3 To Invite Intimacy



Ketzel Levine’s private outdoor parlor, fully furnished and decorated.

What: A private outdoor parlor, fully furnished and decorated
Where: North Portland
Who: Ketzel Levine

LIVING CLOSE TO A BUSY COMMERCIAL thoroughfare—“one house away from urban chaos,” as Levine describes it—and lacking a backyard on her small lot, this expert gardening author and horticultural correspondent for NPR turned her front yard into a refuge for outdoor relaxation and entertaining.

Big Move: For Levine to gain privacy without alienating her neighbors, a carefully designed fence was critical. A mostly transparent wooden structure marks the perimeter of her yard, “creating a boundary but also letting a view in.”

Plant Matters: Choosing evergreen trees and shrubs with airy foliage patterns (such as the long-and-toothy-leafed Lomatia myricoides pictured here) for perimeter plantings helped ensure that Levine didn’t come off as “the crazy old lady behind a wall of greenery.” Such necessities were of less concern, though, within her outdoor living space, where Levine instead focused on creating a “gallery” of visually bold specimens, including the vibrant yucca pictured above.