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Just like everyone else, I also have the need to remodel both the inside and out on occasion. As much as I enjoy the finished product, it is often painful to go through the process. Having your home turned upside down during this time is stressful for all. I remodeled our yard here in Lakewood in September 2001, which of course was in the middle of one of the darkest times in our history. The yard was very basic both front and back, but being in the business and having all the resources at my disposal, we decided to tackle both the front and back and really capture some much-needed living space.

13 years ago the material of choice was flagstone, so I jumped on the bandwagon with everybody else and did both my front courtyard and backyard in that material. I installed a putting green, two water features, an above ground spa with surround, a fire pit, lots of tropical plants because I’d like to live in a lush environment and some great lighting. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made and have spent thousands of hours in our backyard as an extension of our living space. Well it was time to do it again. Of course it all started with, “honey I think we need new carpet”, but as you know it never ends there. Before you know it, we bought new furniture and painted the entire inside of the house. It was then time to move to the outside, so I put together a new plan and did it all over again.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, it all starts with a master plan. I knew I did not need to demo everything because there were several items I wanted to keep. The most important thing to us was a large and solid shade structure. For more than a decade we survived with those portable gazebos you buy at the local home improvement center to go over our back table for shade. They only last a couple of years as you know before the fabric fades in our hot summer sun and monsoons end up tearing it apart when it gets fragile. The Ramada I wanted to build was 16 feet wide by 16 feet long and was attached at our roofline. The top of the roof is conventional rolled asphalt which is necessary when the pitch of the roof is not very steep, but I did not want to use drywall and paint for the ceiling. It never holds up well in Arizona whether so I decided to use tongue and groove wood. I also did not want to do conventional support posts so I designed small masonry pillars approximately 2 feet tall and did my main supports with wooden Vega poles that I stained along with the tongue and groove ceiling. I also installed a ceiling fan with light and had that on a dimmer switch. We then stained all the wood because that last much longer than paint.

I installed a high-pressure misting system around the Ramada perimeter which I am anxious to try out this summer. Our outdoor television was mounted under the Ramada on the exterior wall of the house and I had an A/V company come in to install the TV and a nice set of outdoor speakers.

Designing it this way keeps the TV high and dry all the time and remains outdoors 24/7. The Ramada now provides us twice the shade as the portable structure did and of course aesthetically, it is much more pleasing to the eye. Our pool had cool deck around it and we had a flagstone patio as our main deck source for all those years. The new “IT” material is travertine, so I did the pool and our main patio all in that material. It is a Mexican Noche color and I chose three different sizes set in a random pattern. This is one of the most popular colors and patterns being sold in travertine today. What a difference it made! Blending those two surfaces into one large patio of the same material made the yard look larger and feel larger. The fire pit used to be round and made of stacked flagstone, but I made it slightly larger and square and capped it in travertine. I also had a custom iron wood grate made by one of my contractors to support the wood I burn in it.

I loved having a putting green all those years and love the green element of grass without the maintenance so I removed the old turf which was over 13 years old now and slightly faded and replaced it with new material. Technology has come a long way in that department and putting green has never looked better. The fringe has a realistic look and feels and the putting green rolls true like a real golf green. The spa we purchase 13 years ago is in fantastic condition. The surround was a combination of flagstone on all the wall caps and stair treads and the vertical surfaces were stuccoed and painted to match the house. Because stone veneer is so popular and goes well with travertine I decided to give the spa a much-needed facelift. As you can see from these photos, it really makes a difference. New LED lighting was installed throughout the yard on all palm and tree canopies as well as inset lights in the steps to the spa. I took out a few old plants, not many but the ones that looked a little weary, added a few vines and before you know it, we were finished. What started with just a new carpet in the house turned into a very expensive inside and outside remodel, but since this is a home we will keep in our portfolio and use as one of our vacation homes for the next 30 years, we both couldn’t be happier with the results or the investment we made. As I have said before, everything we do when we remodel anything comes down to budget. Establish one first, do a little research, and come up with a design direction and there is nothing you can’t accomplish. If you are thinking about doing your own front or back yard remodel, don’t forget at Outside Living Concepts all consultations are free. Please visit our website at for more information.

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