Back in March, Jennifer Giles and her family started the project of renovating their backyard. Looking to create a space to make memories and replace the family beach home, Giles decided to create a space closer to home for family gatherings.
“Our focus is family, and we wanted a place for friends and family to gather and a place for everybody to relax. In this day and age, I think that self-care and spending time with family is so important,” Giles said.
For about 40 to 50 years, the Giles family owned a house at the beach, but the stairs leading to it became a hinderance for Giles’ mother and her 21-month-old daughter. The Giles family then decided to sell the beach house and began searching for another with easier access and that was closer to home.
But at the time, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which led to the shutdowns. “We decided it was a God thing, and that we needed to be closer to home,” Giles said. “So, we took the money from the beach house to make our backyard into our Backyard Beach.”
Giles had the pool replaced with a new liner installed and replaced the concrete around the pool with brick. She also had lights put in the pool for night-time use. To complete the Backyard Beach, Giles added a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, a tanning ledge, a rock feature, and new landscape for the front and back yard. In the outdoor kitchen area, she included a fireplace, T.V., bar, and sitting area.
“I wanted something special for everybody and wanted it to be multi-generational,” Giles said.
For her 19-year-old son, Giles added the hot tub. Once the pool and hot tub were completed in July, Giles explained that her son has spent time in both every night with his friends. The outdoor kitchen area was finished the day before he returned to college at the University of Alabama, so the family was able to grill out and have one celebration before he left.
“He wanted to be the first one to use the grill, and he was excited to be able to before he left,” Giles said.
To get to the backyard from the house, there are two levels of stairs, so Giles looked at different ways to make it easier for her mother. She decided to have a path made and bought a golf cart that they call Mammy’s Ride to transport her back and forth.
“It’s been wonderful! My mother has been outside more this summer than she has in the last four years. She sat outside and watched the construction and talked with the workers too,” Giles said.
During the deconstruction period, the whole family was home because of the pandemic, and they all enjoyed watching the deconstruction and construction of their backyard together. “When they destroyed everything, we sat on the porch and cheered,” Giles laughed.
Giles has been helping her youngest daughter learn to swim and enjoys spending time in the pool several times a week with her. In the future, Giles plans to add a slide for her that will extend from the deck into the pool.
“My oldest daughter hasn’t seen it in person yet, so we’re planning a big surprise for her,” she said.
The Giles family hopes to have many more family gatherings and friends over to enjoy the new space. Giles explained she wants to have somebody swimming every day. “We want a place where people can come and hang out or sit and decompress. We want to have that serenity that we used to have at the beach in our backyard,” Giles said.
If it hadn’t been for COVID-19, Giles explained that they probably wouldn’t have started their backyard project and invested in their home, but they are extremely happy they did.
Story by Lauren Johnson
For more stories from the September/October edition of TroyLife, pick up a copy at various locations around the community or at The Messenger office.