Real Estate, Design, and Landscaping Experts Dish on How to Keep Your Backyard in Great Shape

Wondering how best to feather your nest? Don’t neglect the outdoor areas. Our panel of East End real estate, design, and landscaping wizards shares the latest trends.

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Listed by Mala Sander, 27 Cooks Lane in Bridgehampton features gorgeous landscape design by Jack deLashmet, highlighted by an 18-by-45-foot Pebble Tec pool with saline filtration.

This week, our panel of local experts features real estate pros Tim O’Connor and Mala Sander, pool guru Ian Fyffe, builder Ron Friedman, landscaper Michael Derrig, and interior designer Zoe Hoare. Read on for highlights of their up-front conversation about what’s new in the backyard.

What does outdoor living mean to your clients?
Mala Sander:
If I were to show two houses, one with beautiful outdoor living spaces already set up and one that was just grass and a pool, they’d be like, “Wait, where’s the patio, where’s the outdoor fireplace and kitchen?” Even if that one was priced less, most would go for the one that was already done, because it reflects how they see themselves living in the Hamptons.
Michael Derrig: Husbands, especially, will say, “I don’t go inside. I stay outside under the pool house or arbor. I spend all my time here. I shower here.” It’s amazing how much time they spend in the backyard.
Tim O’Connor: A lot of clients want bigger doors that open up, so inside and outside intersect. Every chance they get, it’s like, “Where are the exits? How quickly can you get out?”

What about the idea of outdoor “rooms”?
MD:
People need to be concerned about overprogramming them with pizza ovens and grills and fire pits. I try to make them disappear in a green landscape.
Ian Fyffe: I don’t want to see all that stuff until I want to use it. MS: But some people do. It’s part of the prestige of having those things.
TO: It’s a trophy to people.
MD: That’s too bad. You gotta try and educate them that it’s not a good look.

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A recent spa project in Southampton from Ian Fyffe’s Harbor Hot Tubs and Sparkling Pools.

What are people spending on these things now?
MD:
A lot of money.
TO: It’s not an afterthought anymore.
Zoe Hoare: Yes, it’s not going down to Kmart and picking out a few blue-and-white waterproof cushions. Now you go to your decorator and say, “I want performance outdoor fabrics, and I want trim, and I want some tassels, because my Fendi handbag has tassels, so I want to go bohemian outside.” Performance fabrics are as fashion-forward as fabrics we live with indoors, fabrics we wear.
Ron Friedman: For one house, we just ordered all cushionless outdoor lounges and couches.
ZH: I don’t like the sound of that!
RF: It’s very soft, almost like a mesh but very comfortable. Your body leans into it.
MS: By the pool, when you get out wet, you get on that and it doesn’t matter.
IF: With pool covers, they’re [using] some of those fabrics instead of that pleather finish. And a self-contained hot tub doesn’t have to be ugly.
RF: On most houses,…

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