Extra thoughtful consideration from design through maintenance made this outdoor living project exceptional.
Story by Andrea Darr Gekas | Photography by Matthew Anderson
Simplicity is often a sign of underlying complexity. That is certainly the case for this Overland Park outdoor living and pool project. What looks straightforward was actually a feat of research, design/engineering and onsite problem solving.
After living in the home for 9 years, the family dreamed of bringing international resort-style living to what was formerly a sun-blasted tiny deck without any protection from a forest full of mosquitos behind the house.
“You don’t see outdoor living completely thought through here,” says the well-traveled business owner.
A team comprising Renovations by Starr Homes, LORAX Design Group and Liquify Pools & Spas coordinated the comprehensive project, and the homeowner led several aspects of the research himself.
It is a story of patience.
“It’s the extra step in the design and vetting process that makes the space a lot more convenient, enjoyable and usable,” the homeowner says.
Although pools can be built in a matter of months, he wasn’t as interested in getting it done as he was about getting it done right. He challenged all involved to try something new.
“It was a unique experience in understanding how to attack a project as a whole and in such fine detail,” says pool builder Jake Lavagnino. “It wasn’t an overnight sensation; there were a lot of setbacks, but that is the difference between an ordinary project and an extraordinary one.”
The narrow lot required a coordinated effort among trades and resulted in the pool and house portions of the project starting and pausing over a year and a half while workers alternated.
A climate-controlled four-season room addition was built off the main level that can function as a lanai with heated floors, sliding pocket doors, screens, full kitchen and a chef-inspired grill station.
Below, the patio doubles outdoor living space. To save the family from constantly going up and down stairs, they incorporated a second grill, sink, fridge, ice maker and full bath. Fans and recessed ceiling-mounted heaters make any atmospheric condition more comfortable, and phantom screens retract into the ceiling at the push of a button to offer an unobstructed view of the outdoors and can be drawn down when bugs emerge.
Two swinging daybeds flank a custom limestone fire feature that’s low slung to appear as if it’s floating. Glass media burns cleaner than wood and roasts marshmallows just the same.
“The daybeds were my wife’s idea and that is her favorite relaxing spot,” the homeowner notes.
Under open sky, deep blue water beckons the family outside. A 15’ x 45’ rectilinear pool features bubblers on a tanning ledge, a powerful swim jet, and arching laminar jets with LED base lights.
A cantilevered spa at one corner was designed with a negative edge so that water gently glides over the top into a basin below.
“It makes the water as smooth as glass; it’s like a mirror, reflecting the sky. At night, it’s quite stunning,” says landscape architect Kurt Kraisinger.
He called for low-maintenance artificial turf — a popular trend — to be used on one side of the pool deck.
“I’m a big fan of not having a pool deck all the way around,” Kurt explains. “To look resort-like, it should be two-thirds or one-half, or you risk looking municipal.”
Besides all the bells and whistles, the homeowners equally appreciate the hidden details.
“Maintenance is half the nightmare,” he says, which is why he focused upfront on usability and upkeep.
High-quality equipment was selected for longevity and easy cleaning. Tile floors and linear drains were designed to allow every surface to be hosed down.
Heated water means the pool can be used as early as March and as late as November, although a key element allows the pool to potentially be used year-round on warm days: an automated pool cover. Not only does it act as a safety instrument and leaf catcher, it retains heat, only dropping a few degrees even in winter. It was a must-have requirement for the homeowner, who was willing to drive the design based on this functional aspect.
At the top of his list of necessities was the home automation that handily merged every function on a mobile device — including turning on lights, fans, heaters, screens, the fire pit and all pool and spa controls.
“We managed to get all the programming in,” Kurt says. “A lot of engineering went into these details to make the space come alive.”
After the prolonged waiting period to create the best possible outcome, the family now has multiple, excellent choices of where and how to spend their time, no matter the time of day or season.
“We use these spaces every day in all kinds of capacities,” the homeowner says.
- Home Contractor: Renovations by Starr Homes
- Landscape Architecture & Pool Design: LORAX Design Group
- Pool Contractor: Liquify Pools & Spas
- Stone Pool Deck & Veneer Stone: Becca Masonry