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Interiorssneak peeks

A Plant Lover’s Secret Garden in the Middle of Brooklyn

by Garrett Fleming

Most big cities rightfully earn the moniker “concrete jungle.” It makes sense. Oftentimes trees are sparse and the grass isn’t green because it’s barely there at all. But not all is grey and made of stone in our country’s metropolises. Look hard enough, and you’ll find little pockets of lush life that loving home-dwellers like Summer Rayne Oakes have carved out for themselves. Her Williamsburg, Brooklyn home proves that even amidst the energy of a burgeoning city, plants and greenery can thrive.

As you peek around the space Summer rents, it quickly becomes clear why her garden grows in abundance. She has done everything she can to set her potted pals up for success. From rigging planters from scratch, reflecting light here and there, to hand-pollination, her plant collection is healthy and well loved. The results of these efforts even serve as the main decoration for her industrial space. In one corner, dripping vines creep through window frames and in another, the apartment’s walls are literally covered in flourishing buds. They don’t grow so dense that a little color can’t seep through, though. A palette inspired by Central and South America pokes its head out here and there, lending the space a relaxing earthiness.

Summer says all of the lush foliage, along with her home’s exotic color scheme, do wonders for her daily vibe. These features keep her smiling and happy as she mediates in the living room or casually reads in her hammock. Simply put, in either spot and on any given day, she feels relaxed and reset after simply being in her home. What more could you ask for from your corner of the sky? Click through to take a look inside one of Brooklyn’s secret gardens. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Sander van Dijk & Summer Rayne Oakes

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A bold piece by Steven Cogle, an artist Summer admires because of "his use of stroke and color to communicate a political message," hangs in the dining area.
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Summer smiles in her kitchen with her green-thumbed dad, the man partially responsible for her love of plants. Working as a team, the pair has envisioned and built most of the structures that help her green beauties thrive.
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Summer is most thankful for the peace and tranquility her garden-like home brings her. On most mornings, she sits here in the dining area sipping tea and tending to her plants. She grew up in the countryside, so having a green home that allows her to commune with plant life comes naturally to her.
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The living room's open concept is perfect for when Summer hosts her monthly meditations. Her home's color scheme was inspired by Central and South America, places Summer has traveled to and loved for years. "The splashes of contrasting color on buildings [in those places] are so playful, fresh and fun. I wanted to capture that in my home," she says.
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An avid reader, Summer often swings and reads here in the living room's Novica hammock. Its chill vibe immediately sets the tone for her unfussy home.
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The living room's sofa doubles as a bed when guests visit. They're always welcome to curl up in its folds, warmed by the blanket Summer got in India. One of her childhood pieces of artwork decorates the wall to the right of it. She was just 13 when she came across a captivating photo in one of her mother's National Geographic Magazines. Enamored, she recreated the piece on her own canvas.
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Summer's kitchen is truly wild with plants creeping and climbing every which way. "You’ll notice there is quite a bit of light in the kitchen thanks to the large windows, but [it's] also because mirrors are installed on the sides of the window to help bring in more light throughout the day," Summer tells us.
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Summer cooks all the time, so accessible ingredients are a must. "I particularly love working between the hanging foliage in the kitchen. I feel as if I’m in a forest, and the whole cooking process becomes an experience for the senses," she tells us.
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Mingo Design helped Summer install this vertical garden in her bedroom. Over 80 plants across 30 species live in it. The room often smells like jasmine thanks to its flowering lemon plant. Summer hand-pollinates its blossoms to make sure it blooms consistently.
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Organic linens from a collaboration Summer did with Portico decorate the bed. It sits under these lovely windows, an original detail used to provide air flow between the living area and bedroom. Pothos and philodendrons creep through them.
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This bookshelf had been discarded on the sidewalk before Summer took it in. Accessories from Mozambique and a collection of old letters in boxes decorate it. It's also the home to a ZZ plant and pea lily.
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The bathroom's Sprout Home planter is peppered with succulents and finds from Summer's travels. A golden pothos, coconut plant and philodendron live in the bathroom as well.
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Plants aren't only hanging around the house because they're pretty. They have practical applications, too. This one here strategically detracts from the bathroom's exposed pipework. The room's eye-catching color is Klenosky Paint's "Lake Tahoe."
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A beautiful, hand-painted floor plan courtesy of Summer.

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