Tropical Paradise

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This backyard resort could make most any getaway destination envious!

Story by Ann E. Butenas   |   Photos by Matt Kocourek




“Get in the pool, everybody!” If pools could talk, this one would certainly bear such a welcoming message. With so many wonderful features and a host of surrounding landscape masterpieces, this Leawood backyard could make most any tropical resort jealous!

“This whole backyard is completely usable,” noted Complete Pools owner Joe Donnelly of this veritable paradise.

The heated, salt water pool is a true focal point of the space, but all of the accompanying treasures and treats definitely beg for equal time. With a shallow end depth of three feet to its deepest end of five feet, the pool boasts a glass beads interior shell which not only enhance the beauty of the water but also provide a massage-like feel to the feet. (Can you say “spa?”)

After you have made your way across the pool, why not cozy up to the swim up bar where one of three built-in stools awaits you as you relax and anticipate a freshly-made pizza from the outdoor pizza oven or something fresh off the grill? Why bother packing your bags and dealing with airport traffic when you can enjoy an idyllic slice of relaxation right here? Feel free to grab a drink from the bar and wade over to the sun ledge where you can immerse the lower half of your body in the water while keeping your head and upper body above the water line for an afternoon siesta.




“This whole space was designed with a natural look in mind,” said Donnelly, referencing the flagstone on the hot tub wall, the earth-toned tile on the pool’s water line and the paved stone surrounding the pool, coupled with the two sheer water falls, one by the bar and one contiguous to the hot tub. The pool has its own heater, as does the spa tub, each with its own filtration system.

Despite all of the intricate work that went into this pool design, the maintenance is relatively low.

“We incorporated an in-floor cleaning system that pops up and stirs the dirt up, requiring minimal brushing on the homeowner’s part,” explained Donnelly. “We also poured a concrete foundation pad upon which the surrounding pavers were set so that they do not move over time.”

In keeping pace with technology, the accessories to the pool and the surrounding landscaped areas can be controlled both on and off-site via an iPhone.

“All of the lights, waterfalls and spa heater can be controlled through the phone,” noted Donnelly. “So if the homeowner is coming home from work and wants to relax in the spa after dinner, he can program the tub to be warmed up for him at a pre-determined time.”

Donnelly is quick to add that the entire design was a group effort.




“Next to Nature provided all of the surrounding landscape features, including the outdoor kitchen and the cantilevered pergola made of stained rough cedar over the dining area,” he said.

For anyone who loves the outdoor life, this set up boasts a wonderland of “toys,” including the pizza oven, smoker, refrigerator and 65” outdoor television. Partially surrounding the kitchen are two bars, a smaller one on the right and a 45-degree upper bar to the left, from which a waterfall cascades.

“We used Brentwood stone on the bar countertops and stone veneer on the bar areas and on the oven,” noted landscape designer Adam Lang of Next to Nature. “There is also ample built-in lighting and LED lights under the swim-up bar.”

To add more ambiance to the space, the owner incorporated an outdoor stereo system.

“This is definitely their own little resort,” smiled Lang.

Highlighting areas around the pool are eye-catching landscape islands with rock, one of which is home to a live palm tree, which thrives even in this Midwestern climate.




“We plant the tree at the beginning of the season,” explained Lang. “We then take it out in the winter and either toss it or store it in Birds Botanicals in the caves off I-435. For this particular homeowner, we store the tree in the caves during the colder months and then replant it when they are ready to open the pool.”

Lang indicated that when the home was initially built, his company did the area around the lanai and fire pit, along with a paver driveway out front. The following spring, the pool was installed, which was a three-month endeavor.

“We provided the pool decking, landscape and had the putting green installed by VersaSport of Kansas, based in Wichita,” said Lang.

Attention to detail was a top priority for this residence.

“There are almost 100 lighting fixtures around the entire property, along with dozens of trees and plantings” emphasized Lang. “This has definitely been one of our larger residential projects to date.”



Pool: Complete Pools   |   Landscape: Next to Nature Landscaping   |   Kansas City: Deck Builders  |  Furnishing Designer: Lifestyles By Design   |   Furniture: North Cape International, Summer Classics and Treasure Garden   |   Putting Green: VersaSport of Kansas

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