Date: June 25, 2021 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
Al Fresco Update: A team of central Arkansas professionals reimagine a couple’s backyard while adhering to the style of the existing home
When Dora Jane and Greg Flesher purchased this Little Rock home in 2019, they knew the backyard could become a dream space for both relaxation and entertaining. It just needed a bit of vision and work to get there. “It was kind of unlivable because it was one sheet of concrete, and it got so hot. We love to entertain but there was no shade,” Dora Jane explains. With seemingly endless options available in terms of both structures and landscaping, the couple turned to architect Ellen Yeary, builder Nathan Cooper, and landscape designer Sarah Burr to formulate a plan that would not only meet their needs but also complement the home’s existing exterior features.
“When we do a remodel project—indoors or outdoors—it’s always super important to us that you can’t tell where the old stops and the new begins,” Nathan says. In this case, the new areas include a breezeway, carport, and pool house, all of which were built in the style of the home and painted to match seamlessly. Even new brick planters, which line the walkway, were created to mimic those seen against the back of the home.
This same thought process carried to the pool, one of the yard’s only existing features away from the house. Its interior was a shade of white surrounded by a pad of concrete. The concrete was traded for natural stone and the pool’s interior received a refresh in the form of a dark charcoal stain. “Sarah encouraged us to go darker on the stain to give it a lagoon feel, and she really got that right,” Dora Jane says. “The entire space is so usable now. We pinch ourselves sometimes because it turned out so awesome.”
During the peak of an Arkansas summer, the couple and their guests can seek refuge on a covered porch near the pool’s entry. The interior of the structure is multi-functional for the Fleshers, offering a bathroom for pool guests as well as a bar area for serving along with an exercise room for the owners to enjoy throughout the year.
“This was our first time to do a big landscape project, and we wanted it to be something we could enjoy right now—not years down the road when things grew in,” Dora Jane says. To achieve this, landscape designer Sarah Burr sourced a number of fully mature trees and shrubs that appear as though they’ve been in place for years. In thinking of the future, architect Ellen Yeary specified a steel structure for the breezeway that will withstand the elements and stay strong should any component be compromised. “We use that area as a turnaround for our cars, and Ellen was mindful of a design that wouldn’t be shaken, even if we accidentally bumped a column,” Dora Jane says.
Architect Ellen Yeary, Yeary Lindsey Architects Contractor Nathan Cooper, River Valley Builders Landscape design Sarah Burr, Ozark Design Studio Landscape installation Chris Smith, C. Smith Garden & Horticultural Care Doors and windows Pro Window & Door Hardscaping and stone Stoneworks Millwork Tony Carmack Painting Finishing Touch Painting Plants C. Smith Garden & Horticultural Care