In Tenafly, empty nesters wanted a backyard they could swim in – and it quickly become a complete three-season outdoor retreat.
With their two kids grown, out of the house and starting families of their own, Tenafly homeowners decided it was time for a swimming pool in their backyard. But why stop there? They hired Mufson Pools in Norwood to complete an entire recreation area, including a pool, an outdoor kitchen and the pièce de résistance: a custom pergola that would allow them to make use of their yard in any season but winter.
Before the team got started, the clients had “a composite deck with a firepit and a small patio,” Pamela Mufson, designer at Mufson Pools, tells BERGEN. So, a transformation was in order—and no detail would be spared.
The fact the clients wanted the pool to have an automatic safety cover determined that the hot tub would be built into the pool, rather than raised to another level or left entirely separate. That type of cover not only looks prettier, says Mufson, because the track is concealed and it’s in place of a mesh fence, but also excludes debris and keeps the pool and spa securely closed when they’re not in use.
This pool features multi- colored LED lights that can flash into a light show, a major hit with little ones, designer Mufson says. Boulder retaining walls were installed along the property line, along with plantings such as green giants and spruce trees to ensure privacy.
On the pool deck, the team chose light-gray porcelain in a three-piece modular pattern. That material retains less heat than natural stone would, and that color less than a darker one. With a pair of umbrellas and a half-dozen lounge chairs, there’s plenty of room for the whole family to spread out in the sunshine. The coping around the pool is made of natural bluestone, which was also used to accent the patios, frame out the pergola and provide the steps leading to it. “The patio underneath the pergola is raised on one side to work with the natural topography of the property,” says Mufson, who explains that the yard’s unevenness was the main physical obstacle in the construction of this project.
The pergola was a major component in the design process rather than an afterthought, a nice touch that provided the clients with the nearly year-round retreat they were seeking.
The Mufson team collaborated with Breslow Home Design in Springfield to create this custom-built, motorized pergola. “It’s completely automated so that when a raindrop hits it, it knows to close so that the homeowners aren’t running outside to get their cushions,” says the designer. For three- season comfort, the pergola is complete with infrared heaters, ceiling fans and even curtains, which can amp up the privacy and protect from less-than-ideal weather.
This custom-made pergola by Breslow means the yard can be used in the off-season too. The pergola is decked out with infrared heating, an outdoor kitchen and modern living and dining areas.
In the seating area under the pergola and next to a dining table are a TV and a ventless gas fireplace, for which each stone was laid individually by hand. “We wanted it to look really luxe, so we built out a frame and veneered it in the stone,” says Mufson. The outdoor kitchen is an entertainer’s dream, featuring a grill, a trash drawer, a refrigerator and even a luxe attachment for the Ooni pizza oven the family already owned. “We ran a gas line for the pizza oven, so when they want more counter space, they can remove the oven and unscrew it and the gas line is concealed,” says the designer. Mufson says the most painstaking part of dealing with this space was getting all the posts and fireplace to align perfectly and “make sure a column wasn’t going through an appliance.” But it all worked out.
The finishing touches on this project were the meticulously selected plants and trees. The green giant arborvitae surrounding the property provide privacy, a popular choice in New Jersey since they thrive in our climate and are deer-resistant. They’re accompanied by spruces, hydrangea, cherry trees, boxwoods and six hills giant catmint (the last of which is a bunny and deer deterrent. Sorry, fellas).
Now the homeowners are thrilled with their new and improved backyard, which took three to four months to complete. “It really is an extension of their home,” Mufson says. “It’s now a three-season spot where they can hang out, swim and watch sports. They really love this new space.”
Originally written by Haley Longman and posted on https://issuu.com/wainscotmedia/docs/bergen_july_2023_issuu/40