September-October 2018 | OUTDOOR OASIS




When owners Chris & Jacki Ray wanted their home’s exterior space to be the equal of its interior, their choice was simple — Wes Novelli of Hardscapes, Inc.

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: GRANT L. GURSKY

When Chris and Jacki Ray decided to create their family’s new custom home in Berlin’s Bay Point Plantation, they were as determined to make its exterior as exceptional as its interior. They had long known who they’d hire: Wes Novelli of Hardscapes, Inc., one of the most sought-after craftsmen on the Shore for this kind of project.

Novelli’s skill came in handy, as the Ray job was no walk on the beach. “This was an extremely involved project,” said Novelli, “for a variety of reasons,” including the pool and pool deck, which actually had to be constructed above ground because of the tidal area that the house is built on. This required an extensive retaining wall to be custom-constructed around the pool, backfilled with more than 300 tons of compacted dirt just to begin construction on the patio. The roughly 100-120-foot-long, four-foot-high seawall (which Novelli referred to as “a very impressive structure”) was built by local mason Russell Finecey and serves not only to protect the home from tidal forces but also acted as the man-made perimeter within which Novelli had to work in order to meet his clients’ expectations.

Once the magnificent pool was expertly completed by Trond’s Pool Care in Berlin (“In addition to making a great product, Trond is extremely knowledgeable about the equipment and excellent at explaining it,” said Chris), which also made the outdoor hot tub, Wes and the team began the backfill around the pool. In essence, this process literally laid the groundwork for the incomparable space that would follow, including the upper-level patio, outdoor kitchen with firepit, hot tub, entertainment area and stairway to the second level (which was built by Poole Contracting, along with the house itself).

The gorgeous patio is made from luxurious MSI travertine, set in a French pattern, which mixes tiles ranging in size from 8”x 8” to 16”x 24.” Wes and his crew labored full-time for more than two months, from winter to spring, to get the job done on time. The final result yielded a sprawling yet elegant 2,600 sq. ft. area where the family can play, relax and entertain. The oversize eye-shaped firepit runs right to the retaining wall and allows unobstructed views of the bay. It is also constructed of MSI travertine ledger stone, laid over foundation block and firebrick, with silver travertine capstones, to match the patio stone.

The outdoor kitchen is a tour de force in its own right. Pop-up electrical receptacles, high-velocity propane power burner, Twin Eagles gas grill, kegerator, freezerator, trash compactor are all in attendance to support the service area with full-wraparound granite bar top featuring a backsplash with more MSI travertine ledger stone. Throw in the full complement of state-of-the-art stainless-steel appliances, and it’s no wonder why Novelli says “it’s better than most indoor kitchens.”

Yet, that is not the end of the story. With all the time, money and talent the Rays invested in making this a one-of-a-kind home, you didn’t think they were going to forget about showcasing it at night, did you? “This is far and away the largest and most sophisticated lighting scheme I’ve ever created,” said Wes with regard to what he set up for the Rays. To remain faithful to the quality of materials used throughout the project, in and out, Wes wanted only the best in lighting equipment and products, so he used FX Luminaire, his manufacturer of choice for all such jobs. And he put them everywhere.

For example, in addition to fully lighting the deck area and outdoor kitchen, Wes flush-mounted in travertine lights along the entire border of the upper-level patio and angled them up to shine on the glass railings, which then refract that light to yield roughly three times the amount of functional illumination in that space. In all, Wes deployed approximately 50 distinct lighting fixtures to light the Rays’ backyard space like nothing else in the area. To get even more high-tech — which is what Chris Ray is all about — the light scheme Novelli and Hardscapes created for him can be operated by his cellphone or other smart device. Thus, all lighting zones are WiFi-compatible, and Chris can program each individual light to literally any color and brightness he chooses (bye-bye, tinted bulbs!). Wes adds that since Chris is such a huge sports fan, he suspects the home’s predominant outdoor lighting scheme is Ravens’ purple.

“We really like Wes, not only for his ability to do the work right but also for his artistry and his artistic vision,” Chris said. “When there are multiple contractors involved, Wes always seemed to be the glue that pulled them together as a cohesive team. But there’s something else about Wes that’s great: He can see things before they happen, which is a key reason why he is so amazing at what he does.” 

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