FeaturesOutdoor Living


By guruscotty November 5, 2020 No Comments

Backyard Hideaway

By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Ralph Lauer

Built into a sloped lot on Lake Grapevine and surrounded by trees, this patio offers many options for quiet times and family gatherings.

It’s all about the view.

When Amy and Brian Naughton discovered a midcentury house long devoid of love (and being sold as a tear-down), they shared an immediate appreciation of the Lake Grapevine property’s scenic overlook. The thickly wooded 2-acre lot with a ski-slope descent won raves from both. As for the house: Two very different perspectives emerged. Amy wanted to tackle a complete renovation of the unique, if rundown, tri-level structure. Brian was sure starting fresh was the way to go. Both understood the magic of the surroundings.

Fast-forward a couple of years. Amy’s take on the house that Brian likes to call a “unicorn” won out. An extensive remodel is still being tweaked, but the Naughtons’ plan to fully embrace the natural world with additional windows, decks and patios, as well as a pool and fire pit addition, has come to fruition.

A deck overlooking the pool offers another firelit gathering spot steps from the house.

This summer, family and friends (the Naughtons have three daughters — two in high school and one at Baylor) enjoyed splashy good times in the pool along with coffee and wine hours on the decks and at poolside. This fall allows the family their first opportunity to enjoy an outdoor fire in cool weather.

The pool, with its clean, rectilinear design, comes with a shallow beach entry enlivened by a small burbling fountain. Designer Shelly Claffey of Claffey Pools immediately grasped what the Naughtons were looking for. “We only had to remove a couple of trees for the pool, that was easy; but the slope — I’d say it’s a solid blue in skier terms — was a real challenge. But Shelly knew right away what we wanted in terms of extending the midcentury modern look of the home with streamlined and natural materials,” says Brian.

The engineering required to wrangle and stabilize the pitch of the lot was the primary concern during the pool’s yearlong construction. Walls of limestone blocks stair-step alongside one edge of the pool. They also encase a steep drop-off that makes the deck appear — from some angles — to cantilever above a tiered lawn that merges into native grasses. At the top of the meadow — too steep for a mower — a bed of drought-resistant plants and seasonal color is lined in red rock excavated from the property.

Smooth concrete coping echoes the floors inside the home, and agave and yucca fill the narrow beds. The featured attraction is a long, rectangular gas fire pit filled with tumbled lava stone. The contemporary design includes a black-painted stacked-stone base topped with the same concrete as the pool deck. Four teak lounge chairs offer fireside perches with a distinctly midcentury modern vibe. The louvered metal panels atop the roof of the aluminum pergola are a nod to the home’s standing seam metal roof and can be opened for more air circulation and stargazing or closed on rainy days.

The Naughtons wanted their landscape and home to shine bright after the sun sets — for the cheery aesthetics but also because lights deter skunks from venturing too close.

Pink muhly grass joins agave and other drought-resistant and native plants in a recently installed landscape designed to merge seamlessly into the surrounding wooded slope.

The lake is visible year-round from inside the house, as well as from its elevated Trex decks, but in the summer the backyard feels secluded, tucked just inside the bordering woods. As the foliage falls away, the lake — a five-minute walk away and the reason a ramshackle house became a forever home — begins to sparkle through the trees. Another season means another view for the Naughtons.

“I always felt it was a great find,” Amy says of the house she loved from the beginning for its MCM touches. “And now, the outdoor spaces are great for hanging out as a family, together and apart. We might be on the deck, watching the sunset, while the kids are around one of the fire pits. There’s always something to watch, to see.”

Brian agrees. “I could spend thousands of hours out here.”


Landscaping Lisa Richardson, ProEarth, 817-861-2137, proearthsolutions.com

Pool/fire pit Shelly Claffey, Claffey Pools, 817-488-5795, claffeypools.com

Lighting/seasonal plantings J. Neil Gaither, Texas Custom Landscapes, 817-343-6330