Meet the Designers: Potted on the Small Space Big Style Showhouse
Mary Gray and Annette Goliti Gutierrez of Potted, an LA landscape design firm and retail store, were tasked with designing the Small Space Big Style Showhouse's two outdoor spaces—one a large patio off the second floor mezzanine, the other a petite balcony off of the main living space.
The duo explains how they brought a little green to an urban environment dominated by concrete, glass and steel, and exactly how they envisioned their clients using this space.
What was your initial reaction when your first saw the spaces? What did you see as the challenges of designing these two patios?
Our initial reaction was excitement. Excitement over the opportunity to get to transform such completely blank and interesting spaces right in the heart of the busiest part of Hollywood. Oddly the location was the biggest asset and biggest problem...screening noise, creating privacy, reducing the intensity of the sun.
The outdoor spaces you had to work with are very urban…as in there is no existing greenery, and the views are primarily of other buildings. How are you creating a greater connection to nature?
For the little balcony off the living room, we used a hedge plant, Ficus Nitida, in lightweight fiberclay planters to create a green privacy screen and obscure the non-view. There is also a vibrant fuchsia Fermob bistro table for easy outdoor dining and we used a "grass" rug to enhance the green "yard" appeal beyond the glass doors. This and the little fountain we included really help to cool down the balcony and make it a great private area for yoga or peaceful relaxation after a long day at work.
On the upstairs patio, we wanted to keep easy care in regards to plants as we saw these clients as young, urban traveling professionals so we used low water, sun-loving plants. The strong sense of "greening" comes from the color of the walls which is a vibrant yet warm earthy green. It had to be just the right color to evoke being surrounded by nature. The 'Dark Lime' from Benjamin Moore was the perfect choice. As this wall color was so important to the overall feel of the "room," we tested quite a few colors and shades of green in our quest to find the right color. We always suggest taking the time to sample colors, especially in the lighting environment they will be used in.
What was your inspiration? What activities did you imagine happening on your finished patios?
Our inspiration from the onset was Hollywood. We saw our clients as world travelers, having lots of friends and dinner parties, perhaps staying up all night once in a while. We saw both of our spaces as more rooms for them to entertain in but also as spaces they would feel inspired by to work and create in as well.
Your color choices are the first thing people may notice—what are they and how did you choose them?
For the patio when we first looked at the space, we didn't know we would use green. It came through a process. First, we wanted the color to be fresh and modern. Second, it had to play nice with the intense blue of the Moroccan tile table, and third, it had to evoke a sense of being in nature. After much testing we settled on the Benjamin Moore 'Dark Lime.' We also knew we wanted to split the space because that much green would have been too intense and also we wanted a sense of "grounding." Creating the split also had the added bonus of creating a back for our bench wall. We chose 'Carolina' also from Benjamin Moore for the grey and 'Whisper White' by Behr for a crisp, modern separation.
Did you work closely with the designers who did the adjoining spaces? If so, how did you decide to connect the two?
We very much wanted to connect with our fellow designers. There is nothing more jarring than going from one space to another when there is absolutely no harmony. Especially for the balcony, it was important that we were on the same page with Christopher Kennedy as both spaces are seen together. As it turned out, color became the unifying theme...and it worked out naturally.
Both Christopher Kennedy and M Designs had hot pink in their spaces and we were using cobalt blue for our table which blends gorgeously. Then we added the fuchsia bistro table and some hot pink piping and it just all tied together. Besides, how can you not like hot pink?
What do you think will be the favorite element or elements of those who visit the space?
On the balcony, we think it will be the grass rug by Firmly Planted and the sense of privacy (especially if they peek around and see what's behind).
For the patio, it will most likely be the Modfire, the Cleveland Art chandelier and the color of the space. Both make it warm and welcoming. The Tree Aloe also may turn a few heads as will the tufted green ottoman. We'll take bets as to how many people will not believe that it's made for the outdoors.
Have you done a showcase house before? What has the experience been like so far?
This is our first showcase house, though we did the container plantings and fountains for the LivingHomes C6 Prefab for the Modernism Show in Palm Springs last February and also for the Dwell event this past summer, both were great experiences.
This showcase house has been hard work but very rewarding. Having the opportunity to get to work with so many other creative people and such generous sponsors, it's been a blast. We absolutely cannot wait to see it all put together.