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Summer Staycation in Your Home and Lifestyle June 2011

Summer Staycation
By Carolyn Runyon

In a time when the general public is cautious about expenditures, an investment in an outdoor room might seem extravagant. But because so many families are taking staycations rather than expensive trips to exotic locations, an area right near home that offers outdoor entertainment for both adults and children—every day instead of only one week a year—might be the most practical investment of all.

This 12,000 square foot piece of property in the San Fernando Valley was a barren dirt yard that served little pupose to the family who lives there, explained

faux rock swimming pool with spa, waterslide, fire pit, and outdoor kitchen

Scott Cohen, president and supervising designer of The Green Scene, and outdoor design and construction firm in the Los Angeles area. The homeowners, with three active teens, wanted an area that offered adult entertainment areas as well as fun activities for the youth. "We included several different 'rooms' in the landscape design, explained Cohen. "The grounds were naturally sloped, so we decided to start the pool area on the higher ground. Since the slope was an exsiting element, we were able to encorporate several natural looking springs and waterfalls into the landscape.

custom tile on spa

The design combines the elements of fire and water by balancing features such as a pool, waterfalls, a fire pit, gas fed tiki torches, and a lush spa. The design team placed the spa three feet above the pool, allowing the water to overflow into the pool against a mosiac of custom three-dimensional tiles depicting exotic birds in tropical tones.

The tiles were created by Michelle Griffoul, a southern California artist. "I love the varied depth of the tiles," Cohen says, "because it adds visual interest and an element of sound as the water flows over them. The tiles also add a punch of color in what otherwise could become a dull monotone landscape."

A waterfall cascades into the spa, and the water is recycled from the spa itself so the waterfall is soothingly warm. Part of the spa is a deep well with a bank of pulsating jets, offering a deep body massage. Foot jets in the floor add a sensuous delight. A palapa shades the spa area and its swim-up bar.

The spa area appeals to the adults in this family, but the pool offers special features for the younger set. "A sixty-five-foot waterslide, designed into the landscape, was constructed by a company that specializes in building slides for water parks", says Cohen The entire pool area is constructed of glass fiber-reinforced concrete, precast concrete panels, and hand-carved gunite. "These products offer stability and a tremendous versitility in design and color", he adds.

They also create a very natural environment under the talented execution of Cohen's 40-person professional staff. We have a rock artisan who carves the gunite into native rock formations and a masonry crew who create the poured concrete elements in the pool areas and outdoor kitchen", says Cohen. The tropical plantings enhance the natural look of the space.

Off to the side of the pool is a fully functioning kitchen. A concrete counterembedded with recycled glass spans sixteen linear feet, comfortably accomodating eight adults on barstools. Fiber optics are recessed below the counter.

At night, they glow through the glass chips to offer a subtle ambiance in this entertaining area", Cohen says.

outdoor kitchen with barbeque

The counters are cinderblock veneered witha facade of a faux stone product, blending beautifully with the landscaping details of the pool area. The kitchen holds a bevy of appliances,including a rotisserie, a beverage center, a griddle, a sink, and storage areas.

A large palapa shades the outdoor kitchen room. Temperatures in Southern California in the summer can reach over a hundred degrees," Cohen says. To make the space more comfortable in those temperatures, there is a high pressure misting system around the palapa in the kitchen, as well as in the slide and pool areas.

Sound is an important element to Cohen. He says it helps establish the mood, but he prefers ambient sound created with several speakers rather than one or two large speakers in a space. So there are rock speakers placed throughout the yard to set a perfect atmosphere for any occasion.

With a wonderful backyard like this, who would ever want to travel?

glass cips in outdoor kitchen countertop

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