Fun and Games
Springfield backyard renovation offers entertainment for all ages
By Christina Kleiner | Photos by Daniel Feldkamp
More and more homeowners are looking to the back yard as a way to add extra square footage. In fact, updating or adding an outdoor living space was considered one of the top home improvement projects of 2011. From spacious patios and decks to outdoor kitchens and dining areas, the possibilities are virtually endless.
When Dr. Thomas and Andrea Rak moved into their Springfield home back in 2010, they had every intention of renovating the back yard. After making a few interior improvements, their attention turned to the outdoor space behind the house. “We purchased this home because of its great location,” Andrea says. “Plus, it sits on four wooded acres, which is something you don’t find so close to the city. We knew we wanted to take advantage of the private back yard.”
A strong, colorful base
The house already had a large deck off the kitchen, which overlooked a massive standard gray concrete patio. While the patio wasn’t pleasing to the eye, for Andrea, it was a starting-off point. “Some companies I met with suggested demolishing it,” she recalls. “But the patio was very solid, with only a few surface cracks. I wanted to utilize what was there rather than start from scratch.”
She brought in Jason Schell, president of Custom Outdoor Structures, to help her transform the bland patio into a usable outdoor living space. Schell and his team covered the patio with a concrete overlay to add color and texture. “We used a polyaspartic coating that is very similar to an epoxy, but it is much more durable,” Schell explains. “The overlay actually strengthens the concrete.”
The overlay also gives Schell the freedom to create any shape, color or texture a homeowner desires. The Raks’ patio features neutral earth-toned hues with a dark brown border.
Dining by candlelight
In addition to sprucing up the look of the patio, Andrea imagined adding a few additional elements to the space. “I wanted to incorporate a fire feature in the back yard, but our son Alex is six years old, so I wanted to make sure it was also safe.”
Since the Raks intended to use the patio to entertain friends and family, Schell suggested combining the fire feature with a dining table. The end result is a custom-made, curved concrete fire pit with an attached table. Schell topped the structure with a copper-toned liquid metal counter.
To accentuate the fire table, Schell added a sunburst design to the patio. “The sunburst was hand-carved and textured. It features a reflector enhancer, where pieces of metal are actually mixed into the sealer to give it a metallic look,” he explains.
Made in the shade
Another element is the custom lean-to, which houses an outdoor bar and provides some much-needed relief from the relentless sun. The lean-to features a copper roof and decorative concrete carved to look like stone. “There aren’t any limits when it comes to what you can do with concrete,” Schell says. “When you want to do something artistic outside, decorative concrete opens up a whole new world.”
The bar features the same decorative stone base and, when guests look closely, they’ll find a few extra details including Alex’s initial, a peace symbol and a heart, among other items. “It’s almost like “Where’s Waldo”—you never know what you’ll come across,” Andrea laughs.
A broom finish on the bar floor gives the concrete a wood grain look, while the liquid metal countertop, in dark gunmetal gray, completes the unique design. “I really enjoy the artistic side of carving the concrete,” Schell says. “I attribute this to my mother, she was an amazing painter and my inspiration when it comes to designing projects like this.”
A lower patio provides direct access to an indoor pool, one of the highlights of the house. “We spend a lot of time in here,” Andrea says. “It’s the perfect place for both adults and children to have fun and relax.”
The Raks were just returning from vacation when construction started on the patio last fall. Andrea says Thomas and Alex spent hours playing on a large chessboard at the resort. “When we came home, Jason wanted to know if we had any ideas for the lower patio and I automatically thought it would be a great addition.”
Schell carved the oversized chessboard into the patio and applied the same metallic reflector used to create the sunburst.
With summer right around the corner, the Raks say they’re excited to host their first official barbeque in their new back yard. “I want this to be a place where our friends and family, especially our son, can gather together and have fun. We can’t wait to have a back yard filled with people.”
Patio and hardscapes: Custom Outdoor Structures; Pool: Buckeye Pools
To see this landscaping article featuring:
outdoor kitchen, pool, decorative concrete, liquid metal countertop,
as it appeared in the Dayton Housetrends magazine,
please visit our June/July 2012 Digital Edition, pages 52-57.