Bucolic and majestic, the Hudson Valley is a treasure trove of sweeping natural landscapes. Residents and visitors alike are drawn to this scenic part of New York; falling as willing victims to her beauty, anxious to revel in the seasonal kaleidoscope of color she offers.
For those familiar with the area, the lure of the Hudson Valley is easy to understand. Capturing her inimitable aesthetic, however, proves more difficult.
The work of mid-century modern architectural masters like Philip Johnson and Clifford May changed the way we look at our surroundings. With a few deft strokes, these visionaries effectively blurred the line between home and landscape. This idyllic concept, where living space seamlessly segues to meld with surroundings, continues to inspire contemporary designers; extending their own creative reach while they endeavor to smooth the division between indoors and out.
Creating indoor/outdoor spaces that offer the best of both worlds while remaining true to the principals of form and function involves more than simply building access between the home and landscape. To blur those particular design lines, creative thinking and a holistic approach are put to work to dissolve the boundaries. The prize, for those who do so successfully, reveals itself through living areas that are distinctive and inviting. Clearly exemplifying wholes that equal greater than the sum of their parts, these are the cohesive spaces that push past traditional limits. Erasing physical and visual boundaries, these are the designs that reward us with outdoor living spaces replete with amenities usually reserved for a home’s interiors. These are indoor rooms that capture the coveted appeal of the great outdoors and landscapes that afford us all the comforts of home. Free from preconceived constraints, these are the spaces designed to delight from both near and far.
Ask Gina Samarotto, Principal Designer of the Poughkeepsie-based Samarotto Design Group, to create a landscape and the first place she’ll want to see is your living room. Behind the seemingly odd request, there lies a method to the designer’s madness. With her firm working in both interiors as well as landscape architecture, Samarotto’s deeply rooted design sensibilities demand that a home’s intrinsic style be prominent across all spaces. Before a single plan is drawn, ground is broken or the first furnishings proposed, she focuses her seasoned eye on the feel a home embraces -- both indoors and out.
“Look out at the landscape from inside of your home” Samarotto explains, “and you’ll see that the interiors are what frame your view of the space beyond. The style of the outdoor spaces must meld with the interiors in order for the view to flow and become what is, essentially, a visual extension of the room. The spaces have to come together. They have to work closely in style so that each individual element complements the next. That copacetic co-mingling is the basis for distinctive, cohesive design.”
Choosing furnishings and elements with shapes and styles that reflect those found inside the home, Samarotto addresses the outdoor living spaces she designs as if they were part of the interior rooms themselves. This approach, which introduces a much stronger connection between the homes interiors and landscape, is a game changer for the clients Samarotto works with.
“The bones of the design have to be solid. Equally important to the final project as the landscape architecture itself, are the connections that are made through the details including the furnishings and staging.” Samarotto’s outdoor rooms are meticulously designed to indulge clients craving luxurious surroundings, without sacrificing the intrinsic spirit of outdoor living. As elegantly appointed as any living room, the spaces feature elements like artisan-crafted hearths, space-defining flooring, sleek furnishings, and inspired accessories. Performing beautifully as outdoor retreats, they also serve as carefully framed vignettes intended to be viewed and appreciated from indoors as readily as they are enjoyed from out. The effect captures the landscape and introduces an open-air aesthetic into the home. The scope of the design is broadened, effectively extending the reach of the space’s outdoor beauty.
Designer Jennifer Marut-Waite, of Celtic Gardens in Albany, shares similar beliefs. “Working with a client who lives in a rustic home that reflects a laid back, personal style; it would make no sense for me to deliver a rigidly structured garden. It’s more reasonable to guide those clients through the design process and introduce concepts featuring softer, more organic lines. We would suggest plantings and gardens with an unplanned, casual feel to work more smoothly with both their home and their lifestyle.” To tie the landscape to the home, Waite suggests a palette concentrating on the same colors seen on the exterior of the structure and within the interior spaces. Repeating elements that exist in the home’s architecture like a certain stone or signature metal finish also helps to underscore the style. “When the home and landscape are in harmony,” she says, “a space feels more comfortable, less compartmentalized. It blurs the lines between home and garden. That’s the design philosophy I learned after much trial and error and one that lets the home feel very connected to the land surrounding it.”
To say a happy marriage between home and landscape blurs the lines may be an understatement. Closer to the truth may be to say that the creative union provides a way to bring out – and bring in - the essence of living under a ceiling of sky.
Sidenotes & Resources:
Samarotto Design Group LLC
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Glen Gate Company
221 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
This article is from the Early Summer issue of Outdoor Home Magazine.
Photos Courtesy of Samarotto Design Group LLC