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Private Oasis: Conversation With Edmund D. Hollander



What determines whether a home is a great place to live or not? It often depends upon what lies beyond its walls, or for some, beyond its private gates. The private oasis—where one can “sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure” as Jane Austen once said—may not be the first thing one associates with luxury, but feeling a close connection to nature in your home is an extravagance not everyone can afford. Elegant conservatories, atriums, sunrooms, outdoor rooms and expansive terraces in today’s high-end residences have become just as desirable as wine tasting rooms and home theatres.

Whether you live seasonally on the coast or year-round in the city, your outdoor haven can serve as extension of your home’s character and style. As we begin to embrace the cool of early autumn, Previews Inside Out decided to explore the art of creating a private oasis. We spoke with Edmund Hollander, an award-winning landscape architect who has designed hundreds of residential landscapes in the Hamptons, coastal Connecticut and New York for celebrities and business elite. In the end, he told us, “it doesn’t matter where you live—you must have an understanding of the context and the environment surrounding your home.” 

East Hampton Residence

Previews Inside Out When buying a home, what should buyers look for on the outside?

Edmund Hollander Architecture is easy to change, but you can’t easily change the landscape—the topography, the view or mature trees. You want to look for those elements when selecting a home to purchase or a site to build on.

Previews Inside Out How important is the landscape really?

Edmund Hollander Landscape helps define the character of the home. The first experience of a home is often through the landscape.

Previews Inside Out How does one transform a landscape into a luxury oasis? 

Edmund Hollander The landscape tells a story, just like the architecture. First, you want to think about outdoor entertaining areas. For many of my clients, they have enough space, so they may want to keep their seating and gathering spaces separate from their outdoor dining areas. Movement and transitions are other important elements to consider—alleys, walkways and gateways. And finally, you want to look at where to place recreation areas—swimming pools, water features, tennis courts, golf greens, beach volleyball and bocce ball courts. Every family has different needs, but most are united by the common desire to be outside together.

Previews Inside Out What outdoor elements feel the most luxurious to your clients?

Edmund Hollander The greatest luxury anyone can have is space. The idea that you can have an entertaining terrace and a dining terrace, where people can socialize with their friends and family is a luxury. The idea that they may have unimpeded views of ocean, city, mountain or canyon is a luxury. You want to accentuate and celebrate that view—one way is by creating a frame of trees.

Previews Inside Out What about privacy?

Edmund Hollander Yes, almost everyone focuses on privacy these days. How do you create a landscape that is expansive, but also secluded from neighbors and buffered from street noise? Stone walls and hedges are easy solutions for creating a physical barrier and visual barrier from the outside world.

Previews Inside Out What are your favorite landscape elements?

Edmund Hollander Water. Whether it’s a swimming pool, a fountain or pond, you can use water in so many ways to create a sense of serenity and calm. When you think about what makes nature so beautiful, it’s water and stone. Stone has a sense of permanence, timelessness and elegance. Together, they can create remarkable harmony.

Edmund Hollander is founder and president of Edmund Hollander Design , a leading New York environmental design firm. The firm is the recipient of four Design Awards from the New York Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA). His new book, The Private Oasis , co-written with Maryanne Connelly, is now available for purchase in stores or online.

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Private Oasis: Conversation With Edmund D. Hollander

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