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A Rye Backyard Transforms Into a Versatile Haven With Timeless Appeal

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Photography by Sean Jancski

A character-filled Rye home gets an exterior to match the life within, thanks to landscape architect Sean Jancski and his team.

a rye backyard

It was a beautiful summer night when landscape architect Sean Jancski stepped foot onto the backyard of his client’s home in Rye and saw his vision realized.

The bustling family had a fire crackling in the hearth. Convivial chatter filled the air by the in-ground pool. Children buzzed throughout a continuity of outdoor “rooms,” eating ice cream and experiencing the space exactly as it had been intended. It was a magical atmosphere, enhanced by strategically placed path lights and step lights, and presided over by dramatically up-lit trees.

a rye backyard

The patio area of the Rye backyard

Jancski, of his eponymous firm in Rye, explains that for this multilayered project, he and his team landscaped the entire property. The project was initiated with the creation of conceptual design drawings, and those progressed to a comprehensive plan, ensuring each element was designed to perfection. It’s an attention to detail that has led Team Jancski to hone their skill at eliminating question marks. Ensuring that projects turn out as expected is why they’re tasked to run the whole show.

“You need a real quarterback to orchestrate from start to finish,” says Jancski, who collaborated with landscape installer Angelo Andreoli and mason and site-contractor Gerken Building Services Inc.

In this case, the family “wanted a complete outdoor-living environment, sort of the full monty of amenities you’d want to be able to live outside,” says Jancski. “So, we laid out a series of outdoor rooms.”

Related: This Westchester Home Hides an Aquatic Oasis in Its Backyard

The first decision was that the aesthetics needed to work with the character of the home.

“The house situated on a hill has a very historic presence to it,” explains Jancski. “So, we used brick, wood, and stone. Our goal was to make sure it had a timeless appeal. Not modern, not dated.”

Spaces had to flow and work together seamlessly. New York bluestone (a natural cleft sandstone) runs throughout, juxtaposed with brick to match the brick details on the home.

“The house has a real presence,” notes Jancski. “I think it was a captain’s home. There’s a lot of old-world detailing.” He felt that adhering to the historical context of the house was important. It allowed the interior design to speak for itself. “The family had a good European-modern interior, which is a very nice contrast to the outside.”

The back of the house opens out to the dining area and a barbecue station, replete with a built-in Lynx Grill and a Big Green Egg cooker. The brick-based counter is lined with stools and topped with stone.

Just across the patio, a wide couch anchors a lounge area focused around one of two traditional brick fireplaces. The brick motif balances that of the kitchen and adds warmth to the expanse of cool-tone bluestone.

a rye backyard

The pool in the Rye backyard

The patio continues to the next space, where a rectangular in-ground pool is flanked on one side by lounge chairs backed by an alley of little-leaf linden shade trees and orb-shaped boxwoods. The linear design lends structure to the space.

Beyond the pool, an open expanse of lawn was created. The blanket of grass helps soften the hardscape and provides a free play area for the children to enjoy.

Toward the front of the property, near the pool, and sunken down several steps to nestle against the side of the house, Jancski and team created a spa-influenced pocket that ups the feeling of luxury while adding another dimension to the ways in which the landscape can be experienced. It’s a bucolic spot to relax in, anchored by a boxwood-encircled water fountain from RH and designed with formal gardens layered with perennials and a bench for contemplation. On the far side of this area, a second dining table can serve as a shaded place to lunch during long days at the pool. The dining space is defined by an arbor that extends out from a repurposed section of the garage and is flanked by the second brick fireplace.

It’s a backyard befitting the grandeur and curiosities of this character-filled home. There are nooks and crannies and as many ways to enjoy life outside as there are inside.

So, on that summer evening, when Jancski took in the sight of a family at its most vibrant, enjoying to the fullest the landscape he and his team created, he knew it was a job well done.

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