By Gianna Volpe
Accessory spaces such as rooftop gardens and outdoor kitchens are a continuing trend on the East End, according to Sue Donahue and Mark Hesh of Walpole Outdoors.
“We do curb appeal and outdoor living,” said Mr. Hesh of Water Mill, where the showroom can be found for the landscape designer’s company, which sells wood and wood-like hardscape, as well as other kinds of garden décor, to both private and commercial properties.
“People are spending more and more time outside, so we’re doing a lot of pergolas, outdoor kitchens and outdoor lifestyle projects like people building gardens, fencing them or decorating them with garden nuances or elements.”
The 83-year-old company sells outdoor furniture, bridges, play sets, wind chimes, mail posts and more alongside its 60 styles of fences, all of which are milled up in Maine.
“We started in Walpole, Massachusetts in 1933, which basically came about because of The Depression and gave people jobs building a lot of farm and animal fencing,” said Walpole marketing representative Sue Donahue. “We started as a fence company…We were one of the first people to bring in square edge fencing.”
Ms. Donahue said the past decade has not just seen free-standing pergolas rise in popularity as places under which people are putting their outdoor living spaces, but also a manufactured material from which the structures are most often milled.
Walpole has been selling Azek brand solid vinyl for roughly a decade now, according to Ms. Donahue, who said the product “is very different than…hollow or shiny vinyl you might find in fencing out here” as it is nearly indistinguishable from real wood.
“We have convinced some of the purist of architects [to use Azek over wood] and do historical locations—prominent, historical homes—in this material just because it’s cost effective and it’s beautiful,” Mr. Hesh said of the fabricated material far less susceptible to weather, adding 67 percent of his current business is constructed from cellular vinyl. “You really can’t tell the difference; It looks just like wood.”
Though he said Northern White cedar is a popular decay-resistant wood, vertical grain Western Red cedar is a more popular choice when it comes to homeowners hoping for the real McCoy.
“A lot of times you can imagine these properties are Cedar Shake and white trim so they want an unstained fence and that’s when I sell them wood,” said Mr. Hesh. “If they want white or any other color, that’s when I sell them Azek.”
The 56-year-old landscape designer began working for Walpole 13 years ago and credits the birth of his daughter with an ultimate location and lifestyle move from West Village to East End.
“When I had my Olivia I solicited Walpole because I wanted to represent them out in the Hamptons,” he said. “I like the product; I like the way they present themselves…It was certainly conducive to the penthouses and commercial installations that I did in Manhattan.”
Though rooftop gardens are a trending item in the big city, Walpole sells more automatic privacy gates and free-standing pergolas to its East End customers, according to its representatives.
“Pergolas are just so hot as…. outdoor rooms and include lighting and fans and TVs,” Ms. Donahue said, adding canopies—both manual and automatic—are an option for the customer that wants to protect their pergola from a light rain or shade it from the sun.
Mr. Hesh said he’s enjoyed being afforded the ability to “work with a blank canvas” because of how wide an ability the company has in customizing its hardscape.
“We have a lot of very appealing offerings…but we also have a very extensive engineering department,” he said of the brand. “So whether it’s a pergola or trellis work or a driveway gate that have astounding design, Walpole gives me the capabilities where if I design it, they’ll build it.”
For more information, visit walpolewoodworkers.com