Do you have a favorite room?

Posted March 10th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Conservatory Projects, Dynamic Glass, Steel Structures
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Shelter Island Exterior

What room do you love the most in your home?

One family spent 10 years carefully crafting this ISLAND RETREAT. The family’s PASSION FOR NATURE and NATURAL LIGHT drove them to this 24-acre island in the middle of Flathead Lake. In this 24,000 square foot mega-mansion, mahogany rooms and doors create the interior along with beautiful rows of enormous windows to that give them the MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEW of the island.

From a wine cellar to an extravagant boat house to an indoor shooting range and gym, their LUXURIOUS DREAM HOME was nearly complete – then they contacted Tanglewood.

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The View

This family dreamed of adding a CONSERVATORY to their front porch overlooking the lake; the final piece to their dream home. Their vision was to make it look as though it could stand the test of time. To RELATE already existing ELEMENTS of the house to the conservatory, we chose to incorporate a COPPER CLAD EXTERIOR and STAIN GRADE MAHOGANY INTERIOR to stay consistent with the castle theme of both the main house and guest house, and topped with a DECORATIVE FINIAL. Inside, subtle light fixtures and sedative nature of the room makes for a peaceful place to relax.

Shelter Island Interior

Of all the amenities on the island, their FAVORITE PLACE TO BE IS IN THE CONSERVATORY nestled alongside the house on the porch. He said,

It has one of the PRETTIEST VIEWS IN THE WORLD I like to keep this as a retreat to myself. I sit on the front porch and watch the waves and the mountains and it’s just one of the MOST PEACEFUL PLACES ON EARTH.”

Are you ready to view the world through glass?

Whether your view is overlooking the water, watching your kids play in the yard, or overlooking your garden, life under glass changes the way we live our lives. We appreciate the world around us and enjoy nature in its truest forms, without having to experience all its elements. To get your glass life started, give us a CALL at 410.479.4700 or fill out our CONTACT form!

This conservatory was also featured in Discovery’s EPIC! To get an inside exclusive look at the Shelter Island Estate, CLICK HERE to watch this episode!

Difficult Challenges and Great Rewards!

Posted February 25th, 2016 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Client Stories, Dea Digs, Gardening, Greenhouses
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Clients come with needs and wishes in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes the most challenging are the most rewarding.

In 2010 I was introduced to an exclusive collector client by a landscape architect I met while displaying at the Washington Home and Garden Show. The client was having a unique conservatory built by none other than wonderful Tanglewood Conservatories. But no one involved, even the architect’s firm’s landscape maintenance division, had experience with caring for plants under glass. They knew they needed an uncommon expert. I was that expert for five years.

Bullock_Final Exterior CopyrightClick here to read more about this greenhouse!

At the start, I didn’t know I’d have to call on all my experience, knowledge, creativity, and the occasional miracle to make things happen for this client. Tanglewood worked their magic in creating a beautiful structure. The landscape architect then subcontracted the rest out before I was brought in. Rather than the usual benches, tables, and pots, there were stone beds built (similar to institutional greenhouses) that I would then design and fill.

After consulting with the client, the challenge was to keep plants from multiple climates in a very limited space. I designed an interior landscape I was sure he and his family would enjoy, with lots of unusual and flowering tropicals as well as some which produced fruit. I was asked to incorporate a good-sized lemon tree he’d had which was dying from nematodes. But after some specialized intervention, the tree rebounded and did very well. There was a succulent/cactus bed, an orchid bed, a large tree fern, bananas, angel’s trumpets, and many other wonders. A rock wall was planted with epiphytes and appropriate climbers. A lovely café table and chairs was added in order to enjoy the beautiful space.

The first two challenges to the health of the plants was the heating, which was built into the floor (sort of a modern version of Roman-style), and the automated watering system (which was an outdoor landscaping system tailored to fit the beds). Both were great in theory, but unfortunately terrible in practice. I strongly recommend against such heating systems for built-in beds and also against automated watering for greenhouses housing multiple climate species. While I couldn’t do much about the heating, at least the watering could be done by hand and the automated system shut down. A Horticulturist must combine botany, biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology—well, I hope I’m making the point that it’s an interdisciplinary thing usually resting heavily on experience. It’s one area where you can’t your fake your way—which leads to an important note about contained systems like greenhouses. They just can’t be fully automated if you’re planning on growing several different species. Unfortunately, in a complex, eclectic collection, each plant needs weekly and even daily care. It was clear the collection needed a caretaker and I was asked to come twice a week.

After the first year I learned not to get too attached to the plants, as I was used to in my own greenhouse or that of other clients. This client was ever keen to replace and try new things. We collaborated on various changes many times during my tenure. The bed which originally housed the angel’s trumpets, eventually became the home of various hot pepper cultivars. More edible plants were added, including an avocado which happily bloomed, but because a ‘mate’ had not been provided, there were no avocados. However, there were plenty of lemons, limes, and tangerines.

There were ever-blooming hibiscus, many re-blooming orchids, herbs, and myriad other plants. The bromeliads and miniature vines in the stone wall eventually took it over. I refused to use pesticides as not only were small children frequent visitors, but also because of the animals.  Thank goodness for herpetological skills, because caught reptiles and amphibians were regularly deposited into this burgeoning ecosystem by the client’s children. (I aided in the escape of many natives, like skinks, toads, Eastern Box Tortoises, and frogs). My ‘green’ sensibilities found natural ways to keep pests under control, which included using lady beetles, praying mantises, spiders, and tiny predatory wasps. It worked very well.

Wonderful triumphs, most unknown to the client, came of solving the challenging problems presented by such an eclectic collection. I kept a watchful, preventative eye, which told me when to do things like specialized pruning, root drenches, or move lady beetles from plant to plant in order to target aphids. When the time came for me to leave the tricky care of that unique conservatory to others, I knew how much I would miss it—despite the sometimes stressful challenges.

The ending of that wonderful experience offered an unexpected gift, thanks to that beautiful, solid structure that housed and protected so much life—the chance to connect with Nancy, Alan, and the Tanglewood artisans. Like me, they appreciate the unique, remarkable, and well-crafted, especially when it comes to conservatories and the treasures they might contain.

By Dea Schofield

To view the details about the Greenhouse, CLICK HERE!

DESIGN for you. Be your SOLUTION. CREATE beautiful architecture.

Posted February 12th, 2016 by Alan Stein and filed in Client Stories, Conservatory Projects, Dynamic Glass, Skylights
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For over 25 years, Mercer & Bertsche Architecture & Engineering has used their expertise in residential ARCHITECTURE to create beautiful homes and additions for clients who value the HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE and ATTENTION TO DETAIL that they bring to each project. But DESIGNING A CONSERVATORY was a new kind of project for them and we were able to work alongside them to create a fitting addition for their client.

 

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Working Together
When we first spoke with Bill Bertsche about the project, we knew we were working towards a common goal:

DESIGN for the client. SOLVE their problem. CREATE beautiful architecture.

Their client dreamed of building a TRADITIONALLY DESIGNED CONSERVATORY filled with CLASSIC, CRAFT-WOODWORKING DETAILS. With years of experience, Bill knew that developing a design that flawlessly blends the NEW work with the EXISTING elements of the home would be a critical task.

He said, “…whether working on a historic home or starting from scratch, you’re trying to work within the context of history to find solutions that the owner admires and blend them with the existing home. You try to bring the best ARCHITECTURE to their lifestyle… But there are few architects that have the experience required to design and detail a TRUE CONSERVATORY. You could approach it as a stick built room, could make a frame and put in glass and windows, but you’d miss the essence of what a GREAT CONSERVATORY should be – GLASS AND LIGHT.”

The amount of KNOWLEDGE and CRAFTSMANSHIP required to RESEARCH, DESIGN and DETAIL a true conservatory takes a great deal of time to acquire. After reviewing Bill’s initial conceptual design, we could see the direction he and his client wanted and were able to use our expertise in HISTORIC CONSERVATORY ARCHITECTURE to help create a unique work of art.

 

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“We Learn Something Every Year”
As Bill says, “We learn something every year”. In both Bill’s and Tanglewood’s experience, we have learned that one of the most important KEYS TO SUCCESS is to welcome the opportunity to LEARN. While working on this project, we learned how we can be MORE HELPFUL TO ARCHITECTS by combining a deep respect for their design direction with our years of narrowly-focused, conservatory specific experience.

Bill explained, “…not only is Tanglewood a great design partner for conservatory projects, but they also make other ARCHITECTURAL PIECES such as the GLASS CUPOLA we used on this project which we could have used on a number of projects over the years… because of the quality”.

 

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What will your next project be?
We are looking forward to our next opportunity and would love to share our experience and expertise with you. Please CALL us at 410.479.4700 for more ideas and information.