In 2016, New York Times best-selling author and Emmy-winning journalist Maria Menounos found her whole world turned upside down when her mom was diagnosed with stage-4 brain cancer. Then, just months later, Menounos herself was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With a grueling work schedule that felt like 24/7 and the stress that accompanied it, Menounos was forced to slow down. She and her husband, Keven, headed to their Connecticut family home to be with her parents, and Menounos, who now hosts the health and wellness show, Heal Squad, began to turn her focus to wellness. After several years of family health struggles, when she was in a renewed and more balanced state, she felt compelled to make the house a real home. She partnered with Frontgate to turn the backyard into a place of peace and serenity – a place where she could reconnect with the things that matter most.
Breathing New Life into a Tired Space
After the stressful health hurdles, Menounous thought taking on some home improvement projects could help keep her father’s mind and hands busy. Since she and Keven would be spending more time at their East Coast home, they decided to update the backyard with more inviting furniture that would make it feel more “cozy, fresh, new, exciting – more like us. The backyard was tired, exhausted and overgrown,” Menounos said. With such a large outdoor space to work with, they knew it would be the primary focus.
The Outdoor Must-Haves
When Menounos met with the Frontgate design team, she described her styles as “traditional meets modern or contemporary meets modern. The aesthetic must be classic and clean. Not too modern, and not too traditional. Clean, cozy, comfy.” In addition to finding outdoor furniture that aligned with her style, she was also looking for pieces that would withstand the elements. “I have furniture in Los Angeles that’s wrought iron and I got wrought iron back then because I knew the California sun was not kind to furniture, but they’re heavy, they get hot and the wooden Frontgate chairs with no arm handles were just perfect. The St. Kitts Collection was so exciting for me, I loved it so much,” Menounos said. From there she was able to work with the design team to pull in in accents like throw pillows, side tables, and entertaining accessories to round out the design as a whole.
Greek Gathering Approved
Sharing a love of entertaining with her father, Menounos wanted her backyard to feel inviting with the capability to accommodate gatherings of all sizes (with 60 acres in Connecticut, the party possibilities are endless). Keeping this in mind, she knew she needed a dining set full of tableware fit for hosting. She also created a large seating area around the fire table for evening entertaining. The first night they christened the newly designed backyard with a surprise party for her dad – a reunion with longtime friends. The night was filled with Greek dancing, which is exactly what she hoped to accomplish when taking on this project. The makeover created “a beautiful setting for everything I wanted to do in that backyard whether it was entertaining or relaxing,” said Menounos.
A Place to Call Home
When asked about her new favorite piece in her backyard, Menounos answered “that’s tough – I’ve always wanted a fire pit, and the Miramar Fire Table is so beautiful. I love that it doubles as a table. But I think it’s the double lounge chair because I love to sit there with my husband and just look out at the beautiful scenery.” As for her favorite part of the makeover, Menounos’ answer was easy: “the before and after pictures because they’re so drastic, and just the joy we get when we walk outside and can sit on a cozy lounge chair and relax and watch the sunset.”