Bites at Animal Planet

Behind the Scenes

27 Feb

Behind the Scenes: Design Details from Pankiw's Paradise

 Contributed by Celeste Gruenstein of Décor Direct-Sarasota, FL


The Pankiws, with backgrounds in building and construction, naturally have a love of wood.  So we used Decor Direct's line of natural sustainable tree slabs for their “Insane Pool” build.  Rather than linear pieces, we chose reclaimed felled tree slabs in organic shapes with live edge finishes.  These blend harmoniously with the natural elements of stone, marble and boulders in the pool and bar area construction. With one of our custom thick sustainable slab tables for dining, the Pankiws can enjoy poolside dining in stylish fashion.  


One of our mission statements at Decor Direct is that every piece has function and artistic qualities, so for a seating area off the Pankiw's bedroom, we showcased a coffee table that is functional art.  This super thick irregularly shaped reclaimed slab coffee table has a fresh vibe with metallic bullet style legs.  We continued the slab theme, with “art” in the form of a 6 foot tall slice of a reclaimed/re-purposed  tree mounted on a pedestal.   The result: a classic Decor Direct organic yet contemporized style for the pool area that builds on the natural elements of the pool area, yet retains an open vista to the wonders of the bay-front setting.

Watch Insane Pools every Friday at 9/8c!

27 Feb

Frank's Creative Audio-Visual Results at Pankiw's Paradise

Contributed by Frank Giuffre


With limited space in the new outdoor kitchen/bar area, Lucas gave me the challenge of where to place a TV and Terry’s beloved “Dock & Bar” sign. By building a custom enclosure that motorized up to reveal the TV, I was able to locate the TV and bar sign in the same spot. The enclosure also provided protection for the TV in its outdoor environment.

The lack of the typical lush Lucas Lagoons landscaping in this minimalistic design provided problems for speaker locations for me. Satellite speakers were mounted high up near the soffits while the burial subwoofer was installed in the sole landscape bed of the entire project.

20 Feb

Ahoy Matey! A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Pirate-Themed Treehouse

Contributed by Tory Jones

Get an in-depth look at how the beautiful designs inside these treehouse masterpieces come together with Treehouse Masters' own Tory Jones. Find out more about the Sky High Pirate Hideaway inside this blog post!


Land Ahoy!

The gang returned to the Seattle area to create a pirate-worthy treasure tree house for clients Kelly and Stephanie Fahey.  They had purchased property in Edmonds, Wash., that they hoped to build their dream house on, but the first dream to check off the list was a tree house by Pete Nelson.

As Seattle locals they love the outdoors and spend much time outdoors with their kids hiking and exploring and had created a treasure map on the one first hike on the property and buried hidden treasure on the site where the tree house now stands.

The design called for the interior to be fort-like and slightly unfinished looking so the floors were heated from underneath and the insulation was placed on the outside under the wood sheathing, so we brought in Tracy Wade and her team to paint the plywood interior a silvery gray.  Tracy is a decorative painter and came up with the perfect formula.


Continue reading >

20 Feb

Behind the Scenes: Design Details from the First Episode of Insane Pools

Contributed by Celeste Gruenstein of Décor Direct-Sarasota, FL


The homeowners David and Cathy McCabe have been customers of Decor Direct for more than 15 years and wanted to add to their existing collection of rustic reclaimed teakwood outdoor furniture.  So, this was an easy build to design!

For their idyllic bayside backyard on Siesta Key, we chose a reclaimed teak swing constructed from old carts, with a reclaimed teak shake roof.  We perched this right by the seawall so the McCabe's can have a spot to sit and wind down at sunset, and enjoy watching the osprey and pelicans dive into Sarasota Bay. 


Since Cathy & David have backgrounds in marine biology, and the build was inspired by their desire for a koi pond, we used a fish motif in the accents.  The McCabe's can enjoy a sitting area by the pool and waterfall, in a unique stylized bench we have fashioned from old reclaimed wagon wheels.  The  backrest even features a fanciful fish!  A wall hanging of swimming koi carved out of a reclaimed wooden panel adds more marine mania. 


Continue reading >

20 Feb

Meet Frank Giuffre: Audio Video Specialist on Insane Pools

FrankAudio Video integrator Frank Giuffre has an undeniable love of technology that started at a young age with his father's company in his hometown of Staten Island, New York.  Frank started "working" with his father at thirteen soldering cables in their garage.  

Frank always knew he would run his own A/V Company. That became a reality when he moved to Sarasota, Florida.  In eight short years his company Coastal Audio Video has grown into a successful business which specializes in the sales and installation of high-end A/V entertainment systems in private residences.

Florida gave Frank something New York could not, year round sunshine and the desire for an outdoor lifestyle.  Incorporating technology into outdoor living spaces has become his passion.  With his expertise in the field, he provides his customers with the ability to automate their outdoor space including music, lighting, water features, televisions, virtually anything.

With evolving technology every job is a new and exciting challenge.



The installation of a 12" 500 watt burial subwoofer was strategically located in between the koi pond and swimming pool. Although this low lying sub disappears into the landscape it's presence is felt when the music comes on.

These 6" 70 Volt satellite speakers were installed in the landscape to provide high quality distributed sound throughout the outdoor living space.

A wall mounted equipment rack resides in the pool house. This rack is home for the amplification, networking and automation that makes this yard come to life.

Watch a new episode of Insane Pools every Friday at 9/8c!

18 Feb

Animal Planet and the EQUUS Foundation Shed Light on Horse Welfare Through Special Event


Join Animal Planet in supporting the Equus Foundation by attending the Fete Cheval Etoile this Friday, Feb. 20, in Wellington, Fla. The event will shine light on the importance of horse welfare through the EQUUS Foundation.

A donation of a specific amount or ticket will grant access to cocktails, dinner, and the new Best Performance Team Invitational. Animal Planet and Ariat will be sponsoring one featured team. According to a press release, "Beezie Madden will captain the Ariat/Animal Planet team of Georgina Bloomberg and Nicole Shahanian-Simpson. George Morris and Katie Prudent will judge Madden, Bloomberg and Simpson in the Best Performance Team Invitational, a first of its kind competition where teams of grand prix riders will compete over a 1.35m jumper course judged on style and performance."

Beezie Madden and Simon. Photo courtesy of Noelle Floyd.

Unable to attend in person? You can still show support. For more information, please visit the EQUUS Foundation online.

18 Feb

Watering Trough GoPro Shows How Different Zoo Animals Drink (VIDEO)

Giraffes, lions, oryx, lemurs, monkeys, tapirs, zebras and rhinoceroses, oh my! 

Zookeeper Elad Herskowitz placed a GoPro inside of the watering troughs of 8 different species at Safari Ramat Gan in Israel to solve the question: "how do animals drink?"

Watch the video above for the underwater view of those thirsty animals.

 And who knew zebras didn't use their tongues? It looks like their holding out a note in a love ballad. 


Want to see some cute Maine Coon kittens learning to drink from their mom's favorite watering hole? Check out the Too Cute video below!

6 Feb

Design Details from the Kentucky Climber's Cottage

Contributed By Tory Jones

Get an in-depth look at how the beautiful designs inside these treehouse masterpieces come together with Treehouse Masters' own Tory Jones. Find out more about the Kentucky Climber's Cottage inside this blog post!


This episode took us into the Kentucky trees—literally.  Clients Shelly and Bill Byrne are avid tree climbers, so much so that they have embarked on a new profession sharing their love of trees. They call their company “EarthJoy,” and Pete and crew built their new arboreal retreat headquarters on family property in Germantown, Ky.

The spacious tree house borrows the design vernacular from the local farmhouses. It offers an open-beamed cathedral ceiling, so if the weather is inclement, the climbing can happen inside.  Shelly asked for a free, calm space so that she could hold the retreats; one of her favorites is the “Women Warriors” retreat, where up to 16 women gather to climb, meditate and journal. She needed plenty of seating for all to be comfortable.


Continue reading >

30 Jan

Flashback Friday: The Coolest Treehouse Ever Built

Contributed by Tory Jones

Get an in-depth look at how the beautiful designs inside these treehouse masterpieces come together with Treehouse Masters' own Tory Jones. Find out more about the treehouse in the premiere episode of Treehouse Masters, The Coolest Treehouse Ever Built, in this blog post!



Outside of Portland, Maine restaurateurs Nancy and Rob Pugh wanted a luxurious arboreal bedroom to would complete their communal compound that started with a yurt.


Continue reading >

25 Jan

Learn More About Treehouse Masters' 'Treehive Beehive'

Contributed By Tory Jones

Get an in-depth look at how the beautiful designs inside these treehouse masterpieces come together with Treehouse Masters' own Tory Jones. Find out more about the Treehive Beehive inside this blog post!


Donald and Alison Farmer’s beehive treehouse was an unusual request – not just because the exterior was so different, but also because the space was very small and Alison did not want furniture inside. Instead, she wanted shelving and soft places to sit.  My solution was to have my trusted carpenter Lisa Mei Ling Fong build 22 hexagonal shelving units to create a modular hive like structure inside so it would act as shelving, cabinets and surfaces. The modular hive cells were then painted primary colors; some were backed with mirrors and some were fronted by stained glass by a local artist from Whidbey Island Dennis Meszaros of Meazaros Glass Studio.

Dennis not only fronted the cabinets, but did a custom hive hexagonal window for the front door that hints at what is to be revealed inside.  Not wanting to waste anything, he then took the leftover pieces of glass and formed hanging hex mosaics in the kiln to hang from the ceiling.  The effect it creates is as thought you are inside a kaleidoscope.


For the hive lighting, I needed a fixture that would emit the shadows of hive life, so I put out a call to the Seattle based knitting and crochet group Web of Dreams and Zippy La Rue. One of the happy (crochet) hookers answered my quest and knitted up two fantastic globes. It's the bee's knees!


For the flooring I sourced pure New Zealand wool felted shag carpet and cut and patterned it into yet another series of hexagons and top it off by adding soft bean bags from Comfy Sack.

about the blog

Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.







stay connected

our sites