An Artist’s Touch: Pierre and Anne de Villeméjane’s Scardale Home
Sculptor and painter Anne de Villeméjane’s vision for her family’s home leaned towards a contemporary vibe, executed flawlessly with a serene aesthetic and the couple’s collection of various objets d’art.
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She and Pierre turned to Robert Welsch, the Tarrytown-based owner of Westover Landscape Design. Robert is himself is an artist of sorts—he paints with plants—and he took his cues from Anne’s clean aesthetic.
“There’s this concept that landscape designers and architects have, called genus loci,” he explains. “It’s the spirit of the place. If you can quiet yourself and come onto a property, you’re getting information from the space. And, if you listen, the space tells you what it wants to be.”
The de Villeméjane property told him this: Keep it simple but sophisticated, soothing, with clean lines and a limited palette. Anne told him that, too. “I didn’t want color all over the place,” she says. “When I paint, I never use more than three colors; it’s kind of a rule for me.” Texture was key as well. Whether she is painting or sculpting, she applies various media: images ripped from magazines, metal mesh, even hardware items like washers (“My dream place is Home Depot—I can spend hours there”).
Robert listened. His approved design “was about quiet statements, quiet colors,” he says. “We concentrated on green on green. We concentrated on whites. I took a lot of cues from the artwork in the house, from their own color palette, to create an outdoor space that reflected their sensibilities. There’s no fussy topiary, no crimped and pruned boxwoods. There are not a lot of hot colors. It’s loose and flowing and elegant, and that’s achieved by a limited plant palette and a very tight color story.”
The courtyard garden, situated off a bricked entry breezeway that leads to the front door, is a case in point. A lovely Fullmoon Maple is anchored by Japanese forest grass, which has lime-green variegated leaves, and Heuchera "Plum Puddings," a shade plant with purple ruffled leaves. “When it’s in bloom, the Japanese forest grass looks like a river, so we get that feeling of water,” Robert says. “It became the motif throughout the garden, so that it is almost like a string of pearls that ties everything together elegantly. It has a lovely, flowing look, and it looks great, no matter the time of year.”
There are visual treats at every turn. A Japanese Snowbell tree, which bursts into droopy white blossoms in spring, stands outside Anne’s studio. Robert added more bamboo as screens, including the garden’s bright spot, a seating area off the master bedroom with two mango-colored chairs. “Those chairs would be wrong anywhere else in the garden, but it’s a quiet, tucked-away space. Even when there’s snow, the garden is speaking, with the evergreen bamboo and this bright pop of color of the chairs.”