Hawaiian Haven

A St. Charles couple creates a slice of the tropics in their own backyard. 

By Barbara E. Stefano
Photography by Kim Dillon


When husband and wife Patty and Tom of St. Charles put the finishing touches on their Florida-style home two years ago, their focus quickly turned to creating an outdoor haven that was just as welcoming as the interior.

“We have three children, and our oldest [son] has two kids and our daughter had our third grandchild,” explains Patty. “That’s how the whole [backyard project] got started. We wanted a space we could share with them.”

Patty and Tom took inspiration for their tropic-themed outdoor space from wood plaques they brought home from a recent trip to Hawaii. Marc Christian Fine Cabinetry incorporated the plaques into the bar front. The couple loved the openness of the Florida look, borrowing a house floorplan from a Florida designer and getting help from architect Donna Boxx to tweak the design to their tastes and bring the plan into compliance with Missouri building codes.

“It’s kind of a unique home for St. Louis, I think because of the exterior, which is EFIS (exterior insulation and finish system),” says the couple of the stucco-like finish. At the back of the house is the lanai, complete with a mini kitchen and tropical bar, and a concrete floor beautifully stamped with tropical leaves. There, the family enjoys many meals together in full view of the wooded bluffs in their secluded area.

Patty and Tom carried the theme into the rest of the 2 ½-acre property, hiring Baker Pool & Spa to install a pool with a children’s splash pad and a 4-inch-deep tanning shelf. It’s surrounded with a neutral stone retaining wall, bold deck chairs, wicker lounge furniture and – perhaps a bit surprising – faux palm trees and turf.

“We didn’t want to have dirt by the pool and didn’t want grass shavings that would get in the pool. They make AstroTurf that is very, very realistic now,” explains Patty. “We didn’t want anything that was going to look fake. We feel it’s very colorful and comfortable. We love going to the beach, so we sort of have it now – our retreat.”

While the grandkids are horsing around the splash pad, the adults can find amusement on the putting green or the sport court, complete with volleyball net, basketball hoop and batting cage. A built-in sound, lighting and media system by The Sound Room allows Patty and Tom to control all the electronics – stereo, television, fans, and yard and pool lights – via iPad.

“Planning is very important. We did not rush into it,” says the couple. “And I guess it’s kind of good to get some kind of theme in your head. St. Louis isn’t the first place you think of when you think tropical, but it turned out very, very nice.”


Architect: Donna Boxx, Boxx Architects, 314-234-2333

Landscaping: Frisella Nursery, 636-798-2555
Pool: Baker Pool & Spa, 636-532-3133
Aalco Manufacturing Co., 314-544-4300
Turf: Xtreme Green, 314-241-8873
Lighting: Metro Electric Supply, 314-645-9000
Sound system: The Sound Room, 314-537-0404
John Steurer Plastering Co., 314-822-9030
Stay Green Irrigation, 314-991-5473
Schaeffer Homes & Associates, 636-928-9707
Cabinetry: Marc Christian Fine Cabinetry, 314-944-7111