This backyard oasis offers resort-like amenities with the casual and relaxed comforts of home.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Anderson
All page-turning fairy tales that deliver a heart-warming ending rely on a strong cast of characters in order to bring the story to life. This particular backyard paradise sets the stage for an amazing story of how one couple’s vision was dramatically, eloquently, and timelessly brought to fruition because of the tremendous rapport and teamwork associated with those who delivered on the homeowners’ intended message and dream. And in true fairy tale fashion, the idea that being swept off one’s feet is strictly a sensation for the leading lady, rest assured this paradise of the plains will make every guest feel like a leading man or woman. You have been warned: It may be impossible to keep your feet on the ground as you traverse the grounds of this luxuriously captivating Western Shawnee, Kansas residence that has even somehow managed to catch the attention of Hollywood.
“Just a few weeks ago, Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend stayed in our home (through the efforts of Airbnb) for a few days when they were in Kansas City on tour,” expressed the owner, indicating Tiegen posted photos of the backyard to social media during that time. From there, it wasn’t long before media outlets such as TMZ, People and Bravo ran with the scoop. “We were amazed at the reaction!”
Before the owners could call this particular address home, however, it took a few chapters to reach the climax of the story. Raised in humble beginnings with three siblings by a single mom in Las Vegas, the homeowner used to dream of one day owning a large home.
“I would go to the Street of Dreams and tour those multi-million dollar, over-the-top homes when I was a kid, and would dream about having my own resort-style home in the future,” expressed the homeowner. “I didn’t necessarily want an over-the-top grand home that was cold and museum-like, but I did want something cozy and comfortable with relaxing, resort-like amenities.”
Fast forward to present day where hard work, determination, a strong spirit of entrepreneurship andn the desire to bring into focus a long-awaited vision, the homeowner now stands in awe and in equal appreciation of what has transpired.
“We chose to live in Kansas City and fell in love with Shawnee after first renting a house in the area,” he indicated. Once they had found the perfect lot, it was time to dig in. They discovered a 19-acre lot tucked away on a corner, the proverbial jackpot, but there were a few hurdles along the way that, once overcome, led to the homeowners creating a budget specifically for a backyard pool.
“Because I had sold a company I owned around that time, and because we also had the dream property, we decided the to put more money into this project and basically went crazy on this outdoor stuff!” laughed the homeowner. From there, it was time to contract with the professionals to get the job done, and working in perfect tandem with the homeowners on this endeavor was an award-winning cast of talent, including Starr Homes, Land Art, Midwest Pools, Nature’s Touch and Puliatti Designs. Beautifully orchestrated by the homeowners, this dream-come-true truly inspires and captivates all of the senses.
An integral design voice from ground-breaking through completion, family friend and experienced interior and exterior designer, Stacey Puliatti wholly understood the vision the clients desired, and while fully partnering with the homeowners, she was also given free rein to incorporate her creations and inspirations.
“This was the most fun I have had in my life,” Puliatti expressed. “And I wanted to make sure it became something they would be proud to own. I was thrilled they hired me to be a part of this experience to help them create their dream. This home feels like a fairy tale.”
Working from a vision palette with a French Chateau and Old World Charm in mind, Puliatti describes this home as one that exudes warmth, charm and spectacular character. From the front door clear to the back of the home, the seamless integration of all seasons can only be described as breath-taking.
“All of us who worked on this are beyond ecstatic about this property, and even though it is new, the elements within make it reminiscent of something you might see in the legendary hills of France,” she expressed. “I was blessed to have this opportunity with the clients who believed in me. That was the greatest honor for me, and putting this together was the most fun I have had in my life.”
Without question, the primary focal point of the grand pool with a larger-than-life personality is rather substantial for a residential pool, but it confidently holds its own within this glorious space.
“This is basically a free form salt water pool with an attached spa that spills over into the main pool,” noted Eric Thies, co-owner of Midwest Pools, who oversaw the installation of this project with wife Emily and son Jeremy, also co-owners.
Although initially designed by Lorax Design Group, Thies and his team catapulted from that concept and provided some notable design influences of their own, creating a highly user-friendly pool. Some of the highlights of the infinity edge pool area include the lower pool, which acts as a holding area of sorts to collect spillover from the water fall, which extends about 25 feet across.
“The main pool area is about five feet deep in the middle, as the owners wanted to be able to play volleyball in it,” noted Thies.
Adding to the ambiance are a variety of colored Pentair glow lights found in the pool, spa and catch basin. A sunken fire pit area is a perfect place for relaxing in the evening, and the effortless incorporation of water and fire elements, a beach entry, gorgeous stone work and stunning landscaping complete the scene.
“The stone work and landscape really do make a pool,” stated Thies, giving a strong nod of appreciation for the work done by Land Art and Nature’s Touch. “Their amazing work frames my work and accents the water elements. When you walk up to this pool and surrounding areas, it’s like a backyard paradise, almost as if you are at a resort in Mexico.”
Blake Watson, owner of Nature’s Touch, provided all of the natural stonework, not only for this project, but for both the entire interior and exterior of the home.
“This project grew as we worked on it, especially as the homeowners saw the quality and craftsmanship we provided,” he noted. “We brought ideas to the table and worked hand-in-hand with the owners, the landscapers, the designer and the pool company. It was a total team effort.”
The homeowner agreed. “When Nature’s Touch gave us samples of their work, we knew they were the ones to do this project.”
Watson gave superintendent Nick Scott a metaphorical standing ovation, noting his day-to-day attention to the details resulted in the unparalleled results.
“Nick basically ran this job and did an outstanding job,” emphasized Watson.
Matt Alberts, owner of Land Art, Kansas City’s premier exterior design build firm, equally appreciated being a part of this completely customized project, knowing his team could exceed the homeowners’ every expectation.
“Together we were able to produce an exceptional outdoor environment, creating a product in a timely manner that has never been seen before in the Kansas City market,” said Alberts. “This home sits on nearly a 20-acre parcel that is heavily wooded, so we had to strategically leave trees in place for access and emphasis while cutting down others. We worked to produce a striking balance with all of the trees, shrubs, flowers, and landscape lighting, pulling it all together for continuity, as well as a grand presentation. Nothing about this space is forced or contrived.”
Other amenities within the backyard include an outdoor kitchen and dining area, a pool house with its own bath and shower, a swing bed and a lower patio with a pergola, with access from the basement side of the home, and an in-ground trampoline near the whimsical bridge that crosses the stream and bed of river rocks.
When the owners partnered with builder Starr Homes, they knew they desired a free flowing experience, seamlessly connecting the inside of the home to the outside, with a strong sense of the backyard just beckoning folks to come outside.
“By putting the lanai across the entire back of the house, we were able to create a great circulation to the home, providing walk in and walk out places in multiple points,” noted Gerry Starr, who gave the owners credit for embracing such a strong vision. “We worked with many resources to perfect what they were after and everyone involved really got the colors and textures right, combined with the architecture and vision for this incredible outside space, which is like a private, secluded oasis.”
Creating a decided ambiance of comfort, elegance and ample space for ease of entertaining, Starr expressed that the overall space simply feels perfect.
“It entertains well and is remarkably comfortable,” smiled Starr. “I can honestly say I could never leave if I lived here.”
Despite all of the obvious eye-catching elements of this paradise, perhaps what captures the heart most is the people with whom the homeowners will share and enjoy the space for years to come: family and friends, confirming the most important elements installed here are those timeless relationships.
“We wanted this to be a comfortable and welcoming place to gather when we entertain,” reflected the homeowner.
Pool: Midwest Pools | Designer: Puliatti | Landscape: Land Art | Stone: Nature’s Touch | Builder: Starr Homes | General Design Concept Pre-Construction: Lorax Design Group | Handcrafted Custom Lights: Solara | Doors & Windows: Kansas City Building Supply | Fireplace: Earthcore Industries | Roll Down Patio Screens: Screen Warehouse | Roof: Century Roofing | Ceiling Patio Lumber: Haven Contracting | Patio Heating Element: Calcana Infrared Patio Heater