Fantasy Becomes Reality
Passion for medieval times leads to unique outdoor living space
The back yard behind the home of Adam Bohn is a place where the lines between fantasy and reality become a bit blurred. Fire flickers in large stone urns and mist floats eerily across the surface of the water as it tumbles down over rock ledges, while a mythical dragon keeps watch.
For Adam, this is his reality. As owner of online gaming company Artix Entertainment, Adam has more than 130 million registered users playing AdventureQuest Worlds and other games within a medieval setting. His home is both a place to live and, on occasion, the perfect place to shoot scenes for his games. Several commercials and an independent movie called “Mr. Engagement” have been shot here as well.
Fun and fantasy intersect
Designed to evoke a medieval chateau, this home comes complete with a small moat and flickering gas lamps flanking the driveway. But it is the rear of the home where the party really begins. Large glass doors across the back of the home open onto a raised seating patio featuring handsome Brown Jordan outdoor furniture. Columns crowned by high arches divide this upper patio from the lower level.
“My philosophy is that the outdoor living space has to reflect the owner’s personality,” says Ryan Hughes, the lead designer and a principle in Outdoor Nation, the company that designed and executed the project. “The first thing that Adam told my designer, Adam Heath, and myself was that it had to be fun. Adam (Bohn) was really involved with the project from the start and he and Adam Heath really got along well. They are both ‘techy’ people.”
Hughes credits Adam Bohn with the idea to add the dragon sculpture. “He also had the idea of the moat and drawbridge in the front of the home and allowed us to take that idea and run with it.”
The primary focal point of this outdoor space is a large, raised, rectangular pool with a tumbling waterfall over the fieldstone front face. In essence, this pool is a reverse infinity edge design in which the overflow wall becomes a main feature. Water trickles down the stone wall and splashes into a lower trough which runs the full length of both the pool and hot tub areas. A plank bridge leads to a raised platform spotlighted by a large concrete dragon and a very large spa.
To further keep with the medieval theme, flaming firepots perch at either end of the stone pool edge and a large firepit dominates the far corner. Jets of water shoot out of the deck, arc out over the trough and into the pool, adding motion and visual excitement. And, with the push of a button, a bank of billowing fog rises off the water. This mist system by Fogco, creates the mood and also cools the area at the same time. “When the fires are glowing and the mist is rolling, it creates an amazing effect,” Hughes says.
For Adam, having fun was the first priority. “We have lots of functions here,” Adam says and according to those around him, you never know what will happen. They once pranked Matt Stover, the author of several Star Wars novels, who had come over for dinner, by having ninjas and other camouflaged characters suddenly appear out of nowhere. Somehow they managed to maintain a straight face the entire time. Another time, “we fit 23 people in the hot tub just to see if we could do it,” Adam laughs. At a recent party, the visiting mermaids were a huge hit with the neighborhood children.
An additional feature created to meet Adam’s entertaining needs is the raised platform area by the firepit. Under normal circumstances, it hosts a handsome outdoor seating selection by Source Outdoor. Come party time, this becomes the band stand and it is fully wired for sound.
Adam purchased the home from builder Brian Kahrs, owner of Bay Luxury Builders, while it was still under construction. This turned into a fortuitous partnership, as Kahrs was able to customize the property exactly to Adam’s specifications. In the meantime, they became good friends and Kahrs has since given up his business to work for Artix Entertainment full time.
One of Adam’s ideas that Kahrs implemented during construction was to extend the covered outdoor living area to create a large, outdoor kitchen. Off to the right of the raised patio, the outdoor kitchen centers around an enormous granite-topped table which seats up to ten people. Around the perimeter of the space, a Fire Magic gas grill and under-counter refrigerator plus a full sink cover all the cooking needs.
The flow and texture of the space was an important aspect of the design of this project. “We used texture variation to define the spaces,” Hughes says. Hughes and Heath chose smooth travertine marble for the raised patio adjacent to the house and for the raised patios that flank the pool in either corner. In the lower central corridor they used a pressed concrete product call MegaArbel to create a different, earth-inspired texture. “We wanted a clean, more formal effect close to the house with the feeling of stepping down into Middle Earth as you moved close to the pool,” Hughes explains. The rough flagstone walls of the pool edge add another strong textural element.
The plantings in this project have been kept fairly simple. “We used blocks of plants to create texture,” says Hughes. “A common mistake people make is they use too many types of plants. Then they have a hard time keeping up with them.” On this project, a bed of Hawthorne, bamboo and Tai plants in one area contrast with low growing juniper and camellia bushes in another.
Lighting was also a very important aspect of this project. From recessed spotlights in the ground, to the gas lamps out front, to the LED lighting in the pool, the lighting was an integral component to properly setting the stage and tying the space together. In fact, it is one of Adam’s favorite elements of the property. “Coming home at night to see the glowing gas lamps that line the drive really makes me grateful for what I have been able to accomplish. It is still hard to believe sometimes,” he says.
The quest is not over yet though. While Adam loves the character the dragon brings to his castle, the search is not over for the ultimate creature. And when he does find it, you can be sure it will be out of this world.