For the homeowners whose award-winning barbeque restaurant usually takes center stage, it is their backyard wonderland that truly steals the show.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photos by Matthew Anderson
At first glance, this impressive backyard appears to be something of which legends are made. Structurally, it sets a stage that would make most high-end resorts envious. The grand two-story covered deck, coupled with a spectacular fireplace, barbeque center, hog pit and luxurious swimming pool begs for a noteworthy celebration, but its uniquely designed ambiance can make even the smallest of gatherings an intimate, relaxing and comfortable setting. Years ago, an invitation to a backyard barbeque most likely translated to a couple of hot dogs on the grill, some plastic cutlery, and a dilapidated picnic table. And, if the hosts were pulling out all the stops, the sprinkler might be turned on for a bit of water play. Today, an invitation to this DeSoto, Kansas backyard is celebrated for its design-savvy presentation and its strong nod to outdoor entertaining at its finest.
Owned by Jeff and Joy Stehney, award-winning barbecue competitors and the founders of Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue empire, with locations in Leawood, Olathe and the original restaurant in Westwood, this magnificent space is a solid reflection of how they enjoy spending their down time. Designed by Leslie Hatfield, Design Manager with Schloegel Design Remodel, this wonderland plays multiple roles with decided ease, despite its massive appearance. With its enthusiastic over-the-top design, inspired by unmatched creativity offered by both the designer and homeowners, it is no surprise it nabbed a coveted CoTY award this year. But as with any award worth winning, there is some sweat equity that goes into the equation.
Hatfield began her association with the Stehneys when she was hired to assist them with the design of their Leawood restaurant location. That productive and successful collaboration ultimately paved the way for the Stehneys to request Hatfield to lend her obvious talents to the drawing board for their backyard transformation. Hatfield took the couple’s unique vision and brought it to spectacular life.
“This was definitely a large project, and we took great effort to make the final product comfortable despite its size,” stated Hatfield. “Of course, Jeff is highly creative and artistic, so his input helped a lot.”
No stranger to large-scale endeavors, Stehney and his wife knew precisely what they wanted to do with the space and were up to the task.
“We love the house, but when we bought it, we felt it was deficient in what the backyard could offer,” noted Stehney. “We wanted to create a living space with how we live our lives.”
Quick translation? This backyard had significant potential and simply needed a strong nudge to get there.
One of the primary motivators behind the homeowners’ desire to upgrade the area was to make the outdoor living space a part of the contiguous horse ranch so as to not ignore the rest of the purpose of the property. Encompassing just a bit more than 20 acres, the property originally balanced different elevations and restrictions, which the Stehneys were ultimately able to eliminate to achieve the final product.
“The views they wanted to obtain were the crucial design element at work here,” noted Hatfield, referencing the newly-installed swimming pool that sits in front of the pond. “They did not want anything to block their view of the pond, so we were highly sensitive to the color of the water in the pool with respect to that desire, and while there is a low-lying water feature on the backside of the pool, the line of sight to the pond and beyond is not impeded.”
What is a beautiful garden spot such as this without some show-stealing lighting fixtures? Worthy of a standing ovation for style and function, the variety of light fixtures installed throughout each play their respective roles well, balancing eye-catching design without one upstaging the other. With the peak of the roof at 28-feet high and the stone columns at 14-feet tall, specific lighting was required to effectively balance the two-story structure. Hatfield installed five-foot tall chandeliers, which confidently hang from the gable, and four-feet Carolina lantern sconces, which easily grace the supporting columns.
“We also replaced the back windows on the house so when you enter the front door, they picture-frame those chandeliers,” noted Hatfield. “The homeowners didn’t want anything to impede the view of the backyard from the living room. Joy also loves her horses and wanted the line of sight in place over to the pond and the horse stables beyond.”
When it’s time to fire up the grill, the two-sided fireplace separates the living area from the cooking area, which also features a hog pit and an outdoor grill. The hog pit stands at bar height and has a specially-designed cover so it can be used as a bar area when not in use. Other elements that effortlessly round out this coveted space include a large table under the gable, perfect for entertaining buffet-style; an assortment of comfortable outdoor furniture and accessories; outdoor speakers for the right touch of music; storage bins for the cushions; and a built-in basket-weave style wood screen for the pool equipment.
Stehney gives due credit to Hatfield for her inspirations and the tall order it required of her and her team did not go unrecognized.
“She created in such a massive space small gathering areas,” he expressed.
To his point, there is the cooking area where he can hang out with his buddies and a sitting place on the other side where their wives and kids can relax and enjoy each other’s company. It is definitely a big space, but when you live in it, you discover its uniquely intimate settings and realize it is highly accommodating for most any size of gathering.
Overall, what probably stands out as the best accessory in this backyard is the open air it invites to the gathering. At the end of the day, you just can’t beat a treasured place to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends.
- Architect/Home Designer: Schloegel Design Remodel/Klover Architects
- Builder/Contractor: Schloegel Design Remodel
- Lighting: Carolina Lanterns and Lighting
- Stone Company/Hearth: Dimensional Stoneworks
- Pool/Spa: EPIC Landscape Productions
- Timbersmith: Free State Timbersmiths
- Outdoor Grill: Grillworks Architectural Grills
- Electrician: Jason Wright Electric
- Windows: Kansas City Millwork
- Light Fixtures/Chandelier: Large Lighting
- Roofing: Larry L. Vaught Roofing
- Lumber: McCray Lumber and Millwork
- Landscape Lighting: NiteLites of Kansas City
- Plumbing: Plumbing Plus
- Excavation: Randy’s Custom Contracting
- Landscape Designer: Richard Clayton Barrett
- Masonry: Rock Solid Masonry
- Audio/Video: RTH Custom Cabling
- Pool Decking: Stone Hardscapes
- Outdoor Furniture: Tara Richards Interiors