Not everyone loved the the mid-19th century architectural fashion that introduced to Manhattan genteel rows of brownstones whose “uniform hue coated New York like a cold chocolate sauce,” as the novelist Edith Wharton (not a fan) observed drily.
A century and a half later, how do you create a modern garden to complement that rather oppressive brown color? This was the challenge facing architects Sawyer | Berson when they designed both front and back gardens for a 20-foot-wide, four-story brownstone on a particularly pretty stretch of Perry Street in the West Village–which just happened to be a few doors down from the much-filmed Sex and the City facade made famous as Carrie Bradshaw’s house.
Their solution? A luminous white garden that shimmers in the dappled shade cast by mature city trees. Let’s take a tour:
Photography courtesy of Sawyer | Berson.
Above: Mark Alan Hewitt Architects oversaw a 1988-90 restoration of the historic Italianate facade designed in the 1860s by Robert Mook.
A Dr. Merrill magnolia blooms in early spring, protected from the street by an iron railing and a brownstone curb. Behind the railing, a front garden is paved with slabs of bluestone edge by plantings of enkianthus and hosta.
Sawyer|Berson designed another similar white garden for actress Julianne Moore, who lives nearby in the West Village. See Julianne Moore’s garden at Design Sleuth: Julianne Moore’s Staghorn Ferns
Above: Custom iron furniture and antique bluestone pavers complement the green and white planting scheme.
For more of our favorite NYC townhouse gardens, see:
- Design Sleuth: Julianne Moore’s Staghorn Ferns.
- A Lush NYC Townhouse Garden by Robin Key.
- Before & After: A Garden Duplex in a Historic Chelsea Townhouse.