City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Backyard Bliss

A Transformative Renovation Takes This Backyard from Drab to Fab

Article by Nicole Browning

Photography by Sandi Nichols and Brad Stoelb

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

The backyard might be a part of your house you don’t think about often. You mow. You rake. Maybe garden. Maybe grill-out. Maybe workout. But what if it was a feature of your home that, properly utilized, could be turned into a full extension of your living space? Why settle for less, when with the help of a few local vendors and contractors, you can curate an entirely new area (a retreat, an escape) right in your own, well, backyard …

There are, of course, other incentives for renovating. Local real estate expert Ellie Kowalchik, of Keller Williams Pinnacle Group’s Move2Loveland team, says that outdoor living spaces have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. “Ever since the emergence of COVID-19, homeowners have placed significant value on private outdoor sanctuaries that extend their usable living space to include the outdoors—allowing them to ‘vacation at home.’ Professional appraisers have even remarked that yards with pools can be valued as much as $100,000 higher than those without,” according to Ellie.

Ready for some inspiration? Thankfully, the perfect example of a beautifully utilized backyard exists, and it belongs to Sandi Nichols and Brad Stoelb—Loveland residents who constructed their own oasis in their wooded backyard right here in the city. Situated on an acre of land in a secluded cul-de-sac, Sandi and Brad’s gorgeous home backs up to a large swath of forest, initially leaving them with only a minimal parcel of their land to utilize when they first purchased the house back in 2018. 

“We knew we wanted to do the whole backyard. Brad always wanted a pool, so we knew we wanted to add that ... but we had to get the deck completed first,” explains homeowner Sandi about their dreams for the yard from the start. The deck in question is a gorgeous second-story white and gray deck that spans the whole back of their house. It was completed in November of 2020 and was built by All Decked Out, a Cincinnati-local company whose work speaks for itself. Sandi and Brad’s deck is perfectly crafted, and looks like an original feature of the house despite being an addition.

The next thing that needed to be tackled was to create a viable surface for their pool when the time came to add it into the mix. Brad explains, “Bares Run Creek goes through the woods back there, so there’s quite a hill down to it—which meant we had to have a retaining wall to make it all work.” Because of the slope of their backyard, the couple had to find someone to level out the yard and put in that retaining wall to give them more surface area to work with. Enter Outdoor Environments, Inc., another local vendor with notable work performed across the Loveland area. In late summer of 2021, they bulldozed the backyard, and brought in 70 truckloads of gravel and dirt to create an all-new flatter yard space.

Finally, in November of that same year, it was time to talk pool. “The pool is pretty cool. With a fiberglass one like we chose, the company first molds it, then puts it on a big truck. Ours came in from North Carolina, and they had to use a crane to get it past our house and into the backyard,” Brad remembers fondly. “It was the coolest thing—it was November and all our neighbors were out there watching them move this massive pool … it was a blast.” And because their pool isn’t overly gigantic, it’s an idyllic setup—serenely looking out along the lush woods, perfectly concreted in and flanked by an army of comfy deck chairs. 

Once the pool was in place, and the stamped concrete work (done by TowneScapes) was complete around it, it was time to talk about irrigation. “When the wall was installed, they had to dig up the whole backyard, so the front yard was torn up some from trucks coming in,” Brad remarks about this expected part of the total yard transformation. Instead of going straight in with sod, Sandi and Brad had a full irrigation system installed by Vanderwist of Cincinnati. Then Motz Turf Farms came in and replaced all of the damaged grass with sod, completing the renovation and restoring the yard to picture perfection. The final touch? An outdoor kitchen, renovated by All Decked Out—the ultimate place to gather with friends and family to enjoy all of the hard work that went into creating the relaxing atmosphere right in their own backyard.

Now, Sandi and Brad’s summers are punctuated by lazy days in the pool. They can change up the scenery while they work from home, taking in the Cincinnati sun and enjoying a fresh breeze while using the backyard as their home office. The pool was even put to use this past winter as a make-shift mini hockey rink—instead of covering the pool as usual over the winter, Brad let it freeze over and put out a goal to shoot at with his hockey-playing son, something made possible thanks to their fiberglass pool choice.

At the end of the day, their remodeled backyard is like a vacation that’s right on their own doorstep. “Sandi takes a lot of pride in the things she does with the house. We don’t do a lot of vacations—” Brad starts to explain, and Sandi quickly interjects. “I like my house better.” With a yard like this, we couldn’t agree more. 

Considering a reno project of your own and want an expert opinion on choices to help maximize your return on investment? Contact Ellie Kowalchik at 513.697.SELL or for a free consultation.

It was November and all our neighbors were out there watching them move this massive pool … it was a blast .

— Brad

Professional appraisers have even remarked that yards with pools can be valued as much as $100,000 higher than those without.

- Ellie

  • Before
  • After

Businesses featured in this article