The Season for Front Porches


The front porch is easily the most important aspect of your home’s appearance and the impression it has on the onlooker. At Ourso Designs, being natives of the south, we LOVE our front porches! There are just a few elements that make up a great front porch.


1. Lighting

Like every interior space, exterior spaces also need a layer of lighting. General lighting is important; after all, you want to be able to see on the porch. Next, a couple sconces or a center lantern are great for accenting. Finally, task lighting is essential for highlighting important areas of the landscape, like plant arrangements, trees, or lawn fixtures.

2. Seating

The secondary purpose of the front porch (aside from it’s utility purpose to provide shelter) is to be inviting. Seating affirms that inviting impression. Another advantage is it gives you (and any guests) an opportunity to relax in an area of your home that lends a different view.

3. Plants

Also like most interior spaces, exterior spaces benefit from the addition of plants. Potted plants can act much like accessories. Like layering fabrics and patterns, its important to have plants of different shapes, sizes and textures on your porch.This will create a pleasing overall aesthetic.

4. Color

 Finally, color! Many add a pop of color by painting the front door an eye-catching color. Not a fan? That’s okay! There are other ways to incorporate color: in your plants’ pots, the plants themselves, and seating and seating accessories (pillows/cushions), just to start. Another option is to incorporate an outdoor rug. “Color” doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be bright; producing contrast among existing materials is just as effective as having a bright red door.









History Lesson: The Wright Way

*m. Falling Water designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. he was born in 1867! - what an amazing mind to have timeless ideas that changed the way we look at space and live in it.

We wanted to take some time to recognize one of the greatest American architects to ever live, Frank Lloyd Wright. You might have heard of him before, but not everyone knows he was, and continues to be, one of the most important American architects.

Born in Richland, Wisconsin in 1867, and dying in 1959 at the age of 91, Wright’s fame reached its peak in the early 1920s. His Usonian homes, as well as his large public work projects, made Wright a household name.

With influences as eclectic as Beethoven and Japanese art, Wright managed to create cohesive, uniform spaces and buildings that all worked with, instead of against, the nature around them. This philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world provided the tenants for the “organic architecture” movement. Today, any building’s shape or function that mimics nature is categorized as organic.

One of Wright’s most famous residential creations is his Fallingwater house in southwestern Pennsylvania, seen above. The levels of the house juxtapose each other, creating visual interest  without disturbing the surrounding nature.

Those same juxtaposed linear levels are often seen in modern design, in everything from buildings’ exterior structure to the furniture within. You are kidding yourself if you think a building with an organic shape does not catch your eye and make you want to go inside.

Wright’s legacy continues to influence modern design. He changed both the ways we live and build.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Barnes House | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
33 Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture
Frank Gehry's major European retrospective opens at the Centre Pompidou in Paris | Architecture | Wallpaper* Magazine
Frank Lloyd Wright. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York. 1959
organic architecture whole tree architecture. Savin Couëlle
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Beautiful design at Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

History of the Stove

History of the Stove

Following our History of the Kitchen, we thought we’d take a look at the history/evolution of the various aspects and appliances of what now constitute the modern kitchen. This week we are following the evolution of the modern stove.

Your basic gas range
…or a $100,000 range, which might be out of your range…it’s made of gold and it cooks gold

 Earliest Stoves

Asian civilizations created ovens that totally enclosed the cooking fire much earlier than Western civilizations; China, Korea, and Japan had clay stoves by 200 BC:

ancient clay oven

Europeans, on the other hand, were using open fires to cook, from the dawn of man up until the Middle Ages, which was less advantageous than using an enclosed stove (open fire cooking is dangerous – you can easily burn yourself, a lot of the heat escapes so you need more fuel to cook, and the food does not cook as evenly as in an enclosed oven).

Then in the Middle Ages, the hearth started becoming the center of peoples’ home and family life. The hearth was usually waist high and made of stone, with a chimney, or simply a hole in the ceiling, above it to funnel out the smoke from the fire. As Europeans attempted to improve their hearth stoves, they built brick and mortar walls on three sides of the fire, and covered the front with an iron plate.

Enclosing the Fire

Enclosing the fire had the additional benefit of containing the smoke (at least to some extent). Inventors continued to improve wood burning stove, and by the mid-1700s, cast-iron stoves started to become popular, the first of which may have looked something like this:

note the smoke pipe on top, pots and skillets could be placed on top

These stoves all still burned wood; coal didn’t become a viable fuel source until 1833, when Jordan Mott invented the first practical coal-burning stove.


Gas, and Electricity

Gas stoves were invented in 1826, but it wasn’t until the 1920s when enough houses had gas lines that gas stoves could really catch on. Similarly, electric stoves had been available since 1890, but did not catch on until the 1920s and 1930s.

funky gas stove

retro electric

The stove, now

Every modern dog breed, from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane, was bred from domesticated wolves (or, speaking contentiously, dogs came from a ‘wolf-like common ancestor’):

we are the same, You and I

Similarly, today there is a myriad of stoves derived from our early ancestors cooking over a campfire. There are giant ranges for industrial kitchens, and there are tiny propane camping stoves that fit in a backpack.

industrial range
camping stove

I’ve cooked deer sausage in a duck blind in the winter, and we have all grilled outside on a BBQ grill, powered by coal, propane, or even wood. In Mexico, they cook tortillas outside on a Patsari stove:

fueled by wood, coal, or dung

There are solar ovens that you set up outside, and they focus light form the sun. They get hot enough to cook a pizza:

this pizza is powered by the stars

A hamburger place in Boston, Louis’ Lunch, has been open since 1895, and has been credited by some as possibly having invented the hamburger. They are open to this day and still use 3 upright stoves from the 1890’s to cook their burgers:

Louis’ Lunch broilers

Nowadays, most peoples’ (well, people in America) stoves look like this:

this is a stove

But, like all the diverse breeds of dogs, there are countless unique stove designs and models. We have come a long way from cooking food on sticks over a camp fire, but our stoves and ovens still are essentially designed to meet our basic needs: to cleanly and efficiently cook our food in as safe a manner as possible.

Lighting Design: We’re not designing around light bulbs anymore!

 Let There Be LED Light


“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”                                              


Plato said that 2,500 years ago. In 2014 we urge you to shed your fears of innovative lighting solutions and bold light and lamp design; 2014 will be the year of the stylish LED.

hanging  LED overhead light

We are always speccing lights for clients here at Ourso Designs, and lately we have been captivated by the lights over at Lightology.

this one mimics the classic light bulb shape, the LED bulb is actually inside

 We have been encouraging clients to consider LED lights due to their energy efficiency, long lifetimes, and most importantly, their flexibility in design. You will notice that all of the lights we are showcasing in todays blog are radically different designs, and they all use LED lights. At Lightology’s website, you can even order a custom LED soft strip.

in all shapes and sizes

One of the most interesting part of LED lighting is that the design is not focused centrally around the bulb.  The design itself becomes to key feature, while the lights are worked into it.

spinning to infinity

 Some of these lights can be pricy, however. This next one is on sale at $111,995!

a costly mobius strip

a space odyssey oddity

These are just some of the awesome designs from Lightology’s website.  If you haven’t made the jump to LED lighting yet, think about it. The technology is so flexible that you can find a light design that will fit into any floor plan or design scheme you can dream up.

literally flexible


The Future of Light

Lights have been designed around the light source itself for years. This won’t be happening in the future. You can see this fact reflected in the pictures of lamps and overhead lights above: having a large, roundish bulb attached somewhere to the light being designed is no longer necessary. Now the lights fit into the design, not the other way around; function doesn’t have such a stranglehold on form these days, at least when it comes to light design.



hand in hand we march into the future


our trip to kbis

(the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show)

We arrived in Las Vegas the day before KBIS officially kicked off so we took a little road trip to the Hoover Dam.  Did you know the Hoover Dam was completed 2 years ahead of schedule. If only all kitchen and bath jobs could be that way!  The dam was breathtaking–we were lucky enough to be able to walk across the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which is where the real view was:

View of the Hoover Dam & Lake Mead from the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

Part of KBIS was attending “The Party” and “The Bash” both of which were held at the beautiful Wynn/Encore Hotel.  These hotels are fabulous, see for yourself:

XS Nightclub

 The show was simply amazing.  Upon entering you are greeted by the legendary red carpet…

The Red Carpet at KBIS 2014- Las Vegas

All of the ideas and concepts of the show were so fascinating, these are the things that inspired me the most:

We’ve all heard of recycled glass terazzo, but this product particularly caught my eye because each individual product has its own Glass Source Story:

“The world’s largest art glass manufacturer patented a production process referred to as continuous ribbon, and what we know as stained glass. It connotes colorful ribbon candy and the rainbow of colors they produce is equally astounding. Rejects or over-runs of the glass give Millefiori its full bouquet.”

So each pattern comes from a different source, some are made of recycled goblets, skyy vodka bottles, and oyster shells.  We have already ordered a full set of samples and are thrilled to get them!  Click here to read more about this product.

There were a lot of sinks with built-in cutting boards and strainers.

This cabinet pull out is like a lot of other custom made pull outs except its made of glass and sleek metals which give it a modern feel.

 As expected, Lucite was a huge hit again–but this time transitioned into towel bars, bathroom stools and shelving.  We did see more tinted lucite than usual.  We love it!

I love this flowy light fixture!
Where normally you would have a false faced drawer this drawer has the center cut out to allow for piping under your bathroom sink.  No space wasted! 
Metal drawer panels juxtaposed with wood face framing was unexpected, but it works.
What an easy way to make a statement!  This is an interesting alternative to paint or wallpaper, put this over your wall and paint it any color you want.

When we got back from Vegas, our shop hand and blogger, Gus Broussard hung this shelf above my new drawing space.  I love it.  Thanks Gus!