Kory and Lindsey Rykman gave their backyard plenty of thought, knowing the space would serve not only as a place to unwind at the end of the day or week, but also as a gathering spot for family and friends. Long-time Atlantans with deep roots in the Cobb area, the couple has resided in Marietta since 2014. Their current home is their second home – and most likely their forever home. The family desired a property with a generous amount of land, and the original three acres were serendipitously expanded after the next-door neighbor sold off two acres of her own.
“When we were offered to purchase the land next door, we were very happy for our growing family to be able to stretch their legs in the abundant space,” Kory says. “Now, with almost five acres, we find it hard to ever leave such a unique piece of property in East Cobb. When we purchased this house, there was nothing here; the woods pretty much came up to the deck.”
The Rykmans got right to work transforming their lush acreage into the ideal outdoor retreat. First, they leveled out almost an acre of trees behind their home with the intention of adding a large swimming pool. Next, a lounge area with a fire pit and couches, plus a covered bar and grilling area, were added. Many people might think that’s all it takes to create a dream backyard, but this family had yet another vision. “Fifty yards of grass, perfect for soccer and volleyball, was another important must-have on our wish list — we are outside often!” Kory comments.
The humans aren’t the only ones savoring life at the Rykman property. A six-stall barn with a wash rack, feeding room with hot/cold water, three pastures and a chicken coop ensure the family’s horses, goats, donkey and chickens all feel at home, too. Most of the animals have intriguing backstories — Lindsey shares that the oldest horse, a 25-year-old Morgan, holds a Florida State Champion Sulky horse medal and now lives quite a cushy life with her goat buddies, in a pasture all their own.
“The miniature ponies are retired from a mobile petting zoo, and the chickens are a slight obsession of mine,” laughs Lindsey. “You just can’t have too many chickens!”
Though the backyard took two years to finish and the interior of the home was also a lengthy process, the Rykmans are thrilled with their results. It's no small feat to renovate a home from the 1980s, they assure me. In fact, they would caution friends against buying something in need of renovations unless they are fully invested.
“This backyard was not easy to put together,” Kory admits. “And, like most women, my wife is particular about design and what she wants. It’s also extremely stressful living with construction. If I could go back, I’d have everything planned out and all materials purchased and on-site before beginning construction. We ended up waiting on most things to be delivered, which wasted precious time.”
While the Rykman home’s backyard now elevates the value of the property, the family agrees that their personal enjoyment is the greatest value of all.
“At 5 p.m. we can make a cocktail, enjoy a glass of wine, grill out with premium cuts of fresh meats from NY Butcher Shoppe, jump in the pool — there’s a distinct difference between work and play,” Kory says. “I play soccer in a competitive adult league, and I’ve invited my teammates and their spouses to the pool. We’ve also hosted birthday parties here, and almost every weekend we have a gathering with our family.”
We are thankful to our talented partners and friends for the beautiful tablescape created by Jeni Rakestraw, Owner, Century Park Interiors using beautiful blooms from Flowers of Marietta. Delicious edibles from Schmoo.Pies and refreshing wines from Rodney Strong help create memorable backyard gathering.