Great Notions

Five spots guaranteed to spark an idea for your home or garden.
Anyone can brighten their landscaping or pool area with container gardening. But getting it right—choosing seasonal plants for bursts of color, arranging them to be aesthetically appealing and positioning them to create impact—is not always easy. So you might want to steal a few ideas from the professional gardeners around town who make their living by keeping Orlando beautiful. 

Always in Bloom
On a Saturday morning, head to Downtown Disney’s Marketplace before the crowds and take a leisurely stroll. You’ll have a clear view of some 350 containers arranged in clusters and filled with a variety of plants. Depending on the season, you might find pink and green caladiums or flowering red, pink or purple pentas. During our winter season, cold-hardy plants such as petunias and snapdragons (as we get closer to spring) make their appearance. Heather Will-Browne, co-manager of Walt Disney World Nursery, which provides plants to the entire resort, has a simple formula for getting the container design right. “I call it thriller, spiller, filler,” she says. Using three to four types of plants, the thriller is your focal point plant, the spiller is what goes close to the edge of the pot or spills over it, and the filler is the plant that goes between the two. If you are arranging several containers in a cluster, you’ll want to have one or two of solid color, for example all pink petunias, to balance the grouping. And most important, Will-Browne points out, is to check that there is a hole in the bottom of the container for drainage. Nobody wants plant rot.

Sophisticated Eye
A new hotel is always a great place to find innovative interior design ideas, and The Alfond Inn in Winter Park scores high marks for both its décor and contemporary art collection. Come for a cocktail at the lobby bar or dinner at Hamilton’s Kitchen (chef Chris Windus makes a memorable mac ’n’ cheese), but before indulging, explore every nook and cranny of this Spanish Mediterranean Revival-style building. Start in the atrium with a domed, paned skylight that casts spider web shadows on the floor of the contemporary seating area. Then stroll down the lobby’s artery toward the bar, pausing by the library—dark wood shelves with scrolled, wrought-iron trim and a back wall painted in a surprisingly vibrant aqua that really pops. Take note of the seating areas where geometric-patterned rugs ground the clean-lined sofas and chairs, spiced up with fuchsia and turquoise coffee tables of crushed velvet embossed with reptile-skin patterns.

Adorning the walls throughout is the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, a 100-plus piece collection established by Rollins donors and alumni Barbara and Ted Alfond. A painting of a stadium in pop-art colors complements the pillows in the chair positioned below it. Against a white wall, a neon-lit sign splashes the words:  Everything for Love. It won’t take but a glimpse at the photography, sculptures, paintings and décor to have you rethinking your own home’s collection of art and furnishings.
Cool Vibes

If you’re looking to add some wow power to your home, check out Scan Design in Altamonte Springs. Leather, glass, chrome and teak blend together to create the contemporary styles Scan Design is known for—only sleeker than ever before. Browse the showroom for that futuristic, sculpted bar or that cocoon-shaped leather bed that makes a daring statement. Take a look at the outdoor furniture collection where traditional rattan is replaced with weaves resembling bird nests and blades of tall grass to add boldness to chairs and modular pieces.
At the White Wall Gallery, tucked in the back of the building, stunning Murano glass sculptures, with certification, stand 4 feet tall. And don’t leave without visiting Canvas. The focus here is on reclaimed and repurposed wooden tables. Even an old door has found new life as a tabletop. Bleached pine and washed acacia with distressed markings are turned into big dining room tables guaranteed to trigger rousing conversation at your next dinner party.

The Hunt
Go looking for treasure in the consignment shops of College Park. You might just find that special accent piece to complete your room. Interior designer Debbie Sheaf has an ever-changing inventory of furniture and home accessories that her designer pals bring to her shop, Feather Your Nest, located next to Apenberry’s.  Her keen knowledge and sharp vision for cutting-edge pieces translates into bargains for you. An amazing mid-century modern glass table set by Adrian Pearsall, complete with peachy pink chairs embroidered with flowers, has a price tag of $895. Find a stylish four-poster bed for $295 and a crocodile-embossed leather chair for $495. Sheaf loves to chat, so don’t be surprised if she offers you a cup of chai tea and an earful of good conversation, including a design tip or two. Another stop is Top Drawer, easy to spot by its Popsicle pink and green art-deco exterior. Treasures found here include a French desk with leather insets for $371 and a still-life painting with a vintage gold frame for $600. It only takes a piece or two to create a space that looks like you’ve been scouring the globe. Happy hunting.

Freshen it Up
Let the hometown design firm Marc-Michaels help you rethink your bedroom. A visit to will trigger mixing-and-matching ideas for dressing up the comfiest place in your home: the bed. The firm’s founder, designer Marc Thee, spotlights his just-launched collection of crisp white linens on his website. Masculine yet elegant, the sheets feature designs such as tailored bands or curved embroidered strands that create a clean look. Accent colors are neutral, from graphite to limestone to pumice, and matching solid throws in the same tones add the finishing touch. Don’t forget the room’s lighting. According to Thee, a dim, soft glow makes for a relaxing, romantic and flattering ambiance—where who knows what might happen. 


Categories: Great Finds, Ideas