It’s always vacation time when a Johnson County family walks out their back door.
Story by Ann E. Butenas | Photos by Matt Kocourek
What used to be “just a regular backyard with a big swing set,” according to the owner of this luxurious southern Johnson County home has undergone a significant transformation, complete with a swimming pool and enviable outdoor kitchen, making it seem less like a yard and more like a vacation destination.
When the owners of this home decided to install a backyard pool for their family, which includes two young kids, they promised their children that the swing set would remain. However, once the project got underway and took on wings of its own, the swing set no longer fit in the yard and had to go.
Fortunately, the kids weren’t upset for too long, as the swimming pool that took its place brought along a cornucopia of exciting and alternative means of backyard fun.
At first glance, one’s eyes are treated to a free flowing landscape design that beautifully marries a hot tub, a lounge pool and a free form pool, all gracefully connected from one elevation to another as the hot tub seamlessly transitions to the shallow sun ledge that soon gives way to the swimming pool that begins at three feet deep and at its deepest is seven feet. Water gracefully cascades from the lounge area into the pool.
However, in order to realize this dreamlike setting, the homeowners first put pen to paper with Roger Banks, owner of Banks Blue Valley Pool and Spa.
“We can do just about anything with a pool,” noted Banks. And, true to his word, Banks did not disappoint his clients in this case.
“This project turned out a million times better than what I initially saw on paper,” smiled the homeowner. “We never dreamed that it would all flow from one level to the next. That was Roger’s idea and we absolutely love it.”
The pool obviously sees its share of activity, especially with its heated salt water and the adjoining sun ledge that lets the parents relax and unwind in lounge chairs while the kids play in the water. The sun ledge and pool are readily closed off during the winter months, but the hot tub enjoys year-round use. The multi-colored Arkansas flagstone patio and walkway areas add decided charm, along with the accompanying landscaping that is perfectly placed for privacy.
Another key element of this backyard space is the outdoor kitchen, which during the warmer months is the hub of the household.
“We use this kitchen more than our indoor one in the summer,” noted the homeowner. “It has the regular grill and the EVO grill, which is a circular flat cooktop surface.”
The kitchen area also offers a few cabinets, drawers, an ice machine, a refrigerator and a sink, making outdoor entertaining a breeze.
The flat screen TV overhead is perfectly positioned for viewing, whether when firing up the grill or lounging in the hot tub. The colored concrete counter tops were poured in place on site, and the hand-hewned exposed fir timber beams add a bit of rustic charm.
“We gave the beams an antique look by staining them, which not only makes them look old but also gives the feeling of being in a ski or hunting lodge up in the mountains,” said Banks, also referring to the gable frame pointed roof above the kitchen area that completes the look, along with the innovative use of reclaimed barn wood as siding.
Pointing out the timber framing over the outdoor kitchen, Banks noted that such framing is one of the oldest methods of building wooden structures.
“Timber framing has been used for over 2,000 years, although it has evolved over time,” he stated.
Just next to the outdoor kitchen space is the lanai, which offers the homeowners and guests another place to relax and unwind, with its wet bar, fireplace and celling fan.
The homeowners are thrilled with the entire creation and refer to the space as “our own little oasis,” appreciative of how Banks and his team helped them take this idea from concept to reality.
“I definitely enjoyed the creative part of this project,” Banks expressed. “It’s our job to take on an advisory role of sorts and lead the homeowner through the creative process. Our clients rely on us for creativity and imagination, and I definitely like working with people to help them figure out what they like and want and then building something from there.”
Banks works with existing elevations to create the end result, and this backyard in particular, with its high-to-low slope, allowed Banks to create a streaming effect of water from the hot tub on top to the lounge/sun ledge area below, then directly cascading into the free form swimming pool.
“We initially looked at this yard and decided how to use what was already here to the best of our design ability instead of just tearing it all up,” Banks noted.
By day, this backyard delight is a great place for the kids to play and soak up the sun. By nightfall, the accent perimeter lighting provides great ambiance to the whole area, allowing the space to seamlessly transition from sunrise to sunset. After enjoying a meal fresh off the backyard grill, the adults can relax in the hot tub and catch up on their television shows or just gaze at the stars above.
With such a beautiful and creative use of outdoor space, this backyard retreat offers the family a chance to go on a vacation of sorts every time they walk out the back door of the house.
“We wanted it to resemble a home that you might find in Colorado,” stated the homeowner. “And Roger and his team made that happen.”
Overall Pool, Area Design & Installation: Banks Blue Valley Pools | Accessories: Pottery Barn | Barnwood: Beaver Timber | Beams: Schutte Lumber | Furniture: Inside Out Furniture | General Materials: Lowes | Grill: Evo Grill | Landscape & Landscape Lighting: New Leaf Landscaping | Windows & Doors: McCray Lumber