By Valerie Henderson
Imagine the glow of a crackling, warm fire while relaxing outside on a cool, crisp night under a starry skyâ€¦ a very familiar scene at the Cloe home in Sunderlin Park, one of west Conway's beautiful neighborhoods. Jeff and Julie Cloe, together with their children Elizabeth, Carter, and Kennedy, love their outdoor living area! It is perfectly situated just off the kitchen and great room of their home making it visible from both rooms. There is a flagstone walkway leading from the back porch to this area. While visiting with Julie about this beautiful backyard retreat, it was obvious this area was a place the entire family enjoys and a place they can share valuable time together. She told me one of the favorite things they do as a family is to enjoy homemade s'mores prepared by the outdoor fire.
Julie began to have a vision for this unique addition to their home several years ago after the backyard, which was once full of toys for the kids, was no longer being used by the kids much anymore. She wanted to create an area that would be for the entire family, so she sketched out exactly what she wanted and the project took off from there. The rock and cedar used to construct this peaceful setting was inspired by Julie's love for Colorado and the rustic look that is seen most there. Although Julie is the one responsible for the design of this backyard project, she was quick to give credit to her friend and decorator, Bobbi Jo Feltmon, for her assistance, as well as Michelle Boone at The Plant Outlet.
Speaking of the dÃ©cor, it is truly an area one could not appreciate without seeing it for themselves. Hanging just above the beautifully constructed rock fireplace is a large wrought iron cross Julie won at a Conway Christian School auction. Another cross, that stands approximately 5 feet tall, is also a focal point of the area. (Julie has a great love for decorating with crosses!) Although the fireplace is used as the main source of lighting, several lanterns, as well as a few strands of globe lights and a unique "candlelier," help set the mood for this peaceful place used to relax.
Julie told me one of the things she and Jeff love most about this area is that it is a piece of their home that all of the family enjoys using. They have used it for a variety of events including dinner with friends, gathering with church groups, a place for the kids to gather with their friends, celebrating special occasions, and most importantly, a place to spend time as a family. When I asked Julie to tell me about a favorite time when this space was used, she said with a smile, "Jeff's surprise party for his birthday last February was so much fun!"
The Cloe family has found this outdoor retreat to be an area that is used year-round. The fireplace provides the warmth on a cool, crisp night giving them the ability to use it during the cooler months of the year. During the spring and summer Julie surrounds the area with large pots and containers filled with a variety of brightly colored flowers and plants.
Even the cold month of December doesn't keep this family from enjoying this space as they so festively decorate it for Christmas each year complete with lights, garland, and mini trees.
The memories that have already been made, as well as the many more memories that are to come for this family, make this outdoor living space a priceless addition to the Cloe home.