Story: Tiffany Burgess | Styling: Diane Carroll |
Lush flowers are in bloom, the lazy notes of a jazz band float through the outdoor speakers and dinner is on the grill. For Cindy and Mark McNair, these aren’t the signs of a special occasion. Rather, it could be any night of the week from March to October. “We live outdoors and take advantage of it every chance we get,” says Cindy.
What began as a gardening hobby in 2000 has since grown into a full-scale backyard retreat. “When our kids went off to school, we started gardening and spending all our time outdoors,” says Cindy. “We referred to our first flower beds as the ‘empty nesters’ garden,” laughs Mark, “and now it has grown to become an extension of our home.”
The couple created their backyard living area progressively. The initial plan for flowerbeds grew to include the fireplace and pergola, and then eventually expanded to the pool and outdoor kitchen. “The more we expanded, the more we enjoyed it,” says Cindy. While each space is a separate entity within the backyard, a charming brick walkway and the pool deck link all of the areas together.
As the expansion grew, so did the number of parties. The backyard has provided the backdrop for everything from bridal showers to intimate family dinners. “We once hosted a ‘Drink, Dangle and Dine,’ where we invited friends over for cocktails, a dip in the pool and dinner,” says Mark. They also enjoy celebrating birthdays at the dining table, sharing s’mores by the stone fireplace and preparing Sunday breakfast on the grill’s griddle.
The outdoor kitchen prep area and a built-in grill allow the couple to cook for family and friends without being indoors, where they might miss out on some of the conversations or fun. They also thoughtfully placed the cooking area near a side door that leads to the home’s kitchen, making it easy to transport appetizers, drinks and food to the grill.
Fresh herbs, such as basil, rosemary and mint, dot the landscape of an edible garden that’s aptly placed near the grill. The couple’s son, Cole, is a trained chef and they often gather to make fresh batches of pesto from their harvest. Cindy also uses the area to pot smaller plants, which she gives away to friends and neighbors interested in planting a garden of their own.
For a couple who admittedly loves to garden and cook, there’s no better setting. “I can’t imagine anywhere else we’d rather be,” says Cindy.
Design concept Travis Brooks, Fayetteville
Installation Colonial Hills Landscape, Fayetteville
Clock Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Coffee table, garden accents Sara Kathryn’s, Ltd., Fayetteville
Pillows, lanterns Pottery Barn, locations statewide
Plants Perennials, Etc., Garfield; Westwood Gardens, Fayetteville, Harrison, Rogers, Springdale; White River Nursery, Fayetteville
Pool Seaside Pools, Springdale