The backdrop of fall comes with wafts of cool air as the sun drops behind the horizon and the rhythmic whir of cicadas as dusk descends. It even sounds calming as we construct the scene with these very words. We envision a languid, kind of lazy end-of-the-workday when it’s time to drop the day’s worries at the doorstep and step into a sanctuary created with soothing sights and sounds that set the mind and body at rest. If this place sounds like a little bit of heaven, you’re hearing is acute.
This veritable haven for the heft of a busy life was one in the mind’s eye of Mark and Joni Chambers when they moved into their home in The Grove. “We had a pool at our previous house,” says Joni, “and once you get used to that relaxation option you don’t want to give it up.”
Enter the design of the Chambers’ outdoor living space.
“We wanted to build an environment where our whole family could enjoy the space outside the house,” adds Mark. “We knew we wanted a ‘room’ where we could have a full kitchen, a fireplace for the cooler seasons, a place to entertain, and a place to watch sports.” Mission accomplished.
The Chambers’ pool and adjacent living “room” is a well-designed combination of multi-seasonal access to outdoor living. “We wanted to be able to use this in literally every season,” says Mark. “And we really do. We’ve been out here when it’s 30 degrees in the winter and 90 degrees in the summer. The room cools easily with the use of fans, and we can turn on the fireplace and add our patio heaters for warmth when it’s cold. We probably spend almost as much time out here as we do inside.”
The design took on several shapes before the final layout received full family approval. “The ‘usual’ plan of putting the pool in the center of the backyard didn’t really work with what we had in mind,” Mark recalls. “We wanted to make room for parties and maybe events where we could host a fairly large gathering of people. So we made the pool smaller and shifted it to the back of the layout. That gave us an area to accommodate more people and tables and chairs. And it was perfect for me to float in the pool and watch TV!” The Chambers’ also had room for a sculpted fountain, which adds the comforting cadence of a waterfall to the peaceful surroundings.
But the graceful garden-inspired Chambers creation isn’t always a respite for relaxation. Sometimes it’s party central. The Chambers’ daughters, Hillary and Madelyn, have put the room to good purpose as well with get-togethers for friends, fellow cheerleaders, prom parties, sleepovers, and your normal fun-filled fare. There has also been much UK basketball consumed on the big screen.
“One of my favorite memories when the girls were in high school was hosting the traditional Mayfield-Tilghman cheerleaders pre-game event,” Joni remembers. “We loved having everyone here for such a special time.”
The girls also have fond memories of prom nights when everyone made their own pancakes on the griddle in the room’s beautifully crafted kitchen. “We’ve had Christmas parties and basketball game nights and for several years we have hosted a crawfish boil to support the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club as well,” says Joni.
The Chambers’ daughter Hillary, now an attorney with McMurry & Livingston in Paducah, has hosted outings for some of her law school friends. “They love to come down for BBQ On The River and stay with us here. That’s a big weekend for us. There are people sleeping everywhere out here!”
No doubt younger daughter Madelyn will embrace the entertaining element as she starts her college career at the University of Kentucky. “We love for the girls to take advantage of this space. That’s one of the reasons we built it. We will always want our children and their friends to feel free to come home and enjoy this place which is such a huge part of the way we live day to day,” adds Joni.
Mark agrees . . . to some extent. “With my work schedule, this is the one place I can really get away from it all. So as long as there’s always some ‘Dad time’ built into the schedule, I’m all for the open door policy,” he laughingly replies.