The Terrors of the Terrace

Another struggle is the sun. “You don’t want to burn your bottom,” Mr. Danzer said. He makes the wooden backs and seats of his metal chairs curved so people do not need cushions. “Cushions get filthy in the city. Then where do you store them?” In his other business, as an “exterior decorator,” he might have a little closet built near the outdoor space, just for the cushions to rest. He has clients, he said, who store by tying up everything with bungee cords.

Then there is the matter of setting, scale and proportion. If you have bonsai trees, you will need smaller furniture. If you have a labyrinth, you won’t need any because it is all about walking, puzzling, stolen kisses, general disappearance and, heaven forbid, murder. Ms. Israel is all for putting small-scale animal statues—“36-, 46-inch statues that are intimate”—just outside the window so they can be seen from inside. A cast-iron Newfoundland dog is on her Web site—though the best-sellers are classical statues of women, in just a little drapery, holding up one arm.

If one wants to fall asleep and have a forest dream of a dark forest, there is boiserie, the French tradition of twisted branches becoming furniture, and now faux bois made of steel or twisted wire and lookin g like gnarling tree trunks that come alive and can lift a person off the ground and toss her into the air.

But forgo the Adirondack style, though heavy and non-moving—that is for people when they are old and watching the sun set and that’s going to be it, leaning back for the ride into the unknown.

In fact, you may need to forgo all of it. Mr. Danzer, who recently worked on a terrace that could fit only a long, narrow table—seating was one-sided, so that everyone could enjoy the view—observed that outdoor space is getting smaller in new developments. “A lot of terraces in the city are about getting fresh air and having to something to look out at, not for spending a lot of time on,” he said. “Sometimes stepping out and having a cigarette is all you get.”

The Terrors of the Terrace