Harborview Front

The back yard of this newly built contemporary home is on the ocean’s edge. It looks out over Lower Bay and over to Sandy Hook, just south of New York City on the Jersey side. It needed very little else than the stunning views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty on the distant horizon.

When construction of the house was completed however, it was obvious to the owners that the front of the property from the street needed attention. The before photo shows an open lawn with a somewhat inhospitable masonry privacy wall that give a generally vacant and stark character. It also displays a visually dominating concrete driveway.

The design concept was to make the front more interesting and inviting, from both the street and inside the house; to keep the front entrance private but make it also welcoming to visitors, to downplay the driveway and privacy wall and create a series of calming spaces to stroll through and sit.

This was achieved in part by perforating the solid concrete and adding and inviting walkway that leads through it. There is no question that guests are welcome, and no confusion regarding where they should enter. An open aluminum arbor structure, mailbox and house numbers further call out the entry door and help to visually tie the existing architecture to the masonry wall, which before stood alone and separate. By sawing out a large portion of concrete and replacing it with drivable grass, the driveway became more a part of the garden experience rather than a large divider through it. The new green area also helped the driveway and garage seem less important, while emphasizing the new entry.

A small sparkling water feature can be viewed from living and office spaces inside the house, and it is also a delightful, audible and visual part of arriving at the front door.

After filling much of the area with trees, shrubs and grasses the property feels larger in a way and more intricate rather than smaller. The plants define spaces that provide intrigue and make you feel graciously held within.

Landscape Architect: Brian Higley
Landscape Contractor: Sage Landscape & Tree Experts, Watchung, NJ
Arbor fabrication: A1 Railing & Ironworks, Keyport, NJ
House Architect: Robert Gorski, Gorski Architects - Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Planting design and installation by Anne Cleaves Symmes