Story: Deana Nall | Styling: Mandy Keener |
A Conway family enjoys the amenities of a resort vacation year-round thanks to an updated cabana and poolside patio
To get away these days, all the Crain family has to do is step outside the door of their Conway home. “When I walk out there, I feel like I’m on vacation,” says Jennifer Crain of her home’s poolside retreat. The family, which includes Jennifer and her husband Chris as well as their two young daughters Camryn and Caroline, can often be found in the pool, huddled in the cabana’s kitchen or simply enjoying each other’s company while sitting under the stars. In fact, they enjoy it so much the recently constructed cabana and redesigned pool area are now the focal point of the home.
However, it hasn’t always been this way. The pool and a small pool house came with the home when the Crains purchased the property. Four years ago the main house underwent a redesign and now with the girls getting older it was time to tackle the outdoor space and make it enjoyable for the entire family. To prepare for the renovation, the pool house was demolished to make room for a more contemporary cabana. Jennifer drew on inspiration from the family’s travels to envision a setting that would accommodate everything from small family gatherings to Chris’ Razorback football parties to large, poolside celebrations.
“They wanted a space that was family-oriented, but they also wanted it to be a large, open area for entertaining,” says designer Tami Risinger of Risinger Interiors. After Little Rock architect Aaron Ruby drew the plans, Risinger incorporated her own ideas to achieve the modern look Jennifer wanted. “It had to be functional. They wanted very clean lines, but it had to be comfortable enough that people could lounge,” says Risinger.
Balancing a modern design with family functionality can be challenging, and Risinger had to make a few adjustments along the way. She had a kidney-shaped sofa made for Chris’ football-party room in the cabana and loved how its sleek curves contributed to the modern design. However, Chris believed a more functional seating arrangement would better serve his fellow Razorback fans, so Risinger repurposed the sofa by moving it to the outside pool area. To replace the piece, she found a sectional that would be comfortable enough for football parties while still maintaining a modern look. “The challenge throughout the project was trying to get the look I wanted while keeping the comfort level they needed,” says Risinger. “The finished design is a combination of clean lines and classic pieces.”
The pool itself also underwent a makeover with a new color palette and waterfalls that cascade into the basin from four large urns. The redesigned swimming area is a popular spot to gather during the summer months, and professional lighting ensures pool parties can go late into the night. However, the Crains wanted to make sure the outdoor space could also be used year-round. To make this a reality, they flanked the pool with two sitting areas—one with a fireplace and one with a firewall—to offer cozy gathering spots during the cooler months. These spaces, along with the cabana and plenty of covered outdoor areas, ensure weather doesn’t interfere with their enjoyment of the space.
Because the Crains are known for entertaining and hosting great parties, this outdoor oasis is now a favorite spot for guests as well. The space’s flexibility can handle everything from small family events to high school get-togethers with more than 100 teen girls gathered around the lavish pool area. “Jennifer threw a 60th birthday party for her father. It poured down rain, but the party just kept going,” says Risinger of the space’s accommodating areas.
These special moments with loved ones were at the heart of what Jennifer originally envisioned for her outdoor retreat. Her parents as well as her brother and sister-in-law live nearby, and the Crain home is where they gather regularly. “We love to host events at our home, but this has really been about our family. We have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day—everything—here. I enjoy that so much,” notes Jennifer.
With open spaces that combine contemporary pieces with traditional comforts, the Crain’s new outdoor space is like having a resort in the family’s backyard. “It’s so nice to have a getaway,” Jennifer says. “You can go on a million vacations, but there’s nothing better than coming home. This is our place and we hope to be here forever.”
Architect Aaron Ruby, Ruby Architects Inc., Little Rock, (501) 374-7829, rubyarchitects.com
Contractor Steve Boone, Boone Custom Homes, Conway, (501) 513-0741
Interior design Tami Risinger, Risinger Interiors, Conway, (501) 454-2575
Landscape design Scott Thornton Landscape, Conway, (501) 450-9600
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988,
Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Greg Thompson Fine Art, North Little Rock, (501) 664-2787, gregthompsonfineart.com
Cabinets Grant’s Cabinets & Millwork, Conway, (501) 513-9221, grantscabinets.com
Countertops—bath Falk Plumbing Supply, locations statewide, (800) 844-3255, falksupply.com
Countertops—kitchen Alpha Countertops, Russellville, (479) 967-0229, alphacountertops.com
Flooring and tile Ridout Lumber Company, locations statewide, ridoutlumber.com
Fresh floral Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Painting—decorative Benson & Co. Custom Painting, Conway, (501) 327-4359
Pool Rio Pools, Hot Springs, (501) 623-2410, riopools.net
Window coverings Possibilities Unlimited, Conway, (501) 472-5189