We surveyed Pembrooke Fine Landscapes founder and principle Bill D'Agata to get the scoop on the latest trends in landscape design for the Hamptons—and beyond.
Tell us how you got started in landscape design. BILL D’AGATA: I became interested in design in my teenage years. I enjoyed gardening on weekends and developed a love for plant material and became very interested in the architecture element of design. These interests led to pursuing a cultural degree. I enrolled at State University of New York's Farmingdale State College at the School of Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture. Once I completed my Associate Degree, I went on to the University of Georgia and earned my Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at the School of Environmental Design. My first foray into the Landscape Design field led me to work with a few landscape designers where I deepened my knowledge working in both the municipal field as well as residential. I landed a position at The Laurel Group out of Huntington, where I got most of my field experience. After several years, I struck out on my own and launched Pembrooke Fine Landscapes in 2006. I hit the ground running with several projects and continue to grow each year. Now in our tenth year, I look forward to continuing to develop the business as the trends in outdoor design evolve.
What is trending in outdoor design this season? BD: The biggest trend we’re seeing right now in construction is the full integration of indoor and outdoor space. The structures we are designing are focused on bringing all the elements of the indoors outdoors. People really want all of the amenities they enjoy indoors in their outdoor space. For instance, the structures usually include accordion-type doors that open up fully to allow a seamless transition between the outdoors and indoors. We are [also] seeing a lot of people requesting outdoor heaters. With the large investment homeowners are making to design these outdoor spaces, they want to be able to enjoy them beyond the summer months. Integrating built-in heaters to the structures allows the homeowners to really extend the season into the fall and start early in the spring months. The heaters and the full woodburning fireplaces make these outdoor spaces warm and toasty in the cool, crisp fall nights.
What is the most popular feature that people are requesting in their outdoor spaces? BD: Homeowners are truly looking for full integration in technology outdoors. Multiple TVs, several speaker zones, WiFi, lighting, and more are commonplace when designing these outdoor spaces. Kitchens with all the amenities are becoming more and more popular in these outdoor spaces. From wine fridges, ice makers, and beer taps to dishwashers, trash pull-outs, and shelving for storage, the amenities are endless.
How do you design each outdoor space so that it's unique with its own style? BD: How will the space be used? How many people does the space need to accommodate? Where will the furniture go and how many pieces will there be? These are all elements that help us design the space and the floor plan. Regarding the style, we take cues from the client’s interior spaces, how they like to decorate and the color schemes they like to use. We want the design outdoors to complement the design and style indoors. If the client has another home or apartment we also like to look at the design there to capture their style. As much as Pembrooke has its own signature style and portfolio which we often integrate into each project, the clients tend to accessorize that style, creating a truly custom designed space.
What do you see for the future of outdoor living in the Hamptons? BD: More and more of what is inside the home will be brought outside. For instance, I have clients who tell me they no longer shower indoors once they have a fully functional outdoor shower with all the amenities of an indoor shower. One element of the indoors that has yet to really be brought outdoors is the bathtub. I think that a trend of creating a private outdoor garden area featuring a bathtub might be the next development in outdoor bathrooms. A space that you can access off the outdoor bath house that is private enough for a bath, but still embraces the outdoors. The one room in the house that has [also] yet to really be brought outdoors is the bedroom. I envision the possibility of creating a room as a second story on a pavilion that is a loft area, which is enclosed but perhaps has a view of the stars through a glass ceiling or a retractable roof. If it’s not an actual bedroom, certainly a space that offers the ability to experience the outdoors while relaxing in a bed or other comfortable space.