When Jennifer Snook and her husband, Derek, decided to expand their outdoor living space, she promised it would be a worthwhile investment. Nearly a year later—and with the help of family and friends, she’s had no problem delivering on that promise.
“We use it year-round, so much more than I even thought we would,” says Jennifer, a self-employed interior designer. “The biggest challenge is getting quickly from the hot tub to the door when there’s snow on the ground.”
Working with Jonathan Spayde, principal of Landfare Ltd., the New Albany couple carefully crafted a 1,500-square-foot resort-style outdoor entertaining space that’s comfortable for all seasons, and all ages.
From the start, Jennifer’s vision for the separate covered and open spaces included “fire and water”—perhaps in the form of a fountain and a small fireplace that would bring a purpose and a focal point to the spaces. Through collaborating with Spayde, the scope of these ideas expanded to become the much-needed epicenters of activity and the heart of the outdoor area’s year-round appeal.
The notion of a fountain evolved into a 7-by-8-foot in-ground hot tub—tucked at the back of the wooded property—that seats 10 and converts to a bubbler fountain when not in use. The 18-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide gas-burning fireplace, supplemented with wood, keeps the party going during the winter months and adds ambiance during summer days spent relaxing by the fountain.
Smartly designed as a two-sided fireplace, it also anchors a sitting area, located a level up from the hot tub, that’s outfitted with spacious wicker couches.
Within this laid-back approach, the aim was a look that would be comfortable yet have the crisp style of their white-brick home, which reads as “contemporary” when compared to the red-brick Georgian designs that dominate the Snooks’ country club neighborhood.
As the new space flows down to the fireplace, then the hot tub, Spayde installed pavers that match the existing blue limestone, and painted the fireplace to match the house and the existing brick sitting wall that wraps around the sun deck.
Completing this sleek, sophisticated look, black upholstery, accented with chipper yellow and just a few pops of red, on all the seat cushions, helps visually connect the various spaces.
To lend indoor warmth to these outdoor spaces, the homeowner carefully curated a collection of elements that are typically associated with interior decor.
White columns paired with elegant black drapery provides visual separation and a sense of place on the covered patio, where the cedar beadboard ceiling is dotted with recessed lights for playing cards or other entertaining after-dark.
The covered dining and lounge areas are situated next to each other—just as they might be in an open floor plan—with a chandelier made from reclaimed oak grounding the dining table and a jute rug providing the parameters for a sitting space with a wrought-iron furniture set. There, accessories like potted plants, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and a custom walnut sideboard create a vignette that would be equally beautiful indoors.
Despite this indoor air, the spaces are designed for outdoor fun, so finishes were selected that would hold up to the elements—including rain, sleet, spills, snow, sun and children.
The furnishings, primarily from Restoration Hardware, are made of durable teak, concrete and wicker wrapped around an aluminum frame. Water-repellent Sunbrella fabric ensures the upholstery will hold up to stains and the sun, while, according to Spayde, the thermal-finished Pennsylvania blue limestone pavers provide extra traction for wet feet.
As for the more delicate items, the Snooks were able to use a standard flatscreen TV—rather than a pricier model rated for outdoor use—which is covered when it isn’t in use. The dramatic painting, resting on the exposed fireplace mantel, also is intended for indoor use, but Jenn simply treated it with the waterproofing spray that’s used by mountain climbers to protect their gear. The painting stays outside weathering the rain, snow and sun.
Since completing this outdoor living overhaul, the family has frequently enjoyed the fruits of their labor—relaxing on lounge chairs beneath the oversized umbrella, having dinner on the patio and hosting parties.
Now, the only concern is keeping the teens out of the hot tub.