A pre-dawn swim under the stars. A refreshing float after a long day of yardwork. A raucous game of water basketball. While a Columbus family has very different reasons for loving their pool, there’s even more for them, and their extended family and friends, to love in their back yard.
The yard has gone through several revisions since Missy and Jason purchased the home 17 years ago—and inherited a “swampy site filled with massive tree stumps, mud, overgrowth and monster weeds.” They made do, using a 10-by-10-foot area of recycled pavers as a patio, until they could install a simple paver patio and new driveway, and replace the wet area with grass. That suited them fine for about seven years. Then they had kids. Twins, actually. For a while, the large lawn fit their needs, first serving as a playpen of sorts, then a pint-sized football field.
Along the way, the couple realized they didn’t want, or need, to move ever again. With that in mind, about 10 years ago they upgraded the driveway and installed a new patio of thermal-pattern bluestone pavers.
Changing with the times
Even then, the utility of the yard began to fade as the boys, now 13, spent more time on the school football fields and at friends’ country club pools. So about two years ago, the couple gave their yard a makeover that would last for the long haul.
“When you’ve lived somewhere for so long and decide it’s your forever home, you make decisions based on that,” Missy says.
The patio gained functionality with a grill island and corner fireplace, while a pool area replaced most of the lawn. Recognizing their young teens needed their own space to hang out with friends, the couple worked with Rine Landscape Group to create spaces that flow yet feel separate, and appeal to all ages, year-round.
“Every square inch is in use,” says Shawn Rine, who worked with the family to reimagine the once-neglected space.
“We started working with Shawn when he was 16 years old and we’ve just followed him as he’s become so successful,” Missy says. “He’s like a permanent fixture in our family.”
A bit of separation
When the couple’s friends and their children come over, the adults enjoy appetizers and drinks, centered around a comfy couch in front of the fireplace, while the kids play in the pool.
“We have a general idea what’s going on without being right there,” Missy says.
Adults take over the poolside table when the family hosts large group dinners, but the kids often claim it during smaller gatherings.
“They can be having their own party by the pool,” Missy says.
As a result, the boys’ friends are now a near-permanent installation in the yard as well—at any time of year. This space doesn’t become a ghost town when the temperature drops. The pool is filled early in the year, usually in April, and drained late, and the couch stays put in front of the fireplace until the first of December. The grill doesn’t get a season off, nor does the Big Green Egg, which smoked last year’s Thanksgiving turkey.
With the yard fulfilling so many functions, Rine and the homeowners had to be judicious about their selection of materials and placement of elements. To maintain the flow, physically and visually, multiple traffic patterns had to be considered—from the driveway, into the house, around the fireplace and to the pool. The steps from the patio to the pool area were redesigned five times to create a transition yet maintain a clear line of sight. To achieve the right balance of unity and separation, the bluestone patio pavers are repeated around the pool, yet a sandstone wall delineates the patio from the pool deck and the driveway. By doubling its standard width, from eight inches to 16, the wall became one of the yard’s most defining features.
Something simple like that can make such a big impact,” Rine says.
It was also important to visually connect the outdoor space to the house, so details like red brick on the grill island and a cap on the fireplace mimic features from the home’s exterior. A reclaimed mantel on the fireplace nods to reclaimed barnwood flooring in the kitchen and mudroom.
While this stage of the yard’s evolution is finally complete, Missy foresees more change in the future.
“We would like to have a bathroom that’s accessible directly from the pool area or maybe add a shower into the existing changing area,” she says, to keep wet feet out of the house. “That will probably be our next project.”
Resources: Landscape design and installation: Rine Landscape Group; Dining table, bistro table and couch: Restoration Hardware