L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: June 2010

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New vertical garden rises at Raphael restaurant in Studio City

Looking to make Raphael in Studio City "more private and lush," the owners of the Ventura Boulevard restaurant recently added a green wall composed of succulents, herbs and other plants.

The wall looks great (I nearly caused an accident when I spotted it) with an abundance of blue and green flora, much of it pulled from the garden of co-owner Terry Raphael.

Raphael2 "She is a self-professed hippie and is really motivated to do green things," co-owner and manager Alon Raphael said of his mother.

The restaurant used pocket panels designed by San Francisco-based Plants on Walls. The felt-like panels are made from 100% recycled plastic water bottle fiber, which is mounted to a plastic backing. They range from $33 for a mini six-pocket model (8 inches wide, 2 feet tall) to $195 for a full-size 24-pocket model (32 inches wide and 4 feet tall).

"We took a simple turn on something really obvious and kept it affordable," said Plants on Walls co-owner Chris Bribach, a graduate of the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Alon Raphael says his restaurant wants to grow heirloom tomatoes in the pockets someday. "We look at it as an addition to our kitchen," he said.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Christina House/For The Times


In West Hollywood, a portrait in plants

Woolly Pockets deployed en masse

Vertical gardens at San Francisco flower show

Head-turner at Paris design show

Photo gallery: Two projects, including an edible wall

Love to hate it: Facebook. We're on it, with pages for California gardening and home design.

New Calla and Rose decals from Blik: The ultimate drought-tolerant houseplant

Blik calla lily rose graphics decals

Two new floral graphics by Venice-based Ilan Dei Studio for Blik will bloom long past any flower you might place in a vase. And you don't have to water them. Simply tape the graphics where you like, squeegee the back, peel off the paper backing and hang.

The Calla graphic stands 6 feet tall and comes in a set of three flowers ($70). Installation is harder than some other Blik designs, earning the highest degree-of-difficulty rating, "grab a pal." Rose is available in black or white and comes with two branches of blooms ($60). Degree of difficulty: "a worthwhile challenge."

Buy them online at www.whatisblik.com.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Blik

The Deal: H.D. Buttercup half yearly sale offers 20%-70% off


The 150,000-square-foot H.D. Buttercup showroom is slashing everything by 20% to 70% at their Half Yearly Sale, running through July 11.

Look for reductions on sofas, tables, lighting, chairs, artwork, rugs and linens by Environment, Andrew Martin (including the British designer's Zimpala rocking chair, shown above, reduced from $1,995 to $1,450), Innovation and Stark Carpet. For a look at other items on sale, click here.

H.D. Buttercup is located at 3225 Helms Ave. in Culver City. Store hours: Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (310) 558-8900.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Andrew Martin


The Deal: New Chester Collection on sale at Design Within Reach summer sale

The Deal: Melamine dinnerware at Sur La Table

The Deal: Let there be (cheap) light at Y Lighting warehouse sale

The Deal: Nani Marquina Bicicleta rug on sale at Stardust 

The Deal: Grace Home Furnishings' clearance sale begins Saturday in Brentwood

Vertical garden: What worked, what didn't

As we've been reporting, vertical garden design continues to evolve as designers push the limits of what's possible and discover what works -- or what doesn't.

Last year, Gregory Thirloway and Glen Fretwell’s company, Inside/Out Design, was working for a client in West Hollywood who wanted to have a hanging garden that was a “living painting,” executed in the Impressionist style, all swirls and swaths of color.

Vertical-garden-wide Approaching it like a museum-quality work of art — Thirloway graduated from Art Center in Environmental Design —  they first had the frame done: custom-fabricated 4" x 1.75" extruded aluminum tubing joined to make a rectangular box. Then, over several days in January, the plants were transplanted into the 1-inch spaces in the box’s interior 8-gauge aluminum wire mesh. They chose varieties based on their growing patterns first, looking for lateral rather than vertical growth. Only then did they start to consider texture and color palette.

“We set it up on sawhorses and started playing like we were working with paints — but instead of oils we were using plants,” says Thirloway.

When the box was filled with transplants, a light loose mixture of potting soil/perlite, and the drip system that snakes throughout, it weighed more than 400 pounds and required a floor jack and a crew of five to hang it on a cabinet rail at the top. 

It’s been six months since the garden has been up on the west-facing wall, adjacent to an outdoor kitchen and a fountain and pool beyond, and Thirloway is taking note of what worked and what didn’t. Click to the jump for his results, plus more photography and links to other vertical garden projects ...

Continue reading »

Finding Nemo in ... San Marino? Disneyland Hotel donates 250 koi to Huntington gardens


More than 250 koi have been transported from the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino as part of the hotel's preparations for a makeover. The move is permanent.

Floristic gardens curator Shadi Shihab, who oversees the lily ponds at the Huntington, says representatives from Disney contacted him two weeks ago.

"They sent out two inspectors from Disneyland to look at the ponds," Shihab said. "They were serious about finding them a good home."

Huntington3Disney paid for the fishes' subsequent transfer during the last two weekends. The koi, which were popular at the hotel according to Disney spokeswoman Betsy Sanchez, were transported inside large insulated containers, pictured at right, fitted with portable air pumps. Pond water was then pumped into the holding containers so the koi could acclimate to their new home before being placed in the Huntington's lily ponds, Japanese garden and Chinese garden lake.

The Huntington reported that the fish were doing well alongside their new neighbors, including baby ducks, turtles and the other resident koi.

"They are really happy here," Shihab said. "It is a beautiful environment."

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

More, more, more: Get news, advice and points of view by joining our Facebook page for gardeners.

Post-Katrina: The quest for better emergency shelter


The January earthquake in Haiti reminded us that in the face of natural disasters, the design community has an opportunity -- some might say a responsibility -- to create relief housing for the millions of people  around the world displaced by natural disasters.  Events such as Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunamis that followed the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake made millions homeless. Desperate times have called for immediate shelters for the masses -- smarter designs, be they expanded prefab modules, fabric tents or portable units made of recycled materials.

AIA-relief-Free-3The American Institute of Architects' Young Architects Forum and Committee on Design called on students and design professionals to develop “temporary/permanent relief housing” to be used following natural disaster. AIA-relief-Community-1Entries were to provide housing for about 500 families on a hypothetical site: 200 acres that included the Houston Astrodome and its vast parking lots.

The AIA awarded three of the AIA-relief-Community-2entries earlier this month. Tied for first place: Woven Shelter, pictured at top and designed by Jiyoun Kim, who asked the question: How can a temporary structure can be turned into a more permanent shelter?

Designed out of lightweight fabric, this easy-to-assemble tent uses locally available materials -- plastic bottles, mud, aggregate -- to fill doughnut-shaped material that forms the shelter.

Gene Kaufman's design Free also placed first. This entry proposed prefabricated housing consisting of three nesting modules that condense for storage and transportation. The design includes  cooking/bathing, sleeping and living areas when fully expanded, and it's equipped with rotating solar panels and demountable wind turbines, above right. A car hitch allows it to be transported to a more permanent location once the effects of the disaster have subsided.

Third place: Eric Polite’s Community Unit, pictured under the tree silhouette at right, is a prefabricated design made of recycled materials and  assembled off-site. Flares on the side of the unit allow for natural ventilation and light.

It can be stacked to maximize space, and in a more permanent arrangement, the units can connect together to form small communities, right.

The Community Unit also can be attached to a car and transported. If at some point residents want to  express style, they can with different patterns on the exterior.

The three entries are just the latest word in what's an ongoing conversation about how the design world can address humanitarian crises around the world.

-- Roselle Curwen

CORRECTED: An earlier version of this post said the Indian Ocean earthquake was 1994.


San Francisco AIA design winners

Cooper-Hewitt design winners

IKEA to phase out incandescent light bulbs

Facebook: More headlines via our pages on home design and sustainable gardening.

Where 'Star Trek' meets 'Golden Girls'

IMG_9808 copy
If you were dining at this table, where do you think you would be? 

Hint: This elaborate, pearlized furniture is part of Julien's Auctions summer sale this weekend in Las Vegas. No, it is not from the estate of Anna Nicole Smith. This elaborate ensemble once graced the Beverly Hills home of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel.

Described in the auction catalog as a modern Italian dining room set, the table, 14 armchairs, china hutch, two buffet tables and custom rug look more like a mash-up of Hollywood Regency and "Golden Girls" formal. Whatever. I'm totally impressed that they went for it. Minimalists, cringe if you want, but I'll say it anyway: This set will be a steal if someone, be it a Trekkie or interior decorator Kelly Wearstler, snags it for $2,000 to $4,000, which is Julien's estimate for the lot. The Limoges dinnerware for 18 guests on the table is part of a 113-piece set (one coffee cup is missing) valued between $1,000 and $2,000.

Not quite your taste? Roddenberry also collected Asian furnishings and modern designs valued at under $1,000 that I wouldn't hesitate to bid on. See more photos after the jump.

Continue reading »

Times Past: ESP, the board game


Snapshot from The Times archives: May 28, 1967

During the Amazing Kreskin craze, the mentalist's ESP game let players test their extra-sensory perception. But if you had the power, did you really need the game to tell you so?

-- Joan Fantazia

Photo credit: Bob Chamberlain / Los Angeles Times

Parentology: A new company helps you navigate the cloth diaper deluge


Just as it has with baby carriers, organic baby clothes and even modern baby furniture, the Internet has brought about a revolution in cloth diapering. Start investigating cloth diapers online and you'll quickly find yourself wrapped up in products galore, brands like Happy Heiny and bumGenius.

But life may have just gotten easier for those moms and dads who are determined to use cloth diapers. Earlier this month, Lena Hill, Lisa Hubbard and Jen Rodriguez -- three Los Angeles moms -- launched a new cloth diapering store and consulting company called Tush. Working out of Rodriguez's Eagle Rock home, they offer a variety of cloth diapers, inserts and covers for sale, as well as cloth diapering workshops. They'll even let you bring your baby over to try on some diapers.

I recently attended one of their workshops and was kind of mystified by their enthusiasm for dealing with their babies' waste. At one point Hill declared that poop was her favorite subject.

Click here to read more about the Tush ladies and the one-and-a-half-hour diapering workshop.

-- Deborah Netburn

Photo: Even this baby doll looks overwhelmed at a recent cloth diapering workshop put on by the three proprietors of a new store called Tush. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Datebook: Events, exhibits, classes for the week ahead

We've listed select home and garden events below. Suggest your own via reader comments. Submissions must be fewer than 75 words and must be for one-time events with legitimate value to other readers. No store promotions and no frivolous links, please. L.A. at Home staff will determine which submissions will be made public, but we won't edit the comments.

Thursday: The Camellia Lounge opens inside Descanso Gardens' Japanese Full Moon Tea House. The lounge will serve cocktails and small plates from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays through Sept. 9. Included in garden admission of $3 to $8. 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge. (818) 949-4200; www.descansogardens.org.

Friday: The modern design exhibition and conference Dwell on Design will feature more than 200 exhibitors, 80 live presentations and home tours, including the Atwater home of architect Rebecca Rudolph, shown above. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday for the design trade, then open to the public 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 26 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 27. Three-day weekend pass begins at $30. Home tours start at $85. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. ‎

Friday: Learn about Japanese cultural traditions as Reiko Kawamura and Yumiko Kikkawa lead an advanced class on flower arranging at 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; a basic class will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. $65 to $80, plus a $32 materials fee. Participants should bring a shallow container, clippers and a large needle holder. Registration required: (626) 821-4623.

NPNSCAFB3HR0CAG5365ICAKZ4GAWCAI98UEMCAJ10BYSCAQYB27UCA2OUZFCCA5DVUE2CA6MJL0OCAHPSIEUCAAE7Q0WCAO5WYT5CASN2Y1KCAUH4BC4CACXS3S2CAAJPJJ2CAE29B64CA2HG5AECANXOX28 Saturday: Hundreds of award-winning plants will be on view as the Cactus and Succulent Society of America presents its annual show and sale, featuring rare specimens native to Chile, Argentina, Botswana, Madagascar and the Middle East. 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free. Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. (626) 405-2100.

Saturday: Rolling Greens Nursery offers a class where participants create a garden under glass. The class is free but materials — fishbowls, succulents, orchids, bromeliads, driftwood, stones and recycled glass — must be bought at the store. Participants are encouraged to bring decorative items such as rocks and shells to incorporate. The cost to create a small terrarium will start at about $40. 1 to 5 p.m. 7505 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Also July 24 and Aug. 21. Reservations: (323) 934-4500.

Saturday: Michael Wall will demonstrate how to collect, clean, document and store native plant seeds  at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. $78 to $94. 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont. (909) 625-8767.

Sunday: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden research associate Bob Allen leads “Promoting Pollinators in Your Native Plant Garden.” 1 to 3 p.m. $27 to $30. 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont. (909) 625-8767.

Sunday: Lili Singer leads a class on how to take out lawn and choose alternatives. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. $35 to $45. Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, 10459 Tuxford Road, Sun Valley. (818) 768-1802.

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