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Real Estate
Scientists Say You Can Cancel the Noise but Keep Your Window Open

Car alarms, jackhammers, a drunken argument and the rumble of the No. 7 train passing overhead. It is the glorious urban symphony that pours into a typical New York City apartment building day and night.Sure, closing the window can help, but there goes your natural ventilation.What if there were technology to cancel the offending clamor, like a pair of giant noise-canceling headphones for your apartment?Researchers in Singapore have developed an apparatus that can be placed in a window to reduce incoming sound by 10 decibels. The system was created by a team of scientists, including Masaharu Nishimura, who came up with the basic concept, and Bhan Lam, a researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.“I grew up in Singapore,” Dr. Lam said in a Zoom interview from his apartment there. “It’s a small city with a lot of noise, so I have some motivation to solve this problem.”Their results were published on Thursday in Scientific Reports. The prototype is not yet the most practical device in real world conditions, but it points the way toward the development of technologies that may help ease the strain of noisy city living.Borrowing from the same technological principles used in noise-canceling headphones, the team expanded the concept to fit an entire room by placing 24 small speakers in a window. The speakers emit sound waves that correspond to the incoming racket and neutralize it — or, at least some of it.ImageCredit…NTU SingaporeThe system is based on the frequency of the sound waves and, for now, the optimal range is between 300 and 1,000 hertz.In Singapore, a city near the Equator where temperatures are often high, overlapping transportation systems and the desire for natural ventilation in modern high-rise apartment towers can pose a healthy-living conundrum.Dr. Lam explained that “in places like Singapore, we want to keep the windows open as much as possible” to reduce the use of carbon-intensive air-conditioners and to prevent buildup of stale air that can pose health risks for some people.But with windows open, the constant din from city traffic, trains, jets passing overhead and construction equipment can rattle apartments. The Anti-Noise Control Window, as it is called, is the sonic equivalent of shutting a window.With any sound, the best way to reduce it is at the source, like a gun’s silencer. So the researchers treated the window aperture itself as the noise source, because most noise enters a room that way.The system uses a microphone outside the window to detect the repeating sound waves of the offending noise source, which is registered by a computer controller. That in turn deciphers the proper wave frequency needed to neutralize the sound, which is transmitted to the array of speakers on the inside of the window frame.The speakers then emit the proper “anti” waves, which cancel out the incoming waves, and there you have it: near blissful silence.“If you sit in the room, you get that same feeling like when you flick on the switch of noise-canceling earphones,” Dr. Lam said, splaying his hands to denote the calming effect.The system is best at attenuating the audible blasts from the types of steady noise sources found within the optimal frequency range.Unfortunately, human voices do not fit within most of that range. One of the next hurdles will be to find a way to silence loud conversations from across the way.Another limitation is that the system is not good at neutralizing sporadic noises, like firecrackers, car horns or the occasional earsplitting crash of metal storefront shutters — the kinds of noises that drive many New Yorkers to slam their windows shut.One reason for the limitation on frequency is the size of the speakers. To cancel out lower frequencies would require larger bass speakers. But those would interfere with ventilation and your ability to see through the window.It’s a trade-off, and one solution might be installing larger windows, or discovering a way to make it work with smaller speakers.As it is, the 24 speakers, each about 2 inches in diameter, are a bit of an aesthetic hindrance.“One complaint that we get is that it’s ugly,” Dr. Lam said.But if it can neutralize the sound of the jet taking off from Runway 13 at LaGuardia, that is (soft) music to the ears.

Real Estate
Moving to New York During the Pandemic

By bridge and parkway, to country spreads and childhood bedrooms, and for short stays and permanent moves, tens of thousands of residents have streamed out of New York City over the past few months to escape the pandemic.But some buyers and renters have zigged while others zagged. They spent the spring snapping up apartments — unfazed by apocalyptic headlines and convinced that New York’s problems are temporary,“I’ve had people say to me, ‘New York? Are you nuts?’” said Leigh Selting, 60, a theater professor from Wyoming who recently bought a two-bedroom co-op in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Manhattan for his retirement. “But I am kind of a forward-looking person. And I find the resilience of New York to be attractive.”Mr. Selting isn’t the only arrival with a counterintuitive, rosier-than-might-be-expected view. Nearly 700 buyers — some from as far away as California, China and Brazil — have signed contracts for homes in Manhattan since April, according to market data.ImageLeigh Selting, a drama professor and actor from Wyoming, on the set of a movie last year. Mr. Selting recently bought a co-op in Manhattan.Credit…Makala BuszekAnd while that is a historically small group of buyers, it may offer a window into next-generation New York. Ballroom-dancing teachers, designers and neurologists — the kind of diverse and dynamic mix the city has always drawn — have arrived to replace those who have fled for good.In Hell’s Kitchen, a one-bedroom co-op, listed for $2,150 a month when the previous tenant left the city because of the coronavirus, helped fulfill a dream for Paul Swaine.A ballroom-dance instructor from St. Petersburg, Fla., Mr. Swaine, 56, had long fantasized about performing a waltz or rumba at the Rainbow Room, the glamorous restaurant atop Rockefeller Center. But the real motivational kick came in 2017, when Mr. Swaine took on side work as a flight attendant for New York-based JetBlue Airways, which meant spending some nights at a company crash pad in Queens.So excited was Mr. Swaine to get here that he sold his Florida condo and leased a Manhattan apartment sight unseen. But since arriving in May amid stay-at-home orders, he hasn’t had many opportunities to sample the city’s nightlife. With gyms and dance studios closed, his plans to offer dance classes will also have to wait.“It’s sad to see everything closed down, but it is what it is,” Mr. Swaine said. “You have to like New York for its warts and all.”Also seemingly able to reconcile a romanticized vision of the city with the grittier reality is Rosabel R. Young, 60, a neurologist from Redlands, Calif., who has signed a contract for an all-cash purchase of a one-bedroom condo in Battery Park City.The apartment, which has a pass-through kitchen and three closets, was most recently listed at $549,000, after originally being listed in September for $575,000.Dr. Young has fond memories of a trip to the United Nations as a young child in 1964, when her family lived in New Jersey before her father, who was in the Army, moved them to Spain for a more permanent assignment.Decades later, while attending a medical conference in New York, she found herself waiting in line for 45 minutes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a Marc Chagall exhibit. “I thought, ‘Boy, I must really like New York,’” she said.In some ways, art has brought her back. Dr. Young, who works with people with brain injuries, founded a nonprofit group that encourages patients to paint, to aid their recovery. To raise money for the nonprofit, Dr. Young has sold some of those paintings at a gallery she owns in Barcelona, Spain. New York galleries, she hopes, might one day be interested in the pieces, too.A widow who lives on a five-acre farm in the company of dogs, birds and bees, Dr. Young understands the recent urge to flee New York. Still, like a person who develops new skills after a bad blow to the head, she said, the city will find ways to cope.“The culture is not going away,” Dr. Young said. “Even if you cut the number of coffee shops and restaurants in half, you will still have the people, and the people are the culture.”Many alighting in New York for the first time believe the city will rebound just as it did after Sept. 11, 2001, despite forecasts of a doomed metropolis.But that analogy goes only so far, said Jonathan Jossen, 62, who was working on Wall Street when the Twin Towers fell and is now a salesman with the brokerage Triplemint.Some buyers are so skittish that they are willing to break a deal even if it means taking a major financial hit, said Mr. Jossen, who had a client walk away from a $125,000 deposit for a two-bedroom condo when coronavirus cases spiked in March. “They were completely spooked,” he said. “A lot of people are walking away.”But Mr. Jossen, who has stayed in his apartment in Manhattan for most of the lockdown instead of heading to his weekend house in Fire Island, noted that banks haven’t seized up like they did 19 years ago. “They’re still lending,” he said. “There hasn’t been a financial shock yet.”It can be difficult to tell if the sales market is being weighed down by artificial forces — namely, a state mandate that banned in-person showings for several months — or if buyers simply aren’t game.But a sharp drop-off is clear. Between Apr. 1 and June 30, buyers signed 696 contracts for condos, co-ops and townhouses in Manhattan, according to GS Data Services, a research company. That represents a 78 percent drop from the same period in 2019, when there were 3,229 signings. Prices appear softer, too. Apartments in contract went for an average of $1.83 million, down from $2.1 million in 2019, according to GS Data — a 13 percent drop.Of course, not all the recent buyers are new blood. Dozens of those who signed contracts in the last quarter appear to hail from the same buildings in which they bought, brokers say, or just around the corner, meaning they knew their targets well.ImageHaldun Mutlu on Broadway in Greenwich Village, near his new apartment building.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York TimesWhen the lockdown began, Haldun Mutlu, 29, who works in finance, suddenly had a lot of free time on his hands. So he began researching apartments that were bigger than the studio rental in Greenwich Village where he has lived for two years.A one-bedroom condop with a breakfast bar and western exposure listed at $850,000, just down the street, caught his eye. The ban on showings made it impossible to see. But Mr. Mutlu remembered visiting the building years ago, as a student at New York University, and that was enough.Like London and Amsterdam, New York may not continue be as dominant as it once was. But “cities are always going to exist, because people will always want to feel part of something bigger,” Mr. Mutlu said. “And when New York comes back, all those people who went to the suburbs will have a fear of missing out and want to move back.”The multiday demonstrations against the death of George Floyd in early June gave Mr. Mutlu some pause, as he watched looters smash the windows of the banks that line his new building’s ground floor. “It was scary enough that the thought did cross my mind that it might be time to get out,” he said. Nonetheless, he hopes to finalize his purchase in August.Mr. Selting, the theater professor, took the protests in stride as he watched them on television from Laramie, Wyo., where he has taught for more than three decades. As a child, he grew up in a Nebraska town with fewer than 1,000 residents, although he has lived in New York as well, including a stretch in the 1980s as an actor.“Protests are part of living in a city,” said Mr. Selting, who signed his contract this winter, pre-pandemic, and after several delays closed in June.The city will have time to settle down before he and his wife, Marsha Fay Knight, a ballet professor, retire here in a few years. Until then, the $765,000 unit with its Hudson River views will be home to their son Nicholas, formerly of Astoria, Queens.Other parent-child arrangements also buoyed the spring market. Erin Lichter, 24, an architect, joined with her San Diego family to buy a one-bedroom penthouse with a terrace in a Midtown East condop. Most recently listed for $885,000, the unit has yet to close. “We saw this as an investment opportunity,” Ms. Lichter said.Ms. Lichter, who has rented a studio for three years, has been tempted to move to Boston, where many friends live. But a Covid-related job keeps her here: She is working with corporate clients like JPMorgan Chase and Savanna to figure out how to create more social distance between desks.Because she is “a little grandma at heart” and not much of a night owl, Ms. Lichter isn’t worried that New York’s bar scene and nightlife may be altered forever. Still, “this will be a major cultural shift for New York,” she said. “This used to be the city that never sleeps.”Some of the newest New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting a time when that is true again, the city is fully reopened and they are able to head back to their offices.Mallory Gagliano, 22, who does digital marketing for brands like AT&T, recently moved into an apartment with a friend so she could be closer to her job in Murray Hill, although she has been working from home.After graduating from college last year, Ms. Gagliano had been living at home with her parents in Suffolk County, and her commute involved a Long Island Rail Road train and two subways. The thought of crowding in with passengers again made her uneasy, so she and Briana Sierp, 24, a sorority sister from SUNY Oneonta who works for a medical device company, ramped up an existing plan to find a place in the city together.In May, the friends moved into a two-bedroom in a walk-up on East 49th Street that cost $2,595 a month, with a bonus free month of rent, although they had seen it only in a video. The dining table has been serving as Ms. Gagliano’s office, and probably will throughout the summer. But she hopes that her job, and the city, will soon regain a semblance of its usual self.“I realize I am living in a pivotal time in the world,” she said. “Things are going to change, and we are on the forefront of it. And that’s interesting to think about. But I think New York will always be worth it.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
Left Behind as the World Reopens

ImageCredit…Trisha KraussSummer is typically tourist season in Mendocino County, a region of Redwood forests and breathtaking seaside cliffs about 160 miles up the California coast from San Francisco. But Devi Genuone, a musician who lives in the area, sees little to celebrate as stores and streets have filled with visitors, few of them wearing masks.Instead, she sees only risk.Many people may be done staying at home, but Ms. Genuone, 43, is not. She has multiple sclerosis, putting her at higher risk for complications from Covid-19. As the country reopens and coronavirus cases surge in California and other states, she finds herself retreating further into her home.“When I go into town, I’m strapping in for battle,” said Ms. Genuone, who lives with her partner, Michael Eyermann, in a small cabin on a 21-acre wooded property in Willits, Calif.A few weeks ago, she was beginning to pump her own gas again, and felt safe enough picking up her prescriptions at Safeway. Now, with roads full of cars with out-of-state license plates and locals planning summer gatherings, she’s only willing to go to Mariposa Market, an organic grocer that requires customers to wear masks.“My concern is escalating,” she said. “I feel forgotten.”Ms. Genuone is among the millions of Americans who have or live with loved ones at higher risk for complications from Covid-19 because of pre-existing conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart and lung diseases. For these Americans, the reopening has signaled the start of an uncertain period in the pandemic. As friends, family and neighbors make plans for barbecues and beach trips against a backdrop of rising cases in hot spots around the country, interacting with them becomes a riskier proposition than it was a few weeks earlier when most people were staying home and limiting social contacts.In early March, when California enacted stay-at-home orders, Ms. Genuone and a group of her neighbors agreed to follow strict social-distancing rules to protect one another. Because of the arrangement, Ms. Genuone felt comfortable enough to rely on a group she called her “quarenteam” to help with the chores that come with living in a rural, mountainous area, like chopping firewood.But now she is no longer confident that others are taking the same precautions as before, even as Gov. Gavin Newsom and local Mendocino authorities rushed to reimpose restrictions ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. “I don’t see anybody continuing to socially distance,” she said.Although Ms. Genuone said her neighbors didn’t have any holiday parties, she worried that others in the area had. So she is now self isolating with Mr. Eyermann, 47, who works in fire abatement, tending to her garden, practicing yoga and composing music at home. “I am now nervous to go anywhere as a result,” she said. “Online will be my only outlet for music performances for awhile.”For months, Americans engaged in a shared collective quarantine. Sourdough starters and banana bread recipes trended on Instagram. TikTok filled with quirky videos of families shamelessly performing dance routines. And who among us didn’t have an opinion about the fate of Carole Baskin’s husband in the “The Tiger King” documentary on Netflix? The world was at home together, sporting overgrown haircuts and badly chipped manicures.But now, with bars and restaurants reopening to various degrees, Instagram is once again the venue to show off the contents of your dinner plate or the orange tinge of your Aperol spritz on a night out. Facebook feeds are often full of happy reunion photos of families and friends in backyards and at beaches.People who consider themselves low risk for complications from infection could still get seriously ill, or pass the disease onto someone more vulnerable, yet that has not proved to be enough of a deterrent to keep many of them home. Beaches are packed, vacation homes are booked, and those itching to travel are crisscrossing the country in recreational vehicles, bidding adieu to those long months spent in lockdown.And so, two worlds are emerging: the people still staying home, and those who’ve decided they’ve had enough.For those who cannot risk going out, “there is a feeling of helplessness, like what else is going to limit my life?” said Anne Marie Albano, the director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. “It’s going to heighten in a very real way their feelings of loneliness, estrangement and guilt.”Phyliss DiLorenzo, 62, who lives in Jersey City, N.J., and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, administers a Facebook support group for people with the disease. The conversations among members have been fraught, with some worried they won’t be able to leave their homes until a vaccine is developed. “It’s been a roller coaster,” she said.Ms. DiLorenzo lives with her husband in a small one-bedroom apartment, and as Jersey City has opened up, the narrow sidewalks outside her building have gotten crowded, making it more difficult for her to socially distance outside. “It’s sort of a double-edged sword,” she said. “Part of me wishes I could partake in it. On the other side, I’m anxious about it.”For Jen Singer, a writer and cancer survivor in Red Bank, N.J., the loosening of stay-at-home orders has cut her off from her favorite place, the beach. She lives just five miles from Seabright State Beach, but since early June, it has been packed, and she has seen few people wearing masks.”I’ve thought about going to the beach really early in the morning,” she said. “But I know I will spend my time looking over my shoulder looking at people coming in and feeling scared.”In April, Ms. Singer, 53, received a pacemaker after being diagnosed with a heart blockage and heart failure. At the hospital, she tested positive for Covid-19, which she believes she contracted in February when she had bronchitis-like symptoms. Although she recovered from the initial infection in a few weeks, her doctors believe the disease may have also attacked her heart. “It’s like the velociraptor in Jurassic Park — it just finds your weakness,” she said of the virus.Three months later, she still does not have normal heart function, and worries about the possibility of getting reinfected with coronavirus. So, she’s staying mostly indoors, and hasn’t been to a store since April. Her sons, both in their early 20s, are back home with her and taking the same precautions. “We have food delivered from a local market,” she said. “We get pizza once a week from a local pizzeria. I don’t go anywhere except for my doctor’s office.”For the most part, Ms. Singer does not mind the arrangement. As a writing coach, she’s able to speak daily with clients. And her sons see their friends over Zoom. What she misses, she says, are the casual encounters with strangers, the small talk at the grocery store.On a recent walk around her neighborhood, she passed a mother pushing a baby in a stroller. “I could tell she’d had one of those days,” Ms. Singer recalled. “She said, ‘Wave to the nice lady!’ and I waved back and I almost started crying because I miss human contact.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
Brave New Arrivals

By bridge and parkway, to country spreads and childhood bedrooms, and for short stays and permanent moves, tens of thousands of residents have streamed out of New York City over the past few months to escape the pandemic.But some buyers and renters have zigged while others zagged. They spent the spring snapping up apartments — unfazed by apocalyptic headlines and convinced that New York’s problems are temporary,“I’ve had people say to me, ‘New York? Are you nuts?’” said Leigh Selting, 60, a theater professor from Wyoming who recently bought a two-bedroom co-op in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Manhattan for his retirement. “But I am kind of a forward-looking person. And I find the resilience of New York to be attractive.”Mr. Selting isn’t the only arrival with a counterintuitive, rosier-than-might-be-expected view. Nearly 700 buyers — some from as far away as California, China and Brazil — have signed contracts for homes in Manhattan since April, according to market data.ImageLeigh Selting, a drama professor and actor from Wyoming, on the set of a movie last year. Mr. Selting recently bought a co-op in Manhattan.Credit…Makala BuszekAnd while that is a historically small group of buyers, it may offer a window into next-generation New York. Ballroom-dancing teachers, designers and neurologists — the kind of diverse and dynamic mix the city has always drawn — have arrived to replace those who have fled for good.In Hell’s Kitchen, a one-bedroom co-op, listed for $2,150 a month when the previous tenant left the city because of the coronavirus, helped fulfill a dream for Paul Swaine.A ballroom-dance instructor from St. Petersburg, Fla., Mr. Swaine, 56, had long fantasized about performing a waltz or rumba at the Rainbow Room, the glamorous restaurant atop Rockefeller Center. But the real motivational kick came in 2017, when Mr. Swaine took on side work as a flight attendant for New York-based JetBlue Airways, which meant spending some nights at a company crash pad in Queens.So excited was Mr. Swaine to get here that he sold his Florida condo and leased a Manhattan apartment sight unseen. But since arriving in May amid stay-at-home orders, he hasn’t had many opportunities to sample the city’s nightlife. With gyms and dance studios closed, his plans to offer dance classes will also have to wait.“It’s sad to see everything closed down, but it is what it is,” Mr. Swaine said. “You have to like New York for its warts and all.”Also seemingly able to reconcile a romanticized vision of the city with the grittier reality is Rosabel R. Young, 60, a neurologist from Redlands, Calif., who has signed a contract for an all-cash purchase of a one-bedroom condo in Battery Park City.The apartment, which has a pass-through kitchen and three closets, was most recently listed at $549,000, after originally being listed in September for $575,000.Dr. Young has fond memories of a trip to the United Nations as a young child in 1964, when her family lived in New Jersey before her father, who was in the Army, moved them to Spain for a more permanent assignment.Decades later, while attending a medical conference in New York, she found herself waiting in line for 45 minutes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a Marc Chagall exhibit. “I thought, ‘Boy, I must really like New York,’” she said.In some ways, art has brought her back. Dr. Young, who works with people with brain injuries, founded a nonprofit group that encourages patients to paint, to aid their recovery. To raise money for the nonprofit, Dr. Young has sold some of those paintings at a gallery she owns in Barcelona, Spain. New York galleries, she hopes, might one day be interested in the pieces, too.A widow who lives on a five-acre farm in the company of dogs, birds and bees, Dr. Young understands the recent urge to flee New York. Still, like a person who develops new skills after a bad blow to the head, she said, the city will find ways to cope.“The culture is not going away,” Dr. Young said. “Even if you cut the number of coffee shops and restaurants in half, you will still have the people, and the people are the culture.”Many alighting in New York for the first time believe the city will rebound just as it did after Sept. 11, 2001, despite forecasts of a doomed metropolis.But that analogy goes only so far, said Jonathan Jossen, 62, who was working on Wall Street when the Twin Towers fell and is now a salesman with the brokerage Triplemint.Some buyers are so skittish that they are willing to break a deal even if it means taking a major financial hit, said Mr. Jossen, who had a client walk away from a $125,000 deposit for a two-bedroom condo when coronavirus cases spiked in March. “They were completely spooked,” he said. “A lot of people are walking away.”But Mr. Jossen, who has stayed in his apartment in Manhattan for most of the lockdown instead of heading to his weekend house in Fire Island, noted that banks haven’t seized up like they did 19 years ago. “They’re still lending,” he said. “There hasn’t been a financial shock yet.”It can be difficult to tell if the sales market is being weighed down by artificial forces — namely, a state mandate that banned in-person showings for several months — or if buyers simply aren’t game.But a sharp drop-off is clear. Between Apr. 1 and June 30, buyers signed 696 contracts for condos, co-ops and townhouses in Manhattan, according to GS Data Services, a research company. That represents a 78 percent drop from the same period in 2019, when there were 3,229 signings. Prices appear softer, too. Apartments in contract went for an average of $1.83 million, down from $2.1 million in 2019, according to GS Data — a 13 percent drop.Of course, not all the recent buyers are new blood. Dozens of those who signed contracts in the last quarter appear to hail from the same buildings in which they bought, brokers say, or just around the corner, meaning they knew their targets well.ImageHaldun Mutlu on Broadway in Greenwich Village, near his new apartment building.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York TimesWhen the lockdown began, Haldun Mutlu, 29, who works in finance, suddenly had a lot of free time on his hands. So he began researching apartments that were bigger than the studio rental in Greenwich Village where he has lived for two years.A one-bedroom condop with a breakfast bar and western exposure listed at $850,000, just down the street, caught his eye. The ban on showings made it impossible to see. But Mr. Mutlu remembered visiting the building years ago, as a student at New York University, and that was enough.Like London and Amsterdam, New York may not continue be as dominant as it once was. But “cities are always going to exist, because people will always want to feel part of something bigger,” Mr. Mutlu said. “And when New York comes back, all those people who went to the suburbs will have a fear of missing out and want to move back.”The multiday demonstrations against the death of George Floyd in early June gave Mr. Mutlu some pause, as he watched looters smash the windows of the banks that line his new building’s ground floor. “It was scary enough that the thought did cross my mind that it might be time to get out,” he said. Nonetheless, he hopes to finalize his purchase in August.Mr. Selting, the theater professor, took the protests in stride as he watched them on television from Laramie, Wyo., where he has taught for more than three decades. As a child, he grew up in a Nebraska town with fewer than 1,000 residents, although he has lived in New York as well, including a stretch in the 1980s as an actor.“Protests are part of living in a city,” said Mr. Selting, who signed his contract this winter, pre-pandemic, and after several delays closed in June.The city will have time to settle down before he and his wife, Marsha Fay Knight, a ballet professor, retire here in a few years. Until then, the $765,000 unit with its Hudson River views will be home to their son Nicholas, formerly of Astoria, Queens.Other parent-child arrangements also buoyed the spring market. Erin Lichter, 24, an architect, joined with her San Diego family to buy a one-bedroom penthouse with a terrace in a Midtown East condop. Most recently listed for $885,000, the unit has yet to close. “We saw this as an investment opportunity,” Ms. Lichter said.Ms. Lichter, who has rented a studio for three years, has been tempted to move to Boston, where many friends live. But a Covid-related job keeps her here: She is working with corporate clients like JPMorgan Chase and Savanna to figure out how to create more social distance between desks.Because she is “a little grandma at heart” and not much of a night owl, Ms. Lichter isn’t worried that New York’s bar scene and nightlife may be altered forever. Still, “this will be a major cultural shift for New York,” she said. “This used to be the city that never sleeps.”Some of the newest New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting a time when that is true again, the city is fully reopened and they are able to head back to their offices.Mallory Gagliano, 22, who does digital marketing for brands like AT&T, recently moved into an apartment with a friend so she could be closer to her job in Murray Hill, although she has been working from home.After graduating from college last year, Ms. Gagliano had been living at home with her parents in Suffolk County, and her commute involved a Long Island Rail Road train and two subways. The thought of crowding in with passengers again made her uneasy, so she and Briana Sierp, 24, a sorority sister from SUNY Oneonta who works for a medical device company, ramped up an existing plan to find a place in the city together.In May, the friends moved into a two-bedroom in a walk-up on East 49th Street that cost $2,595 a month, with a bonus free month of rent, although they had seen it only in a video. The dining table has been serving as Ms. Gagliano’s office, and probably will throughout the summer. But she hopes that her job, and the city, will soon regain a semblance of its usual self.“I realize I am living in a pivotal time in the world,” she said. “Things are going to change, and we are on the forefront of it. And that’s interesting to think about. But I think New York will always be worth it.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
Homes for Sale in Brooklyn and Manhattan

Click on the slide show to see this week’s featured properties:In Windsor Terrace, a bright and airy, one-bedroom, one-bath, corner apartment, with high ceilings, restored moldings, hardwood floors, two large closets, a dining nook and an enclosed kitchen, in a 17-unit, prewar building with basement storage and a large shared backyard.In Hudson Heights, a one-bedroom, one-bath, 900-square-foot apartment, with a sunken living room, windows in every room and river views, in the rear of a 14-story, prewar, doorman building with laundry and a shared roof deck.In the East Village, a one-bedroom, one-bath, 1,000-square-foot, duplex apartment, with a below-grade level that could function as an office or extra sleeping quarters, and a private outdoor patio, in a 22-unit, prewar building with an elevator and laundry.Additional reporting by Kim Velsey.For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
At Home, With a Long List of Needed Repairs

While we’re stuck inside during the pandemic, it’s easy to find things that need improvement at home — from emergency repairs to ugly kitchens. So it’s little surprise that many Americans are taking on renovation projects. First quarter 2020 sales were up 7.1 percent at Home Depot and 11.2 percent at Lowe’s compared with the first quarter of 2019. Interest in our own articles about organizing, D.I.Y. renovation and interior design also attests to the trend.How are people paying for all this as the economy turns south? In many cases, by borrowing. According to LendingTree, applications for personal loans to help finance home-improvement projects were up 7.8 percent in the first week of June over the same period last year.In a survey of 1,236 customers who applied for a personal loan for home improvement between Jan. 1 and June 1, LendingTree found that a third of respondents cited the pandemic as the reason. According to the survey, 25 percent of the loan applicants needed money for home or appliance repair emergencies, 27 percent needed money for nonemergency renovations, 3 percent wanted (not needed) new appliances or furniture, and 45 percent fell in the “other” category.This week’s charts show how survey participants who were approved for their loans spent the money, both for emergency and nonemergency home projects.

Real Estate
New York Rents Fall as Vacancies Rise

The coronavirus lockdown has hit New York City’s rental market hard, driving Manhattan vacancy rates to their highest level in 14 years and pushing the number of June new lease signings to the lowest level seen in a decade, according to a new report from the brokerage Douglas Elliman.In late June, after roughly three months of coronavirus lockdown and after thousands of New York renters left the city to shelter elsewhere, real estate brokers started showing apartments to prospective renters again, a shift that many landlords were optimistic would revive the spring’s sluggish rental market. But the latest numbers show that vacancy rates are now at 3.67 percent compared to 1.61 percent in June 2019.Manhattan median rental prices, meanwhile, dipped 4.8 percent compared to June of last year, to $3,378 a month, wiping out the increases of the last few years. Concessions were up, too, both in the percentage of listings offering them and the amount of the concession. “The shutdown basically froze pricing at March/April levels,” said Jonathan Miller, a New York appraiser and the author of the report. “When a market is shut down for safety concerns, there is very little transparency. The reopening the last eight days of June were too short to really have an impact on monthly results, but more weakness in the market will be revealed when transparency increases.”The reopening allowed in-person property showings and persuaded many landlords to list properties last month, hopeful that pent-up demand would drive lease signings. In Manhattan, listing inventory jumped 84.7 percent compared to June of 2019, with 10,789 rental properties hitting the market. But renters aren’t biting, at least not yet: just 3,171 new leases were signed, down 35.6 percent compared to 2019.Gary Malin, chief operating officer of the Corcoran Group, pointed out that there would naturally be some lag time between a listings surge and new lease signings, especially because the reopening happened right before the Fourth of July. But, he added, there was no denying that the coronavirus had been a “shock to the system.”“The June rental data should not come as a surprise to anyone,” said Mr. Malin. “For the last three months we could only do virtual showings.” There is also uncertainty because start dates for many new jobs have shifted while others have been told they can continue to work from home at least until Labor Day. “The market has to reset itself.”Still, given the imbalance in the market, that reset will almost certainly accelerate what have, to many renters’ disappointment, so far been very minor price adjustments and concessions.John Walkup of UrbanDigs, a real estate data firm, said nearly 1,500 new Manhattan listings came on the market the week of the reopening, about 500 more than you’d see in a normal June. “And while we’ve seen a slow but steady increase in leases signed, it’s low compared to last year, so the question is ‘What will happen with that excess inventory?’ ”“Everything is supply and demand,” said Mr. Malin. “And there’s a lot of supply but much less demand. Now that everyone is beginning to see what is out there, owners will modify their prices. But most landlords are not going to make a quick decision to do a big price cut. They’ll see what the numbers are, what the traffic is like, what the offers are.”In Queens, median rental prices in June were down 5.7 percent year over year, to $2,700 a month, according to Douglas Elliman. Brooklyn rental prices were essentially flat, but there were more and deeper concessions in each borough and they showed the same imbalance as Manhattan, with huge increases in new listings and annual declines in new leases.While lease signings are expected to pick up in July, that may not extend to all segments of the market. Larger, luxury apartments, for example, saw some of the biggest price drops over the last few months, a phenomenon Mr. Miller attributed to the high-end market being more mobile. And wealthy New Yorkers who left the city when the pandemic hit and are comfortably ensconced in country homes for the summer are unlikely to rush back to sign new leases before fall.It’s too soon to know how many of those who left the city will relocate permanently, but the ongoing uncertainty of the coronavirus situation — especially the announcement on Wednesday that the city’s public schools would open only part-time in the fall — may mean that other renters will delay their apartment hunts as well, especially if they have the flexibility to do so and don’t find the current rental prices compelling.“It’s certainly not a strong or normal market by any stretch of the imagination. Prices are falling, concessions are rising, the amount of concessions are rising,” said Mr. Miller. “Everything is weakening. In many ways, I think the rental market could be hit way bigger than the sales market.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
Westchester Home Sales Drop to Recession-Era Lows

The coronavirus severely hampered the spring sales market for homes in Westchester County, with the number of sales dropping by more than 27 percent in the last three months compared to the same period last year, the largest decline recorded in 11 years.Home sales in Westchester fell off significantly in April and May, but picked up once brokers were allowed to start showing homes in person again in June. Sales volume also declined farther north in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, according to quarterly reports released by Douglas Elliman. The number of contracts signed in Westchester jumped from 801 in May to 1,215 in June, an increase of 53 percent. The flurry of post-lockdown activity in June is a good sign, but the total is still 15 percent below the number for the same time last year.“What we saw this quarter was atypical,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants and the author of the report. “The surge suggests this outbound migration from the city is happening, but really this is a result of the market turning back on.”Brokers started seeing increased interest from city dwellers looking for more space to escape the pandemic in April and May. “We don’t know for sure, but part of the contract activity in this rebound is coming from new demand as people are looking at the suburbs as an alternative,” Mr. Miller said.Two of the biggest factors for New Yorkers looking to move north are the amount of acreage available in a listing and whether or not it includes a pool, said Scott Durkin, president of Douglas Elliman, noting that outdoor space and pools ranked as top search terms for Westchester and Hudson Valley properties on the Elliman website.“People are wondering if there’s a large exodus from the city and I don’t think there is,” Mr. Durkin said. “The silver lining of all this is that people realized they needed a weekend home, a second home, or a second-primary home.”Because of its size, proximity to Manhattan and the new inventory that hit the market in June, Westchester saw a slight increase in the median sales price of its listings with an 8 percent uptick over last year. The median price for single-family homes rose from $700,000 to $710,000, despite a steep drop in sales volume. Prices for single-family homes in Putnam County dipped slightly from last year as well, but Dutchess County saw a healthy increase, rising 6.6 percent from the second quarter of 2019.“I think further reaches from the city are ultimately going to benefit disproportionately,” said Mr. Miller, noting the strength of Putnam and Dutchess Counties over Westchester. “In Putnam, you had prices slip and a modest decline in sales activity, but we don’t really know how it will turn out. It’s not some defining moment for Putnam just yet.”The coronavirus lockdown may have stalled much of the spring market, but Mr. Durkin noted that the pre-pandemic market was on track to break records, with Elliman’s sales in the region up almost 30 percent over the previous year thanks to the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower interest rates on mortgages.Pent-up demand caused by the pandemic lockdown likely spurred the increased activity in June.“It will be interesting to see how the demand and supply get satiated in the coming months,” Mr. Miller said. “The question is whether we’ll continue the narrative of the boom in activity or whether we’ve just moved the seasons around a little bit.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
$650,000 Homes for Sale in Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia

What You Get for $650,00024 PhotosView Slide Show ›John F. Walsh Jr./Hearthtone Video and PhotoSt. Paul, Minn. | $624,900A 1924 Tudor Revival house with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, on a 5,793-square-foot lotThis home is in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, a few blocks east of the Mississippi River and about a mile north of Highland Village, a shopping and restaurant center in the adjacent Highland Park neighborhood. It is about midway (15 minutes in each direction) between downtown St. Paul to the northeast and central Minneapolis to the northwest.Size: 2,750 square feetPrice per square foot: $227Indoors: The owners bought the property seven years ago and made a number of improvements, including refreshing the kitchen and bathrooms, repainting the interior and landscaping the yards.The front door takes you into a narrow vestibule with a closet. Just beyond is a 23-foot-wide living room with a brick fireplace with Craftsman-style glass-front cabinets on either side topped by small casement windows. At the opposite end of the room is a sun parlor that has the same pale hardwood floors, gray walls and white-painted trim.The dining room, which lies straight ahead of the front door, has floor-to-ceiling china cabinets in two corners and French doors leading out to a backyard deck. It flows into a kitchen with simple white cabinets, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast nook. Next to it is a powder room with gray walls and white fixtures.A staircase rises from the dining area to a second-floor landing on which sliding-glass doors open to a three-season room. The three bedrooms on this level all have pale wood floors and closets with louvered doors. They share a renovated, subway-tiled bathroom with dark blue walls and a shower over a tub.The master suite is on the third floor. It has an angled ceiling, built-in cabinets, schoolhouse pendant lights (one with a fan) and a bathroom with double sinks, heated penny-round-tile floors, a stall shower and a walk-in closet more than 10 feet deep.There is also a basement with a family room and a game room with heated floors, a finished laundry room and a half bathroom.Outdoor space: The front yard includes garden beds and window boxes. Limestone steps walk down to a large brick patio in back surrounded by lawn. Parking is in a detached one-car garage.Taxes: $9,054 (2019, based on a tax assessment of $527,700)Contact: Lolly Salmen, Coldwell Banker Realty, 612-810-4138; coldwellbankerhomes.comImageCredit…Zeitlin Sotheby’s International RealtyNashville | $650,000An 1875 farmhouse house with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, on a 1.11-acre lotThis white clapboard house is in Davidson County, about 15 miles southeast of downtown and eight miles south of the airport. It was renovated in a 2016 project dramatized in the first season of the DIY Network series “Nashville Flipped.” It was long known as Farview Farm, as it is surrounded by 600 acres of undeveloped (but not protected) land. The current owner renamed the property Timshel Hall, after a passage in John Steinbeck’s novel “East of Eden” that interprets the Hebrew word “timshel” in the book of Genesis as “thou mayest,” the divine power of humans to choose their own course.Size: 2,346 square feetPrice per square foot: $277Indoors: The house was taken back to the studs and rebuilt without changing the historical footprint, with new HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems and thermally efficient windows.A pergola shelters the stone pathway to the front door. Turning left from the stair hall takes you into a living room with hardwood floors, gray walls with white trim and one of the home’s three relined wood-burning fireplaces.The adjacent dining room contains a second fireplace and adjoins an open kitchen with a pantry and a granite-topped breakfast bar (a farmhouse sink and dishwasher are discreetly integrated). Subway tile in a herringbone pattern lines the backsplash. A glass door opens from the dining room to a covered porch that runs alongside the house.The master bedroom is off the kitchen and echoes the high ceilings, crown moldings and gray-and-white palette of the other downstairs rooms. The en suite master bathroom includes a vanity with a cast-concrete top and double sinks, a pair of circular mirrors with fluted-metal frames, a claw-foot tub and a separate shower. The walk-in closet is lined in shelves, cabinets and cubbies.A small covered porch above the front entrance is entered from the second-floor landing. Both upstairs bedrooms have fireplaces (one works) and ample storage. The bedroom currently used as a study has built-in bookcases and direct access to a large covered balcony above the side porch. The upstairs bathroom includes tile flooring and a combined tub and shower.Outdoor space: The three porches have a total area of about 600 square feet. The long, rear pergola, wrapped in rose vines and jasmine, can shelter two dozen people. The property is fully fenced, draped in lighting and studded with mature oak trees. It has a firepit and no fewer than four water features. A long, 1,200-square-foot outbuilding could be used for parking.Taxes: $2,779 (based on an appraisal of $352,300)Contact: Stephen Carr, Sotheby’s International Realty, 615-415-5191; sothebysrealty.comImageCredit…HD BrosRichmond, Va. | $635,000A 1910 unattached rowhouse with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, on a 2,614-square-foot lotRenovated by the owners from top to bottom, this two-story brick house is in Upper Church Hill, a historic district that has experienced a revival in the last several years. It is surrounded by shops, bakeries, bars and houses of worship, and is within blocks of a string of parks, to the southwest. Downtown is less than two miles west (and downhill).Size: 2,980 square feetPrice per square foot: $213Indoors: A paneled front door inset with a stained-glass window opens to a small foyer with slate flooring. Beyond is an undivided space that has 10-foot ceilings with crown molding; recessed and decorative lighting; bamboo floors; and an exposed-brick wall that extends the entire length. The gas fireplace at the front end is framed in wood and topped by a mirrored overmantel. A wet bar is positioned between the living and dining areas. (The dining area has a second fireplace.)The open kitchen is at the other end of the room. The kitchen has blue slate-tile floors and custom cabinetry of Brazilian lacewood, black walnut and mahogany, topped in granite. The appliances include a Thermador cooktop, oven and warming drawer; a Sub-Zero refrigerator; and a Miele dishwasher. Additional storage is in a pantry cabinet.Beyond the kitchen is a half bathroom with an exposed-brick wall, black fixtures and a linen closet. A back staircase rises directly to the 20-by-30-foot master suite, which includes a bedroom with a double-door closet; a cedar-lined walk-in closet; a fireplace; and a pair of remote-controlled skylights that automatically close when rain is imminent. The master bathroom has a vanity of reclaimed cherry with double sinks, a separate shower and WC room (including a urinal), as well as a laundry room.The second floor, which has two additional bedrooms and a bathroom converted from a former trunk room, can also be reached by a wrought-iron staircase at the front of the house.Outdoor space: The small front yard, with its wrought-iron fence and Japanese maple, includes a herringbone-slate walkway that leads to a covered front porch. A larger, covered rear porch is cooled by a pair of ceiling fans. The fenced backyard contains a cobblestone walkway, paved patio, pergola and detached storage shed. Parking is on the street.Taxes: $5,280 (2019, based on a tax assessment of $440,000)Contact: Kacie Jenkins, Hometown Realty, 804-513-4592; hometownrealtyservices.comFor weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Real Estate
Designing a Garden? You’ll Need a Plan

When Bill Noble first saw the Vermont property that would become his garden, it looked overwhelming.“It was a gorgeous landscape, spectacular, but it was huge,” he recalled thinking on that day nearly 30 years ago, when he looked out from the deck behind the modest 1830s Greek Revival farmhouse, across hayfields and forests, to the White Mountain foothills. “Way beyond the scale of anything I could imagine gardening with.”But garden there he did, with every action geared toward one resounding goal: creating connection.As he writes in a new book, “Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden”: “Much of what gardening is about is the feeling of being connected to a place, fostering a sense of belonging, and becoming familiar with the natural rhythms and cycles of a particular piece of the earth.”Although Mr. Noble, a garden designer and former director of preservation at the Garden Conservancy, is telling the story of his own garden, it is an object lesson on the considerations involved in the making of any garden.ImageTexture can transport, bringing a tropical look to New England in a 70-foot border of bold foliage, including ornamental rhubarbs and Rodgersia. “The way the foliage can move draws the eye, too,” Mr. Noble said.Credit…Bill NobleIn Mr. Noble’s environment, the process involved two kinds of efforts. He accentuated the best views, with their rural character and agricultural history. At the same time, he developed various human-scale spaces within his boundaries — among them, a flower garden and another garden for vegetables, a rock garden and a number of inviting spots to sit awhile.“I’ve tried to make a variety of places in which to garden, or be, or work,” he said. “All it took was seven bare-root Lombardy poplar trees and some columnar evergreens, and that changed everything.”[embedded content]To make a garden that belongs contextually and emotionally to its surroundings, Mr. Noble asks clients the same thing he asked of himself: to set guiding principles.“The process is a self-assessment: What do I really care about?” he said. “As a designer, I need to understand context — the surrounding environment, its landscape and architecture — as well as how the person will use the space and their goals as a gardener.”One guiding principle for his own garden listed in the book: “Plants should be the primary means of creating structure and interest, rather than architecture or garden ornament.”Mr. Noble used plants “to set up sightlines to feature nearby farm fields and distant mountains,” he said. “And to make certain I could no longer see what was on my neighbor’s television screen each evening.”His practice, then, is about strategic plant placement — whether to frame, erase or just show off and delight. Determining the right plant for each task is not merely about size, but also shape, color and even texture, and which seasons it offers which characteristics in.Mr. Noble shared a few lessons he has learned about strategic plant placement along the way.Find Your ‘Vantage Points’Designing (or refining) a garden doesn’t begin by just walking around outdoors, but by going inside and looking out from various places in your home, registering potential views from key spots.“Determine where the best views are and where you want the garden or the scene to present best from,” Mr. Noble said. “Is it a window? The deck? A porch? First, find your vantage points.”He knew right away that the view from his dining room window was “the most glorious inside-outside view,” he said, and that “the garden should present well from the deck.”Consider the quieter season, too, and “think from snowdrops to snowfall,” Mr. Noble said. “Establish focal points to draw you to, even in months when you are not outside.”Most sites don’t have such obvious viewsheds as his, but if you frame a smaller slice of borrowed scenery it can make all the difference, creating the illusion of expansiveness.ImageA staggered line of evergreen Norway spruces, with a grid of apple trees set against them, block the view of a neighbor’s house to the west of Mr. Noble’s home. “We screened, but also set out an invitation to visit,” he said of the mown path that connects the two properties.Credit…Bill NobleWhat Needs to Be Erased?It’s hard to imagine a garden-in-the-making where something didn’t need hiding, Mr. Noble said, whether it’s a propane tank — or an entire house. A large, bright home with that distracting television set stood to the west of his property, and a just-sold building lot to the east needed addressing, too.Mr. Noble sought deer-resistant evergreen for the first instance, planting a staggered row of Norway spruce — which, unlike some conifers, can hold its lower branches when older. He added a grid of apple trees inside, as though there had been an orchard there.The result? “What was originally meant to be a utilitarian screen is now one of the garden’s real joys,” he said.Sometimes a single, well-positioned plant can do the job, and Mr. Noble thanks the gardener who lived in his house for 60 years before him for one such placement. “She erased any awareness of a telephone pole effectively with a suckering white lilac,” he said.ImageViewed from the road, a mix of fast-growing shrubs — white-flowered Sorbaria sorbifolia, Elaeagnus Quicksilver, Salix gracilistyla and native thimbleberry — creates a privacy screen. The silver and gold colors also draw the eye to the far end of the garden.Credit…Bill NobleOr Maybe the Road Is the IssueLike many old homes, Mr. Noble’s is set close to the road — just 25 feet away — which can limit its sense of privacy, and also means unwanted noise.“In the 1830s, people were really glad to see people passing by,” he said. “But we wanted more privacy from within the house, and when I’m out in the garden.”Some people build sound barriers; Mr. Noble uses plants. A side benefit: “Our own buffer keeps down dust, too — we live on a dirt road.”For this and all screening jobs, which tend to be in less highly maintained areas, Mr. Noble creates a decision-making matrix before choosing plants. His own criteria included whether the plant under consideration was reliably hardy and could survive the deer. Was it fairly disease- and pest-resistant, and how much care would be required, including pruning? How would it perform over the years? Some fast-growers age poorly.He considered how aggressive a plant was and its affordability, because multiples would likely be required. And whether the plant was native and had wildlife value was also important to Mr. Noble, who favors native shrubby dogwoods, willows, sumac and Amelanchier in looser areas.Not All Screening Requires a Solid Wall (Even of Plants)While a traditional hedge — an expanse of a single plant like hornbeam or arborvitae — has its purpose, Mr. Noble prefers a less conventional method of screening.For a client whose porch felt too exposed, he took a three-layer approach. Along the road, he chose a mixed planting of pine, hemlock, dogwood and birch. On the lawn, one strategically sited deciduous tree created a sense of privacy between the road and house. The final touch: a group of lilacs on the porch corner.“All are serving the same purpose, to screen the road for people on the porch,” he said. “But nobody would think it’s screening.”Don’t Forget: Screens Have Two SidesWhen screening along a road or other shared boundary, Mr. Noble said, remember both sides.“I prefer a more generous mix of conifers and shrubs on the public side to a hedge,” he said.On the inside, they form the backdrop to a more intimate garden space, with perennials and grasses. “The same plants serve as the spine,” he said, “but each side’s view is very different.”Screens can be rendered less formidable by introducing what Mr. Noble calls “pocket views,” like his carefully placed break in a dogwood-willow hedge: “I wanted to give passers-by one peek.”ImageMr. Noble created a place of refuge in his garden, positioning a teak bench in the shade of an old apple tree by a stone wall. The spot feels private, but offers a long view through birches to the White Mountain foothills.Credit…Bill NobleIf It Will Alter a Neighbor’s View, Discuss It FirstThe neighbors whose house Mr. Noble wanted to conceal are friends, so he let them know ahead of time.“The surprise there was that they wanted screening,” he recalled. “I worried I’d impact their view, but it gave them more of a backyard — and they didn’t have to look at us.”Then they took it a step further: “We mowed a path so we could walk back and forth to one another’s gardens. We screened, but also set out an invitation to visit.”The Shape Is Part of the PaletteWhen Mr. Noble needed to “set a boundary for the garden,” he said, he used Lombardy poplars and columnar DeGroot’s Spire arborvitae.The poplars punctuate the edge of the field, marking quadrants of the adjacent flower and vegetable gardens, but most of all saying, “The garden is not infinite; it ends here.”The columnar shapes draw the eye upward. “Remember that the sky is part of the garden, too — and the clouds, and even storms,” he advised.As counterpoints, shrubs with lower, rounded shapes, especially those with wine-colored foliage, have “a density that helps ground the garden,” Mr. Noble said.Colors Can be StrategicSome plants advance visually, saying “look at me,” especially those with silver or gold foliage. Variegated leaves of gold, yellow and white are likewise refreshing, and draw the eye.Cornus sericea Silver and Gold, a native twig dogwood with white-variegated foliage and gold stems, is a standby. Maroon has become a signature, too. “Shrubs with burgundy foliage enhance the color palette of flowering perennials,” Mr. Noble said. “It shows off blues and pinks and silver foliage really well.”ImageRepetition of colors and shapes, and even of particular plants, helps tie a garden together. The vertical conifer Thuja occidentalis DeGroot’s Spire appears elsewhere in the garden, as do wine-colored mounded shrubs like barberries and purple-leaf sandcherries.Credit…Bill NobleRepetition Creates ContinuityRepeating signature decisions — and plants — unifies a design.Mr. Noble added a poplar at each end of the far garden’s reaches, as well as an extra columnar arborvitae apart from the rest. “That strategic repetition tells you that you are in the same garden,” he noted.Essential Extras: a Shady Refuge, a Private SpotPlan to make a shady place — or at least include a shade tree.Better still, Mr. Noble said, plant a number of trees grouped together, to “create space and shade, a cool place for people to gather.” His choices for a grassy area: paper birch and quaking aspen.And all gardens, however large or small, need one private place. Mr. Noble positioned a teak bench in the shade of an old apple backed by a stone wall, a spot offering a long view through birches to the foothills.“You need a refuge,” he said. “My place is that bench — screened above from the road, but with more intimate planting around it that tells me that’s where I want to go.”For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

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