Having taken over one year to complete, Bryan LeCompte invites you to tour a South Point property that truly has it all
The words one can use to describe the project that Yard Designs created at the Otto residence in South Point are many: Spectacular. Incredible. Stunning. One-of-a-kind. And now, you can add one more: Complete.
After more than 14 months on the job, Bryan LeCompte and his talented team of carpentry, electrical, hardscape and landscape professionals finished transforming John and Pat Otto’s backyard into a breathtaking sea of interest, functionality and beauty. The setting is strategically anchored by completely custom elements, such as an outdoor bar and kitchen, fireplace, brick pizza oven, shower and pergola. As substantial and impressive as these items are, they’re complemented by several smaller, yet no less important, elements such as handmade mythical mermaids, precision-timed landscape lighting and custom-carved creations celebrating Pat’s love for the palmetto palm of South Carolina.
“Our goal was to create an environment that tied into the existing architecture of the house as if it had always been there,” said LeCompte, the owner of Yard Designs, Inc. “Mr. Otto knew he wanted a patio and where he wanted it. It was then up to us to give them the backyard of their dreams.”
Bryan’s plan for the substantial space called for many detail-and-labor-intensive projects across the property, which, when completed, would unify it seamlessly. He succeeded in doing just that.
“Practically and functionally, this project was neat and provided many different twists,” LeCompte said. “This is not your typical beachy-looking landscape for sure.”
One of the many focal points is the 16-foot-tall fireplace, featuring a dual-operational flu-liner chimney capped with European-copper chimney pots. The grand pizza oven was outfitted with a top-quality Chicago grill insert. A series of 20-inch fiberglass columns shelter the hot tub and a set of 16-inch columns support a pergola on the opposite end of the yard for aesthetic balance, which also architecturally anchors the bar and the driveway.
The sizable bar features countertops made of Louise blue granite that are three-slabs thick. The kitchen boasts similar countertops (two-granite-slabs thick), custom cabinetry made of ipe highlighted by decorative inlays, and a copper sink, stainless steel gas grill and refrigerator.
John’s patio is made of thermal select bluestone, precision cut on top and all four sides. The shower area — which includes a private changing room — is also made of ipe; its design carries the roofline of the house for continuity.
“Everything that we created with wood on the Otto job is completely custom-built,” said Clint Larmore, a fourth-generation carpenter who also holds a bachelor’s degree in construction management from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. “Bryan is extremely creative in his designs. I enjoy the challenge of making those ideas into reality.”
Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood known for its quality and density, was used extensively on the project — so much so that three tractor-trailer loads were utilized during construction — and presented those challenges Larmore is fond of.
“Ipe is a very difficult wood to work with — it takes four-times as long to work with than any other type of wood purely based on its density,” Clint said. “You need to be thinking four or five steps ahead because mistakes are timely and costly. So we spent hours and hours researching the products we would use before we ever stepped foot on the property.”
“Ipe is one of the densest woods in the world and tremendously tough to work with, but our guys have become masters of constructing outdoor structures using it,” LeCompte added.
The Otto property sits pristinely on the banks of Newport Bay, and while it offers the couple spectacular views and panoramic sunsets, the area is also known for particularly harsh conditions when the weather turns inclement. Add in saltwater’s ability to corrode finishes fairly easily (all of the cabinet hardware and fasteners are stainless steel), and the Yard Designs team had to build these structures to stand the test of time — and Mother Nature.
“We didn’t just rely on glue to secure our joints,” Clint said. “In these conditions, the glue could easily break down. We used back-up joints such as pegged mortice tenon, dovetails and sliding dovetail to provide additional stability.”
Bryan’s design also called for custom doors featuring multiple intricate inlays in the shape of palm trees; each one was handmade by Clint and took weeks to create.
“As a company, we take care of the details,” said Larmore, Yard Designs’ chief carpenter, who heads a crew of four woodworkers. “There are a lot of things that could get missed, and I think that we go above and beyond to ensure that every last item is perfected.”
The landscape lighting, strategically positioned throughout the property and supported by more than 1,000 feet of conduit underground, offers the ideal amount of illumination while showcasing visual points of interest, such as the handcrafted ipe mermaid.
“The most dramatic lighting we installed is definitely inside the 16 columns that support the pergola along the walkway,” said Yard Designs electrician Robert Parker, an industry veteran who has spent the last 14 years working alongside LeCompte. “The path lights leading up the driveway and lighting around the walkway also increase the security and safety of the property, so they perform a dual function.”
Tiki lights known as islanders, which Parker describes as “an automatic party when lit,” dot the landscape and operate as both a light powered by a bulb and as a torch fueled by citronella.
Parker also noted that the low-voltage lighting is a user-friendly, durable product that is quite inexpensive when compared with incandescent lighting. It also offers high bulb life and is supported by a lifetime warranty. The value of landscaping lighting also shines brightly when one considers that without it, the property is only usable for half the day.
“Once you have installed accent lighting, you now have a usable yard 24 hours a day,” Parker said. “Remember, also, that we’re are not just putting up a flood light at a tennis court; we are highlighting the landscape and its architectural elements at night with the optimal amount of lighting — and doing so with planning that begins before the project ever begins. That’s an added value of our company. We have professionals in every department who can envision the look of a finished project and know how to accomplish what needs to be done along the way.”
“We are a well-oiled machine. I can design and create anything, but we have an incredibly talented team that executes those designs to perfection time and time again,” Bryan said. “When a homeowner calls Yard Designs, they can take comfort in the fact that we can do it all. There is no need to worry about a combination of contractors. We have the talent on one team to accomplish any task.”
For all of the fanfare that exists in the backyard, the front of the residence was certainly not neglected. Bryan created a custom driveway that stretches upwards of 400 feet and is paved with Unilock courtstone in a color combination of basalt and Belguim blue and a red burgundy copthorne. The front of the Ottos’ Georgian-style brick constructed home called for a formal look, so Bryan accented the landscape with dozens upon dozens of boxwoods in a circular pattern. Beautiful lush landscaping surrounds the entire property and provides bursts of color and interest throughout the yard.
“Our team did a phenomenal job, and it was an honor to work on this project,” LeCompte said. “Similar to our projects themselves, we love to build and enhance relationships with our clients. We always answer clients’ questions, discuss their project details and materials, and take pride in a true, open dialogue. After the project has been completed, we always stand by our work by continuing to service and maintain the property — no matter the size.”
YARD DESIGNS, INC.
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