This KC couple’s amazing outdoor pool features Colorado-style landscaping, waterfalls

Darren and Jessica Lea didn’t intend on building a pool when they asked By The Blade to draw up ideas for their backyard in the Northland. At least not right away.

“We just wanted to do some landscaping and build a patio, but also save room for a pool for the future,” says Darren. “But then they drew up plans that included a pool, and once my wife saw them, that was that. There was no wading around it — we were getting a pool.”

“We also had a first and fourth-grader,” Darren says, “so we figured it would be a great place for them to hang out the next 10 years.”

Now, from late spring through fall, the Leas’ backyard looks like a Colorado paradise, with lush and colorful landscaping surrounding a curvy organic-shaped pool.

At one end, water rushes down pebbled streams and over large boulders on either side of a cluster of thick vegetation before falling in two glassy sheets into the bright turquoise pool. More than a dozen towering evergreens are scattered a bit farther out, providing a gorgeous backdrop and privacy screen.

“That’s one thing we like to do with a lot of our projects,” says Patrick Vogt, owner of By The Blade. “Rather than one type of plant material, we like several including evergreens and deciduous shrubs –– various blues and greens so there are blue spruce, blue alice cedar and green giant arborvitae. It creates a sense of intimacy. Those (other) houses disappear and you’re the only ones around.”

Nearby, a large round fire pit is built into a stone wall that surrounds the perimeter of the pool’s stone deck. A round table and chairs sit to one side of it, and four chaise lounges line up on the other side.

A large open-air pavilion, constructed of stone and cedar, features a seating area next to a kitchen, bar and television. A smaller covered area right next to it contains a hot tub ensconced by natural stone, giving it the same elegant look as the rest of the pool.

“The Leas really loved a natural look with a Colorado theme,” Vogt says. “So we used more natural materials, it’s all Oklahoma sandstone flagstone, the coping is natural and the water feature looks straight out of Colorado, including the boulders.”

The pavilion and outdoor kitchen were not in the original plan, according to Vogt.

“We always had that idea but didn’t really talk to the Leas about it until they had a need for a covered space for shade and a place to hang out and watch Royals games,” Vogt says. “It’s typically the case where just the pools are put in, and the family is out in and around it all the time and they start thinking, ‘Why would I run up to the grill on my deck when I can have one down here?’ and ‘Why would I eat inside when we could be having dinner out here?’ So one idea for just a pool usually grows into another for a whole outdoor living experience. The Leas came back a couple of years later and wanted to add on.”

Unsuspecting guests to the Leas’ yard are shocked when they turn the corner for the first time and get a load of the resort-like space.

According to Darren, they stop dead and say, “Whoa!”

He opened the pool in April and expects to use it almost daily until fall.

“It makes hanging out on the weekends and hosting parties all that much better,” he says. “Sometimes when we go on vacation, I wonder ‘Why are we on vacation?’ So I don’t regret it at all. Plus it gives us more family time than we’d have otherwise. We’re definitely getting a good return on our investment.”