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Outdoor Oasis

This Lake Vista outdoor pavilion is made for entertaining in style

In a 1950 midcentury home across from City Park, the Halpern Family created their perfect outdoor oasis. With their large family of four children, Mary and David Halpern wanted to use the most of their space outside, to host, entertain, throw fabulous parties and have a cool space outdoors to simply hang out with the family.The Halperns set their sights high and knew recreating their backyard would likely be a complicated process: Their Lake Vista home sits up against the levy and they knew there would be limitations and restrictions; they wanted a roof over the pool to provide shade; the new pavilion would need to complement their home and they’d have to remove the existing pool first.

“Originally, there was an old, red bean-shaped pool from the 1960s, that was 11 feet deep,” Mary Halpern said. “At first, we were trying to design structures closer to the house. But my husband finally just said, ‘Rip it out.’”

This process seemed daunting, at first. They knew they’d need a team that was experienced and up for the challenge. The Halperns hired Titan Construction, who’ve been in business for 25 years. First, Titan would need to remove the 1960s-era pool. Then, they’d need to fill and grade the area before piles could be driven for the new structure.

“This was a very unique structure,” said Stephen Fleishmann, general contractor and owner of Titan Construction. “Usually a structure this size wouldn’t call for the use of structural steel. However, due to the large open space and the cantilevered area over the pool, we did incorporate structural steel.”

The Halperns assembled the rest of their stellar team for the project. They found a great pool builder, Greg’s Pools & Spas, who came highly recommended by Mary’s brother. “He was very patient and visionary. I wanted someone more artsy, not someone who was just going to carve out a square. And we wanted as much water as possible,” Mary said.

New Orleans architecture firm SCNZ Architects worked closely with the Halperns and drew their ideas, which Mary said was the product of days of research. They wanted the pavilion and pool to not look foreign to the backyard. “I like everything to stay linear and minimalistic,” Mary said.

It was also crucial to the Halperns that the design of the new pavilion flow seamlessly with the architecture of their home; namely they needed to source the right brick to match the brick of the midcentury house. According to Stephen Fleishmann at Titan Construction, one of the biggest challenges in creating this space was finding the materials to match the home’s architectural style. “After long hours of searching, we finally were able to find matching brick in California.” he said. The bricks were sourced from Brick Hunter USA — one of the only non-local vendors used on the project — which found and shipped the salvaged bricks for the pavilion.

“We wanted to mimic the materials on the house. We didn’t want it look like something just landed in the yard,” Mary said. The family also opted for cypress, sourced from the local Riverside Lumber Co., to reflect the architectural details of the house.

Modern appliances, two TV sets and a fireplace, were also installed in the pavilion. The kitchen’s cabinets and appliances were equipped by Nordic. The tiles and backsplash were provided by Triton Stone. “Because it is a ‘wet space,’ we had to use waterproofed, but aesthetically pleasing products, such as for the flooring and cabinets,” Fleishmann at Titan Construction said.

In the end, the process — from breaking ground to completion — took about one year, but the final product, a striking and inviting 500-square-foot pavilion, in the style of the Halperns’ midcentury home, was well worth the wait. The Halperns and the team were pleased with the end result. Titan’s owner said, “Overall I think the space turned out better than imagined and is very aesthetically pleasing.”

“It’s like a living room smack in the middle of the yard. There’s a big fan … It can accommodate our four kids and their friends. They’ll invite the kids over, and it makes the kids want to stay here,” Mary said.

It was also fortuitous that the pavilion was completed by the time the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. “We were so happy to have it during the pandemic. We could eat outside, entertain outside. Also, my husband loves doing anything outdoors. It was a way to get to him an outdoor space, without being in the sweltering heat,” Mary said.

The Halperns, who are known for their entertaining, throw an annual Christmas party, 25 years running (they even managed to host the celebration during the year of Hurricane Katrina). Mary continued, “The pavilion’s not made for 100 people, but in combination with our home and the park, we entertain a lot … We’ll have about 400 people come. It gets used a lot!”

Imoto photography | David and Mary Halpern opted for furniture from Restoration Hardware. A $10 cow-print throw they found at Big Lots drapes over their sofa, from RH’s Cloud Sofa Collection. For a splash of antique, the couple refurbished a wooden birthing chair that belonged to David’s grandmother. The planter is from CB2 planter and the plant is from Perino’s Home and Garden Center, where the Halperns typically buy their lush greenery. The teak table and six grey chairs are from Restoration Hardware. Next to the Halperns’ home is an outdoor furniture set, also from RH. “I wanted it to look like one cohesive space,” Mary Halpern said. A Haiku Ceiling Fan from Big Ass Fans keeps the Halperns and their guests cool in the pavilion. The floor tile, deck tile and backsplash are all from Triton Stone. To seamlessly blend the pavilion with their midcentury home, the Halperns and their team sourced salvaged bricks from California from Brick Hunter USA to create the pavilion. “After long hours of searching, we finally were able to find matching brick in California,” said Stephen Fleishmann at Titan Construction. Greg’s Pools & Spas created the Halperns’ new pool.

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