As a child, I knew the freedom that came from the outdoors was essential to my soul to make it OK and to inspire it with pure, unscripted playfulness. Indoors was a realm of homework, mealtimes, bedrooms to clean and parents who weren’t always seeing eye to eye. Before school was my favorite time to be outdoors. The morning light, the birds chirping and the excitement I felt combined for a glorious delight of each day. Longing to discover if seedlings in my rough shod green house (a glass door on saw horses) had sprouted or any of the flower plants (weeds with flowers) had survived another night. Our sandy yard, fenced in along a canal was where I knew who I was and I felt sure. The rest of the day was make believe: boring lessons at school, strange smells of the classroom and neighbors bullying me on the long walk home. My outdoor discoveries were quintessential to my being and have fueled my lifelong pursuit of designing outdoor spaces where my friends, family and clients can enjoy creature comforts and delight in their surroundings.
What do I mean by ‘delighting in your surroundings’? First, what surrounds you where you live? Are you on a prairie or at the beach? Or you in a penthouse with views? Are there old trees that provide shade? What is the climate and how often does it rain? Does the wind blow? These are examples of surroundings and we intrinsically value certain aspects. Next, what causes you to delight? Surprises? The sound of thunder? Do you like being outside on a dry porch when it’s raining? Do you like the sound of the rain? Do you prefer intense heat and direct sunlight? How we respond to our surroundings matters, because it’s either positive or negative. Designing outdoor spaces is fun because no two locations or clients are the same! In one design brief, our client had to have a plunge pool on her private rooftop because she abhorred the intense heat of the summer but loved being outdoors during the sunniest (and hottest) part of the day. This allowed her to delight in her surroundings that were high above the throng of Times Square with wide unobstructed views of Central Park. The creature comforts of remaining cool with comfortable seating to read and have coffee or a cocktail made this space a delight. These are two key elements that shape the world of outdoor living: your surroundings and creature comforts. These are different for all of us! Knowing how we like to cozy up to a book or conversation, sip our coffee or our martinis, cook a meal on a grill or eat frozen peas in our pajamas are all personal habits and essential to understanding and discovering our outdoor living zone.
Today, Just Terraces designs outdoor living spaces that are curated expressions of how our clients live—so, ideally we are bringing the indoors out combined with design guidance from site specific conditions. We transform the creature comforts our clients have grown accustomed to inside into lavish elements such as firepits and areas such as kitchens. We ensure that there is easy connection to necessities so living outdoors isn’t tedious or difficult. Entertaining is fun, but requires fastidious planning to enjoy guests—the outdoor living space can be the ideal party zone. For Showtime network we created a rooftop terrace for a fictitious beach murder mystery writer, themed with surfboards, shells, sling chairs and lots of luxurious fabrics and lighted tall beach grasses: this was where everyone ended up after a long night of socializing indoors! Entertaining outdoors is an excuse for casual elegance. Guests find rejuvenation in the outdoors and celebrating together is one of life’s best gifts.