the place to be

the place to be pool
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the place to be pool
the place to be patio view
the place to be patio
the place to be pool flamingo
the place to be outdoor dining
the place to be patio dining table
the place to be patio and pool

by Patricia L. Garcia
photographs by Amadeus Leitner

once overgrown and underappreciated, this Los Ranchos backyard full of cottonwoods is one family’s dream space

Walking into Stacey Clegg and Andy Jones’ vibrant and lush backyard, you’d never guess the state it was in when the couple purchased the home in 2017. “The house is from the 1970s, and the lot was peaceful and quiet with pretty cottonwood trees,” remembers Clegg. “The yard was huge and had all of these beautiful trees, but it was a little daunting because the yard was a total mess. It was completely overgrown, there were vines that probably hadn’t been cut back in 30 years and the irrigation pipes were held together with duct tape.”

Despite the untamed yard, the pair saw the potential in the one-acre lot that backed up to an acequia and bosque trails, and purchased the Los Ranchos home. “We loved the property, with the big trees, and knew we could add a patio,” says Clegg. “We started designing it shortly after we moved in.”

Jones and Clegg enlisted architect Todd Stringer, who also saw the potential of the backyard, to create a space that was both enjoyable and relaxing, but architecturally striking too. “A fundamental quality of the house, from the front at least, is its sense of expansive shelter,” Stringer says. “Broad eaves and masonry arches relate easily to the arcade of cottonwoods lining the property, and so I wanted to capture the feeling — not with more solid arches — but with something less heavy and more delicately graceful by using rhythmic and subtle spring lines that would accentuate the linear quality of the new patio structure.”

As Clegg and Jones imagined it to be, the new backyard is an oasis that the family uses as much as possible. A 16-foot-by-32-foot pool sits between two patios with cedar wood arches and wood plank ceilings. One patio covers the outdoor kitchen with grill, while the second floats over the master bedroom. To prevent the patios from being too dark, Stringer added two skylights. The pool has an 18-inch water wall with eight waterfalls that come out of a planter box filled with flowers. An umbrella, geyser and bubbler accentuate “the beach,” the pool’s Baja shelf where the couple’s young children can take a break from swimming while staying cool in the water.

“The patios and pool gave it more of an indoor-outdoor living feel,” Clegg says. “Todd put in so much architectural detail with all the arch work that it looks like it matches the original house.

“The patios and pool gave it more of an indoor-outdoor living feel. Todd [Stringer] put in so much architectural detail with all the arch work that it looks like it matches the original house.”
—Stacey Clegg

The backyard wasn’t the only space that needed a facelift: the family room was redone to add a back door, which didn’t exist in the original home. Clegg says that the project was completed in stages, with the pool being finished in 2018. The patios came the following year, completing the outdoor space that Clegg and Jones had envisioned the moment they saw the house. Now, the yard is full with blue planters, green grass and the cottonwoods. A sitting area under the patio is ideal for staying cool, while a firepit to the side adds ambience and warmth to the yard. Just off the firepit area is a stone walking path that leads to a gate to the acequia and bosque trails. Clegg says the patio, with its 10-person table, and pool has seen plenty of use for birthday parties and impromptu dinner parties and barbecues, all pre-quarantine days, of course.

“Our house is the place to be,” she says. “People like to come to our house because it has a place to sit that’s sheltered from the sun, and there’s the pool. It’s just a really nice place to be.”


Todd Stringer

Interior Design/Staging
Dana Stringer Interiors

General Contractor
John Hartenberger Construction, Inc.

Hector’s Trees and Smartscape

Aquatic Pools Inc.