Gerstle Tackles a Second Kips Bay Project

Melissa Gerstle, founder of Melissa Gerstle Design, is responsible for the enchanting outdoor entry of this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

The area, known as “The Garden Arrival,” has three sections: a center garden, a shade garden, and the front porch.

The repeat show house designer first did outdoor work on the 2020 house.

For the centerpiece of the 2023 house’s center garden, Gerstle wanted a “wow factor, and I knew we wanted to put a large-scale sculpture in that place.”

She chose as the centerpiece of the center garden a sculpture by Carolyn Salas and sourced by Lea Weingarten. It depicts a woman running from a chaotic place to find serenity. 

Seating and a 10-foot-tall hedge surround the sculpture to provide a space of peace for visitors.

The shade garden provides a second gathering area enclosed by mass plantings and illuminated by lanterns of various sizes. It also leads to the terrace designed by Todd Events.

“As part of the overall design, we really wanted to pay attention to the site itself, and that meant responding to the large-scale trees, which are really magnificent, on the lot,” Gerstle said. 

Gerstle pointed out the “striking plant palette” that contributed to her work at the house.

“We focused a lot on textures and forms and how the plants play off of each other as well as the dynamic of the sun and light situation there,” she said.

Gerstle’s front porch design features plants along the foundation of the black-painted house’s brick facade. She focused on geometry and texture for the sculptural foreground against the house’s backdrop.

Her design firm focuses on outdoor landscaping, with most of her clients in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow.

“I call it ‘effortless outdoor living,’ and our tagline is also ‘rooted in beauty,’” Gerstle said. “For us, that’s all about creating function and beauty outside, so spaces really work for the functions that we want.”

The 20-plus-year Park Cities resident got into design 15 years ago after working in business marketing.

“In my prior career, I was creating a lot of strategies and ideas and concepts,” she said.

Instead, Gerstle wanted to create something physical and tackle projects she could see through to fruition.

“That really drew me to landscape architecture,” she said. “I love to be challenged. I love to try new things and to expand on what we do.”

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