The time: A couple of years ago. The place: a 16' by 21' terrace crammed between the ugly backs of four Manhattan buildings. The host: Well, there wasn't one- interior designer Miles Redd rarely ventured behind his town house. But all of that changed when he recast the dreary spot as a dreamy paradise of furniture and flora- a well-appointed open-air living room.
Updated Sep 28, 2018 6:59 PM
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The time: A couple of years ago.
The place: A 16′ x 21′ terrace crammed
between the ugly backs of four
The host: Well, there wasn’t one—interior
designer Miles Redd rarely ventured
behind his town house. But all of that
changed when he recast the dreary spot as
a dreamy paradise of furniture and flora—
a well-appointed open-air living room.
For the lively gatherings
that Redd throws for friends and family,
he painted the existing rough wooden
planks in a bold harlequin scheme (the
bird’s-eye view from an upstairs window
only underscores the graphic appeal)
that plays off the black-and-white
floor in his adjacent kitchen. “Making a
garden is a lot like decorating a room,”
he says. “Get your walls and floors right,
and you can try anything
An outdoor drawing
more than a garden,
the space is decorated with
a relaxed mix of furniture.
Redd eschewed overused teak
standards in favor of more
interesting lines of metal and
mirror. Pots of common myrtle,
from the Mediterranean, are
clipped into large ball topiaries
the virginal Roman
goddess of hunting, is the star: “A garden needs
a sense of ornament,” Redd says. He picked the
entourage of potted plants as carefully as he
would a chair or fabric for an interior, enlisting
nurseryman Ken Selody (atlockfarm.com) to
help him select eye-catching forms and textures,
from prim boxwood to jagged cactus and an
unusual raised “lawn” of grassy liriope that would
grow easily in his garden. Exotic sago palms in
pots add eccentricity before the stilt hedge
of hornbeam trees, neatly housed in a formal
style of wood planters called Versailles boxes
that have been pushed together to form a wall.
The hedge is clipped to the outlines made by the
Setting the table
getting dressed in the morning,” Redd
says. “I think, ‘Who am I going to be
today?’ and go from there.” Here, he
was inspired by the tones of a striped
agave cactus to make a tablescape of
cool blues and sunny shots of citrus.
Sprigs of lemon verbena and small
potted boxwood are a pleasant break
from flower arrangements. The large
circular table accommodates a seated
dinner for eight or can hold a buffet
for many more guests.
attached custom panels at either side
of the garden) provides the formerly
depressing corner with the cultured air
of a French conservatory. Mirrors, behind
the woodwork and on the coffee table,
reflect sun in dramatic ways, distracting
the eye from the surrounding plain
brick walls—and even the small barred
window of a neighbor’s apartment.
Part visionary, part ringleader,
Redd orchestrates a tableau vivant of family,
friends and colleagues. Clockwise from upper left:
his employee Amanda Gentilcore, Redd, sister
Sarah McCain, plant expert Ken Selody, employee
David Kaihoi and friend Kara Dusenbury. The
town-house facade is lined with vigorous whiteflowering
moonflower vines, which climb up
wires attached to the masonry.