Pool: Keith Marson, Keith the Pool Tech, Allendale
Landscape: Chris Duffy, Duffy's Landscaping and Design, Midland Park
Hardscape: Scenic Landscaping, Haskell
Nestled in one of Ridgewood's most sought-after neighborhoods sits a superbly crafted home with architectural roots in American cottage design. With its dark- brown-shingled exterior, crisp white trim, eye-popping blueberry painted front door and breathtaking perennial gardens, the home and its grounds conjure up a picture-perfect setting one might find on a travel to Nantucket or the Cotswolds.
Inspired by a passion for color, the homeowner transformed the interiors of the home through fabric and furnishings and created a color palette of her favorite hues – coral, turquoise, poppy pink and chartreuse – to reflect her love for all things summer.
The surrounding gardens are an ongoing work in progress and embrace her zest for color. Every year, new plantings are added to complement the existing beds, which feature a bounty of blooms: peonies, hydrangeas, roses, lilies, lavender and boxwood of all shapes and sizes.
"I love the natural look of an unstructured English garden and how they are designed to flower throughout each season. Gardens should also be personal, uniquely special to you and reflective of your personality," says the homeowner, referring to the dogwood tree recently planted in honor of the beloved family pet, a black Labrador named Magnolia.
The long rectangular pool, simple in design with a grassy border complete with comfortable lounge seating, complements the back yard.
"I wanted a very clean line to the pool," she says. "I didn't want a lot of hardscape to detract from the gardens."
A favorite outdoor spot for the homeowners and their family and friends to dine on is the back porch. A large black wrought iron dining table stands center stage under a ceiling painted sky blue and topped with a Moravian star light fixture. The setting is casually elegant.
"On those warm summer days, we just love to gather around the table and enjoy our garden view," says the homeowner.
Landscape Architecture: Paul Keyes, Paul Keyes Associates, Tenafly
Masonry: Stonetown Construction, Oakland
Garden Sprinklers: Greenway Irrigation, Midland Park
Barbecue/Refrigerator: Home Hardware, Waldwick
Pool: SJ Valenza Pools, Staten Island, N.Y.
With more than 30 years in the landscape architecture and horticulture business, Paul Keyes has left his exceptional design stamp on many a garden in North Jersey. From the simple and the sensational to the bold and the beautiful, Keyes has created some of Bergen's best residential gardens and outdoor living scapes. His philosophy on designing outdoor spaces is simple: Home is the vacation you take every day.
One Tenafly homeowner turned to Keyes to design his back yard from the ground up. The homeowner wanted a backyard space that would not only be visually stunning but also meet the user-friendly "must-haves" for their family, which includes active young children and a dog.
"The home is new construction and had a basic landscape installation by the builder," Keyes says of the project, which took nine months to complete. "There were minimal plantings and major drainage problems."
The homeowner wanted a simple landscape planting that would provide color and interest throughout the year, says Keyes.
"It was really important to them that their yard have a resort feel to it," he says.
Components to the overall design plan included an inground Gunite pool, barbecue island and kitchen space, outdoor dining and living area, a children's play space, dog run and enclosure, large lawn for play and sports, fire pit, irrigation, fencing and lighting. The key to unifying the house and garden was making sure that construction elements, such as garden walls, walkways, patios and the pool deck, incorporated the same stone used to veneer the exterior of the home.
"Landscapes are all about enhancing the architecture of the home," Keyes says. "It is important that the design is functional and that it is well thought out and planned rather than an afterthought."
The garden design for the property features large evergreens for screening and privacy, flowering trees and shrubs, shade trees, ground covers, perennial beds and annual plantings for summer color and interest.
"It is important to have color and contrast throughout the year, maximize flowering plants around the pool and patios in the summer, and reduce overall mulching and maintenance through the use of ground covers. The plantings were also staged and installed over a few years," Keyes says. "Beautiful gardens take time to install and mature."
In keeping with the homeowner's wish for a "resort" feel for the property, Keyes built an outdoor kitchen area, featuring a large barbecue and double-drawer refrigerator, into a retaining wall topped in granite. A 20-by-40-foot Gunite inground swimming pool with an automatic cover for safety and energy efficiency anchors the back yard. Mindful that this is a family with young children, Keyes points out that the pool is equipped with two swim-out seats in the deep end of the pool for egress and safety.
"In addition, the main steps of the pool include a large flat area one-foot below water level for children's play or to be used by the homeowner for lounging in the water on hot summer days," he says.
Three years ago, John Paul Di Staulo searched high and low in Cresskill for the perfect property upon which to build his classically modern home with a "cool and hip" California vibe.
"I wanted my home to be light and airy and have plenty of space for entertaining," says Di Staulo, a principal owner of his Bergen-based family business, Di Staulo Construction.
The one-acre property features upper-level terraces, an outdoor loggia, a pool and an all-seasons garden landscape.
"I have always been drawn to the lushness of the properties in California and the design details of homes that utilize both the indoor and outdoor living spaces," says Di Staulo, who shares the home with his wife, Allison, and their two daughters.
A key component to the Di Staulo property is the large rectangular heated spa pool, which is open to friends and family from May to October. The sitting area surrounding the scallop-edged pool is finished in Indiana limestone and features classic and comfortable chaise lounges by Brown Jordan.
"We love to entertain by the pool, which is why we constructed a full-size working kitchen, bathroom, game room and laundry room on the lower level of the home that opens onto the loggia and pool area," Di Staulo says. "All that we need is right here on this one level. When we are entertaining poolside, we never need to go upstairs to the main part of the house."
For the Di Staulo family, not a day goes by, rain or shine, summer or winter, that they don't soak up the splendor of their great outdoors.
"Whether Allison and I are drinking coffee on the upper terrace overlooking the grounds or the girls are entertaining friends by the pool, we take advantage of spending as much time as possible outside," adds Di Staulo.