Remodeling 101: The Viking vs. Wolf Range

If you're considering a professional-style range for your kitchen, chances are Viking and Wolf, the two American-made standard bearers, are on your radar. Similar in price points, features, and cooking power, they seem more alike than different. How to choose? Read our primer with firsthand opinions and insights from Remodelista editors. Read more

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15 Ideas to Steal from Vintage Kitchens

Sometimes we're so busy looking into the future that we forget to revisit the greatest hits of the past. Here are 15 ideas from old-fashioned kitchens worth incorporating into your own setup. Read more

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Before & After: The $350 DIY Kitchen Overhaul in Two Weekends

What do you do when you're not at work? Ceramic artist Suzie Ryu and painter/furmiture designer Kana Philip both have busy jobs by day and create things for their online design shop, Trollhagen & Co., by night. As for the weekends, they can be found in upstate New York, making a dent on their DIY house remodel. Take a look at what they were able to accomplish in four days. Read more

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16 Tricks for Maximizing Space in a Tiny Kitchen, Urban Edition

A roundup of ingenious kitchen spaces, some no larger than a closet, that are minuscule yet functional (and full of ideas to steal). Read more

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Secrets from the Swanson Kitchen, SF Edition

With the launch of her third cookbook, “Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel,” our friend (and NY Times best-selling author) Heidi Swanson gives us a tour of her San Francisco kitchen. Aside from her musings on marble, a confession to a knife obsession, and an apparent disinterest in appliances, she also clues us in on what to do with the bean stragglers left at the bottom of a jar and reveals an ingenious solution to amping up the volume in the kitchen. Read on for details. Read more

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10 Easy Pieces: Food Storage Containers, Plastic-Free Edition

All of us at Remodelista have been trying to banish plastic from our lives for a while now, some more successfully than others. But without succumbing to containers with plastic parts, how best to stow leftovers and kitchen staples? Here are our editors' picks. Read more

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Before and After: Expat Gillian Carson’s English Garden in Portland, Oregon

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When we moved our family of four from Bath, England to Portland, Oregon in 2012 little did we know that we would spend the next three years transforming a disused rose garden into an English kitchen garden, complete with vintage-style greenhouse.

It was a big move for me, not least in family terms but in gardening terms too. I was leaving behind a walled kitchen garden where I had carefully trained espaliered apples and fan-trained peach trees. I was looking for a place where I could re-invent my old garden and add more besides.

We found a house in Portland that stood on 0.6 acres. It was quite unusual to find a house with so much outdoor space close to the city, we were told! The problem was that the garden, though once beautiful, hadn’t been tended for roughly six years. The old rose garden was knee-deep in blackberries, the fountain was full of dirt and weeds, a crabapple sat sadly enveloped in Old Man’s Beard, and we found three ponds that we didn’t know were there. There was a lot of work to do.

Photography by Gillian Carson.

Above: The old rose garden became my new kitchen garden. We felled a dying tree and asked a local greenhouse maker (SturdiBuilt) to build a bespoke wooden frame (measuring 10 by 16 feet) to sit on a red brick base. I wanted it to look as much like an English greenhouse as possible to remind me of home.

Above: I brought this Haws watering can with me from England. It’s quite simply the best watering can I’ve ever had. The design is called ‘Peter Rabbit’. (N.B. A red Peter Rabbit Watering Can is $89.99 on Amazon.)

Before

Above: When we arrived, the fountain was in disrepair and full of dead plants. Weeds choked the old roses and blocked the pathways.

After

Above: Brick paths edged with box give the vegetable beds structure and provide evergreen interest during the winter months.

Above: I raise all of the vegetables and herbs in the kitchen garden from seed in the greenhouse.

I planted some apple trees (Ashmead’s Kernel and Liberty) along an east-facing wall and trained them as espaliers. I also added a fan-trained Peach (Q18) which is resistant to peach leaf curl and does very well, even in our wet climate.

Above: I like to shell peas outside my greenhouse next to a grapevine trained along the fence.

Above: Luckily, I had decided to ship all my tools from the UK, even though I had to scrub each one with disinfectant to comply with US import laws. It was worth it because I felt like I could get started on the garden immediately.

Above: The first thing I added to my greenhouse was a length of Union Jack bunting. Since then I’ve added mirrors, antique boxes, and vintage terra cotta pots.

Above: One of the pieces I brought with me from England was this rhubarb forcing pot. It’s fantastic for making long, sweet, pink rhubarb stems. I’ve also used it to force sea kale in the past.

Above: I love old terra cotta pots and galvanized tubs and try to use them whenever I can.

Above: The design of the old rose garden lends itself well to growing vegetables. Each year I plant vegetables and herbs in a different pattern radiating out from the central fountain, which we cleared out and repaired.

Above: I mix vegetables with flowers. Here a delphinium mingles with the grapevine.

Above: The benefit of having a fully stocked kitchen garden is that you can use the produce to give as thank-you gifts. This is a vegetable box that I made for one of our neighbors who gave us a bike.

Above: I love to grow the un-buyables: unusual or interesting varieties of artichoke, heirloom tomatoes, and peppers saved from seed.

Above: Picking is a huge part of what I grow. Whatever we don’t eat gets preserved for another day.

Above: Each year I let at least one vegetable go to seed. I’m always surprised at how many beneficial insects the flowers attract. It’s great for the garden and fascinating to my children.

Above: In the evening there’s nothing better than taking a last look around the garden, closing the gates, and putting the tools away, until tomorrow.

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10 Easy Pieces: Best Succulents

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Are you sick of hearing that succulents are “easy” when the only thing yours do reliably is die? The solution is to get the right succulent for the job.

For instance. If you are trying to grow succulents indoors, buy plants with bright green leaves (instead of gray, blue, or purple leaves). When you pot succulents, remember they need better drainage and soil aeration than thirstier plants; use a cactus soil mix and add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot. If you put succulents in the garden, dig in some sand to improve the soil’s drainage before planting.

Here are ten of our favorite succulents (and the secrets to keeping them alive):

Black Rose

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Above: Photograph by Gwen’s Garden via Flickr.

Native to the Canary Islands, aeoniums thrive outdoors in similar Mediterranean climates—with hot, dry summers and rainy winters. Aeoniums come many colors—including green, striped, and gray—but we particularly love the black varieties such as Black Rose (above). They create a dramatic counterpoint to blue- and gray-leafed plants in the garden.

Aeonium ‘Zwartkop‘ has long, delicate leaves that taper to a point; a plant in a 1-gallon pot is $12 from Cycadpalm.

Burro’s Tail

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Above: Photograph via Cereal Magazine.

Extremely delicate leaves will fall off at the slightest touch, so place Burro’s Tail in a spot where it won’t be disturbed. A Sedum morganianum has bluish green leaves and, when it blooms, tiny red flowers. A bare-root Burro’s Tail in a 4-inch pot is $7.99 from Succulent Babies via Etsy.

Aloe Vera

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Above: Photograph by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

Hardy indoors or out, aloe is your friend. Of more than 250 species of aloe, the one known as “true aloe” is aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis). Probably because of its amazing ability to cure sunburns. Aloe vera’s leaves ooze a soothing substance that makes a fine hand lotion. An Aloe Vera Medicine Succulent Plant is $14.95 from Cactus Limon via Etsy.

If you, like Justine, keep a potted aloe indoors and snip off the tips of leaves to use for medicinal purposes, you can make your supply go further by propagating the plant’s offsets. Follow Justine’s lead in DIY: Propagate the Plant of Immortality.

Pencil Cactus

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Above: We have good reasons for calling the pencil cactus The New ‘It’ Houseplant. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Happy to be a houseplant, Euphorbia tirucalli hails from Africa and earned its Pencil Cactus nickname for the shape of its branches. Give it a sunny spot and don’t over-water it, and this hardy plant could grow as tall as 6 feet. A Euphorbia Tirucalli in a 4-inch pot is $12 from Pernell Gerver.

String of Pearls

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Above: Photograph via A Home Full of Color.

A good choice for indoors where you can control its climate, slow-growing String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) likes bright, indirect light—and to be left alone. Let the soil dry thoroughly before watering. Its trailing stems can reach lengths of up to 3 feet. A 6-inch hanging pot of String of Pearls is $12.99 from Hirt’s.

Paddle Plant

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Above: A pink-tinged paddle plant. For more, see Steal This Look: An Indoor Succulent Garden.

An exception to the “bright green leaves only” rule, kalanchoe will thrive indoors in indirect, bright light. One of my favorite succulents, a Kalanchoe Luciae looks like it’s wearing lipstick on the edge of its leaves. The rosy edge makes it a good candidate to combine with other red or purple-leaved succulents. A rooted cutting of Kalanchoe Luciae is $7.95 from Bkyard Paradise via Etsy.

Hens and Chicks

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Above: A variety of Sempervivum. For more, see Steal This Look: An Indoor Succulent Garden.

Growing in tight clusters that look like rosettes, Hens and Chicks spreads quickly to fill a container or a bare, sunny spot in a dry garden. There are thousands of varieties of sempervivum with leaf colors ranging from deep green to pale blue to purple-tinged; an assortment of 11 Sempervivum Succulents is $22.40 from Rainforest Rose via Etsy.

String of Bananas, Lady Aquarius, and Perle Von Nurnberg

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Above: Three hardy succulents for a container garden. For more, see DIY Container Garden: 3 Tough Beauties That Won’t Die.  Photograph by Meredith Swinehart

For a container garden that won’t wilt in the heat, we consulted our favorite succulent expert, Robin Stockwell, who owns Succulent Gardens nursery in Castroville, California. The recommendation: combine trailing blue-green String of Bananas (Senecio radicans); the ruffled rosettes of ‘Lady Aquarius’ echeveria (Crassulaceae echeveria cv. ‘Lady Aquarius’) that are blue edged in pink, and smooth rosettes of pale lavender ‘Perle Von Nurnberg’ echeveria (Crassulaceae echeveria cv. Perle von Nurnberg).

A String of Bananas plant is $10.99 from Succulent Beauties via Etsy. An Echeveria ‘Lady Aquarius’ in a 4-inch pot is $8.95 from Annie’s Annuals. A collection of three Perle Von Nurnberg Echeveria plants is $22.45 from Succulent Babies via Etsy.

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Lawn Begone: 7 New Ideas for Front Yard Landscaping

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They say you are what you wear. This is also true of your house. Your front yard makes a strong first impression. Here are seven of our favorite landscaping ideas to dress up the place:

Fairy Tale Flowers

Above: For more of this garden, see Garden Visit: The Hobbit Land Next Door. Photograph by Tom Kubik for Gardenista.

My next-door neighbor in Mill Valley, California tore up the grass first thing when she moved into her house. The property is fenced, so it feels like a private world. The walk from the front gate to the stoop is only about 30 feet, but on the way you pass so much—a hydrangea grove, lemon trees, fragrant roses, Japanese maples, columbine, wisteria, herbs—that it can take days to get there if you stop to smell everything.

Above: On the front porch, a potted orange begonia is all it takes to remind visitors of the flowers they’ve just walked past.

Above: A riot of color in a window box reinforces the theme.

Gracious Living

Above: For more of this garden, see Before & After: A Grande Dame in LA’s Hancock Park.

The first time LA-based landscape designer Naomi Sanders saw the grand 1920s house in Hancock Park, it felt hemmed in despite its generous front yard. A maze of formal parterres and fussy plantings (“a million different plants”) were to blame.

She designed new hardscape elements (including a concrete front path to match the material of the stoop) and reduced the plant palette to three colors (green, white, and red). “I was really interested in looking at the work of Mark Rothko for inspiration, for that limited use of color for effect,” Sanders said.

Above: By simplifying the plantings, Sanders made the boxwood parterres feel tailored instead of cluttered.

Above: A front path of flagstone was replaced by concrete pavers. “It makes the hardscape feel more connected to the house,” says Sanders.

The Secret Garden

Above: A mysterious front path invites visitors into Jean and Ken Linsteadt’s Mill Valley, CA front yard. Two pencil thin cypress trees flank—and define—the walkway. For more, see A Modern Garden Inspired by the Classics.

What makes it welcoming? No fence. No gate. And the high boxwood hedges look fluffy rather than fierce (thanks to gentle pruning).

Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

A the end of the path, wide stone steps (and Louis the springer spaniel) lead to a covered front stoop.

Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Alongside the Linsteadts’ path, cheerful pink and white clumps of Santa Barbara daisies signal that visitors are welcome.

Elevated Thinking

Above: In Philadephia, a steep grade change required retaining walls at a property’s edge. To make the house feel accessible and welcoming to visitors, designers at Fieldesk planted a colorful, drought-resistant front yard garden on either side of the stairs.

Above: Hardy perennials including coreopsis (R) and thyme edge the walkway.

Painterly Prairie

Above: Photograph via Adam Woodruff & Associates.

In central Illinois, garden designer Adam Woodruff created a painterly mini prairie when he tore out the turf in his own front yard and planted a low-maintenance mix of perennials, ornamental grasses, and shrubs.

Above: Woodruff planted hardy blooming plants that will perform year after year. He created a crazy quilt of color (L) with Astilbe chinensis ‘Purpurkerze’; Helenium ‘Mardis Gras’; Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’; Eryngium yuccifolium; Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’, and Perovskia atriplicifolia.

At (R), plants include Perovskia atriplicifolia, Amsonia hubrichtii, and Salvia ‘May Night’.

Victory Garden

Above: For more of this edible garden in London, see Garden Visit: The Little House at 24a Dorset Road.

When London architect Sam Tisdall designed a replacement house to match the rest of a block’s Victorian era homes (which had been built for railway workers), he sited the clients’ vegetable garden in the small front yard to take advantage of available sunlight.

Above: Raised beds add another architectural element to the facade.

Steal the Views

Above: From a Napa Valley farmhouse, you can see vineyards from the house—if nothing blocks the view. For more of this garden, see Vineyard Retreat: A Garden That Belongs to the Land.

“Our goal was to make this garden evocative of the surrounding landscape, which is just stunning,” said SF-based landscape architect Scott Lewis, who came up with a garden design for the one-acre property. “What we did was clear the clutter away to take advantage of those views.”

Above: On both sides of the front path are sweeps of perennial grass Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’. In the fall, the grass turns gold, like the distant hillsides.

For more of front yard landscaping ideas, see:

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Best of Ikea 2015: A Glass Greenhouse Cabinet

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Spotted and admired in Ikea’s new spring collection, a glass greenhouse cabinet to house your plants outdoors or in:

Above: Made of powder coated galvanized steel with glass doors, a gray Hindö Greenhouse Cabinet measures 56 3/4 inches high and 24 3/4 inches wide; $99 (currently available in US stores but not online).

Above: The greenhouse cabinet has five shelves, three with adjustable heights. Each shelf will hold up to 50 pounds. The cabinet’s feet also adjust to enable the greenhouse to stand level on an uneven surface.

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