Summer 2022

Taking the Plunge

Words by Kimberly Winter Stern  |  Photos by Josie Henderson

A Mission Hills couple reinvents their backyard, replacing an ill-fitted 1970s pool and brick patio with a complete upscale retreat.


hen designer Stephanie Abramson’s longtime Mission Hills clients were ready to dip their toes into a pool redesign, the results yielded a shimmering backyard oasis—encompassing a shift to a timeless, sophisticated and peaceful leisure and entertaining space, accessible rain or shine.

Light, airy, spa-like, the space is as streamlined and as inviting as a blue-sky summer day. The pool, chic pool house and chef-worthy outdoor kitchen are framed by lush landscaping for the epitome in inspired outdoor living.

“Having been to friends’ homes where smartly designed pools were effortlessly combined with al fresco entertaining spaces, they knew their small, 1970s kidney-shaped pool and backyard needed a serious overhaul,” says Stephanie, owner of SEA Design. “They always felt their outdated pool was the weak link in a property
they adored.”

No stranger to the homeowners’ tastes, Stephanie has designed the 1940s-built home’s interior twice in the past 18 years, adding transitional changes with modern flair to the traditional residence. For this ambitious project, she knew the requirements for the reinvented pool and corresponding outdoor space would go beyond just building a place to splash and lounge.


“The emphasis needed to be  on indoor/outdoor living, complementing the couple’s lifestyle,” she says.

Indeed, the reimagined space emerged as a transportive, zen-like getaway, equally enticing for enjoying dinner off the grill, sipping cocktails under the stars, watching sports on the big-screen television inside the pool house or simply spending an afternoon with a book poolside.

Easy access from the home’s kitchen to the outdoors was mandatory. “‘Inside out, outside in’ was our mantra,” Stephanie says.

All together, the couple and Stephanie embarked on the renovation project beginning in 2019, hiring Michael Given Environments to design the pool and landscape. They tore out the existing pool, pool house, surrounding black iron fence and brick patio in favor of a 720-square-foot structure, including an adjacent outdoor kitchen.

The new 46-foot-long, 20-foot-wide zero-entry pool—featuring a linear fire pit and a spa waterfall—was filled in May 2020 as finishing touches were put on the distinctive outdoor living area remodel. 

“The design achieves the homeowner’s vision of reinforcing the connection to the landscape, maximizing the once ho-hum outdoor space into a tranquil environment,” Stephanie says. “They’re now able to enjoy this year-round, regardless of weather.”

The relaxed pool house has Andersen sliding glass doors that open to the pool area or close to make a private space. Inside, a bathroom features a striking shower with Italian Carrara marble wall tiles and Mediterranean blue hexagon limestone on the shower floor. 

A connected outdoor kitchen combines culinary creativity with a love for nature. High-end appliances and a front-row seat to the pool and adjoining dining table creates a haven for the homeowners to cook, dine and host outdoors all season long. 

“What we’ve accomplished is an extension of a much-loved home that truly reflects the owners’ personalities,” Stephanie says. “It exudes a calm and welcoming vibe—nothing fussy—a special place you’d like to take a swim, read a book, have a drink, enjoy time with friends and family. And the best part is that there’s truly no disconnect from the main house—it all interconnects.”





Design: Stephanie Abramson of SEA Design 
Pool contractor:
Michael Given Environments  Outdoor furniture: Designer’s Library  
Outdoor kitchen appliances: Alexander & Ray’s TV & Appliance  


Potted planters: Petit Jardin KC 
Landscape maintenance: Lightning Landscape  Pool Maintenance: Kartsonis Pools & Service


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