Renovating the James Beard Garden, Week 5

Renovating the James Beard Garden, Week 5

June 20, 2011

Victoria Jordan, manager of house operations and house events at the James Beard Foundation, slices a loaf of bread on the new outdoor refrigerators' countertop.

GARDEN DESIGN is working with several partners to renovate the James Beard Foundation house's garden. We'll be posting updates each week for six weeks to show the gradual transformation.

Week 1: Introducing the renovation
Week 2: Working with a landscape architect, designer, and drawing up plans
Week 3: Working with professional arborists
Week 4: Time-lapse videos of the renovation
Week 6: The final sneak peek

At the James Beard Foundation house, the main activities are, unsurprisingly, cooking, eating, and entertaining. So when GARDEN DESIGN and our partners partners renovated the garden, it was important to consider how the garden would be used.


Jordan chats with Keri Wilson, integrated marketing manager for GARDEN DESIGN, in the greenhouse that leads into the garden.

The Foundation's house, like many in New York's Greenwich Village, is narrow, and the ground floor is taken up almost entirely by the kitchen, with a small sitting room in the very front. Beyond the kitchen, the house opens into an airy greenhouse, which then opens up directly into the garden. The James Beard house hosts an event almost every night and they often start the reception in the greenhouse, serving cocktails to guests before they go upstairs to a mezzanine for dinner. And in the warmer months, the cocktail hour is held in the garden.

commercial refrigerator

A new commercial refrigerator in a shed in the back of the garden.

Since the James Beard Foundation has always hosted events, the garden has always housed a refrigerator, which was used to store extra supplies that did not fit in the kitchen's refrigerators. Thanks to the generosity of True Professional Series, we were able to replace the old refrigerator with a full-sized commercial refrigerator, as well as adding three new smaller models, which are designed to be either installed in an outdoor garden, as shown here, or as undercounter refrigerators indoors.

open refrigerator

Microgreens rest in the new refrigerator drawers in the garden.

The new outdoor refrigerators—the True Undercounter Refrigerator Drawers, the True Undercounter Refrigerator with Glass Door, and the True Wine Cabinet—are joined together with a custom stainless-steel countertop, but you might consider using just one or two units in your garden, or expanding it to four units. The counter was custom-made and similar countertops could be made in terrazo, marble, or wood, depending on your aesthetic and garden design.

In this configuration shown below, the True Undercounter Refrigerator, on the far left, has a glass door that is UL-rated for outdoor use, which shows off its contents and can be set to keep beverages or vegetables cool with a temperature control ranging from 33 degrees to 65 degrees Farenheit. On the far right, the True Wine Cabinet, which will be used to hold wine and other drinks for cocktail receptions, holds 53 bottles and has adjustable racks for oversized bottles. In the middle, the Undercounter Refrigerator Drawers, shown open above, can hold vegetables and other ingredients for hors d'oeuvres, as well as grill ingredients for chefs who are planning on cooking outside.

refrigerator shot

Wilson holds open a door of the wine refrigerator, which will hold wines for cocktail receptions held in the garden in the future.

Currently, the containers have ferns growing in them (more details about the plants to come!), but Lindsey Taylor, GARDEN DESIGN's style director, mentions that she may suggest growing vegetables and herbs in the containers in the future, which will make the path from farm to table even quicker.