< Artesian in the News: Charlotte Observer, July 29 2004


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The feature article below was originally featured in the July 2008 edition of:

A Fairytale Ending
A basic yard is transformed into an inviting outdoor paradise

By Lee Rhodes
Photos by JoAnn Sieburg-Baker

Private spaces, such as this quaint concrete bench, are tucked along the perimeter of this outdoor living area. A cobblestone patio, inviting pool and elaborate stone fireplace replaced the open, water-logged backyard. Crews tore down the original garage bays and basketball court area to make way for the new addition. Lush landscaping and strategically placed potted plants add visual interest throughout the yard.

A circular driveway and a brick walkway with steps help ease the steep grade in the front yard.
Once upon a time, on a quiet cul-de-sac in the enviable neighborhood of Quail Hollow, a beautiful home perched somewhat uncomfortably on its lot.

The driveway meandered up to the house at an odd angle, the landscaping was in need of a lift, and the façade lacked character. As for the backyard, it was a swampy tract of land whose only defining characteristic was the oversized garage jutting into its depths.

Today, the transformation from what once was is so complete that it’s almost as if a magic fairy waved her wand. Carefully appointed details give the front yard enormous curb appeal, and the back is a lush landscape and stunning outdoor living area that Goldilocks herself would never leave.

Craftsmen Construction Company, Inc., acted as general contractors, utilizing the talents of project manager Dan Owens and superintendent-on-site Dan Dyer, while Scott Reister of TG&R Landscape Group handled landscape architecture and plant installation. “From the before shots and after shots, you don’t realize how many steps were involved,” says David Brown, owner of Craftsmen Construction. “It’s mind-boggling.”

Freshening up the front
Purchasing an existing home usually means you have to live with the design decisions of previous owners. In this case, a previous owner had incorporated an addition to the driveway that approached the house at a peculiar and steep angle. “It was supposed to be a circular drive but didn’t have any circularity to it,” explains the homeowner.

The contracting team tore out the existing drive, then updated it as a curved drive that balances nicely against the front of the home. They altered the pitch of the land and smoothed it out to reduce the drastic climb, which entailed lowering the driveway by several feet. “The solution was to lower it four or so feet and build a retaining wall,” says Brown. “It was so steep we had to get a dump truck and cantilever it down.”

The retaining wall creates a tier effect in front of the house. A series of stately brick steps, gas lanterns and meticulous landscaping complete the look. After much consideration, the homeowners also determined that the home needed a covered entryway. It was a small decision with a big impact. “Adding that portico absolutely changed the appearance of the front of the house,” they say.

Boosting the back
The must-haves for the backyard portion of the makeover were straightforward: “We asked them to give us a nice entertaining area but to minimize the amount of grass, because the backyard had been so wet,” explains the homeowner.

“Wet” may be an understatement. The steep slope of the backyard was creating endless runoff against the foundation of the home, a concern, to be sure, and also the cause of the swamp-like ground. The contracting team had to haul trucks of gravel in, to build a quasi-road in order to maneuver their equipment into the backyard. Throughout the process, they frequently had to pump water off the property and ultimately installed an extensive drain system in the backyard.

For its part, the garage was originally built as several large bays with an extension on top, but the extension’s roofline was out of sync with the garage and the house itself. It also extended so far into the backyard that it cut all usable space in half. The solution? To tear down the bays that had been added on and build an architectural extension of the garage, which includes a full bathroom in close proximity to the pool. The couple determined the garage should have brick veneer to match the house, and they added elaborate, carriage-house style garage doors.

“We extended the footers, dug down beside existing ones, pumped new concrete in there and laid brick veneer on top of that,” says Brown. “To the casual observer that’s nothing, but that’s a huge deal.”

A new, inviting space
The lattice-encased breezeway was revamped into an inviting sun space, effectively connecting the garage with the house, as it had not been connected before. “It just turned out to be wonderful,” says the homeowner. “It’s cool in the summer, and there are windows everywhere so there is always a lot of fresh air.”

Other imitation-worthy details include cobblestone paving, an outdoor fireplace and gas lanterns scattered throughout the space. Strategically placed landscape lighting illuminates the platoon of tall trees, and a brick wall, provided by TG&R, surrounds the entire backyard.

“We loved working with TG&R, as well as with Craftsmen,” says the homeowner. “Even though it was an invasive experience, it was as good an experience as you can have.”

Finally, there is the oasis that is the swimming pool, an enchanting retreat in its own right. “The pool is the centerpiece of the backyard,” the homeowner concludes. “It is great to look at, fun to swim in and fun to just be lazy in and around.”

Landscape architect and plant installation: D. Scott Reister, ASLA of TG&R Landscape Group; Hardscapes: TG&R Landscape Group; Bella Design;
Pool: Rod Worthington, Artesian Pools;
Architect: Bill Prestwood, AIA, Don Duffy Architecture;
General contractor: Craftsmen Construction Company, Inc.;
Project manager: Dan Owens

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