Hidden Gem

A secluded backyard is converted into a resort-like destination for entertaining friends and family.

By Ann Luongo Photography by Amber Jane Barricman
Design & Build:Artistic Grounds

Standing in front of this unassuming Cape-style home in Osterville Village, there is no trace of the secret it holds. But cross the white gravel driveway, unlatch the back gate and enter the yard and you might think you’ve taken a wrong turn. What you’ll see looks for all the world like a private resort, replete with a pool, an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit and a water feature. “People have no idea what’s behind the small house,” says homeowner Lisa. “We do lots of entertaining and we wanted flexibility of space.”

To execute the project, the homeowners hired Artistic Grounds in Marstons Mills. “I saw an article about Dustin Wolfe and Artistic Grounds in a magazine,” says Lisa, “and I thought, ‘That guy gets it.’ He’s really creative.”

Creative challenge

A gunite pool with color-changing LED lighting was installed lengthwise, perpendicular to the house, to allow for a larger pool, complete with a nine-foot-deep end and a shallow area for the children.

A gunite pool with color-changing LED lighting was installed lengthwise, perpendicular to the house, to allow for a larger pool, complete with a nine-foot-deep end and a shallow area for the children.

That creativity came in handy, when it came time to plan the design. “The challenge was to incorporate all of the elements the clients were asking for in the small space available, meeting setbacks, and engineering the pieces to fit well together without it looking crowded and overdone,” says Wolfe, owner of Artistic Grounds. “You can’t see it from the finished product, but there is a maze of footings, water piping, gas lines, electrical, drainage, water holding tanks, lighting wires and irrigation underground—all carefully engineered to squeeze into such tight quarters.”

The project started with clearing the land. Then, a gunite pool—heated with color-changing LED lighting—was installed. “Designing the pool to run front-to-back rather than side-to-side gave the layout a completely different feel,” Wolfe says. “It also allowed us to build a larger pool with a 9-foot-deep end as well as a shallow end large enough for younger children to play safely.” Set back at the far end of the pool, a water feature comprised of large stones, a waterfall and a whimsical mermaid were added.

Setting the bar

The swim-up bar has four stools displaying the number ‘5’ as a tribute to the homeowner’s brother, who passed away during the course of the project.

The swim-up bar has four stools displaying the number ‘5’ as a tribute to the homeowner’s brother, who passed away during the course of the project.

A sunken outdoor kitchen with a swim-up bar faces the pool, with a colorfully tiled “water-wall” feature beneath it. “The underwater bar-top and water-wall element dropping into the sunken kitchen with the swim-up bar was something I had not seen done before in combination and knew that it would bring something special to the space,” Wolfe says. The swim-up bar has extra special seating: each of the four stools displays the number ‘5,’ a tribute to the homeowner’s brother, who passed away during the course of the project. “Number five was his jersey number,” Wolfe explains.

Gathering areas

Closer to the home, but within steps of the pool, is a spacious patio area with a square, gas-powered stone fire pit, perfect for cooler evenings. Belgard Urbana stone pavers form the patio and walkway area surrounding the pool and are also used for flooring inside the sunken kitchen.

Attached to the home is a spectacular cabana large enough to entertain a crowd of guests, boasting a full bar with a large-slab bluestone countertop with barstools and a front-mounted, easily adjusted flat-screen TV that can be hidden behind cabinet doors when not in use.

Across from the cabana bar is a comfy wicker sofa from Frontgate with cream and gray cushions and blue Serena & Lily accent pillows, which inspired the color of the bead board ceiling. For added protection against the elements, automatic screens and canvas walls can be lowered around the cabana with a single control panel, which also controls the pool and landscape lighting, a Sonos music system and the fire pit.

“My favorite part of this project is that from the front of the house you would never know about the ‘hidden jewel’ in the backyard,” Wolfe says. “It never gets old when someone new is meeting us onsite [here] for the first time and they walk through the back gate and see the space. It always brings a smile [to my face] to listen to the reactions and comments.”

The final project is, indeed, something to be proud of.
“It’s why we bought this house,” adds Lisa. “To enjoy
the whole property.”

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