4 Ways to Transform Your NYC Rooftop

Written By Laura Schier | May 18, 2018 | Published in How To NYC, Urban Design
2017%2f09%2f20%2f15%2f42%2f34%2fa44f76df 7d53 4157 8401 1284dc0d1b6c%2fnyc%20roof

Last year, the Department of Buildings reversed its crackdown on rules involving apartment rooftops and has become more lenient regarding how residents can use the space. Before this reversal, there were restrictions on creating rooftop amenities, but now residents with access to their roof are free to make the most out of the space they have. With that in mind, here are some ways to transform your Manhattan rooftop into the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day. Note that when planning to transform your rooftop, it is important to make sure you’re following your building’s guidelines and regulations.

1. Garden

Creating a garden is the perfect way to turn your rooftop into an urban oasis. If you have limited space, acquiring vertical plants such as vines, hedges and small trees could be the perfect way to go. You can add some multifunctional furniture as well, such as small benches with storage space to hold gardening tools.

An important factor to consider before creating a rooftop garden is the roof’s microclimate. Whether the roof has access to water is something to take into account, as well as whether there is a good drainage system and if there are any big objects on the roof that cast a lot of shade. Not to worry though, there are workarounds to all of these issues. If there is not much access to water, try to stick to container-based plants and use sub-irrigated containers which easily hold and retain water below the soil. These will also help if there is no good drainage system as they will prevent damage to the rooftop when it acquires puddles. And if your roof doesn’t get much sunlight, stick to plants that can easily grow in the shade, such as apricot trees.

2. Terrace

You can’t go wrong with a rooftop terrace. Having a place to relax and enjoy the view of the city can make for a perfect end to the day, and you can easily personalize your terrace to give it the perfect atmosphere. Adding some seats and a coffee table to your rooftop is a simple way to enjoy the space. Additionally, planting some tall grasses for privacy and shade and throwing in a small fountain to help drown out the traffic will maximize relaxation and comfort. You can turn your rooftop into a living area with an all-weather sofa and a rug, or you can go a different route and add chaise longues for a sunbathing area.

If your rooftop has a lot of space, you can designate multiple areas for different functions. For instance, you can create a dining area with a table and chairs in one area, and a mini greenhouse for growing vegetables in another; the possibilities are endless.

3. Farm

With the right tools and preparation, you can have your very own rooftop farm in the middle of the concrete jungle. By installing raised beds and using lots of soil, you can plant fresh flowers, vegetables, herbs, or the plants of your choice. And you can check out some of NYC’s best rooftop farms for inspiration, such as the Brooklyn Grange and Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, which invites residents to visit its market and try out some farm-fresh vegetables once a month, for free.

4. Theater

A rooftop theater is perfect for entertaining friends or simply enjoying a relaxing night at home. Install an outdoor screen of the size you choose, or simply hang up a white sheet to use as your screen and invest in a projector. Next, add a comfortable seating area with cushions, sofas, a and rug. To make the area more easily accessible at night and give it a calm, cheerful vibe, add some string lights or lanterns. For the colder weather, you could add some blankets, and even consider using an outdoor heater.

If all of this seems like too much work, you can always search for a new NYC home in a building that has a landscaped rooftop lounge as one of its luxury amenities. 

Blog Archive


This information is not verified for authenticity or accuracy and is not guaranteed and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. © 2021 REBNY Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved. RLS IDX Data display by Elegran LLC. IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non- commercial use and that it may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Elegran LLC may or may not be the exclusive listing agent of the properties being displayed on Elegran.com. All data displayed on Elegran.com is presented for informational purposes only and should be independently confirmed by all customers. All Information is compiled from both public and private sources including, but not limited to the RLS, MLS and ACRIS; each of which is assumed to be reliable. All information displayed is subject to errors and omissions regarding apartment specifications and final sale prices, and further, any unit listed may have had its listing withdrawn without notice subsequent to such information being compiled. No representation is made as to the accuracy of any description (ie: listing, close sale data, and/or building description) of any building or individual unit. All measurements and square footage are approximate and all information herein should be confirmed by customer and/or their attorney. Elegran LLC, its members, affiliates, and contributors adhere to New Your City, New York State, and United States Fair Housing Laws.