Great Notions

Four spots guaranteed to spark an idea for your home or garden.



ROBERTO GONZALEZ

Think Outside the Box

If you’re remodeling or building a new home, you certainly don’t want your house to look like your neighbor’s. With that in mind, SODO Home Design Center was created. Spend a few hours in this boutique-like space in the up-and-coming South of Downtown Orlando (SODO) neighborhood, and you’re sure to walk away with fresh ideas on what kind of countertop, flooring, carpeting, door and even ceiling and roofing materials will make your home stand out from the guy’s down the block. 

Sean O’Brian, owner of Orlando Kitchen & Bath Gallery, one of several businesses that make up SODO Home Design, points out that at the big box stores you’ll find a limited selection of patterns and colors that are chosen for their mass appeal. O’Brian may carry the same brand, but he also has the full selection that allows you to find something that not everyone else has. How about installing as your new countertop the unusual Rainforest Brown Granite, an earthy pattern with long distinct veins on view in the showroom? Outside there’s a “granite yard” with slabs on display, and O’Brian does his own fabricating (cutting holes for the sink, finishing edges).

Entrega Roofing has a room displaying a variety of concrete tiles—from flat to barrel—along with examples of blends (mixing up individually colored tiles) and antique treatments, so you can custom-design your roof. When it comes to flooring, Mike Hill, owner of US Design Source Inc., presents products that go beyond the standard measurements, with 18” x 36” tiles and the Jerusalem Sand tile at 24” x 24” with a thickness of a half-inch. When you spy an oversized black-and-white houndstooth carpet sample matched with a striped swatch, Hill can create that multi-patterned area rug you just imagined. sodohomedesign.com

The Great Wall

Orlando’s  Mennello Museum of American Art has always embraced the use of color to show off its collection of primitive paintings by Earl Cunningham. For $5, you can take a stroll through the kaleidoscope galleries where colorful walls serve as bold backdrops to the artwork; it can spark ideas on how to display your favorite paintings in your own home. Think: accent wall. By simply choosing one of the hues in your favorite work of art and painting one wall a shade that complements or contrasts, you’ve created a home for that special piece.

A 2014 series of exhibitions celebrating the art of the American West (on display through Jan. 4, 2015) called for repainting the museum’s walls grassy green and terra firma brown, which make the colors of the desert, mountains and adobe structures in the artwork pop. In contrast, Cunningham’s Everglades-inspired paintings are displayed on deep blue walls that bounce between shades of sapphire and purple, depending on how the light hits them. mennellomuseum.com

Rock Star

Landscapers and garden designers are regulars at Pebble Junction, combing the aisles of this 15-acre outdoor rock shop in Sanford. But why should they have all the fun? Piles and stacks of Mother Nature’s mineral matter in all shapes and sizes from Tennessee, Georgia, California, Colorado and elsewhere can be found here.  Like a kid in a sweet shop, you can choose from smooth oval river rocks to candy-colored jagged boulders in surprising shades of pink, ruby and green.  The folks at Pebble Junction have made it easy for you to decide with practical well-labeled displays that show which stone lends itself to a home’s exterior, pathway, steps or decorative landscaping. You’ll also find rock gardens with fountains and an outdoor kitchen to get you thinking of innovative ways to use rock and stone around your home.

However, when strolling row after row, you’ll find yourself examining the intricate patterns in chunks of rock that, when placed just right, add interest to a garden, or running your hand over the texture of flat-cut flagstones, which can be creatively stacked to build columns for a patio bar. Gravelscape, a staple that many homeowners use to cover weed barriers, comes in more than 20 choices from black lava rock and white river rock to salt-and-pepper granite and red volcanic moon rock. Ask for the retail price list at the checkout stand. It’s a handy tool to help you navigate your way through seven aisles of rock-star heaven. pebblejunction.com

History Repeating

A Sunday outing to Renninger’s in Mount Dora can turn up a treasure or two, but you have to do it right. Pass by the sprawling tents that comprise the farmers and flea market and skip the hundreds of booths crammed into an enclosed antiques center. Your destination should be the Street of Shops in the antiques area. (Turn right when you enter Renninger’s.) A handful of cozy cottages line this pedestrian walkway. Some boast gingerbread detailing, others have front porches with rocking chairs and vintage bird-cages-turned-planters filled with ferns hanging from tree branches. Now there’s a cool idea!

One of the oldest shops is Country Bear’s Rustic Country Furniture. Inside, both crystal and rustic chandeliers hang from the shop’s high wood-beam ceiling. Tom and Leila Cochran have had their business here since 1988, and their prized 1894 black antique stove is the showpiece with a price tag of $6,000. Wooden tables, chairs and hutches right out of a country kitchen fill the space. At Better with Age Antique Interiors, owner Nancy Fenner’s good taste is evident in her meticulous space that resembles an interior design showroom. Everything is displayed with flair, including a horse’s leather saddle and an English pub bar intricately designed to display bottles of liquor and glassware. Another shop worth popping into is Taylor’s Treasures, where old meets new in the harvest tables that are custom-built from old barn boards.

For do-it-yourselfers, old doors, shutters, and paned window frames can be found in abundance. Transform them into gates for your fence or an accent piece on a patio wall. Old metal buckets, washbasins and scrub boards can find new life as backyard planters and outdoor decoration. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find some real keepers like an apple cider press with its old iron gears intact, mounted on a weathered wooden stand; it can add charm to any garden. renningers.com  

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