put only a few matching plants about the landscape, and make sure any other matching is very little. You will always be able to add int the future as you see fit.

Most problems people have with landscaping choices are those of shape. Shape is different in every landscape and the shapes you decide on should fill your wants and desires. But, many shapes even overflowing with positives are still boring, empty, ugly, messy, and without balance. Balance sometimes depends on shape, but not in every situation. I wouldn’t dwell on trying to achieve balance through shape.

Landscaping is subject to all the influencing elements that all other types of art are influenced by. Pattern, togetherness, and balance are an important part of any landscape and work together to make it beautiful.

Building designers and interior decorators utilize pattern. They make entrances, colors, molding, overhangs, and such all similar in shape and size. If everything in your home was different it would look rather ugly. It would be a hard place to live and be happy. The same applies to landscapes and gardens.

To make a landscape appealing and inviting we need repeating patterns. Only one matching element in opposing ends of the landscape can bring it together.

The easiest way to achieve it is by using plants, shrubs and grasses. But paths, fences, and walls can also be used to reach the ultimate goal. Which is Balance. Visit http://landscapingideas.houston-forum.com for more great landscaping tips.

The Elements of Landscape Design – What is Hardscape Design and Hardscaping?

Many homeowners are familiar with landscaping and associate the term with a well groomed lawn and a pickup truck full of men with great tans and dirt under their fingernails…they work for a living!

Landscaping is synonymous with cut grass, weedless flower beds, and pickup trucks parked out front once a week. Interestingly, landscaping and landscape design has taken on a whole new face. With the integration of hardscape design and hardscaping, as well as water feature design and creation, a full-service landscaping firm is about so much more than cut grass and weedless flower beds!

Interestingly, and particularly for the uninitiated, the term “hardscaping” or the phrase “hardscape design” may be as familiar as Swahili or Afrikans to the average property owner, commercial or residential, in the United States.

Hardscape design and hardscaping is a subcategory of landscaping that refers to the usage of inanimate objects in landscape design. As the subcategory implies, hardscape design and hardscaping refers to “the hard stuff,” components such as metal (i.e., iron), brick, stone, concrete, and timber.

Hardscape design is just that, the design process, creating a plan to integrate inanimate objects into a hardscape. Hardscaping includes patio and deck construction, the creation of a stone or brick walkways, stone wall construction, creating a wooden fence or gate, and so much more. The application of hardscape design and hardscaping is limited only by the design team’s imagination.

Significantly, hardscape design and its implementation, hardscaping, is not limited to large-scale undertakings. In fact, any metal, stone, brick, or concrete decoration integrated into your existing landscape is hardscaping.

When planning a big project from concept through design and on to construction, it is crucial to consider both hardscaping and softscaping elements. Creating the proper plan, considering all aspects of an intelligent, well thought-out landscape and hardscape design is crucial to its success.

A question that must be addressed early on is what comes first?

Do we begin with the hardscaping or the softscaping (the landscaping)?

In most cases, it is advisable to begin with the hardscaping elements because they are the easiest to work with. By beginning with the hardscaping, you lessen the risk of injury to the softscaping (the plants), which may be damaged or destroyed by the physical exertion required by most hardscaping projects.

When integrating hardscape design elements into an overall landscape design, many favor curved objects instead of straight lines. By recognizing how hardscape and softscape elements compliment each other, an aesthetically pleasing design is the end result.

Creating curved walls and walkways may soften the landscape, counteracting the harsh, straight lines offered in most housing construction, sidewalks, and driveways. Consider a curvilinear walkway or path of stone to break up an area and create visual interest. Consider a water feature, flower bed, shrub or tree line, balanced with just the right hardscape elements.

Creating a curving path or walkway will also allow you and your visitors to wander through your landscape, taking in and enjoying the experience and the view.

Balancing landscape design and hardscaping, along with water features, into a unifying theme and a complete presentation is the real value of a full-service landscaping firm. Understanding these elements and how to apply them is crucial to your landscape design firm’s success.