Award Lehigh Valley Builders Association Professional Excellence Award Winner

Bethlehem, PA | 6 Weeks

Kashner Residence

This close-knit, fun and energetic family loves being outside together but their existing outdoor space didn’t match their vibe. The landscaping was overgrown, mature trees were shading the existing inground pool, the deck was failing, there were no practical storage solutions available…the list could go on. They knew it was the right time for a backyard transformation, so they reached out to MasterPLAN and the beautiful journey began.

Designer Comments

From the very first phone call, this family painted a picture of a backyard that was no longer suiting their needs but knew had a lot of potential. Our initial consultation confirmed that this space was dated, overgrown and failing in certain areas; it had honestly seen better days. The existing deck lacked character, had an inefficient layout and an old outdoor carpet masking the whole surface and at one point the deck actually detached from its ledger board and started to peel away from the house! Instead of repairing the deck, this family was ready to address the backyard as a whole and to create a space they would absolutely fall in love with and be proud to entertain in.

Knowing that the deck was one of the main focuses, it was important to design the space that was functional for most of the year. So, out with the old and in with the new! We designed the new deck to be just 1” below the door threshold for a seamless transition. This allows the family, friends and their dog Stella to walk or run right out of the door to enjoy the space without complication or hurdles. While we were tied to the same deck depth because of the location of their existing inground swimming pool, the family was open to expanding the deck to fit the whole length of the home. The far end of the deck is an open-air lounge space which is the perfect welcome to guests from the driveway, and by extending the deck, we were able to accommodate all 3 outdoor living zones: cooking, dining and lounging.

After some deep questions from our design team we uncovered that a built-in kitchen was not needed for the space, but an intentional space for the portable grill would be appreciated. We were able to take that direction and find the perfect location adjacent to where they envisioned their dining table to be. The dining table was strategically located in the middle of the deck space to act as a central hub for the family and their guests. With the deck spanning the length of the home, there was ample space for everyone to find their chosen destination.

Not only were we able to accommodate the essential zones, but also one of the family’s main wish list items, a bartop and entertainment space! This entertainment zone is located to the right side as the family steps out of their slider door. The bartop was designed to be large enough as an additional gathering space to relax, chat, have drinks and watch the big game. The granite bartop can accommodate seating on 3 sides and also has ample storage, trash and recycling receptacles and not one but TWO refrigerators to store everything from waters and juices to seltzers and brews. This space certainly shaped up to be the 4 essential outdoor living zone…the fun zone!

Initially the family was thinking portable umbrellas may do the trick for shade on the deck when it was needed, but through careful thought, the decided that an attached overhead roof would help the space become the year-round space they have always been hoping for. The design team affirmed that the back of the home was an excellent candidate for a covered roof system to make the space more usable and for longer in the year. The roof was designed in a hybrid configuration with a lean-to and A-frame combination. This roof is ample enough to cover the entertainment, cooking and dining areas and the lounge space as intentionally left open so the family could appreciate Mother Nature and stargaze in the evenings.

We incorporated 4 fixed skylights in the roof to allow natural light to filter back into the home and the space. This is an important element to any roof system; it avoids the cave-like effect inside of the home. Dimmable LED recessed lights and a ceiling fan were also incorporated into the roof to add comfort and convenience. Knowing that the family wanted a little more added privacy from the neighbor, we designed a feature wall to connect the deck and roof on that side and this created the perfect opportunity for the tv area. Knowing that the family wanted to capitalize on being in this space as much as possible, we suggested the inclusion of infrared heaters to warm the space in the spring and fall. They ended up loving the idea and we installed one heater in the bar area and two to direct heat to the dining table. Those units can really kick some warmth!

Being involved in sports themselves and always having sports on in the background, a tv area was an important inclusion to the space! However, they didn’t want the tv to always be visible. The versatile tv feature was created by recessing the tv area slightly in the feature wall and designing a rustic sliding barnwood door system with black powder coated hardware to close off the tv when not in use. White shiplap was installed behind the tv for a perfect material balance against the stone veneer flanking each side of the feature wall. The barnwood tv doors and black hardware complement the barnwood clad beams and the ceiling fan in the roof, and the stone matches the stone veneer in their basement. All of these elements bring a beautiful cohesion to the space that really makes the whole house, inside and out, feel like a home.

Originally when leaving the deck space, there were a few large pavers leading to the driveway with redstone between. However, this was not an easy or aesthetic transition around the space. Moving around the pool area, there were pavers around the concrete pool collar to create additional lounge space, but the areas felt cramped and some of the pavers were failing. Through conversation, we knew that this area needed to be reimagined to complement the new, beautiful deck space. Again, out with the old and in with the new! In its place, we created an open concept hardscape plan to allow better flow around the backyard and connection to the new deck. We installed hue-infused concrete to connect the driveway to the backyard and around the swimming pool to allow room for traffic flow, a fire pit area and ample space for 4+ pool loungers. The existing pool collar and the new concrete were all stained the same color so everything matched perfectly.

Last but not least, the landscaping and storage issues needed to be addressed! Originally the landscaping was severely overcrowding the pool area and the pool fence was directly around the pool putting it in its own prison. All of these elements made the backyard feel so much smaller and claustrophobic! We removed all of the landscaping and the fence to open up the space and create a new layout. The black aluminum low maintenance fence was relocated to the perimeter of the property and the lawn was restored to create an open space for the family to play ball and for Stella to chase everyone’s grand slams. A white vinyl storage area was also installed in a portion of the yard to create additional storage space for pool chemicals, toys, sports equipment and garbage cans. To finish, the landscaping was kept very minimal for the low maintenance factor and to keep more attention on the structures rather than the plantings. Landscape lighting was also kept to a minimum to provide warm lighting where needed but to not be overwhelming.

Overall, this space was transformed from an overgrown jungle around a lackluster deck to an open, beautiful outdoor living space that is fun, versatile and a welcome space for the family and everyone blessed to be in their atmosphere.

Client Wish List

  • A new deck with enough room to entertain and relax
  • A better connection to the existing inground pool
  • Address and reimagine the concrete around the pool
  • Optional shade structure
  • A bar and entertainment area
  • Reallocate the pool fence to open the space up a little more
  • Remove the existing overgrown landscaping
  • Create a low maintenance landscaping plan
  • Storage solutions

"We use this outdoor space way more than we ever envisioned or imagined. We are outside all the time!"

Affiliates & Partners
Lehigh Valley Style
Lehigh Valley Business Association
Pennsylvania Builders Association
Qualified Remodelers
The Designer