Michael and Kirsten Lane met 11 years ago in Hawaii while Michael was attending a conference as a Navy lieutenant. They married exactly one year later and now have three boys, ages 8, 6 and 4. Although Kirsten says “our world revolves around our children,” they still want to live in a space that offers the recreation and relaxation they experienced in Hawaii.
Michael retired from the Navy in 2005 as a lieutenant commander after 21 years in the Medical Service Corps. Last summer, the family relocated from Monterey when Michael took a position at Twin Cities Community Hospital. They were loath to leave their previous custom-built home. “We built the yard in a Polynesian theme and we loved it,” said Michael.
When they found their current Templeton home, which is about 12 years old, they liked how the 1.1-acre lot backed up to a wooded creek for privacy. They appreciated how its open, single-level floor plan made its 2,900 square feet seem even larger.
But in the end, it was the backyard that won them over.
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Tucked away at the rear of the property is a tropical oasis — an elaborate pool and spa area ringed with mature palm trees and accented with faux rock formations and multiple waterfalls. It is a space that feels “resort-like” to the couple, said Michael.
The pool was originally built by Barefoot Pools and recently updated by Custom Works Swimming Pools. The area is fenced for child safety and offers amenities for both kids and adults. The 100,000-gallon pool has a gently sloped “beach entry” where adults can park a lounge chair, or toddlers can take a shallow dip. A swim-up bar is a favorite feature for grownups, while the water slide is the main attraction for kids.
A poolside outdoor kitchen has a 48-inch wide barbecue, two double-side burners, two refrigerators, ice machine and freezer. A sound system fills the area with music, and, at night, colored fiber optics turn the waterfalls into a dazzling light show.
The yard itself fulfills a dual function as play space and a venue for entertaining. Atascadero’s Sprinkler King created the original landscaping and continues to maintain it.
The Lanes frequently host small to medium-size get-togethers on their back patio, so they created an outdoor living room area with a rattan outdoor furniture set that includes a plush love seat, chairs and coffee table. Tall cocktail tables allow guests to stand and talk while enjoying a beverage or appetizer. Heat lamps keep the patio comfortable well into the evening on all but the coldest of nights.
The family does not shy away from larger events either. They once hosted a pool party with more than 100 guests, followed by a screening of a movie on the grass once the sun set.
An equally large back-to-school party had guests dining on catered gourmet burgers at the mosaic-embellished concrete picnic tables near the pool, and on blankets spread out on the grass.
When the family is not entertaining, the kids have the run of the yard, riding mini quad bikes on the lawn, climbing on their play structure, or performing acrobatics on the trampoline that is recessed into the ground for safety.
The home interior is also kid-friendly, yet plenty sophisticated. Kirsten once worked at her parents’ home staging company, so she is well-versed in interior design. Still, only minor changes to the house were necessary including an update of hardware, partial recarpeting, and replacing the front doors with rustic distressed mahogany wood doors.
Kirsten calls her decorating style “casual chic,” characterized by warm earth tones, natural woods and clean but elegant lines.
Their furniture is a mix of contemporary and traditional pieces including family antiques, items Michael collected while stationed in Italy, and furniture accumulated by the couple during their marriage.
The look of the home is sophisticated — no plastic kiddie furniture in sight. The family maintains formal living and dining rooms and uses them for intimate gatherings. The living room is near the entrance of the house and has a view of the backyard. The formal dining room has a small glass table that seats four.
The family eats their meals in the breakfast nook located near the kitchen. The family room is also a casual space, and some toys make their way there, yet it remains largely clutter-free. This is where the kids bring friends for a game or a movie. “We enjoy the fact that the kids can entertain their friends in the family room as we entertain adults in the formal living room,” said Kirsten.
The family keeps toys and clutter in check by using a small room, intended as an office, as a playroom. A long, low storage unit holds labeled canvas bins that organize everything from books to Legos. This keeps other spaces, including the kids’ rooms, tidier, because “it keeps the toys more centrally located rather than throughout the house,” said Michael.
The master suite is the couple’s sanctuary, with a fireplace that divides the sleeping area from an office nook. There are small luxuries like an oversize leather chair, a chandelier, a large soaking tub, and French doors to the patio which, according to Michael, make the space “a special little re treat for us.” After all, he reasoned, why should the kids have all the fun?
TIPS FROM MICHAEL AND KIRSTEN LANE
DESIGNATE A PLAYROOM Instead of storing toys in multiple areas of the house, try keeping everything in one room. Ideally, this will be a designated playroom with ample storage for toys. This method keeps toys and clutter contained in one space where, ideally, it can all be concealed behind closed doors. It also helps to keep kids’ bedrooms neater.
LIVE OUTDOORS Think of your patio as an extension of your living room. Instead of flimsy furniture, invest in something that feels like indoor furniture, such as a rattan or wood loveseat, comfy chairs, and a generously-sized coffee table. Use an outdoor rug to define the seating area. A heat source, such as a fire pit, fireplace or heat lamp, keeps the space comfortable at night.
KEEP IT HIDDEN To reduce visual clutter, the Lanes opted for containers that conceal the kids’ toys and belongings, rather than open shelving, baskets or clear bins. In the playroom, they used slide-out canvas bins that can be carried to a play area, then returned. A shelving unit for the bins keeps everything looking tidy.