Building the Ultimate Backyard

This Florida family had no idea how great their ultimate backyard would be once the Family Handyman editors were done.

For the May 2020 issue of Family Handyman, the editorial team traveled to Cape Coral, Fla., with the goal of helping Sara and Robert Stelfox transform their backyard into a cool and convenient couple’s retreat.

When the Stelfoxes bought their new home it had everything they hoped for … inside. But the backyard was a large, flat rectangle of grass that some might have considered bland or boring.

“I was looking for a place to relax and find some shade; it gets a little hot in the afternoon in Florida,” Robert told Family Handyman. “I wanted a place to have coffee in the morning and a party in the evening.”

A cozy relaxation spot was a priority for Sara too, but a perfect setting in which to host visiting family and friends was at the top of her list.

The Building Process

Where some might have seen a barren backyard, the Stelfoxes — and the Family Handyman editors — saw a blank canvas upon which one couple’s perfect paradise could be painted.

So they got to work.

Hours of sketching, debating and refining plans resulted in a design that would transform the Stelfoxes backyard into the place of respite they pictured when they bought the property. Features include:

  • Modern pergola: peace and privacy without isolation
  • Lazy day lounger: a clever built-in that provides comfort and extra storage
  • Contemporary patio: modern look and feel minus the oversized price tag
  • Grill station: a robust cooking console that will last a lifetime

The Result

Sara’s favorite feature is the roomy lounger. Tucked into a corner, it’s a private getaway where she can relax with a book, a glass of wine or both. Conversely, Robert is partial to the pergola. He feels it transformed the backyard space by blocking the Florida sun while still allowing a cool evening breezes to flow through the space.

Building the Stelfoxes the ultimate backyard would normally have cost more than $10k, based on quotes from local contractors. But thanks to the ingenuity and innovation from the Family Handyman team, it came in at just over $4k.

Check out the May 2020 issue of Family Handyman to read more about the ultimate backyard project.