Porches, Pools, Pits and Patios
The Great Outdoors in Texas is not for the faint of heart. Three specialists in design, innovation and planning and installation offer their insight on how to expand your living space with just the right elements.
Porches, pools, pits and patios are a big draw for people building or buying houses in Round Top and the surrounding areas.
Porch: The Forgotten Room
Cathy Robinson Hutton, a Houston-based designer with a home in the Roundtopolis™ says she sometimes thinks the front porch is the “forgotten” room and merely seen as the means to enter the home.
“I like to treat the front porch as the ‘first’ room of the house,” she says. “It sets the tone for the interior. Marrying colors from the inside, choosing similar style lighting and furniture brings it all together.”
The porch on the previous page previously had dark red-stained concrete floors, giving it a “harsh feel.” The home had wood siding, so Hutton felt it needed a different texture.
“The brick pavers are designed for use on a patio or pool surround,” Hutton says. “I thought they were perfect to create some interest, texture and charm for the porch floor. Being slip-resistant and durable was a bonus.”
To complete the classic farmhouse feel, she added white wooden rockers and an oversized swing. A banister provided depth and definition.
“We painted the porch ceiling a very soft blue,” Hutton says. “The blue softens the look of the ceiling. It also gives a nod to the old belief painting the porch ceiling would ward off bad spirits or ‘haints.'”
Inside the home, green was an accent color — so painting the new front doors a bright shade was whimsical and set the stage for the renovation that was also done inside.
Hutton says, “A lot can happen on your front porch. You welcome and send off guests. You relax, clear your head. Enjoy the outdoor scenery. Watch the world go by. I think Atticus, Jim and Scout used theirs to the fullest.”
Outdoor Space Thoughts
Lucas Stroech of Washington County Landscapes says his outdoor projects typically fall into two categories: an addition or extension of an existing structure or patio or a new build or working in the addition of a pool.
“My customers are typically looking for another space to enjoy or entertain,” he said.
Stroech and his wife Chris Ann have operated Washington County Landscapes since 2010 – after a stent with a high end company in Houston. He is a licensed landscape architect and is a registered licensed irrigator. He is a native of Brenham and loves raising his family back home.
The First Step
Stroech meets with customers and determines what they are looking for and their budget.
“We work with all projects and at all price points,” he said. “Some customers want an outdoor kitchen, with a grill, sink, kegerator – a true outdoor room.
“Nearly everyone – no matter the size of the project – wants a fireplace or a firepit.”
Stroech says when it comes to fireplaces – which can cost $15,000 – they can make a statement for the overall design. Firepits can be built at a lower price point – and there are even portable firepits that can add to the overall effect, but can be moved around.
Water features are also popular – whether it’s a lazy river into a pool or a fountain.
Once an outdoor kitchen or pool is planned, landscaping is a key factor in an outdoor space renewal or plan, he says.
“My key question is always ‘how much time do you want to devote to the landscape?’ We want to make sure the plant choices we suggest fits the homeowners needs. If they are weekenders, then our plan is different than one with someone able to water and tend to it every day.”
Stroech’s company offers design, construction and maintenance services – generally within an hour from Brenham.
Pools are a big draw for people building homes in the Roundtopolis™, says Lucas Stroech of Washington County Landscapes.
The options run the gamut, from above ground to in-ground – to a new concept offered by Recycling the Past and Matt White.
White developed Flophouze, the first container hotel anywhere, expanding from three original “container” cabins to six… and he wanted to supplement the big skies, views of rolling pastures and fresh air for his guests.
In 2018, he added the first “container” pool to Flophouze’s footprint for his guests.
In conjunction with ModPools, Flophouze recycles shipping containers as well – into swimming pools. The above-ground pool surrounded by a sun deck also features a window in one end – a great photo opportunity.