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Design Dossier: Concrete Jungles

From chic outdoor decor to tailored landscaping, a new generation of urban gardens dissolves the stress of city living.

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With demand growing from prospective home buyers looking to escape the bustling city without actually having to ever leave town, the focus on designing and building luxurious private green spaces has also increased. This viable trend gives certain New Yorkers the outdoor space they crave, all without the hassle of departing the comfort and convenience of their primary residences. 

“For many of my clients, outdoor space is nonnegotiable,” says Rebecca Cavallaro, a broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in New York. “As the city becomes more and more crowded, a quiet retreat outdoors has become a necessity.”

In order to create a seamless flow from indoor to outdoor space, it’s essential to incorporate decor choices that will complement one another. Sara Gilbane, of Sara Gilbane Interiors, opted for a timeless, modern style to craft a cohesive aesthetic in the rear garden of her clients’ Tribeca town house. “We wanted to create an open space for the family’s two children to play and for the couple to have a large group outside when entertaining,” explains Gilbane. “We kept the palette light with neutral fabrics and pops of blue to pull in what is going on in the living room.”

Some urban gardens are designed to feel more like a continuation of the interior spaces they border. Wesley Moon, a New York designer, didn’t waste a square foot when refurbishing an Upper West Side pied-à-terre penthouse with an expansive terrace. “I collaborated with Aaron McIntire of Gunn Landscapes to create the feeling of outdoor rooms,” says Moon. “The result is a space that is open and sunny during the day and intimate and ready for entertaining in the evening.” 

Edmund Hollander, a luxury landscape architect, likewise understands that his clients are consistently seeking outdoor spaces that can be used as an extension of the inside. “Tailored, elegant spaces that have a simple plant palette,” says Hollander, “help create the respite our clients are looking for.”