Making Beachy Waves

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This backyard pool and pool house combo is the perfect setting to entertain family and friends or simply enjoy a peaceful afternoon by the water.

Story by Ann Butenas     |     Photography by Matthew Anderson

Turning a simple backyard into a glorious oasis

When homeowners Cathy and Bob Polus had completed a variety of remodeling projects on the interior of their home, they decided it was time to focus on the backyard. After all, it was simply an open backyard that had offered plenty of open play space for their daughter, now 19, when she was growing up over the years. But it was time for something different; it was time for the backyard to take on new meaning and purpose in this particular season of life for the Polus family.

“We had been remodeling for four or five years and were ready to focus on the backyard, so we decided to add a pool, hot tub and pool house,” noted Cathy, whose home is situated in an Overland Park neighborhood that does not have a community pool. Therefore, adding this layer of luxury to their home was the natural next step in the progression of improving their home.

Self-described “private people,” the Polus family enjoys small gatherings of friends, and now that they have turned the page into retirement, they have a whole new chapter to scribe and are excited about this comfortable oasis that has become a part of that new adventure.

“Our daughter is currently away at college, and we are pleased this new backyard draws her and her friends back to our house,” expressed Cathy. “She likes to be home now!”

Working in conjunction with a dynamic team that included Renovations by Starr, interior designer Kendra Miner of Evolve Interiors, and landscape professional Wayne Barber of Next to Nature Landscape, the Polus family’s dream of having a relaxing and fun outdoor lifestyle came to fruition swimmingly with ease and style.

“This project could not have come at a better time,” noted Cathy. “This was all done during the pandemic and has really given us a great place to hang out and enjoy each other’s company.”

Cathy greatly enjoys the pool house and was happy how it all came together. It includes a kitchen and a bath area, both separated and accessed from separate ends of the structure. It also includes an attached covered lanai on one end and an outdoor shower on the other end. 

Moving up towards the deck and hot tub area provides another unique vantage point of the overall landscape, as Cathy and Bob had the pool area designed so they could also enjoy the view from the deck.

“We love to sit on the deck and look down at the pool, grotto and waterfalls,” she said. “It so calming and relaxing.”

As the sun sets and the evening sky begins to cascade upon the area, the ambiance of the fire bowls and color-changing lights by the waterfall add yet another layer of peace and tranquility.

Cathy and Bob had a great experience working with Renovations by Starr Homes with the design of the pool house and overall backyard project.

“They basically let us decide what we wanted to do and gave us options, explaining what would and would not work,” Cathy said. “It was a very educational experience.”

Diving into the design of the pool house

As the interior designer, Kendra enjoyed being a part of this project, primarily because of the unique nature of it.

“This project was special in that it included a whole backyard. This pool house reflects the coastal, beachy vibe Cathy and Bob wanted,” expressed Kendra, referring to the porcelain white-washed plank flooring (made of tile to resemble wood) within, the blue glass subway backsplash tile and the quartz countertop which has an element of sparkle and iridescent shine. 

Other coastal elements include the mirror above the bathroom sink, which is trimmed in wood. The storage area includes hooks, cubbies and a bench, all perfect to keep swimwear and outdoor equipment organized and in check.

Creating an outdoor experience through brilliant landscape design and more

As the landscape expert, Wayne designed the pool, waterfalls and the surrounding landscape. He also created the fire pit and the patio area, as well as worked with Reno by Starr on the pool house design.  He was literally given a blank slate upon which to work and created a masterpiece in the end.

Wayne appreciated the ability to incorporate his ideas into this large, estate-sized lot.

He artfully integrated a strong combination of flowering shrubs, perennials and evergreen, giving the area a bounty of color and texture. Plus, this variety of plants helps to keep the bugs at bay. He also incorporated two potted palm trees for an exotic feel. The blue spruces behind the waterfall draw attention to the area and the added boulders by the pool act as perfect jumping rocks. 

Travertine was installed for the hard surfaces and cobble stone creek beds for texture and to keep the mulch away.

“These help keep the pool clean and help with drainage,” noted Barber. “They act like gutters and barriers but are pretty at the same time.  When the water lands on the patio area, it drains through the cobblestone and away from the pool.”

The contiguous hot tub area was also outfitted in travertine.

“We added on to the existing patio area and moved a wall further out to accommodate the design and the hot tub.”

Happiness is a day at the pool

“We are so happy with how this whole project came together,” smiled Cathy. “And the fact that our daughter keeps coming home to visit is another advantage!”


  • Contractor: Renovations by Starr
  • Interior Designer: Evolve Interiors
  • Landscape Designer & Construction: Next to Nature Landscape

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