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Classic luxury

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When Joseph Nardone bought his current home in 1999, the simple backyard consisted of a pool, a white fence, and a lonesome walnut tree. After knocking down the fence, he discovered he had been given a blank canvas to decorate. That’s when he started planting. 

“I learned as I went,” Nardone says. “I just kept adding.”

Design has always been a big part of life for home and garden expert Nardone. “When I was a kid, I always moved furniture around,” he muses, a big grin on his face as he recalls his childhood. “When I was sixteen years old, I asked my parents for a brass hall tree.” He laughs, “As every teenage boy does.”

For Nardone, playing outdoors meant gardening, a skill he inherited from his father who grew up on a family orchard in Gaeta, a city on the Italian coast. His mother was a gifted painter. He likes to believe he got the best of both worlds.Img 0234 Enhanced Nr

Nardone opens the backyard gate and invites me onto his patio, where I am enchanted by a breathtaking landscape of white, blue, and green. The Japanese lilacs have blossomed. There are white hydrangeas everywhere. He leads me past the pool to the grand entrance, and I am immediately transported back in time to a European getaway. I admire the marble Japanese statues that flank the entryway as I walk between two towering ‘DeGroot’s Spire’ arborvitae. Nardone says he wanted to recreate the look of the tall, slender cypress trees that are ubiquitous in Italy and loves how they stand proud in the sky. 

As we walk, I am told that every piece has significance. The rock engraved with “Carpe Diem”? A reminder of a dear, departed friend. The hand-carved chandelier hanging from the tree over the seating area? A great find from a trip to New York City. The ivy climbing the stone-gray house? A charming souvenir brought over from his last residence.Img 0247

Nardone has a passion for collecting antiques, like the terra cotta urn from Italy that sits in his garden or the vintage Francois Barre chairs from the 1940s, adorned with original rust. Nardone refuses to paint them and loves how they look nestled in with layers of ferns, welcoming guests into the patio.

Helping his clients to discover special objects like these and from there designing a landscape around them is what drives his work. Nardone’s mantra is “rediscover the beauty around you.” He doesn’t want to be just another decorator. “When you start out, you think you need all the degrees. I learned that no textbook is going to teach you how to have good taste.”

Nardone spent years working in advertising for Kodak, but he always felt like a frustrated creative. When Kodak closed, he seized the opportunity to start his own company. He began by approaching designer Chris Leighton. After a chat over some before-and-after photos of Nardone’s work, he was invited to shadow Leighton at his firm. 

Nardone remembers him fondly. “Chris’s thing was if you had natural talent and an innate sense of good taste, you had more than a lot of the kids coming out of school did. That really inspired me.”


Gesturing to the circular sofa under a weeping Higan cherry tree, Nardone says, “I just like rooms—so that’s another room over there.” The room, as he explains it, doubles as an entertaining space and an outdoor office. Of course, the backyard is not complete without his adorable Cairn terriers, Sophie and Charlotte, who follow him to the sofa and pose for a photo. We walk inside his 1960’s colonial. A gorgeous expanse of glass doors overlooks the garden. Where there was once a three-season porch, there is now a grand kitchen that flows into a sunroom. Exposed brick floors in the dining room complement the painting from a Paris flea market that sits above the fireplace. “This is my happy place,” he explains. “I just look at my view. I feel like I’m outside, even on a rainy day when the weeping cherry tree branches aren’t keeping me dry.”

Recently celebrating the tenth anniversary of starting Nardone Home and Garden, he considers himself a home and garden therapist. “We all need a little help from time to time; so do our homes and gardens.” Whether you need opinions on what color to paint the room, where to put the furniture or what to plant, Nardone is waiting to help you see yourself reflected in your space. 

“I will go into people’s closets. I love it.” 

Nardone studied marketing, interior design, horticulture and landscape design at Rochester Institute of Technology, Interior Design Institute, Cornell University, and St. John Fisher College. He holds bachelor’s degrees and an MBA.Img 9997 2

“I never know what my day will be. I just helped a couple design the entire house of their dreams from the ground up, top to bottom. That was one of my very first clients, ten years ago with small jobs, and now I’m doing their whole house.” 

Nardone stamps all of his projects with his own unique brand of elegance. That doesn’t mean everything must be formal. “You have to mix it up! Life isn’t perfect.” His classic style paired with his down-to-earth attitude are what win over his clients. “Not everyone has a bottomless budget, but everyone wants to have some beauty.” He doesn’t believe in buying the uncomfortable chair just because it looks cool and doesn’t get too swept up by fleeting trends. 

He continues to find inspiration from the legacy artists and designers who created the trends in the first place. Nardone describes his style as “classic” and prefers to mix old and new. He loves adding fresh life to old, genuine pieces that have a history in a new space and considers it an enduring luxury to maintain a color palette and fabrics that never go out of style. 

“Everything old really can be new again.” 

We end our visit as Nardone poses on his front porch against the wrought iron railing. “This is without hair and makeup!” he jokes as Renée Veniskey takes his picture. I ask him how he’s changed over the past ten years, to which he replies he’s learned to trust his gut instinct. For the most part, he’s managed to stay the same person he was when he started Nardone Home and Garden ten years ago. 

“I haven’t learned to let go—I’m just as obsessed.” 

Visit Nardone Home and Garden online at

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