Because the freeform pool, flagstone deck, elevated spillway spa, fireplace and built-in gas grill are masterfully co-mingled in a relatively small backyard space. Because the dry stacked stone spa matches the exterior of the fireplace. Because rock, water and fire unite to make a primitive, powerful statement. Because the pool contractor couldn’t get any equipment in the yard bigger than a Bobcat, so many materials needed to be carried in by wheelbarrow or hand. Because the low-voltage landscape lighting creates a serene setting on a clear summer night when the stars shine brightly over Oklahoma. Because a crane, which hoisted spruce, evergreen and cedar trees over the house, was the only way to place landscaping into the backyard.

Talk about a tight squeeze. That’s just what Cham Carpenter found himself in when he took on a pool and spa project in a size-challenged setting in Nichols Hill, Okla.

“We shoehorned the project into the backyard,” says Carpenter, pool contractor for the project and owner of Prestige Pools & Spas Inc. in Edmond, Okla. “Total width of the backyard is probably 30 feet and the length is about 80 feet, which is considered small in Oklahoma.”

Due to access issues, crews followed a special schedule. “There was one path in and one path out,” Carpenter says. “You couldn’t get more than a few groups of people working back there on the same project at the same time.”

Although the backyard had limited space, Carpenter and the landscape architect wanted to make a big impression. “The dry stacked stone that we used for the spa and fireplace creates a rustic, massive look,” he says. “You’re using stone, which is a rough material, but the corners are nice, sharp and tight. It’s regular, but it’s also irregular.”

In the end, an intimate setting was created. “We were trying to achieve a place to escape,” says Carpenter, “a place to spend time with friends and family in seclusion, just to get away in your own backyard.”