This project brings you back to growing up as a kid and going to camp. These clients are from rural Michigan and they wanted a place where the space would draw the attention of the neighborhood kids and give them the feeling of being back home on vacation on a small rustic lake in Michigan. We added a boulder fire pit, used reclaim lumber for the potting shed where the client would often read his bible. We also used a variety of stone with different textures to bring out a natural feel. Obviously, the pool is the main attraction but the boulder walls and massive perennials help draw birds, butterflies, and small harmless wildlife into the space. The coolest thing about this type of project is as it ages it actually becomes more natural and much more appealing because with age comes timeless memories.
This project had many challenges to overcome. The first challenge came when the outdoor living specialist arrived at the property, there was a for sale sign in the front of the yard. The consumers were so frustrated with their yard that they gave an ultimatum to the designer saying, “draw me something I love or I am going to continue to sell my home” (We obviously succeeded because they stayed). The final challenge was that the property had a large slope and was close to the bottom of a hill where a significant amount of water from the neighbors’ yard ran through the middle of the yard. We had to do some calculations on water volume to figure this out along with not causing a bigger problem for the neighbor downhill. The third challenge was that the HOA was very strict about the drainage being handled at high level and did not approve our first round of plans. We ended up meeting with them on behalf of the home owner and getting it approved in the second round.
One of the things we have learned is that boulder fire pits still need some type of protection from heat, so we changed to using lava rock because the boulder cannot handle heat year after year without combustion. We also learned that when an HOA says no the first time that you should bring your laptop with the plans to be able negotiate for the customer while they are in the meeting so that you will be more efficient by answering any objections and changes of plans on the spot.