Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden, The Parterre Bench


Ode to Newport 2: The Parterre Bench

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As summer comes to a close, I’m reminded again of how much I treasure our magical town. I’m sure that was obvious when you were reading my recent post, “Ode to Newport.” So it should come as no surprise that our City by the Sea served as inspiration for me when designing the Parterre Bench.

In my own small way, I was following in the footsteps that have inspired so many others over Newport’s 381 years. From the Townsend-Goddard furniture makers of the 1700s to the Gilded Age architects of the late 1800s to the garden designers of the early 20th century (think the Olmsted brothers), Newport has always been a design avatar.

So with pride I say…Made in America, in Newport, Rhode Island (not off-shore in Vietnam or Costa Rica). I’ve always seen my creation as a way of sharing Newport. A bespoke piece of work in the truest sense of the word–custom crafted to the client’s order. The furniture maker who brought my vision to creation in 2007 is still making each Parterre Bench by hand, intricately cutting each sinuous swirl and curve of the back that makes this such a singular product in the garden world.

Yes, she has a bit of a wild streak about her, but I didn’t want her to be so ladylike as to be boring. The finest Honduran mahogany is selected to support a design of this scale and size…62″ long x 63″ high. It’s sturdiness is assured by its heft of 120 pounds (see our short video at the end of this post for a peek at the making of the Parterre Bench).

And the frosting on the cake? This particular mahogany takes paint beautifully, another one of my priorities…for surely this whimsical, Alice in Wonderland design deserved to be presented in color, any color of your choice–including the classic Parterre green seen in my garden.

to the brilliant “Newport blue” that recalls its namesake’s ocean setting…

to the festive Veuve Clicquot orange.

And just in time, Pittsburgh Paint’s new “Breakthrough” is a noteworthy advance in exterior latex that is harder and more durable than other paints on the market, producing a just right satin-y finish with a touch of gloss. An entire week is dedicated to the paint process…priming (2 coats) and top coats (4), with meticulous sanding between each step. The final detail? Coating, with an epoxy sealer, the bottom of the Parterre Bench’s six legs.

Our homes, and their surrounding environments, have taken on profound new meanings in the past 5 months. Gardens as well have been providing welcome solace and peace, and a place to gather. Now, more than ever, is the time to focus our energies and creativity on enhancing the personal environment that embraces us.

As one of my favorite garden designers (Arne Maynard) pointed out, “a garden is a biography of its owner.” My Parterre Bench elicits great sentiment for me and I would be thrilled to play a part in creating a memorable centerpiece for your own green paradise. Let us start that journey together by submitting an inquiry here.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “Ode to Newport 2: The Parterre Bench

  1. B-

    Just a suggestion – with Autocad design these days, why not offer a design with the owner’s initials (or it could be of any memorable initials such as their children). In today’s customized world, I bet a bunch more benches would sell if you can figure out the execution.

    L

    1. You are so correct, Lauren! But the distinctive design of the Parterre Bench (with its twists and curves) is exactly what makes that near impossible. It comes down to the stability of the Bench’s back due to its exaggerated height (app. 63′). BTW, those are my initials in the Bench, so I well know what was involved in finalizing this design.
      Tank you for taking the time to make such a good suggestion! xB

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