Outdoor Living: Morningside Oasis

Connie and Ken McDaniel create a backyard retreat

Photograph by John Umberger

For five years, at the end of every long cycling trip, Ken McDaniel would turn to his wife Connie and ask, “Wouldn’t it be great to jump in a pool right now?” Connie didn’t take his suggestion very seriously, but one day, after a particularly grueling ride, she finally had to agree. That’s all the encouragement Ken needed to start investigating a backyard redo.

“We’d thought about a second home at the beach or in the mountains,” says Ken. “But we really love Atlanta, so we figured, let’s just build an oasis here and we can enjoy it forever.”

Working with Home ReBuilders and Artistic Pools, Ken and Connie, both financial executives, laid out the wish list for their Morningside backyard: a covered outdoor kitchen with room for lounging and dining, a pool for both exercise and relaxation, plus easy-to-maintain hardscapes that tie the two areas together.

The original yard had a typical wooden deck and grass lawn, with two lonely Cryptomeria shrubs on the side. The new pool breaks up the expanse with its asymmetrical stair-step shape, three waterfalls cascading off a side wall, and a shallow lounging area in the pool itself. This ten-by-ten-foot section is only a few inches deep and is an ideal spot for lounge chairs (there’s even a hole for inserting an umbrella). Another fun feature is the fire pit, rather than the traditional hot tub, alongside the pool. The fire pit becomes the gathering place in cooler months, when the McDaniels bring chairs down on the lawn around the hearth. In summer months, the flames provide ambience at night.

The covered porch with vaulted ceiling and the adjacent pergola provide cozy quarters for cooking and relaxing al fresco. The textures of bluestone tiles, stacked stone, stainless steel, and painted wood against the house’s brick walls create an organic vibe, almost like an outdoor loft.

Home ReBuilders owner Bill Bartlett has recently seen more outdoor remodeling jobs like this one. “These types of projects that connect our interior and outdoor activities have been very popular the last five years,” he says. “In Atlanta we can enjoy outdoor living eight to nine months out of the year, so entertaining outside will become even more popular.”

Home ReBuilders  homerebuilders.com
Artistic Pools  artisticpools.com

This article originally appeared in our April 2010 issue.