Skip to main content


Al Fresco; Inside Out
At the Decoration & Design Building

The so popular it even has its own hashtag  #VANlife-which we write about a lot... is both an outgrowth and a mobile impetus/desire for individual household dwellings styled for outdoor living.

More meaningfully perhaps- is the need to expand life's moments-beyond solid residential enjoy multi-generational, purposeful time under the open (or shaded) skies...for recreational fun, entertaining dining-big (and small) celebrations, and the ultimate, quiet relaxation-all in the comfort of one's home environment.

Scheduled right after the wonderful NYCxDesign week and ICFF tradeshow, the luxury showroom packed DDB building hosted a series of informative panels, posh events and open showrooms (oh-the envy inducing home decor) as well as networking cocktail soirées-ably guided by the country's premier interior/landscape designers, architects, high-end manufacturers, and top luxe glossy editors...contributing their special expertise' takes on outdoor/indoor living.

And underscoring for us-why professional talent-can make one's front entrance, alleyways, patios + backyard dreams come true (and then some). Even on a budget.

The entire calendar of hourly gatherings-enticed---  but time limitations served up one delightful keynote session and an informative showroom panel- from the many choices to attend.

The "Garden Design in America’s Playgrounds" hosted by NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) Editor in Chief Kendell Cronstrom in the newly merged Michael Taylor (elegant furnishings)| Jim Thompson (legendary sumptuous fabrics) showroom  (Suite 1640), highlighted the stunning Palm Beach-Hamptons'-NYC residential estates designed and magically created by the effervescent landscape architect Mario Nievera and his colleague, Keith Williams. (NieveraWilliams) 

During the presentation, Nievera laid out the area surroundings, vistas and history of the settings, desires of the clients (like one who wanted to recreate her exotic Thailand's home lush greenery)... and knowledgeable resources on how to harmoniously balance colors, light, form, texture and "purposeful" details with the realities of climate(cross bred+native plants, paving materials etc) and permits/local regulations (and seemingly no time constraints-in answer to our query...the typical project taking two years). 

"Everything we do is intentional...we try to plant every little moment...and start each project with nothing..." Nievera noted. 

All visual celebrations-including this talent's own Hamptons home-and other landscape projects recounted- yielded practical tips (also)...
Mario Nievera and Kendell Cronstrom -screen shot by NYC+G's of Nievera's Hampton's backyard 

... beautiful (and practical) potted plants can soften the edges of pools as well as over-sized palm trees, 
...even oft neglected narrow alleyways on the sides of homes can be enlivened outdoor spaces (when viewed through household windows)- and tiny (intimate) front yards can comfortably host pools (Palm Beach gated community)
...clever placement of garden walls and estate gates can direct people physically-where to go-create a natural flow- (in the case of multiple residential 'front doors' or to block off a parking court- at the rather grand former Palm Beach estate of CZ Guest)...
...over design is a "no-no" too-though whimsical  areas-as seen in a checkerboard patterned, artificial turf green carpet and fun side table size- lighting boxes on a Park Avenue South terrace-creatively breaks up an area for functional privacy (this is Manhattan after all)- and sound proof enjoyment- so as not to annoy the neighbors... decisions of all the elements-including pool(s), furniture, pavilions, box parterres, patio and fountain placements...and even driveways-help establish the feeling one is literally being led (walk/drive) into an outdoor room.   
..."no one uses the swimming pool except the grandkids"-a laughable moment to our question-brought on by the utter calm and clutter free pool images shown...
...that outdoor furniture is complementary to the foliage/greenery (in that order)...
... "there is no such thing as low maintenance..." ...accordingly projects assume at least weekly care by garden pros. Clearly,  Nievera's clients tend not to be home owning novices.

Added plus-the Michael Taylor/Jim Thompson elegant showroom was designed according to Al Fresco theme incorporating tropical prints, bold Asian inspired patterns and deeply rich colors.

Part One