ISSUE 32  |  Down Under

Best Outdoor Living Space Winner: Leslie and Woody Pirtle

August 14, 2014 8:20 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

The winners of the Gardenista Considered Design Awards Best Outdoor Living Space are Leslie and Woody Pirtle of New Paltz, New York.

Their project was chosen by Gardenista editor-in-chief Michelle Slatalla, who said: “The word ‘magical’ is not one I throw around lightly, but it’s appropriate in this context. The juxtaposition of rough stone walls and velvety green vines creates an otherworldly sense of peace.”

Take a look below and hear what the Pirtles have to say about their goals for the project, their design inspiration, and their favorite shops in upstate New York.

N.B.: This is the first in a series of posts spotlighting the winners of the Gardenista Considered Design Awards. We’ll be featuring one winning project every day. Go to the 2014 Considered Design Awards to see all the entries, finalists, and winners. And have a look at the winners of the Remodelista Considered Design Awards, too.

The Pirtles’ Design Statement: We wanted to design a quiet contemplative space for sitting and reading.

Q: Where do you live?
A: We live outside New Paltz, New York, about 100 miles north of New York City. We are lucky to have a complex of stone buildings on a hill overlooking the Walkill River, including a house, a studio, and a stone ruin. The earliest building dates back to the late 1700s and the studio was built in the 1800s. The house was a tavern, the studio was a general store, and the ruin was a factory that produced carpet bags.

Q: What were your goals for the project?
A: To create an outdoor room for quiet contemplation. To honor the space that was originally built and to respect the materials and the craftsmanship that was so evident. We lovingly repointed the structure, restored the fireboxes, and kept the nest where a family of doves reside. We brought in pea gravel and furnished simply. The room is away from the house so it really gives a great sense of solitude.

Q: What are your favorite features of the project?
A: The fireplaces on what would have been the first two floors of the ruin. We can actually use them!

Q: If your room was a celebrity, who would it be?
A: Hmmmm . . . maybe Daniel Day-Lewis. Our room has a quiet and strong presence, not too pretty, not too slick. Authentic.

Q: What are your day jobs?
A: We are both graphic designers, and partners in Pirtle Design. Woody is a partner emeritus at Pentagram Design in NYC. Leslie also trades options.

Q: What is your best secret design source? 
A: Wide-open eyes and mind!

Q: What is your favorite local shop?
A: We love Warren Street in Hudson, with its many shops. Henry in Hudson is a favorite, as well as Vincent Mulford and the Hudson Supermarket.

Q: What projects would you tackle if you had an unlimited budget?
A: We would build a brand new modern house in a beautiful part of the country. We have done many remodels and would love to start with a blank slate.

Q: Where do you get your design inspiration?
A: Art, architecture, travel. Inspiration is everywhere, in everything, all the time. Our radar is always on.

Q: What’s your next project?
A: We are exploring ways to design a pool or swimming spot that would fit within the context surroundings.

Congratulations to the Pirtles! See all the winners of the 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards here: