When Kate Allenger and Stuart Knox revamped the backyard of their North Sound Estates home, they transformed it into a cozy, whimsical setting.

It now glows in the nighttime with an array of hanging candles and other decorative items, many of which have a magical bent.

The backyard glows in the nighttime with an array of lights and candles.

Although Kate has lived in the house for 22 years, she decided to make some changes to the backyard in the summer of 2018, which started with the removal of an old and tired fiberglass pool. Now in its place is a lagoon-like pool and grotto that surrounds an elevated hot tub, which cascades water directly into the pool.

Photos: Stephen Clarke

“The pool interior’s deep shade of blue gives it a lagoon-quality, especially at night. Even though the depth is only about five and a half feet, it appears much deeper,” says Kate, who credits Amar Mundle of Pools Cayman for bringing her vision and sketches to life.

The pool finish is a custom mix of Diamond Brite, River Rok, and limestone from the local quarry; and two-by-two cobalt blue tiles complement the handcrafted aqua blue and iridescent rainbow glass tiles on the pool steps and underwater seating.

“As the night falls it becomes a black abyss of depth due to the dark colours,” says Stuart. “Amar even called the mix of pool tiles, ‘Kate’s colour.’”

The pool area leads to an outdoor lounge and deck that overlooks the canal where a variety of lanterns and candles hang from above for a twinkling, intimate setting.

The outdoor lounge and deck overlook the canal.

A large yellow oleander tree sits in the middle of the yard with a cluster of decorative objects hanging from its branches. Kate and Stuart have collected many of the objects while travelling abroad, including a Canadian maple wood birdfeeder, bamboo birdhouse from the British Virgin Islands, and a mini replica of a vintage RV bought in Los Angeles. Some are locally made as well, such as a driftwood Santa which Kate picked up at the Visual Arts Society’s Christmas Craft Market.

“Anywhere we go, we collect things that attract us,” says Stuart.

Miniature village

From the time Kate was a little girl, she has had a fascination with miniature houses and gardens, including garden gnomes.

“People always joke about gnomes, saying they are corny or cheesy, but I always thought they were funny and magical,” she says.

In January 2019 she began creating a gnome garden in an otherwise “dead space” filled with gravel next to the house; however, it came about accidently.

“During rainy season, so much water came down the waterspout and flooded it, and I said to Kate, ‘I see a problem here, honey,’ to which she replied, ‘I already have a plan!’ So, she created a little pathway in the gravel for the water to flow into and it turned into a little river and pond,” says Stuart. “The next day it rained again and this time it covered up the entire pond. That’s when I said we should cover the spout up to look like a grotto.”

The gnome village began to come to life from that point on. It now includes little houses, boats, crystals, mini-cacti, lizard figurines, mushroom trees, and even a “tree of life” fashioned out of driftwood and set in the middle of the village. Many of the gnomes were purchased at Vigoro Nursery and other local stores such as A.L. Thompson’s.

The magical gnome garden next to the house.

The village is also lined with conch shells, reminiscent of old-time sand gardens found in the front yards of Cayman cottages.

“We love to repurpose items,” says Stuart, who adds that much of the driftwood and shells have been found during their beach walks in East End.

Kate and Stuart’s magical backyard is both quirky and purposeful, but above all, it’s a place where they can relax well past nightfall, along with the twinkling lights above.

“Once we get home, this is where you’ll find us hanging out — a lot,” says Stuart.