It’s 5-O’Clock Somewhere

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Life is definitely relaxing at this unique outdoor retreat.  

Story by Ann Butenas     |     Photos by Matt Kocourek

When faced with such pristine beauty, innovative touches and eye-catching details, mere words seem ineffective in terms of providing descriptions for what pleases the eye. This Stilwell, Kansas backyard retreat almost defies the eloquence of the written word and instead urges the natural gravitation towards the accompanying photos that most assuredly speak a thousand words in far greater detail.

However, with over 50 years of experience in creating backyard wonderlands, Banks Pools & Spa Design certainly put that experience to work in this case and undoubtedly the owners of this dream backyard feel as if they can escape the hassles of the everyday world, if even just for a bit.

“The owners have a really unique backyard,” noted Roger Banks, owner of Banks Pools & Spa Design. “They wanted to create a space perfect for entertaining and they also wanted it to be different.”

Banks and team initially had their work cut out for them, coordinating with Landscape Service Company to clear away copious amounts of rock, shrubbery and trees.

“The lot was heavily wooded and we ended up removing at least 30 trees before we could even begin this project,” said Banks.

With so many wonderful features, it is difficult to determine which one is the star of the show, as they all work harmoniously well together. The creatively-inspired heated salt water pool reaches a depth of eight-and-a-half feet. Outfitted with multicolored LED lights, the water can take on many different colors as desired. A fun hideaway for kids is the adjoining cave, made of Arkansas moss rock and also decked out with multicolored LED lights on the interior. Access to all of the filter equipment for the pool is located through the decorative barn door on the side of the cave.

Of course, what’s a pool and a great cave without a fun slide off to the side? Adults can keep a keen eye on the youngsters from the slightly submerged sun ledge at the shallow end of the pool, a perfect spot to relax on a lounge chair while enjoying a good book and a refreshing beverage.

An elevated hot tub, perfect for year-round use, sits at mid-level and overflows into the pool. A variety of other waterfalls surround the pool as a continuation of the theme.

The outdoor kitchen area, all made of cut natural stone and protected by a trellis, was designed to meet all of the entertaining needs of the homeowners and enjoys a grill, warmer drawer, refrigerator, ice maker, double burner, multiple drawers for storage and a cocktail sink.

Landscape lights can be found throughout the space – on the walls, on the steps and even under the kitchen countertop – adding the perfect accent layer. The natural Oklahoma flagstone pavers surrounding the pool and located throughout the premises provide a casual and somewhat rustic touch, blending well with the natural stone used in the kitchen area above.

Banks thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, as it gave him significant leeway to exercise his creative muscles.

“This was one of the more unique designs we have done,” he expressed. “The homeowners were great to work with. They allowed us to be highly creative and were open to unique ideas.”

Even though this seems like a significant place to maintain, Banks assured it is relatively easy, especially in light of today’s technological advances.

“Nearly everything on the pool and surround areas can be operated and controlled remotely from their cell phone,”  he explained, referencing the lighting, chlorine levels, pH balance and water falls. Banks and his team also provide year-round maintenance as needed and has included in this particular project a completely automated system for sanitation and cleaning.


Pool Designer: Banks Pools & Spa Design   |   Grill: Doolittle Distributing   |   Landscaping: Landscape Service Company

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