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Build It They Will Come
By Linda Montet | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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Rows of trees and a set of playground swings and slides were pretty much the only interesting features of Doug and Mitzi Ecklund’s expansive backyard. There was little to distinguish it from other acreages on Clive’s forested west side.

But the family wanted a way to make it special—a place where kids and families would love to come and hang out. “I wanted to be able to say, ‘Come here and bring your friends; it’s fun to visit the Ecklunds,’” says Mitzi.

“With our children in second and sixth grades, we know we only have so much time left with them here at home,” she says. “We wanted home to be a place where they would want to spend time, not just with us but with their friends, too—a gathering spot, so to speak.” 

The makeover began with a three-way collaboration between the homeowners, an architectural designer, and custom home builder and remodeler Dennis Breckenridge. “Our goal was to make this a meeting place where they could spend time,” Breckenridge recalls. “So that’s where we started.”

Mitzi grew up in a home with a backyard swimming pool. She wanted her children to have the same experience. Doug, however, wasn’t so sure. “It took me two years to convince my husband we needed a pool, and finally we made a deal,” Mitzi says. “I could have my swimming pool, and he could add on a garage for his cars.”

“This was a great project because you could use your imagination and come up with ideas,” Breckenridge says. “But it was a logistics challenge just to get to the point where we were ready to build. It was way more challenging than building a house from scratch.”

Doug and Mitzi had wanted to have a completely enclosed pool, Breckenridge says, “but the cost was astronomical.” Then Mitzi found the perfect solution in a magazine photograph. Work could begin.
In the spring of 2009, trucks hauled more than 200 loads of fill into a deep ravine on the east side of the house to support the garage and driveway. Once construction began, builders connected the garage to the house with a walkway and cleared trees and shrubs (as few as possible) to make room for the pool. “Our goal was to have the pool ready to be enjoyed during the summer of 2010,” Breckenridge says.

Completed in just one year, the Ecklund backyard is breathtaking. Angled perfectly into a wooded background, its blue ceramic tile, elevated sun deck, and gentle waterfall couldn’t be more inviting.

By adding extra-wide step-down levels and a movable basketball hoop, Mitzi believes the pool can adapt as the kids grow. “I was even thinking ahead to how my grandchildren would use it,” she says.
Just off the pool deck and in the back of the new garage are an outdoor laundry, a shower/bathroom for swimmers, and a storeroom for pool equipment.

The overhead walkway holds playrooms for Will, 7, and his sister, Natalie, 11, and a craft room/office for Mitzi. Tucked under the walkway are an outdoor kitchen and fire pit and gathering chairs and tables. There’s a cozy alcove where friends and family can spend summer evenings curled up on couches watching the wall-mounted flat-screen TV. 

“What I like about our home now is that you can get away from it all without actually going away,” Mitzi says. “We can use the kitchen and pool from April through October; then we can continue to use the fire pit into November.”

She would do the remodel again in a heartbeat, Mitzi says. “Now even Doug loves the pool. He comes home every night and jumps right in. It turned out so much better than both of us ever imagined.”


Breckenridge Homes




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