It all started with a simple request for a patio and fire pit, but the Stapletons’ Waconia backyard redesign ended up becoming so much more.
Although it took about four years from the initial plans to completion, the Stapletons will tell you the project—which included a pool, outdoor kitchen and sport court—was well worth the wait.
Amy and Sean Stapleton built their home overlooking Lake Waconia in 1999, and the grassy, sloping backyard served them fine until their three children (Olivia, Tim and Emma) began to grow. The yard sloped so steeply to the lake that there was no flat surface for lawn furniture, and the children couldn’t easily access the lake without parental involvement. “We wanted certain amenities, but had no idea how to lay it all out,” Amy says. “We didn’t have the vision. But once the project was done, the flow and layout are perfect…very smooth and comfortable.”
After consulting with Southview Design, it became clear that with a little inventive planning, the Stapletons’ backyard could meet their needs for recreation and entertaining for years to come. “It’s like an extension of our house now,” Sean says. “We spend more time outside than inside. There is something for everybody: a swimming pool with a slide and diving board, a hot tub, water feature, a highly visible fire feature that also provides warmth on cooler evenings, and an outdoor kitchen.”
Combining so many elements in the backyard meant maximizing the layout to ensure easy access to all the feature elements, says Tim Johnson, a landscape designer and partner at Southview Design. “Careful thought had to be given as to how the clients intended to use their space,” Johnson says. “First and foremost, project design must reflect the lifestyle of our clients. Whether we work in phases or install the project all at once, the clients should see their wish list come to life.”
In this case, Johnson chose to position the pool area so it could be accessed through the side yard, which eliminated the need for friends and neighbors to come through the house. The unusual layout of the pool—it’s angled from the house in a non-traditional way—makes for dramatic sight lines. “I thought swimming pools had to be parallel or perpendicular to the house,” Sean says. “But as you come down the stone steps from the side yard, the sight line is right down the diving board. That is just cool. You want to jump right in the pool.”
The outdoor kitchen was positioned just outside the lower level family room, making it easy to cook and lay out the food during large family gatherings. A custom-designed boulder gas-fire pit made with blue fire glass serves as another gathering space during large parties or quiet evenings at home.
The hot tub and custom made basalt column outdoor shower are at the base of the main level deck stairs—not only for convenience, but also some additional privacy.
The sport court with adjustable baskets is tucked away at the side of the garage and fenced to keep the sports play contained. “It’s always been about having enough space to entertain family and friends,” Sean says. “The swimming pool and sports court are the ‘kid’ areas, with enough space and distance to allow for uninterrupted adult conversations around the dining area, the boulder fire pit, and the kitchen. It’s close, but not too close.” //