Bringing The Outside In

Given that the inside and outside are very different places to be, it is no surprise that designers who are equally at ease whether inside or out are the exception rather than the rule. I know a few, and I admire them for their ability to move from inside out and back in again without skipping a beat. A client asking me for interior design gets referred to someone else. I know enough about interior design to know I would be seriously out of my depth. Several years ago I made major changes to the interior of my own home, with the help of a very well regarded interior designer. She happens to be a friend, so we fought like cats and dogs more often than I want to admit. None of that difference of opinion is visible. She had an overall vision of the project from the beginning, and the results, happily for me, reflect that. She stuck by her ideas. One space flows into another. There are visual and spatial surprises. My interiors do not look like what she would would have for herself. They look like me, only better and more finely tuned than what I could have ever done on my own. The fact that she is at her best inside, and I am at my worst inside, made for an interesting relationship.

Though I would rather be outdoors than anywhere else, it seems natural that a thoughtful balance between in and out is a relationship worth cultivating. Cultivation churns up a lot of dirt. More on that to come! A dwelling is a place to be out of, and protected from, the elements. I like that the water comes out of the faucets in my house, rather than from the ceiling. My house is a getaway from extreme heat and cold, wind, pelting rain, snow, mosquitoes and so forth. I am appreciative and interested in all manner of wildlife, but a mouse in the house is a no go. Windows are just that-a view to, rather than an immersion in the natural world. Being inside has its value and charm.

That idea in favor of separation and distinctly different experiences between inside and out has been challenged in recent years. Exterior grade furniture upholstered in exterior grade fabric makes an outdoor living room possible. That furniture can be placed on an exterior grade rug. Exterior kitchens that mimic and rival a well equipped interior kitchen further blur the line between the inside and out. Exterior grade is a fancy way of saying weather resistant. My outdoor furniture is resin wicker. It is lightweight, and impervious to sun, rain, snow and ice. The cushions are specifically designed to drain quickly after a downpour. After 8 years outdoors, the fabric  is a wee bit faded, and moss and lichens have begun to grow in the seams. I do not mind plants growing on my cushions outdoors; that seems appropriate to the place.

An ancient roof at Detroit Garden Works was showing strong signs of age.  It was not doing such a great job of keeping what was outside on the outside. Every rain would produce drips from one end of the building to the other. It only took a week or so to install a new roof. And another 2 or 3 weeks to track down some trouble spots. But one significant trouble spot needed attention. In 1995, we installed a 3′ by 3′ skylight near the entrance doors to the shop. It was a way to bring the light from outdoors into the interior. But the wood framing had deteriorated over the years such that we had more than light coming through that hole in the roof.

A decision was made to replace the skylight with a bigger skylight. This 8′ by 8′ domed skylight is technologically vastly superior to our previous version, and its great size floods the area with light. We even have views of the trees on either side of the building.  I would think a banana plant would be very happy under the dome. The size was a bit of a shock, but this is a dose of the outdoors inside I am sure we will enjoy.

Given how much work we had already done to introduce more light into the shop, it was decided to repaint the ceiling. The last time we had painted it was in 1996. That job was rather easy, as the space was empty. Our general contractor sprayed the ceilings while Rob pushed him around on our rolling ladder. I still remember the name of the color-Winter Pear. Once the skylight was in, we realized how really dark that color that ceiling color was. Repainting this was not a job any of us wanted to take on, so I called Wayne.

We moved every object in both rooms to the garage. We gave Wayne a hand covering the walls and floors with plastic and painters tarps, picking up paint, and renting the scaffolding he needed. We primed the raw steel beams with iron oxide primer. Every square inch in the airspace got repainted the same color as the walls-Dove White, from Benjamin Moore. We had entered into the churning up dirt part of cultivating better light inside the shop. Though we had covered every surface, paint dust managed to get on just about everything.

Wayne ran the heat at 65 degrees to get the paint to dry more quickly, so the blower from the furnace did a good job of pushing the paint particulates everywhere. The painting went very fast, the cleanup took some time.

We are happy with with the outcome.  We have just enough of the outdoors inside now to make our garden shop feel more like the garden. You’ll see.

Everything will move fast now.  We are beginning to put the store back together.  A 40 foot container from France will be at our door this Friday morning. And March 1st, Detroit Garden Works will be back open for the 2018 gardening season. We have had time to make all of these changes, courtesy of the great outdoors.    The February garden

Comments

  1. Jennifer Taylor says:

    Looks terrific!! All of your efforts really paid off. Once again, beautifully done.

  2. Looks amazing Deborah and Rob!
    I always look forward to the spring re-imagining of the shop, even more so this year.
    I will bet you will be finding those paint particles for the remainer of the year, but a worthwhile inconvenience for all of that glorious light.

    Best- Dan

  3. Ellen Devine says:

    “After 8 years outdoors, the fabric is a wee bit faded, and moss and lichens have begun to grow in the seams. I do not mind plants growing on my cushions outdoors; that seems appropriate to the place.”
    Good work with your store redecorating, but I hope you leave your seat cushions alone.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Ellen, I have no plans to touch those seat cushions! I like them just the way they are. all the best, Deborah

  4. Bright and light makes for an uplifting, joyous space. Love the 8 x 8 skylight/dome! Dove white looks spectacular on your ceiling. Very exciting to get a container from France. Garden ornaments from Europe are often unique, sometimes whimsical and really wonderful. Lucky customers at Detroit Garden Works.. I also like bringing the outdoors in to my home via good views into the garden and woodlands. We need a Detroit Garden Works, Massachusetts branch!

    • Jennifer Taylor says:

      Susan, you would love the shop! I traveled there from Seattle last summer and I’m so glad I did. It’s unbelievable in person

  5. Silvia Weber says:

    White Dove is our favorite shade of white.
    Love the new, larger skylight!
    Big job – looking great!
    See you soon.
    XOX

  6. Jane Cruickshank says:

    Can hardly wait to visit the Works March 1, at 9:00 sharp.

  7. Mary Anne Komar says:

    ‘Enlightening! Looks lovely.

  8. debra phillips says:

    what a stunning space Deborah, adore the changes!
    just have to make a field trip up there and witness the magic in person…..and if I do, to hopefully meet you at last
    Debra

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