What happened in Las Vegas didn’t totally stay in Las Vegas. Steve and Natalie Herres of Bellbrook love Las Vegas getaways, including staying at the fabulous resorts. When it came time for the Herreses to build their own backyard oasis, they used many sensational ideas they had seen in the Entertainment Capital of the World. “We bought our home in Bellbrook four years ago. A big part of its appeal was the back yard surrounded by woods but it was a plain space of just grass and trees,” says Natalie. “We wanted something really nice with a pool, great outdoor spaces and many fun features.”
Mission accomplished. The Herreses’ back yard, completely overhauled in 2012, is a glamorous setting with a marvelous custom inground pool, water fountains and falls, fire bowls, fireplaces, outdoor kitchen/bar, lounging areas and other amenities—a private resort that somehow remains remarkably true to the lush verdant backdrop. Natalie reports that Steve, who once worked in landscaping, had the ideas and talent to devise the initial design. Designer Grant Fulmer then drew up the plans and Judd Powell, owner of Tom’s Mulch and Landscaping of Bellbrook, oversaw the entire project.
Truckloads of dirt had to be brought in to create the right elevation for the pool as well as other backyard areas, which include spaces where the patio furniture and gathering spots are. “The natural lay of the land, a sloping yard, was challenging,” admits Powell. “We had to create specific elevations for the pool and gathering spaces.”
Without a doubt, the star of the back yard is the incredible 20×40-foot freeform pool, custom built by Watermark Pools of Dayton. At the homeowners’ request, the pool is positioned so it can be seen from all rooms on the backside of the house. It’s a gunite pool; pneumatically sprayed concrete formed the seamless pool shell. The high-pressure application packs the concrete very densely, giving it strength and reducing the risk of leaks. Pool extras, all computer-controlled, serve up a true Las Vegas resort environment, most of which can be enjoyed from the nearby deck furniture. “Steve liked one feature from the Hard Rock Resort pool, one from the Mirage, another from the Aria and somehow they all made their way to our home in Bellbrook,” laughs Natalie. Laminar jets, illuminated with changing colors when the sun sets, smoothly shoot glass-like arches of water into the heated pool. Underwater LED lights add even more glamour.
It comes as no surprise that the Herreses’ backyard resort is a popular place as the family welcomes visitors, including friends of the couple’s children, 16-year old Jordan and 9-year-old Brooke. Steve, a precious metal dealer, and Natalie, a nurse at Miami Valley South, love relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Their carefully planned outdoor space allows them to do just that. “For instance, instead of running food and beverages back and forth from the house, we have an outdoor kitchen at one end of the pool,” says Natalie. The kitchen features a grill, a refrigerator and ice chest. The stone wall curves to create an outdoor bar with a stone base and a concrete countertop, all topped with a pergola.
The other end of the pool sports an outdoor fireplace surrounded by landscape rocks and more seating options. Pathways of pavers and steps invite you to explore more fire pits and seating areas that make the Herreses’ back yard flow easily into the surrounding woods. “We’ve kept flowering plants to a minimum, for low maintenance and so the overall effect is more of a green space than a flowery garden,” Natalie points out. “We first fell in love with the green, wooded setting and we didn’t want to change it.”