Backyard Staycation Design – There’s no place like home

As we spend more time at home, working, living and holidaying, we’ve seen an uptick in outstanding new backyard builds. Whether they’re professional builds or good-old-fashioned DIY projects – additional outdoor areas are a fantastic way to create a delightful venue to spend your time in when you can’t travel far. Staycations are here to … stay.

Shadowspec Outdoor Umbrellas are often asked to assist in innovative outdoor projects. In July we were privileged to provide umbrellas to a DIY backyard project in New South Wales, Australia.

The eastern patio area with the Shadowspec Serenity™ over the spa pool. 

The Project – Australian Backyard Conversion

David came to Shadowspec with grand designs to redo his backyard patio. The space was very bare and like most underutilised outdoor areas we see, was brimming with potential. The key feature was going to be either a spa or a swimming pool. The elongated shape of the yard wasn’t conducive to a swimming pool, so the spa ended up being the perfect option. Key to David’s design philosophy is aesthetics and quality.

With that in mind, he wasn’t interested in using just any old spa pool - he knew he wanted a showpiece to anchor the design and space. The brilliant Vortex Ikon Spa Pool was selected to sit front-and-centre (or off-centre) in the layout design. “The spa pool is almost like a sculpture” mused David, “I knew I wanted to surround that sculpture with beautiful things and umbrellas were right at the top of my list.”

The project was now in full-throttle and David chose to build a mock-up version of his yard and the space in SketchUp. This allowed him to visualise the area and make the best use of the space available. The final layout of the north-facing yard features a spa area on an eastern deck, a central lawn with bench seating (with storage) and a western deck / seating area that looks back over the entire lawn. With the design in hand, the search was on for the perfect product.

When David enquired about Shadowspec Umbrellas, he engaged with one of our shade specialists who guided him through the selection to discover the outdoor umbrellas that would both match the quality and finish of his design and spa to provide the shade required for the harsh Australian sun. “Stephan from Shadowspec is amazing, he was 100% interested in the project as a whole and worked with me to find the best umbrellas for my design and the space,” concluded David. “Aesthetics are very important to me; how a product looks and functions is what I’m looking for.”



The Products

In collaboration with Shadowspec, the umbrellas that were specified into the space were: one 3.5m Octagonal Shadowspec Serenity™ in Sunbrella Oyster and two 2.7m Octagonal Shadowspec SU2 Café & Resort Umbrellas in White. “In my research, I found Shadowspec wasn’t the cheapest product but it stood out as being the best looking and best build quality,” advised David. “The Shadowspec Umbrellas added a great resort-style finish to my build which enhanced the yard.”

The Shadowspec Serenity™ Spa Umbrella

The Build

With the DIY approach to the build underway, David ran into an interesting conundrum. How best to place the rotating cantilever umbrella in the correct spot to make the most of the shade as the sun moves across the sky? “I knew if I placed the umbrella towards the northern wall of the build, there would be points during the day I would actually have to rotate it out over the neighbour's side of the fence and that’s not an optimal use of shade,” conferred David. The solution was to head back into Sketchup. Using the design from the planning stage, David used a 3D CAD model of the Serenity and the built-in shadows function of Sketchup to simulate the position of the sun and the shadows it would cast throughout the day. This allowed him to discover the optimal installation position to shade the spa pool all day long.


View towards the western patio before and bench seating underway.

The results of the research showed that the best place for the Serenity to be installed was just behind the spa pool. David took the innovative approach of mounting the supplied 316 Stainless Steel surface plate underneath the new deck build. The concept was to lay a concrete slab under the part of the eastern deck where the umbrella was to be mounted. The surface plate was then mounted to the concrete and the wooden deck laid over-top. This provided a nice flush look and allowed the umbrella to be placed in the perfect spot whilst preserving the rotational capabilities of the Serenity.

As the slats were quite close to the decking the shape of the surface plate and spigot had to be routed out so the deck would sit flush.

A creative solution was also devised by David to install the Centre Pole Outdoor Umbrellas in the central lawn and western deck areas. David built custom, in-ground anchors that could be covered up with a plug when the umbrellas were not in use. This gives him the option of removing them from the footprint of the build when needed, adding to the modular functionality of the yard. The storage for the SU2 outdoor umbrellas was also integrated into the build, inside the bench seating of the central lawn.

David created hidden, custom umbrella mounts to improve the modular functionality of his yard.

Modular DIY Backyard build success

“Shadowspec helped me achieve my project objectives 100%, you know, even without the umbrellas the space is beautiful, but it would just be unusable in the heat of the sun,” confirmed David. “The form and function of the umbrellas are just perfect for the space and the vision that I had - they’ve pulled the whole thing together for me.”

The spa pool with lighting and the Serenity is covered up with the protection cover.

The ease of deployment from the Serenity is also a popular feature of David’s family and friends. ”I looked at a few other umbrellas and they were just cumbersome and laborious to use with the winding handles.”

The spa pool is covered by the Shadowspec Serenity™ with the central lawn in front.

There's no place like home

Shadowspec are very pleased to work with clients such as David to create outdoor spaces that are useable and look great - they fit right into the design philosophy of our flagship products. David’s space is a testament to his hard work, DIY and design skills and Shadowspec is beyond proud to have been able to support shade for this stand-out backyard that will bring David and his family a great outdoor living experience to enjoy all year round.

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The view of the central lawn and the western patio with the SU2 Cafe & Market Umbrella deployed.

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