Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Recently I can't get enough of topiaries. Their perfectly manicured shapes (tall balls and double balls are my favorite, but spirals and triangles have their places as well) recall lush English and French gardens and all the sophistication inherent in those spaces. At the same time, there's something decidedly playful about topiaries (perhaps it's their unnatural, cartoonish shapes) that strike me as just a bit tongue in cheek. Indeed, I'd argue that it's this tension created by this sophisticated/whimsical dichotomy that makes topiaries so appealing.
I love the black and white elements in this bathroom -- it's so sophisticated and well planned, but it still manages to be fun and youthful with the striped wallpaper and hot pink towels. What's particularly great about this space is that simply trading out a few bath towels and accessories in a bold accent color (the hot pink is fabulous, but turquoise would be equally fun) gives an entirely different feel to the space. But whatever the accent color, the pair of topiaries compliments the traditional, yet light hearted vibe of this space perfectly, don't you think?
I posted on this house when it first appeared in Canadian House & Home a few months ago, but I love this picture just as much now as I did back in May. The pair of potted domed topiaries on either side of the front door are scaled perfectly for the front porch and add the perfect finishing touch to the exterior. In fact, try and imagine this house without the topiaries...not nearly as cute now, is it?
The oversized scale of these topiaries creates wonderful drama in this dining room designed by Bunny Williams. From a practical standpoint, their height also ensures that they won't obscure her guests' views of their dining companions.
domino, February 2007
One of my all-time favorite spaces from the late, great domino (and certainly my favorite outdoor space from the magazine), this French-inspired garden is such a wonderful mix of whimsical and sophisticated. Even better, since most of these boxwoods are made of plastic, it would be essentially maintenance-free! I particularly love the faux boxwood-turned-coffee table.
In this kitchen by designer Nathan Egan, three small topiaries do a lovely job of filling in the vertical space between the range and the vent. I also love how the three topiaries mirror the three pendant lights overhead. Additionally, the softer, less structured shape of the topiaries and the warmth of their terracotta pots cozies up an otherwise all-white kitchen.
And lest you think that topiaries must come in twos or threes, remember that one can be just as impactful. Here, Steven Gambrel's artful, assymmetric display on the ottoman/coffee table adds interest to a very traditional room. A large tray corrals all of the books and objects, making the arrangement look thoughtful and intentional, rather than haphazard and messy.
A few months ago I dedicated an entire post to this back porch designed by Amanda Nisbet for the Hampton Designer Showhouse in 2006, but it's worth reposting here to showcase all the lovely domed topiaries, which are potted in lovely woven baskets lined in linen. The mix of textures creates a casual elegance that suits the space's wonderful mix of traditional and modern elements. Note also how the domed shape of the topiaries echo the potted hydrangeas in the foreground of the picture.
I love the modern country vibe of this entire kitchen. The artful arrangement of on the MCM table of three small topiaries of varying heights mixed with fresh tomatoes is a great example of how simple centerpieces are often the most effective. The scale of the centerpiece helps draw the eye upward to the very cool, woven light fixture. Three more small topiaries sit next to the kitchen sink and help tie together the two areas of this large, open space.
Inspired by these rooms, I decided to add a few small topiaries to my fireplace mantle. While I'm still not 100% happy with the current vignette, I do like how the topiaries partially obscure the sunburst mirror, which I think brings a more casual, layered look to the space. When I bought the topiaries, the plan was to paint the white pots an antique silver finish, which I think will help weigh them down on the white mantle, but I wanted to live with them as-is for a few days to see how I felt about them before taking a brush to them. What do you think? I'm not exactly a master at small arrangements, so any suggestions on what I should add, take away or rearrange would be most helpful.
And, of course, there's no reason to limit yourself to actual topiaries when the representation alone can be just as charming. I particularly love this boxwood topiary dinnerware by Barbara Barry for Wedgewood. The simplicity of the pattern is perfectly lovely alone, but equally fun when coordinated with her Boxwood Maze pattern.
This topiary stationery from Iomoi is equal parts preppy and fun with its pink pots and modern monogram.
If you're decorating a nursery or little girl's room, these topiary fabrics from Pixie Dust Decor are darling options worth considering. You can score these fabrics by the yard or pre-made into a variety of poufs, tuffets (both of which make darling pet beds as well!), blankets, and pillows.
What about you? Do you have any topiaries at your house? If so, I'd love to see pictures of how you've incorporated them into your decor or landscaping!