Before and After: If You’re Dreaming of Warmer Weather, Let This Stunning Patio Redo Inspire You
That was fortunately the case for Kristy Hootman and her family, whose 1961 home was in great shape when they moved in. “We made a handful of updates like painting the walls, but overall, the interior space was liveable,” Kristy says. “The former owners had taken really good care of it, and it was filled with originals from that era, which are all kind of coming back anyway.”
That care extended to the backyard, which was well maintained — but Kristy felt like the mostly blank space could better serve her family of four and their dog. They just weren’t quite sure what to make of the yard’s mossy grass, dying Japanese maple, and inconveniently placed clothesline — not to mention the awkward elongated shape. Even an old rock fountain, while charming in theory, was problematic; all it did was become “a mud pit for the kids,” Kristy says.
“None of the elements really fit our style or how we wanted to use the backyard,” Kristy says. “When we purchased the home, we recognized that we needed more functional living spaces beyond the concrete patio and large grass area. And since the interior felt more liveable, we decided to take on the backyard transformation as our first project.”
The couple envisioned a pool for relief from the endlessly hot summers, but didn’t want one that would take up the entire backyard or require too much money and maintenance. Kristy says that she and her husband also pictured a grassy area where their kids and dog could play, as well as a section where they could host hangouts around a fireplace on chilly nights. The couple tapped Yardzen, an online landscape design company, to help pull off the redo.
After digital renderings of Kristy’s dream backyard were created, local contractors stepped in to cover the demolition (including removing the ailing Japanese maple in the corner) and construction. They installed a precast concrete plunge pool with a raised patio on one side; they decided to go for concrete since it was a less expensive option than a deck thanks to rising lumber costs at the time.
“Watching the precast plunge pool get craned in over the house was a little stressful, but once it was in place, we felt great about it,” Kristy says. “While it’s still an investment, it’s a lot cheaper than doing a custom pool, and because it’s less money to maintain and clean, we can feasibly heat it with solar power during the colder months and get full year-round use out of it!”
A vintage chiminea is the focal point of the secondary patio area. It had been with the family for years; they’d purchased the vintage piece at an estate sale and had carried it with them from home to home ever since. Underneath, Kristy opted for low-cost pea gravel over pricier pavers. And while the choice was a practical one, it’s given the area a bit of personality, too. “Our girls call it their ‘beach,’” Kristy says.
The final change Kristy made was painting the exterior of their home to give it a little pep. “We had added a wall of board-and-batten where we closed a door in for the new fire pit area, which we planned to paint,” she says. “When we saw the fresh white paint alongside the original tan house, we realized that it would open everything up a lot more if we painted everything.”
The family has made plenty of use of their new backyard this year. “We used it a lot this summer: having our daughters’ friends over, enjoying quick dips after naps, or going in as the kids napped,” Kristy says. “It’s big enough for four or five kids to play, and the long steps along the side allow me to sit there and watch them.”
Kristy loves how the backyard turned out, especially because she and her husband budgeted for stylish and comfortable furniture to fill out the space. In fact, that’s her advice for anyone looking to completely renovate their backyard.
“Make sure to leave room in your budget for outdoor furniture that will complement your new yard and ensure it gets lots of use,” she says. “You sometimes get caught up in the budget for hardscaping, planting, and construction labor, but remember you also want to have beautiful furniture. It’s so worth it to invest in well-made outdoor furniture that will stand up to the elements and make your outdoor space inviting and comfortable.”
It may be chilly outside these days, but this project is one that’s worth filing away for inspiration for your own outdoor spaces next spring.
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