A Tartan Fields couple decides it's not the size of the lot that matters, it's how you use it.
It's not downsizing if you don't buy a smaller house.
So when Linda and Bill Burton's four grown children moved out and the couple relocated from a 4,912-square-foot home with four bedrooms to a 5,039-square-foot home with five bedrooms, some friends raised their eyebrows.
"I call it resizing," explains Linda, noting the yard at her current residence in the Reserve at Tartan Fields is a fraction of the outdoor space at her previous residence. "There's not as much to take care of outside. And when you have four kids and then grandkids, and most of them live out of state or out of town, if you want them to come back they need a place to stay."
The Burtons' new backyard, though, is a lavish, custom-built outdoor living oasis on about two-thirds of an acre, much smaller than their former lawn which included a sand volleyball court, swimming pool and a large, open space suitable for a variety of field sports.
Scaling down the lawn size was attractive to the Burtons. "It was probably the outdoor space that was one of the real enticing features," Linda says. "We like how it sits tucked into this hill here and has privacy pretty much all around it. We like the natural beauty of everything-the trees, the rock. It's just beautiful."
Indeed, the backyard is surrounded by a lush green hillside featuring cut stone and towering pines. It's a tranquil setting, especially with the gently sloping waterfall feature that cascades into their 740-square-foot saltwater swimming pool.
"We love the pool and the kitchen and the outdoor fireplace-all that," Linda says. "And the fact that it was all done. We didn't have to come in and do anything."
The Burtons outdoor living space was valued at $250,000 when they purchased the $1.1 million property in 2014. In addition to the pool, the backyard includes a stone-and-stucco building that houses an outdoor kitchen with a bar area, a stone fireplace and a large attached shed at the rear.
"We are able to store everything there in the winter," Linda says of the built-in shed. "The lawnmower is in there. The cushions go in there. There is also a small dressing room around the side as well. It's a really nice structure."
The painted beadboard dressing room, which Linda plans to liven up with a nautical theme, opens onto a section of the vast paver patio that includes a six-person hot tub.
A built-in sound system can be heard from speakers above the kitchen and four strategically located terra cotta planters around the pool area.
"We love our music here," Linda says. "There are speakers all over so we don't have to turn the music up loud here to hear it over there."
The Burtons also install a television into the covered kitchen area, facing the bar, during the warmer months and have a portable patio heater to take the chill off during cooler evenings.
"We just love being outside," Linda says. "It's just so nice to be able to cook out there and then sit out there. We probably cook out there in the summer nearly every night."
The kitchen features a stainless steel Viking refrigerator, an industrial grade stainless steel grill, a built-in ice maker, small pantry, brick flooring and a natural tongue-and-groove planked ceiling with recessed lighting. The couple considered adding running water to the area, but the cons of having to winterize the plumbing outweighed the pros of its convenience.
"We just do all of our prep inside," she says.
No running water also means no outdoor bathroom. But, conveniently, a side door to the main house leads directly into a hallway that connects to a half bath.
"The laundry room is there, too, so all the towels from the pool go right in there," Linda says.
The only change Linda would consider making to her outdoor living space is adding more shade.
"Especially with the little ones now so they're not in the sun all the time," she says, resting her 10-month-old granddaughter on her hip. "But the neat thing about where they situated this pool is it's on the south side of the house so there's no shade on it until 5:30 or 6 at night. At our old house, because of trees, we had shading by the pool so it got cooler by late afternoon."
When the sun goes down, however, the Burtons can cozy up by the outdoor fireplace in thick-cushioned, rattan rockers and a loveseat.
"It's really, really nice just to sit here at night and have a little fire," Linda says.
Another advantage to their rather secluded location in Dublin: being able to see the night sky.
"It's dark and it's beautiful," Linda says. "We love to sit in the hot tub and put our heads back and gaze up at the stars."
For others looking to build their own outdoor living space, Linda offers this simple advice: "Know where the sun is and how you want to use the space. Live with the space and decide: Do we want to eat out there? Play out there? Sit out there? Fortunately for us, when we got here, we knew exactly what we wanted and it was already here for us. It has worked out very well."