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Need help with this atrium space ...any ideas???
Rob Nowak
January 31, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Right now we have an assortment of small stones in the atrium. There is a water faucet in in the lower right corner, and I believe the bottom has a cooper or tin tray (I've only owned the house for 2 yrs (built in 1978) and I don't know if this was ever used as a coy pond, but I doubt it). I'm not against a water feature of some type in this area, but wouldn't count on using the existing tray to hold water. The lighting above is four incandescent bulbs right now, with plexiglass covers (which I hate). I was thinking about enclosing the atrium with glass on two sides to have a temperature controlled room for growing and displaying plants (mainly orchids), but thought it would be difficult to maintain and difficult to make it look nice. I thought about using wood slats along the sides and bottom of the atrium because I like the look of wood and it would be nice for hanging plants. I tend like simple modern asian design using warm colors. If you have any ideas to show off this space I would certainly be interested in listening. Thanks!
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Denice Shuty
It seems to me you don't have a large enough ground plane to make the rock garden ideas above work in this little tub. I would also think you'd want to keep the view open looking out the windows, so you need something that looks right when viewed from both sides. Are there stairs next to it? What's the pole doing there?
January 31, 2013 at 8:26pm   
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Rob Nowak
Writely - I love the rock garden pics posted, however you're probably right that they won't work in my limited space. Unless I did something with bonsai's, but I'm not sure about that since I haven't thought it through. I definitely don't want to completely block the windows, however because of the location in the house they really aren't ever looked out of since this room is primarily used at night. However, I do want something that draws attention and is interesting to look at. Also, that porch outside is never used. We have a much larger porch on the north side of the house where the swimming pool is that gets all the attention. The stairs only consist of 2 steps. There's a sunk in area by the fire place and across from the fireplace is a pool table. Pic attached.
February 1, 2013 at 5:18am   
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Denice Shuty
Better view, now I see the context. I and my fellow landscape architects/designers will come up with something.
February 1, 2013 at 8:40am     
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Rob Nowak
Writely - the atrium can be seem from the living room too, which is on the other side of the fireplace. Here's a picture to show that angle.
February 1, 2013 at 8:51am   
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Denice Shuty
Very funky, could be really cool. Don't know if you're up for changing the flooring material and the fireplace facade, but tile/stone would help to embrace an interior garden space better than carpet. I would like to see the room, the fireplace, and the atrium look like they go together. More of a zen flow.
February 1, 2013 at 9:16am   
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Rob Nowak
The brown wall in both the billiard room and living room is what surrounds the two fireplaces (there is one fireplace in each room). We would like to cover up the brown paint and put up a wood exterior, we really haven't considered stone and I'm not sure we would like that look. The wood would make an interesting focal point in both rooms. I completely agree the room, fireplace and atrium all need to look like they go together. We are open to changing the flooring too, but that will have to be something done in phase 2 for budget reasons. Here are a few more pictures that may help.
February 1, 2013 at 9:34am   
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Denice Shuty
The bones of the space are very modern, but your living room decor is really traditional, especially the fireplace surround. If you like an Asian/zen aesthetic I would change the white painted colonial fireplace surround. But I'll focus just on the billiard room and atrium for now. I don't mind the dark brown paint. Wood would not be my first choice on the fireplace walls. Let me ruminate...
February 1, 2013 at 9:55am   
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Rob Nowak
I agree about the fireplace surround being traditional, especially in the living room. It really doesn't make any sense. We've only owned the house for two years so we don't know what the previous owners were thinking. FYI ... we eventually plan to replace the checkered hallway with a wood floor (I actually like it, unfortunately my partner does not). I know you're only focused on the atrium area, but at some point we want to get rid of the frosted plexiglass covering the skylights in the checkered hallway too. Basically the same material was what is above the atrium, however the atrium doesn't have skylights, just bulbs. This same thing is in the kitchen, this spring we plan to do a kitchen remodel and get rid of them there too. Hopefully this background isn't clouding up the focus on the atrium. I really appreciate you're interest and am looking forward to your ideas. Thanks bunches!!
February 1, 2013 at 10:29am   
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Denice Shuty
You're not the only one who wonders what the previous owners were thinking! Argh, those people! I see a lot of that here on Houzz. The space and the challenge intrigues me. I was in interior plantscaping for a while, then worked as a landscape designer for 12 years, so this interests me. What does your partner like?
Denice
February 1, 2013 at 10:36am   
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February 1, 2013 at 10:57am     
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Rob Nowak
Denice - Thanks for providing your background. We just had a landscape designer create plans for our front yard this past summer. We actually did most of the back-breaking work ourselves to execute the plans and so far it's looking pretty good, but lots more work to do. The lady who drew up the plans followed our direction which was to create our own version of a japanese garden.

It's hard to describe what we like, but here are some words that I think might be helpful: asian influences, earthtones, modern, mid-century modern ... the good news is we typically like the same things. He's more afraid of using color than I am, so most of the house is done in neutral colors. Since this house is a flat roof house all the ceilings and beams were natural wood at one time, at least we think so. If that was the case then one of the previous owners drywalled over the wood ceilings and painted the beams ...grrr. We actually did a test on two beams in our bedroom during a recent remodel and found that using three colors of paint we could restore them to something that almost looked stained. We're thinking about using the same application for the other beams throughout the house since there's now way to strip the paint on rough cut cedar. I doubt we'll ever take on the challenge of pulling down the drywall to uncover the wood ceiling, it just seems like too big of a project.
February 1, 2013 at 10:59am     
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Rob Nowak
Groveaxle - I like the sculpture idea, however I think I need to do some modifications to the space first. Maybe put in a raised floor, or do some plantings like the leaf sculpture photo has in it. The only bad thing about the sculpture idea is that I'm not sure I could spend thousands of dollars on art like this. Most of the time this type of art costs a fortune.
The two photos are great. Thanks!!!!!!
February 1, 2013 at 11:04am   
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Denice Shuty
Rob, I have several ideas for you, will try to communicate them with images, but of course nothing I found is exactly your space. I know you are going to remove the frosted plexiglass and bulbs, so maybe that will solve the matter of why the ceiling over the atrium is lower than the rest of the room. Could you eliminate that long overhang? I am also assuming that the pole is needed to hold up that corner of the ceiling. The enclosure/box below - is that just some panel to encase the tub? Can it be removed or covered?
OPTIONS: The right materials will be crucial in all of these
1. Tear down the tub enclosure and do a tiled floor like you'd do in a walk-in shower. Just build the lip up around the perimeter so that when you water the plants the water stays contained - like a giant rectangular saucer. Line it with some IPE slats that you set your plants on, or line it with decorative pebbles and set you plant pots on it. Of course if you take down the enclosure you'll have to finish the wall under the window and the back side of those stairs. If you don't have a drain there then you'll need to clean out the bottom of the enclosure on occasion so that you don't get a build up of plant debris and stale water.
2. Forget plants and fountain. build a sturdy window seat here. Good for the people playing pool.
3. You could do either a planter or window seat, but brick the face of the enclosure and that entire wall, around all the windows, and up to the ceiling, with a light colored brick.
4. Suspend (from the ceiling, or use the pole and walls to anchor the shelves) steel or glass shelves in front of the windows for plants.
5. Frame and cover the pole, tub enclosure and dropped ceiling face in a mid-century wood like birch, to make a planter with shelves in front of the window.
6. Instead of that tub, do a rustic gabion basket that you can insert potted plants into (just need to catch the water that runs out of the plants.
7. Mount wooden or aluminum slats across the window from which you could hang plants - like a green wall.
8. Construct rebar cages in which you can insert pots of plants.

I will load up a bunch of images (as a separate post) - hopefully in the same order as the above ideas. Of course, what ever you do with the atrium will needed to be coordinated with the flooring and fireplace treatment.
February 1, 2013 at 7:33pm   
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Denice Shuty
Ooops, forgot one.
9. If you take the carpeting off the stairs, and remove that tub enclosure, continue the stairs along the wall under the window, so would turn the angle and go under the window. Of course you would need to re-cover the stairs and floor with something impervious - concrete, tile stone, etc. and use the section of the "stairs" under the window as plant shelves.
February 1, 2013 at 7:58pm   
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Denice Shuty
more images - continuing with idea #4
February 1, 2013 at 8:06pm   
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Denice Shuty
more images - continuing with idea #8; as well as a few odds and ends for inspiration...
February 1, 2013 at 8:12pm   
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Denice Shuty
last bunch of images
February 1, 2013 at 8:14pm   
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Rob Nowak
Denise - Wow, a lot of things to think about. You are very creative and definitely think "outside-the-box". I'll have to share these ideas with my partner to see which he likes. Every single idea is well thought out. I'll post back later and let you know what we decide. Thanks bunches for inspiring us with these ideas. YOU ROCK!
February 2, 2013 at 7:06am     
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Denice Shuty
I hope something will fit your needs and tastes. Let me know how things turn out.
Denice
February 2, 2013 at 7:35am     
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