A Backyard Oasis

A broken hot tub leads to a couple completely rethinking their outdoor space.

By Laurie Higgins | Photography by Amber Jane Barricman


When Rosemary and Patrick O’Reilly first looked at the lot that would eventually become the setting for their summer home in Brewster 13 years ago, they traipsed through the woods and underbrush to the back of the property for a glimpse of the abutting Ocean Edge Golf Course. What they found sealed the deal. The view down the fairway was exactly as stunning as Patrick O’Reilly hoped it would be, so unlike most of his neighbors, he cleared out the trees that created a buffer from the golf course.

“My husband’s an avid golfer so this is like an ocean view for him,” says Rosemary O’Reilly. “He took everything down. He wanted to see the golf course every morning.”

The effect is stunning and creates a resort-like feel to the property that is perfectly in keeping with the homeowner’s desire for a summer haven. The sod-laid backyard flows like an extension of the golf course and creates a green oasis. A well-placed hammock and some Adirondack chairs in the yard offer a perfect vantage point to critique the golfers’ skill and style.

A sunken built-in bar offers a place to relax with a glass wine while enjoying views of the adjacent gold course.

A sunken built-in bar offers a place to relax with a glass wine while enjoying views of the adjacent gold course.

A broken hot tub leads to major changes

Two years ago, the backyard got a major makeover when the motor on the O’Reilly’s ten-year-old hot tub broke. They were vacationing in Arizona at the time and fell in love with the beautiful outdoor living areas they saw there. They had long wanted to move the hot tub off of its former position on the deck, so they decided a new hot tub would be just one part of a more extensive space where they could spend quality time with family and entertain friends.

To create their dream backyard they hired David Helmer of Blue Wave Construction in Harwich to build an outdoor living room surrounded by extensive decking. Bill Southwick of Bill Southwick Landscape and Lawn Care in Chatham did the stonework and landscaping.

“Bill and I often collaborate on these types of projects,” Helmer says. “Our focus is [on] listening to the customer and working with them to come up with an outdoor living area that’s just what they want.”

An unused back corner of the property seemed like the ideal location and Rosemary wanted the outdoor living room to be placed on an angle to give it a more pleasing aesthetic.

The centerpiece of the makeover is the actual living room. The room has AZEK polymer tongue-and-groove boards and D-board trim that look just like wood, but are more durable and easier to clean. Plantation-style large slat shutters are not only pleasing to the eye, but also allow breezes to flow on nice days and can be closed up tightly in bad weather. The flooring is Tuscan cherry polymer decking that continues out to encompass 900-square feet of decking, laid on the diagonal with a three-board border.

“The construction itself is an octagon within a square and it is designed to allow for a much larger seating area on the inside without making it too oppressive for the property,” Helmer says.

An abundance of spaces for entertaining

The cabana, awash in afternoon sunlight, features comfortable, weather-safe furnishings and window treatments and a flat-screen TV.

The cabana, awash in afternoon sunlight, features comfortable, weather-safe furnishings and window treatments and a flat-screen TV.

An eight-person hot tub—installed and maintained by Rod Cameron at Pool ‘N Patio & Beach Supplies in Dennis—rests on the deck in a convenient, central location: From the comfort of their hot tub, the homeowners can relax and watch movies or sports on the big-screen television or chat with people sitting at the nearby, recessed bar that conforms perfectly to the slope of the backyard.

A small staircase allows access to the bar, which is made from fieldstone and flagstone. The coordinating flagstone patios flow in pleasing curves that also create additional seating areas, including a lovely dining spot behind the bar that is surrounded by tall plants.

Another gathering area of the patio has a round gas fire pit built out of stone. Flames flicker through ground aqua-colored safety glass that resembles sea glass. Rosemary has filled the border in with beautiful stones and shells she collected at Nauset Beach to complete the look.

At night the whole backyard glows with soft lighting. In addition to the fire pit, the living room has recessed lighting around the perimeter and rope lighting in the ceiling. The bar area is lit from underneath and the hot tub has a color wheel so the water changes color.

“For us this is a late day area where we come home from the beach and, after dinner, we watch TV and get in the hot tub when it gets dark,” Rosemary says. “I think it’s even prettier at night.”

cricket-ln_sum_12_lounge-chairsAn abundance of plantings add the finishing touches. Rosemary and Southwick worked together to create the look she desired with lots of tall beach grasses adding a vacation-like feel and an abundance of hydrangeas because she loves how showy they are. Large groupings of black-eyed Susans add vivid splashes of color and coreopsis, sedum, coleus, zinnias complete the palate. Big bushy beds of impatiens create a lush feel, as do planters filled with hibiscus and sweet potato vines.

“This is a summer home for us, so most of the things we planted are things that are going to be in bloom when I’m here,” Rosemary says.

Comments are closed.