Outdoor Privacy Solutions for the Homeowner

Privacy Solutions for Outdoor Spaces

Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close

Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.

Backyard privacy solution

Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.

Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.

Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.

Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.

Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.

Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.

Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.

Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.

A view before the nine columns are placed.

Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’

The waters off the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy will be enchantingly illuminated beginning June 3 through November 23, 2014, as the installation of Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’ is unveiled to the public at the Church of San Giorgio. The structural ensemble consists of nine symmetrical columns, each standing 24.5 feet tall and covered with a golden mosaic of 800,000 tesserae bearing the sky. The tesserae, or small pieces of 24k gold-leaf Trend mosaic tiles, are used as instruments to reflect the light of the sun and moon onto the water. German artist Heinz Mack designed the golden mosaic as a tribute to the city of Venice, exemplifying the long tradition of local craftsmanship and early cultural relations between Orient and Occident. It is estimated over 15 million visitors will experience this amazing installation in Venice over the next five months.

The Sky Over Nine Columns’ made with Trend Mosaics

24k Gold Leaf Trend Mosaic Tiles

The Sky Over Nine Columns’

Trend Group, the parent company of Granite Transformations, is proud to be an integral part of this monumental artistic installation. For homeowners who are thinking about a kitchen or bath renovation ¬– you too, can have a piece of history in your own homes. Granite Transformations uses the same exclusive product in their backsplashes (although the golden tesserae were especially designed for this project). Let our team of experienced design specialists help you design the perfect kitchen or bathroom for your home. Contact Granite Transformations today for a free in-home design consultation.

For more information on ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns,’ please visit: mackinvenice.com.

Todd Michael, mosaic designer & artist.

Todd Michael Creates Modern-Day Mosaic Designs Using Old World Artistry

Blending the artistry of an ancient world with a modern twist has defined mosaic artist Todd Michael as one of the most sought after mosaic designers in South Florida. As a self-trained ‘mosaicist’ (a designer of mosaics), Todd has been transforming spaces into permanent works of art with mastery and beauty for the past 15 years.

“The process begins with my imagination as it comes to life after studying the space,” Todd explained. “It has to be a perfect fit, since mosaic installations become absolute and permanent.”

His latest work of art, ‘The View from Delilah,’ began in January when he was commissioned to design a space in the grand foyer of one of South Florida’s magnificent homes on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale. Todd first began translating his idea into an artistic composite, which was drawn to scale and then transferred and used as a full-size template. He then hand-placed 82,000 hand-cut pieces of Trend Mosaic Tile onto a flexible piece of mesh, ensuring that all of the glass tiles were in place, secured and ready for transport to the location. “The installation phase is just as important as the design phase,” Todd said. “This is where the craftsmanship comes into play.” Todd explains how precision, placement and the use of quality materials will ensure a flawless installation and guarantee a lifetime of beauty set in glass. “There are no shortcuts in mosaic,” Todd said.
Trend Mosaic Tile work done by mosaicist Todd Michael Trend Mosaic Tile Design

Mosaic Tiles from Trend Group for Todd Michael  Hand Cut Trend Mosaic Tiles

This large-scale project took two months to complete, with over 200 hours dedicated to the meticulous preparation and execution of the design. The end result is a magnificent 10′ x 15′ mountainous backdrop of a Mediterranean scene with a spacious terrace surrounded by native fauna. “I especially enjoyed creating ‘The View from Delilah,’” Todd explained. “I tapped several artistic factors to design the perfect balance of textures, color and flow.”

The View from Delilah by Todd Michael using Trend Mosaic Tiles

Todd says the use of Trend Mosaic Tiles in his designs is the cornerstone of his creations. “Trend mosaics offer me an artist’s palette of beautifully cut tiles in a variety of colors and textures that capture the beauty of gemstones.” In a time where being ‘green and clean’ is at the forefront of an environmentally-friendly world, Todd is proud to tell his customers that Trend Mosaics are made from up to 80% recycled materials. “I’m an artist who paints in glass,” Todd explained. “It’s a great feeling to know I’m creating timeless art with the best products on the market today.”
For more information on Todd Michael and his work, please visit http://www.mosaicsbytodd.com. You can also find exciting updates and posts on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mosaicsbytodd.

Create your own craft space with cabinets and countertops from Granite Transformations.

Empty-Nesters Find Creative Ways to Transform Their New Found Space

Let’s face it. If you’re a parent of a graduating high school senior, your emotions may be running high. Anticipation of “Graduation Day,” impending college expenses and knowing your family life will be forever changed can leave you on an emotional rollercoaster. With empty-nesters discovering their new-found freedom, they are also realizing their homes have just increased by one room (or sometimes more). Although some parents may rope off their son’s or daughter’s room as a shrine to their childhood, others are embracing the realization that although the kids are away at school, they will be back (and most likely bring friends).

Some of the more popular room transformations range from the designing of a man-cave for dad with a cool home theatre or media room (complete with full remote control access), to a sewing and crafting room for mom, or even a gym for both deserving parents to enjoy. With a free in-home design consultation from Granite Transformations®, your dreams for a new space are only a call or click away.

A home gym is the perfect way to transform your new found space.

Here are a few fun ideas to turn your new found space into an exciting and functional retreat:

Media Room/Home Theatre: Today’s homeowners are discovering media rooms as a multi-purpose space designed around a large, flat-screen television and outfitted with surround sound and cozy seating. Whether you’re converting a spare bedroom or transforming a larger space (like a garage or basement), your new media room will be the hot spot for entertaining friends and family, streaming music, or it may be your private sanctuary for escaping to watch a favorite movie or even getting lost in your favorite book.

Sewing & Crafting Room: With the kids off to college or moved out of the house, today’s moms are embracing their lighter schedules by finding the time to tap into their creative sides. With the expert advice of the design consultants from Granite Transformations, your new sewing and crafting room could be only days away. Beautiful cabinetry, granite or quartz countertops and even an island for those larger crafting projects make the perfect backdrop for your dream space.

Home Gym: Keeping fit and healthy can be challenging these days because of our demanding schedules. Having the convenience of a home gym leaves the excuses at the door, and opens up the possibilities of balancing the demands of work with staying healthy.

Embrace your new found space and consider a quick and easy remodel by contacting the experts at Granite Transformations for a free in-home design consultation.

Modern Swimming Pool Tile Design Advice

Modernize Your Pool with a Stunning Retile

Unveiling your pool can be an exciting family event, marking the beginning of summer and bringing with it the anticipation of countless hours of family fun and a splashing good time. One thing you might notice is that the pool’s tile may be looking a bit outdated. Retiling your pool with today’s modern designs is a chic and fashionable way to accessorize your backyard. Selecting the perfect tile combinations can create a stunning and welcoming oasis, while also adding a resort-style feel to your home.


Most pool tiles are ceramic or porcelain and are available in a variety of textures, ranging from smooth to coarse. Here are some important tips to consider when retiling your pool – keeping in mind safety, style and functionality:

Safety First – Choose tile for around the pool that is slip-resistant. This area will often be wet, so be sure to select a tile surface that can be treated to avoid slipping.

Budget – Establishing an affordable budget is a key factor when planning any renovation or improvement. The cost of most pool tiles generally starts at $1.50 per one square yard. You can use your budget as a guide to help keep you on track when selecting tiles or planning an intricate design.

Lifetime Guarantee – To protect your investment, select tiles that offer a Lifetime Guarantee against color fading and damage. You should also make sure the guarantee protects you against any manufacturing defects. (The last thing you want is to tap out your wallet by chipping the tile every few years.)

Choosing a Design – Just like choosing the décor of your home, choosing the right design for your pool should be a reflection of your personal style and backyard theme. For a leafy landscape, we suggest selecting glass mosaic tile and opt for rounded edges to prevent scraping against your skin. For a traditional yard, classic blue tiles or earth tones are the best choice. For a more eccentric look, some homeowners are going all out by using brightly colored tiles and designing creative patterns on the bottom of their pools for a more fun and fashionable look.

Floor Surface – The surface of your pool will be different than the tiles you choose for your wall and pool area. Most floor surfaces are made of slate, pebble or stone. But if you want a more beautiful pool, then selecting trend glass mosaic is the best option. Trend mosaic has color throughout the glass, so it will never lose its color. It is manufactured for wet environments (such as swimming pools), so with a proper installation system (like one from Laticrete International, Inc.) your pool will look like new for over 25 years. We recommend white or blue tiles for the pool, as they are calming colors and they reflect the light perfectly.

Cleaning and Maintenance – At some point, swimming pool tiles can develop build-up that may require the use of an abrasive cleaner. It’s a good idea to research which type of chemicals are required to clean the tiles you choose.

Getting a Sneak-Peek – Ask for samples of the tile before placing your order. Lay them around your pool so that you can get an idea of how they will look and if you need to make any adjustments.

Installation – As with any home project, you want to hire a reputable tile installer who will get the job done professionally, efficiently and within your budget.


Granite Transformations Beige Kitchen

Essential Elements of a Useful Granite Kitchen Island

A kitchen island is not only functional but decorative as well. The island makes preparing meals more convenient because you have additional surface space. It also helps direct traffic around the kitchen in an efficient manner, much like a round-about in a roadway. Islands also offer additional storage space, which is useful when the cabinets are not sufficient to hold everything you need. Most modern kitchens open up into other rooms and the island assists in this transition.

Size and Function

Kitchen islands can be set up to suit your personal tastes. There are multiple ways of doing this.

Hollow out one side of the island and place chairs there to create additional seating space if you often have large meal gatherings.

Add extra stove tops. This gives you more options when preparing your meals and speeds up the cooking and preparing process at the same time.

Use multiple levels. An island doesn’t have be the same height throughout. Have a lower area for people to sit at and a higher section for cleaning or food preparation. This helps families interact with each other more conveniently when meals are being made.

Size-wise, an island should be four feet long and two feet deep at a minimum but still provide ample space on all sides for people to walk by. The kitchen should therefore be at least eight feet deep and 12 feet long to consider island installation.

Decorative Design

Islands are often a mixture of wood and granite. Granite is durable, easy to clean and aesthetically pleasing, making it ideal for both island and countertop surfaces. It is also heat-resistant, which is important in any cooking environment to make sure your pots and pans won’t damage it. Granite can also be colored in various ways to fit the design of your specific kitchen.

The shape of the island is important to the kitchen design also. Shaping the island so it curves outward from the stove helps to create a defined cooking area while the curves help prevent people from hurting themselves on the edges. This also opens the kitchen up more that a traditional rectangle.

An island is the focal point of the kitchen because of its size and positioning so you can also place photos, fruit baskets, crafts and other decorations on the top of it to further personalize the room and help it blend in with the rest of the house. The woodwork on the island should usually match that of the kitchen cabinets so the island doesn’t call attention to itself unnecessarily.

Island Planning

Make sure the dishwasher and oven have plenty of room to open fully before installing an island to prevent annoying and costly renovations later. You should have enough room between the edge of the doors and the island to walk by safely to prevent tripping. The island should also have outlets for you to plug in small appliances. Small grills or sandwich makers generally are not permanent kitchen fixtures and only come out when needed so you need convenient places to set and use them.

If you have cooking surfaces on your island, you’ll also need proper venting, making a vent hood or a downdraft fan a must. If you use a downdraft fan, you’ll also need a second exhaust fan installed in the ceiling. It’s also important to see what you’re doing and ambient lighting isn’t adequate to light a workspace. Install lights directly above the island to both improve the working area and to also improve the island’s appearance.

Granite reflects light nicely and this helps make the island look more attractive from a distance. Special lighting is needed if the ceiling is more than six feet above the island surface because otherwise the light diffuses out instead of down and the island won’t be illuminated effectively.

Other Considerations

Always check local building codes prior to having an island installed to make sure all regulations are being safely met.

The stove, sink and refrigerator traditionally form the points of a triangle in the kitchen to maximum efficiency of movement for those working in it. An island can either disrupt or enhance this, depending on its placement and what you use it for.

Avoid using harsh cleaning detergents on a granite island because the stone may stain permanently. Mild soap or liquid dish detergent is usually enough to remove any dirt or grease that accumulates and this keeps your island in peak condition.

For more kitchen island design and construction tips, check out this great post on This Old House.

Author Bio: Donna M. is an interior designer and freelance writer for Insurance Providers. She enjoys offering her expertise to homeowners looking to go beyond the average designs below the average budget.

Bethenny Frankel

Expert Interior Design Trends for Your Baby’s Nursery

What better way to welcome a new little bundle of joy into the world than with a state-of-the-art, custom-designed nursery?

On top of preparing yourself for parenting, it can also make caring for a new baby easier when you take the time to prepare a user-friendly, stylish nursery that you can enjoy for years to come.

The best of the best in expert nursery design is both fashionable and functional. Check out these trending decor ideas from top interior design professionals that you can use when designing your baby’s nursery for the first, second, and even third time:

• Antique White for Girls: You can thank celebrity Bethenny Frankel for the trend of using vintage, sophisticated antique white when decorating her daughter’s nursery several years ago.

• Antique White for Girls: You can thank celebrity Bethenny Frankel for the trend of using vintage, sophisticated antique white when decorating her daughter’s nursery several years ago.

While most girls’ nurseries are automatically decorated in pink, using antique white is just as feminine and will pair well with a number of other gender neutral colors like yellow, green, and brown.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

• Gender Neutral Themes: If you’re waiting to find out the sex of your baby or don’t want to go with traditional blue or pink, you can try a gender neutral theme instead.

The benefit to using a gender neutral theme with cartoon characters or animals is that it can be used for multiple children. Ashlee Simpson was one celebrity to decorate in a custom, gender neutral style using a Disney wall mural for her newborn son’s nursery.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

• Realistic Recreations: If you can’t decide on a favorite animal, cartoon character, or even color, you can create a soothing nursery with a natural, scenic backdrop.

For example, a nursery painted with clouds and a blue sky can be accessorized with hanging birds, trees painted on the wall, and nature-themed bedding. This nursery trend is ideal since the sky is the limit, so to speak. You can paint a bright blue afternoon sky or a dark night sky with foliage, birds, and natural colors to match.
When in doubt, make your nursery as personalized as possible. This is your opportunity to create a room that you will love and spend hours of time in as you bond with your new son or daughter. If you don’t have the time or the budget to custom-design your nursery, hanging a large pregnancy portrait above the crib is an excellent starting point.
From there, you can adapt the nursery as you get to know your new baby by changing the colors, styles, and accessories to match your little one’s taste!

Bethany Ramos is a full-time freelance writer and coffee lover that co-owns her own e-commerce website, The Coffee Bump.

SketchUp Modeler

5 of the Best Interior Design Jobs in the Biz

If you have a passion for interior decorating, you may have considered dipping your toes into the waters of an interior design career. But before you quit your day job, it’s important to check out the state of the industry today to find out what jobs are available in a competitive marketplace like the design and décor field.

Interior Design Industry Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that roughly three out of 10 interior designers are self-employed, which is four times the rate of other professional in related occupations. Only two out of 10 salary-paid interior design professionals work in a specialized design profession. One out of 10 interior designers works in a landscape and architectural firm. Other professionals work in building and supply industries, home furnishing stores, or residential construction companies.

With that in mind, here are five of the hottest interior design jobs in the business today that could give you a new calling in your career:

1. Design Consultant: A design consultant may start with a base salary of $35,000 with credentials that include design and home furnishing experience with specialties in tile, stone, and even decorative plumbing. Design consultants are often employed by exclusive home furnishing stores and boutiques that offer tile, stone, bath, and retail home products. If you have a love for customers and interior design with a passion for sales, this could be the right up-and-coming job for you.

2. SketchUp Modeler: A SketchUp Modeler must have an advanced technical knowledge in interior design in order to create 3-D models of different interior spaces using Google SketchUp. This job has rapid openings in the restaurant and hospitality industry; individuals will normally work as part of a larger design team to provide customized decor within new building constructions. Salaries may start at $35,000 per year.

3. Floral Designer: Floral design is a unique trade under the umbrella of interior design, with starting salaries at roughly $23,000 per year or $11 per hour. Most floral designers start out with some form of on-the-job training so that an interior design degree isn’t required. Floral designers provide customized flower arrangements in decorative displays that can be used for parties, weddings, and basic home furnishings.

4. Set Designer: A set designer is used to design professional sets for theater, TV, movies, and other productions. A set designer plays a hands-on role by analyzing a script or other documents to determine how many sets will be needed in a production with various decor themes. Set designer salaries can start out at 46,000 per year, and in most cases, a bachelor’s degree is required.

5. Upholsterers: If you have a love for all things fabric, you may want to consider a career as an upholsterer, starting at close to $30,000 per year. Upholsterers work in a branch of interior design by making, replacing, and repairing coverings for all types of furniture, including the restoration of vintage pieces. Most upholsterers are employed by furniture manufacturers or home furnishing boutiques; up to 36% of upholsterers worked freelance as of 2010.

Upholstered Chair

Upholstered Chair

Bethany Ramos is a full-time freelance writer and coffee lover that co-owns her own e-commerce website, The Coffee Bump.

We Can Remodel Your Boat Or Yacht In As Little As One Day!

Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away

Don’t Forget – Granite Transformations is perfect for both land and sea!  We can remodel your boat or yacht in as little as one day! Whether a quick update or a full kitchen or bath remodel, Granite Transformations is the perfect place to create a dream space on board.

Subway Bronzite

Introducing Our New Subway Tile Collection

Originating in the early 20th century, subway tile gained popularity among the masses because of its classic, white, glossy rows found lining New York City subway stations.  Today, Granite Transformations reinvents the classic trend with its new Subway tile collection. This versatile collection includes an assortment of colored and textured tiles to coordinate or contrast beautifully within any home, specifically its kitchen and bathrooms.

Granite Transformation’s Subway collection offers seven color options and unique pattern choices, giving any room in a home or commercial space a whole new look and feel.  Subway tiles are manufactured from post-consumer recycled glass and can assist designers or homeowners in bringing a classic touch to any room in the home.

Granite Transformations new Subway collection features dramatic 3” x 6” individual glass rectangles and customers can select the color, texture and degree of reflectivity of each tile. The collection’s introductory selection draws upon hues from the world of international fashion including the following seven colors: Bronzite, Diamond, Amber, Onyx, Honey, Pearl and Noir.