Couple turns backyard into outdoor paradise

Posted on 01 May 2019

Walking into the backyard of Dean and Marlene Free’s home, it is the picture of Southern Living at its finest, and that is just how they like it.

The Frees have not always lived in Bainbridge, but no matter the location they always agreed upon having an outdoor space to entertain and relax. Hailing from northern Virginia, the Frees loved spending time outdoors. When they moved and saw their home on Douglas Drive had a great backyard, Marlene was ecstatic.

“It was an empty shell when we bought the house, and I instantly knew what I wanted to do,” Marlene said. “There was no question.”

Marlene moved some of their outdoor furniture to the new location, but also added a new big ticket item. She added a gas line and purchased a new outdoor cooking grill from a sale, along with some patio furniture.

“I love sales,” Marlene said. “Everything we have out here is eclectic and a Hodge podge of items from everywhere.”

Not only does Marlene feature sale items in her décor, but she also features handmade pottery drinking glasses that her daughter makes in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Every piece of furniture or architectural design has a story and was used for a purpose.

Marlene combined the tile she used from her pool house renovation as a backsplash to the grilling system and had everything tied together with a cypress wood table that holds her grilling accessories.

In addition to her outdoor cooking grill, Marlene has a small smoker that sits nearby with, where she often cooks grilled vegetables, pork loins and turkey breasts. Marlene said the only thing she didn’t put in her outdoor dining was a refrigerator, because she felt like she could ice down her beers or wine when necessary and it would work just the same.

Although Marlene loves to cook, her husband Dean is a big fan of the pool, especially when it gets warm outside.

“Every day at 5 p.m., Dean jumps in the pool and goes for a swim and he has his drink sitting on the edge,” she said.

Marlene also loves the pool, but mostly uses it after a long day of working in her garden and tending to her bees. Marlene currently has one bee hive, after two were destroyed, but recently ordered two more and hopes to have three by the end of the summer. The bees are just for own hobby, but she said she loves the way they make her garden flourish. She has seen the obvious difference they make and is astounded by it.

Marlene keeps the bees at the end of the garden so they can tend to everything in front of them. Not only do the bees help keep the garden in shape, but their honey is a key part to one of Marlene’s favorite honey barbeque sauces she makes.

She often makes the sauce along with the meat when she’s attending to guests.

“We have a lot of get togethers,” Marlene explained. In fact, she was just tidying up from one they had already had on Sunday. She said they love when summer arrives and all of the youth from the church come and have a swim party. The Frees open their backyard to all of their friends and family and hope that everyone enjoys it as much as they do for now and years to come.

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