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Relaxing in a gorgeous gazebo

Take your favorite book and head outside to your own screened-in gazebo getaway.
Gingerbread trim, scallopedfascia boards, cedar shake shingles, a white-painted finish, and a cupola outfit a standard gazebo with custom, built-on-site appeal.

Cozy little bugproof area

"We'd been thinking about a gazebo," says Carol, who spent almost 10 years building 3 acres of English-style garden plots around the couple's home. "I wanted a cozy little area to have a drink or read a book . . . an area that was bugproof. In England, they have follies -- crazy, whimsical garden structures. We had talked about having a folly in our own garden."

The LaPortes worked with Jim Goble, owner of Jim's Amish Structures and Gazebos in St. Johns, Michigan, to buy the perfect gazebo. They chose a 10x14-foot oval-shape model large enough to accommodate their wicker furniture. They customized it with a white-painted finish and a double roof with a cupola.

Less costly than a built-on-site structure, the gazebo was crafted by Pennsylvania Amish woodworkers using the LaPortes' specifications, then shipped to Michigan. Goble loaded the assembled gazebo on a trailer and hauled it to the LaPortes' Cherry Hill Farm.

Relying on hired-for-the-day teens to hold branches out of the way, Goble backed in the trailer and lowered the gazebo in place on the lawn near the patio and the exterior door to the master bedroom suite. Because the gazebo came with a floor, no foundation was necessary, but Goble used concrete blocks to shim up part of the gazebo. By that afternoon, the furniture was arranged, and the LaPortes were enjoying their grown-up hideaway.

"There had been six old crab apple trees there," Carol says about the gazebo's location. "They were always dropping apples on the patio. We decided to cut them down and make an area for the gazebo."

The space was already a low-traffic area. In fact, it is so far out of the mainstream that Carol spotted her daughter-in-law taking a nap on the wicker sofa during a weekend of wedding festivities.

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