First, what is a terrace? There are many specific definitions of this word. Here’s the one we built our name around: ‘a relatively level paved or planted area adjoining a building’. It’s this link to the building that makes what we do so special because it allows the indoors to flow out into an outdoor living space. A terrace is a sort of make believe canvas. Often it is through the terrace that guests pass to enter a home or hotel. This is also a magical place, an artful place that we look out upon when we are inside. We may look down upon it from above. We may park our car in this space as we did when I was a child at my grandmother’s house. Gammi’s carport was what a southerner might have called a verandah. It overlooked her yard running the length of the house and yes there were rocking chairs, but also neatly stacked firewood, various toys or a filled inflatable pool in the summer and at least one car. But this was the entrance to her house, so she had painted an antique pot-belly stove and put fake red geraniums in the opening at top as a piece of décor suggesting welcome. This hillbilly welcome was both comforting and thrilling because when I visually absorbed it for the first time each visit I knew I’d be having great food, skiing (in the winter), enjoying coffee and dunking toast in the morning and playing with the kids that lived nearby. And when the door opened the sleigh bells which hung on the inside were like a sorcerer’s magic chime announcing our arrival. This experience from parking to entry reminds me of what we called the Guest Entry Sequence at Paris Disney where I worked as both a landscape designer and a set designer. Part of my role was to create a smooth and effortless transition from carpark to Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. I like to think of this transition as the elegant process of arrival. Often we’ll design the fronts of clients homes connecting the parking area with an arrival terrace as a sort of calming area where guests can be greeted or take in the beautiful surroundings of fountains, plants and curated materials.
Story really drives our terrace designs. Your urban outdoor space, your deck overlooking the sea, my ‘verandah’, your rooftop garden or your balcony is a rare place to unwind, entertain, hang out, garden and dig deeper into oneself. Just like characters in a novel or a children’s book our own lives are lived in stories each day. The outdoor living space is an incredible terrace or stage upon which to assemble elements of comfort and pleasure that help tell the story of how we like to live outdoors. Is yours a garden in the sky? Is it a spectacular small outdoor space? Is it a celebration of enjoyment of grand views? Is your balcony an art installation?
To me, terrace design is thoughtful not reactive or formulaic. We utilize design techniques and materials that are proven but we also experiment and spend a great deal of time researching and staying on top of what’s new. As a canvass, the terrace offers unlimited storylines and curated responses. Our secret in designing terraces is digging deeper with our clients to discover the best scenario, the most delightful look and the surest solution for every location and set of circumstances.