Living the Good Life with Chris H. Olsen: Pots!


Not all of us have the luxury of living with lush lawns sweeping to the horizon or deep flowerbeds that contain lots of color and beauty almost every day of the year. Many of us reside in urban areas, where space is at a premium, and plantings are used as simply a border–an afterthought. But you can use pots—and potted plantings—as a possible space usage solution, as well as that “what the what” factor for design, and even a focal point in an existing landscaped space.


In terms of design, what I’m talking about here is creating and using vertical emphasis in your plantings. You don’t need a towering palm tree or garden sculpture to create height appeal. One interesting pot—or several—full of foundation plants or a seasonal color mix will give any area that bit of pop and wow that will bring the eye up, rather than being focused on the ground.


First, use one or more good-looking pots. You have two choices here; go with something in a dark color like charcoal, which will recede into the architecture and design, or go with a bright, almost eccentric color choice to really create an unexpected, happy space. I always say to think big and streamline. A large pot will not only make your design more sophisticated; it will also mean you don’t have to worry about watering all the time. Take an under-used, blank space or corner and line up some pots. Then add some seating. You’ve just created another ‘room,’ which you probably didn’t even know you would have. One design trick here: uniformity. Use the same planter in matching color, as well as the same plants. Repetition of elements will mean the space appears larger. And isn’t this blue against the white walls cool and refreshing?


You can feature one large pot raised on a simple platform of stacked rock and fill it with something hardy for a really effective use of space. Using rock as a base for your pot means you won’t have to worry about the pot shifting in the garden soil. And you’ve created something special out of what was just an ordinary planting space next to a walk. Notice the pot isn’t overly dramatic, nor is the plant material overtly bold. It’s all in the presentation.


Or you can get adventurous and use a bright color for your pot(s). And bear in mind that you won’t have to use orange-blooming annuals in an orange ceramic pot. (Although you can, if you wish. No one will ever condemn you for using color. Certainly not me.) The idea here, however, is emphasis is placed on the pot itself, so more green than color is used in our planting. And a word about planting these featured pots; place as much into them as you can. Like I always say, “Shove it and Cram it”! More plants in tight spaces means more drama.

And a reminder: Repetition of pot shape, color, and planting material will be your ally in this kind of design. Use more than one pot, and use the same type pot and color.

Using potted plantings in various ways to augment borders, walls, or corners will mean your landscape takes on further dimensions and another bit of sophistication. While gardening in the ground is wonderful, using pots as further expressions of your taste will mean you can enhance what you already have, and create something unexpected.

Chris Olsen is a nationally known home and garden guru, designer, author, TV personality and public speaker. In his book, Chris shares his landscape and gardening knowledge along with his unique flair for home decor and design.He is also a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Learn more about Chris and all of his work at

Fabric “Freedom”

In the long hot days of summer, it’s hard to concentrate on any kind of upgrade or design challenge that you may have put on the back burner.  However, when you are with your family during these months, it might become more apparent what part of your home might not function in the best possible way. We always tend to feel more cramped up in our spaces when there are more people or when your children are at home for longer periods of time. I have always been in a more focused and family-aware mindset in the summer months. It is a great time to change things around in your space to reach a better accessibility for your entire family. In the month of July, we are talking and thinking a lot about our freedoms. So what better time to assess your freedom to change your surroundings?


Perhaps it only means some new pillows on a sofa or changing the fabric on that one special chair that you’ve had forever.

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 Whatever the case may be, take advantage of the lazy days of summer to do that one special  project in your home to add that essence of family.  And remember, textiles are the easiest of changes to make a HUGE impact!

Kelli Wilson is the creative mind behind Kelli Wilson Consulting, now based inside Ellen Golden Antiques in Little Rock!

It’s Summer, and the Living is Easy

Really?  For a lot of us summer is anything but easy living. Sister and I are not “home for the Summer.” We still get up and go to work every day. At best we try hard to pack in as much “ fun” as we can over the weekend–or maybe if we are lucky an entire week off–to go to the beach or lake or whatever suits our fancy…

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I don’t know about you…but sometimes I’m left feeling a tad depressed or left out as I scroll endlessly through friends and acquaintances vacation pics on Facebook. But hey, there are so many little guilty pleasures that are only meant for summer that we can all enjoy.
Only in the summer can you enjoy fresh ripe peaches. We have a very dear friend that keeps us supplied with the very best all season long. Love to just slice and eat them or add to a salad, but this peach cobbler recipe from Paula Dean is the bomb…

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Or how about a Bourbon Peach Basil Smash…Yum!

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And all of the wonderful fresh herbs that only summer will provide…
Basil for that awesome drink…or Freeze those fresh herbs in olive oil to use later in pasta, soups and sauces…

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What is summer without delicious fresh tomatoes?  We can’t wait to try this recipe for Thai Tomato Salad from the Wanderlust Kitchen.

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And Fresh Corn…My very favorite! The Pioneer Woman gets it right with this fresh corn casserole…

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Watermelon…loved it as a kid…but as adults we’ve found so many awesome ways to enjoy this delicious sweet fruit…How about a watermelon mojito?

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or watermelon salsa?…another Pioneer Woman Recipe


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We can’t forget fresh strawberries…Strawberry Margarita Punch is just the trick to beat the Summer heat…


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Firing up the grill is a real summer tradition…

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Honey Garlic Pork Chops…Oh my!


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Or a nice, juicy steak is always a crowd pleaser…


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So even if you can’t grab your bucket and run to  the beach…


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Head to the fresh market…invite some friends over…and enjoy the guilty pleasures that only summer can bring!


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It’s your turn. Let’s talk!

 Providence Design is Mona Thompson and Talena Ray, a sister duo who are antiques dealers and interior designers. Learn more about them on their website,

Lindsey Binz Goes Treasure Hunting

I love a good antique or vintage find.
More importantly, I love the hunt.

Young House Love

It is one of the ways I like to de-stress
Estate Sales, flea markets and even garage sales can be some of the best places to find some of the most unique pieces. I love it when I find a cool piece at a next to nothing price.


The challenge and the unexpected is what keeps me in the game.
Some of the most interesting homes are ones that have pieces with History.
The challenge is taken to a whole new level when mixing these pieces with new furniture
and/or more modern interiors

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We found (and painted) a vintage mirror and vanity to pair with my clients new furniture.
We finished it off with vintage books. Another one of my Go To finds!

Lindsey Binz Home

I have had people ask me to be on the lookout for specific things.

That is not how it works for me. Due to my busy (creative) brain, I have to take it all in when I shop. If I am looking for something in particular, I might (and usually do) miss something great.
I have honed my eye over the years and gravitate toward unique, interesting pieces.
When I find something that I LOVE, I buy it (if it’s the right price) and find a place for it!
Not the other way around…
Here are some of my favorite things to find while I am out hunting and gathering.
Globes are always a great find.
They are easy to carry and usually inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways


Bottles are another item that are easy to transport and store and are affordable.

Like globes, bottles look best in groups.

Lindsey Binz Home

Items for kids rooms.
This is a great way to decorate shelves on a very small budget.
Most of these items can be found for under $10 each.

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  Cutting Boards and Industrial wooden pieces look great as wall decor. 
They help balance out rooms that have lots of color and atypical wall space.

Lindsey Binz Home

Mixing Old and New is something that comes with experience, but anyone can do it.
You just need a little time and a lot of patience.
Blended Interiors always look better when collected over time.
Let me know if I can help. I am always ready for a challenge!

Lindsey Binz is the founder and principal of Lindsey Binz Home Company,
a firm specializing in helping people find and make their dream home(s).
If they need to sell another one first , LBH can get that done too!
Visit her website at

Tobi Fairley Talks Clever Kitchens

It’s Tobi TV Wednesday again, and today we’re sharing the next in a series of videos created by interior designer Tobi Fairley, in which she uses the home design featured in our June issue to offer advice on how to use her techniques in your own home. This video is all about how to make the best–and most beautiful–use of your kitchen space.

In a kitchen, you don’t need a ton of space to make it work for you. In fact, I like to design smaller kitchens to really test my ability to create a fabulous, functional space. Let’s look at the great kitchen of one of my favorite clients for a few tips

Outside the Box with Daniel Keeley: June Update

Hello again and happy spring! I hope your June is off to a good start and you are enjoying lots of time in your garden and outdoor living spaces. No matter where I have lived, I have never been able to let a carport remain simply a carport. I just can’t resist the urge to convert these somewhat boring structures into exterior rooms. So, when I moved into my current house, I knew I would eventually transform the carport into a destination for outdoor entertaining. Indeed, I quickly converted it into a grilling and dining cabana where I could cook and enjoy al fresco meals. While I made the major transformation from carport to cabana shortly after moving in a couple of years ago, I recently decided to add a pop of color and a few finishing touches in preparation for a dinner party. So, I thought I would share with you how I went about creating the space. Hopefully it will inspire you to carve out a special entertaining space somewhere in your own garden. And, who knows? Together, we might just start a carport conversion movement!

To make the carport structure feel cozy and more like a “real” room, I first added curtains made from outdoor fabric. The durable panels, secured with contrasting tie-backs, give the space a resort-like feel and help set the mood for the perfect gathering.



Next, I softened the hard concrete flooring with a whimsical “rug” made of artificial turf…a sophisticated picnic touch, if you will. A generously sized outdoor table and chairs in colors that match the overall look of the cabana set the stage for a meal among friends.




For a centerpiece I simply dropped an asparagus fern into a terra cotta urn and added a bromeliad air plant for some additional interest. Talk about easy and affordable…plus, neither of these plants needs much water at all, so it is virtually carefree!




Hot pink votive holders planted with succulents brighten the scene and are just as low-maintenance as the larger centerpiece. A casual sea grass runner ties the whole ensemble together.





To continue the hot pink theme, I picked up a couple of outdoor accent pillows from Pottery Barn for the captain’s chairs. Although I like to use custom pillows when I can, this was a quick and affordable way to add some last-minute luxury!



Next to the grill, a peaceful Asian statue offers a hand towel and helpful utensils to the chef…


…and an unfurling Australian tree fern and eye-catching, dark-leafed begonias fill an empty corner.


And that’s it…with the decor in place, all we need now is a crowd!

See you next month,




Tobi Fairley on Natural Light

It’s Tobi TV Wednesday again, and today we’re sharing the next in a series of videos created by interior designer Tobi Fairley, in which she uses the home design featured in our June issue to offer advice on how to use her techniques in your own home. This video is all about how to add natural light to transform your home.

>>To see MORE of this great Sheridan home and read the story, click here!

Do you know what one thing makes any room in your house look better? Natural light! I love to have windows that will let that sun flow into a room. Add in some neutral colors, and you can completely transform a space! Here are some tips that will help you “bring the light” into your home!

Decorating with Cece Fourchy Quinn: Waterfront Escapes

With summer in full swing, I’m dreaming about a waterfront escape: the beaches of mexico, the lakeside splendor of Hot Springs, I could go on. And of course I’ve got a million ideas for how I would decorate my waterfront abode. Most of them involve classic blue and white, lots of beautiful views and plenty of nautical-inspired accessories.

Here are a few images inspiring my aquarian fantasies as of late. Enjoy!

Design by Daniel Romualdez
Photo by Oberto Gili
Architectural Digest


Design by Kevin Walsh of Bear-Hill Interiors
Photo by Nancy Nolan
At Home in Arkansas


Design by ASH NYC
Photo by Patrick Cline


Design by Burnham Design
Photo by Tria Gioran
Coastal Living Magazine


Design by Michele Bonan
Photo by Brittany Ambridge


Design by Jeffrey Alan Marks


Design by Anna Spiro
Halcyon House


Design by Amanda Lindroth
Photo by Bjorn Wallander
House Beautiful

Cece Fourchy Quinn is a native Californian who fell in love with the South during school at Ole Miss. She created her blog, Mississippi Maven, to share inspirations on interiors, fashion and all things stylish. After college she relocated to Little Rock where she worked in design and further honed her aesthetic. Now back in her hometown on the West Coast, she spends her time scouring flea markets for unique finds, hoarding shelter magazines and dreaming of the South.

Tobi Fairley on Comfort and Style

Today, we’re sharing the first in a series of videos created by interior designer Tobi Fairley, in which she uses the home design featured in our June issue to offer advice on how to use her techniques in your own home. This video is all about how to create a family room that is both comfortable AND stylish.

>>To see MORE of this great Sheridan home and read the story, click here!

Creating spaces that are full of style, but are also comfortable, can be a challenge for designers. If your home has kids and pets, that makes it doubly difficult. So what if you want style and design, but you want your family to feel at home and like they can relax and really put their feet up? Here are some tips for you!

Living the Good Life with Chris H. Olsen: Space…The Last Frontier


You’ve heard me say many times that you don’t have to keep strict boundaries between outdoors and indoors. You can bring elements inside that might otherwise be considered strictly “outside,” like plant materials or design ideas. The same idea can work outside the four walls of your house; you can create ‘rooms’ of areas that were once unused, ignored, or simply walked through. You can take a corner or any flat area of your landscape and make one–or many–rooms to enjoy. These photos are from a house where I did the plantings. Garry Mertins and Kaki Hockersmith did the interiors. What you can see is how easy it is to create rooms out of doors, and create a whole new living and entertaining area.

The best course to follow is simplicity. Arrange seating and tables at a focal point, like a fireplace, or fire pit. Another nod to simplicity: use furniture and tables that are functional and in hues that fit into the colors of your landscape.


Busy patterns and hot colors won’t be necessary because you aren’t competing with your plantings as much as you are working within them. Greens, blues, and darker colors may be better for outdoor room furnishings.

Notice how this arrangement mimics a chic angled room from the house. You haven’t reinvented the wheel, but you have rolled it outside.


Once you’ve considered basic color use and seating that is both comfortable and functional, don’t forget the design elements of texture and light. Stone is your ally, so use it wherever you can.

Ultimately it’s all about flow. If you have enough room, why not create an outdoor kitchen and adjacent seating? Your guests can stroll from room to room, chatting and drinking while enjoying the outdoor experience. A nice tall set of curtains provides shelter from the occasional rainstorm. Your guests won’t have to run for the house.


The basic rule for a party is simple: guest congregate in the kitchen when they can. A working kitchen—with all the appliances just like the one inside—makes for great use of space. It won’t be wasted, and it means you won’t have to leave your guests as you monitor the appetizers. A long table, an ample amount of seating, an expansive counter, and a backsplash add all the indoor elements for your outdoor space.

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And what about nearby plantings? What should they be? I situated an herb garden just below, and used stacked stone walls of the same rock used in the outdoor rooms. The nice thing about herbs is that they aren’t fussy, and many will scent the air. Having herbs near seating and the outdoor kitchen means your guests can smell them close by, and you can stroll over to cut them for use in your dishes. The idea of convenience should never be discounted.

We live in a temperate part of the country, so we can take advantage of our weather many months of the year. Use that space between your house and yard! Create new rooms, new vistas! Make use of what you have, and think outside the house. Don’t let something like four walls limit your freedom.

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It’s as simple as finding an area that will serve as your gateway to both indoors and out-, then pulling together functional seating and cooking implements, arranging them all, and inviting your guests. If you have just a tiny space between house and lawn, you can use it for great effect.

Live Life to the Fullest and never be afraid to try something new! Your home is your oasis!


See more of this amazing outdoor space in our March 2014 issue!

Chris Olsen is a nationally known home and garden guru, designer, author, TV personality and public speaker. In his book, Chris shares his landscape and gardening knowledge along with his unique flair for home decor and design.He is also a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Learn more about Chris and all of his work at