Urban Edens

Beating the heat by retreating to those private outdoor spaces

New York /
Jul.July 27, 2013 04:00 PM

From Luxury Listings NYC: After three years in Hong Kong, Meredith and Benjamin Jenkins came back to Manhattan re-energized to do a little homework. They had a specific project in mind: Transform their overgrown backyard into a lush hangout.

The Jenkins, both in investment management, wanted to finally make use of space that they simply had ignored before they went away for business. They imagined a place for their three little boys to romp—without worrying that they’d get hurt. A place to grill with friends. And a place to just sit and relax, maybe even reflect.

They wanted to create their own oasis in the West Village, their escape from the concrete jungle. And they are not alone. Every year, countless New Yorkers decide to make their homes a little more summer friendly.

The Jenkins set about realizing their remodeling dream with the help of a professional. They hired architect Anne Fairfax to open up their patch of land yet keep it traditional, a complement to their classical-style, three-story Home On Charles Street.

“Frankly, the garden was nothing before,” Meredith Jenkins said. “We wanted to make it shine and make it an extension of the house.”

Fairfax, the managing partner of Fairfax & Sammons Architects, advised the Jenkins on everything from patio furniture to plants. (One choice: crawling ivy.)

“The lushness … reminds me of our former residence in Hong Kong,” said Meredith Jenkins, who politely declined to reveal how much the work cost other than to joke “too much.” “It’s a wonderful escape from the city.”

For Fairfax and the city’s other architects, along with landscape artists and exterior designers, the crunch time on outdoor projects is when the weather is cooler.

“Clients want renovations to start on or shortly after Labor Day and they want you out by Memorial Day,” said Manuel Mergal, a partner at the architecture firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners.

Much of the work that Mergal and his colleagues do is somehow tied to the months of June, July and August.

“Summer is definitely a marker of sorts,” he added.

On the Upper West Side, Nancy Stern and William Finkelstein chose Amber Freda of Amber Freda Home & Garden Design to revamp their ground-level patio—a big plus of the two-bedroom apartment not far from Central Park. They wanted an Old World feel that would match the charm of their Tuscan farmhouse-style kitchen, and that’s what Freda created.

The 32-foot-by-11-foot area now has a fountain and lighting. Colorful annuals set off the dining area and lounge. It is the perfect place for Stern, a retired real estate agent, and Finkelstein, a senior executive in the apparel industry, for all manner of activities from entertaining to reading.

“We’ve done everything from celebrate Father’s Day with our children and grandchildren to hosting a bridal shower on our patio,” said Stern, who put the project’s price tag at about $20,000. “But it’s Also A Great Place to sit with the Sunday Times.”

Just north, on West 118th Street, Jeannie and Alper Uyanik have found tranquility by stepping out of their 11th-floor condo and onto their Japanese garden-inspired terrace.

The quiet is welcome: She is executive director of C&G New York, an event and wedding planning service, and he is senior vice president of Stand New York Securities, a bank.

“Private outdoor space is a rare commodity in New York,” Alper Uyanik said.

The couple first landscaped their outside space in 2009, shortly after buying into the new Harlem high-rise. This year, they decided it was time for another go-over. They, too, tapped Freda for the job.

Work included an irrigation system and additional lighting, and Freda chose species of plants that thrive high above ground, where temperatures are usually much harsher. Shrubs protect the couple’s privacy, while Japanese pines and maples and a cherry tree invite birds to land.

The beautification didn’t come cheap—$18,000—but Alper Uyanik thinks it was worth every penny.

“The comfort of hearing the birds chirping in the morning and watching them pluck berries from the cherry tree is priceless.” – Christopher Cameron


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