In southwest Ashtabula County, there is a home in the rural town of Roaming Shores where it is always party time. This is a house that every house wants to be: renovated, loved, filled with happy people and standing as a beautiful monument to everything enjoyable and meaningful. In 2010, the homeowners purchased this home on Lake Roaming Rock and have been hosting family and friends there just about every weekend since. The couple’s main residence is in Geauga County’s Russell Township, where they raised their three children, now all in their 20s, but it is to their Roaming Shores home that they all scramble for togetherness, for family time, for fun. As a child, the wife often came to this lake with her family to visit friends, so buying a house here as an adult with her own family was practical but also sentimental.
Before hosting any gatherings, the house—which was about 40 years old—needed to be gutted and the yard also needed a fresh start. The homeowners began with the interior renovation, but outside is where the real action took place, thanks to the design and execution of a master plan by The Ohio Valley Group.
Technically, the house had a lake view but it was all but obscured by the overgrown and uninspired back yard, which included only a lawn and way too many trees. Today, visitors find it hard to imagine the back yard the way the homeowners found it.
A large covered porch along the back of the house serves as the transition from indoors to out. A low deck connects the porch to the ground level by way of a few steps. One of the few original elements of the home’s exterior that the homeowners kept, the porch remains a favorite. A chandelier, ceiling fan, swing and Adirondack chairs make it easy to see why.
Part of the success of this back yard is that it includes many gathering areas that all work together. The space is not large but it easily accommodates 40+ guests and incorporates multiple spaces for sitting, dining, cooking, talking and playing.
The main patio is made from Uni-Stone Pavers and includes side-by-side built-in grills—one gas and one charcoal—to indulge the family’s love of cooking. The nearby fire pit provides an additional cooking option, since the homeowners fashioned it with a grate that keeps food placed just-so above the flames.
Seating on the main patio includes Polywood Adirondack chairs like those on the porch. An additional ten guests fit easily around the patio dining table, made from an aged tree that was cut down on the property. Still others can sit on bar stools at an eating area with a base made from the same pavers as the patio, and a granite top that matches the grill counters.
A few steps away, gravel surrounds tamped screening material on which a casual picnic table and benches offer another dining and conversation area. Venture a bit more into the shade, toward a small pavilion to find more seating, adjacent to a swaying hammock.
Each area flows into the next and is visually connected by landscaped beds surrounded by natural river stone and boulders, which are particularly well-placed around the water feature on the main level, near the fire pit. “It’s a bubbler,” the wife explains. “You get the ambiance and the sounds of water falling but pets and kids are safe since there is no deep water.”
There is, however, deep water in the lake itself, which is the crown of this glorious scene, accessible via curbstone steps with a beautiful wood railing that lead to the water’s edge, where a bar and barstools provide front-row water views. To landscape the steep slope alongside the steps, Ohio Valley planned for erosion control as well as aesthetics, with hostas and plenty of yellow daylilies that will spread over time. The plantings even held their ground in Northeast Ohio’s record-breaking rains of June 2015.
At the bottom of the steps, visitors at the dock soon spot a jet ski, two kayaks, one standup paddle boat, a motorboat, a fishing boat and a 20×6-foot foam water mat, that, when tossed onto the water becomes a squishy floating island. The family puts all this to good use with avid fishermen and women among their ranks and three generations of water enthusiasts.
The house, the back yard and the lake are in their glory in warm weather, but the homeowners visit regularly throughout the year and enjoy the property and views in every season.
Initially undetected but never unappreciated, the back yard is decidedly low-maintenance. Of the Adirondack chairs and barstools, the wife says, “We leave them out all winter and just power wash them in the spring.” The patio only requires an occasional spray of weed killer to keep it looking great. The flowers and shrubs will fill in nicely, but not spread too aggressively. The granite surfaces are maintenance free, as is the bubbler water feature.
The area is generously lit, but even this is low-maintenance. Low-voltage lights run along the railing to the water. Tiny bulbs illuminate the steps from the deck. Additional lights are tucked under the bar. They are all on timers, and this is a good thing because everyone here seems to be having too much fun to stop and turn the lights on.
Resources: Designer and contractor: The Ohio Valley Group; Countertops: Stoneworks