Winners: Backyard, Beach House/Pool House, Outdoor Room

Thanks to everyone—professionals and homeowners—who sent in photos of their fabulous outdoor spaces.

Our intrepid judges (Jeff Hester of Hester Decorating, Nancy Spears, a member of area garden club Glenview Gardeners and Tate Gunnerson, Make It Better contributing writer and creator of, a design blog) had their work cut out for them, with five stunning outdoor spaces entered, from a backyard putting green, to a gorgeous outdoor fireplace surrounded by comfy lounge seating, two stunning pools and a deluxe backyard barbecue area.

The judges were asked to choose a winner in each of two categories: beach house/pool and backyard spaces. And the winners are …

Pool/Beach House

Pool overlooking lake, submitted by James Martin Associates.

Two out of three judges chose this as best pool. They said:

“I love so many aspects of this entry. The brick leading into the wood deck, stained with the same tone, is exquisite. The way the entire area looks out into the lake is breath-taking. And when you look back to the house and the windows that look out into the yard, it’s spectacular.”

“For best pools, mark my vote for the gorgeous space submitted by James Martin Associates, which features stunning symmetry and natural materials that complement the exquisite lake views.”

One of our judges chose the pool by Downes Pool Company in Long Grove, which gets Honorable Mention.

The judge said: “The curving lines of the pool were pleasing. Of course, they incorporated a hot tub and fireplace. What I liked best about this was that the green lawn space was retained, which softens the lines of the hardscape and provides an additional place for children to play.”

Backyard Space

The decision was unanimous! The winner is Dan of Wilmette, who submitted his outdoor kitchen. Our judges said:

“I can see this situated comfortably and attractively in anyone’s backyard space, nestled under the trees on a lovely patio, awaiting an impromptu party or celebration.”

“The mix of materials keeps things interesting, and the greenery makes it feel like a lush resort.”

“That is a great barbecue station. I can’t think of a better place to cook for a party. I would always volunteer to be the cook if had this setup.”

One of our judges also admired the backyard putting green, submitted by Sport Court, which gets Honorable Mention.

The judge said:

“I am partial to any backyard with a golfing area, which is heaven at home for me.”

See previous months’ winners:

Best Galley-Style, Large and Small Kitchens

Best Master Bathrooms and Powder Rooms

Think you’re in the mood to landscape? Check our Better List for a few great recommendations on where to do and who can do it!

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