Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Design element: pools

In the spring, I showed a little sketch of what the outdoor room will look like at the new house. At the bottom of the sketch, the edge of a pool can be seen.
When we first started thinking about building, my husband and I were not planning on having a pool. However, once we found a lot and had a general footprint for a house plan, two things became apparent: 1) the lot was perfect for a pool 2) if we didn’t build a pool now, we would never be able to build a pool. The house we are building is ‘L’ shaped, with a garage at the tip of the ‘L’, and it would be all but impossible (or impossibly expensive) to get construction equipment around the garage in future years, given that the lot starts to slope in the back and there is going to be a retaining wall.
So, we decided to have a pool, much to the delight of our children. It’s not going to be enormous, but big enough to add visual beauty to the landscape, and to accommodate a group of kids on a hot day. As far as the design of the pool is concerned, there was never really any kind of discussion about the shape of the pool; from the very beginning, the pool on the plans has been a clean and simple rectangle. This certainly fits in well with the tailored but elegant aesthetic that seems to be emerging in the house and landscape. Alec Michaelides of LandPlus Associates has truly created a beautiful design for our back yard, with the pool as a key element in that design.
Several readers have asked me to do a ‘pool post’, so here are some pool images that have inspired me over the years. Enjoy!
The pool house had interiors by Phoebe Howard, but it is the entire scene that catches my eye; a clean lined pool, a hilltop setting, and beautiful combination of materials and textures.

One of my favorite outdoor scenes, with landscape architecture by Howard Design Studio. I love it when a pool is sited in alignment with an architectural feature, like this guest house.

One of my favorite pool designs, by LandPlus Associates. I love the beauty and elegant simplicity of this pool, and the fountain that is mounted into the wall is so charming. The limestone ball finials are the perfect touch.

A reader sent me this photo recently, from an Atlanta real estate listing. I love how the house walks out to the back (not always the case in Atlanta, where there are a lot of hills and the main level often walks out to a terrace, and the basement walks out to the yard). I also like how the pool is close to the house, but not right next to it. Finally, I like that there are pavers around the pool; so many pools these days have grass around the pool, which is beautiful but does not seem really practical when you have kids who will be using the pool (I just imagine the grass becoming a muddy mess - can anyone tell me if this is true?).

I first saw this pool image on Limestone & Boxwoods. The one of a kind setting really makes this pool special – look at the view in the distance! I really like the style where the pool has an infinity edge, but I also think that the view in the distance must be good to support the style. I suppose the topography of the land must support it too!

The Perfect Pool - Martha Stewart Living[1]
One of my favorite pool pictures, via Limestone & Boxwoods (photo from Martha Stewart Living). There is something so romantic about this picture, and I also love the privacy – like the pool is set in the midst of a secret garden. Initially we were going to have the steps in our pool go all the way across as they are seen in this image, but we decided to put them in the corner instead as the pool is not large, and we wanted to maximize the usable area for swimming or laps.

This image really resonates with me, because it is not dissimilar to what we are planning (although I found this image after our design had already been set). The stair design in the pool is what we will be doing. Source.

This is Axel Vervoort’s pool, as photographed by Greet of Belgian Pearls. The Vervoort’s open up their castle and grounds to the public twice a year. Greet visits any time she has the opportunity!
Foto 309[1]
Another view of the pool. I love that this pool has pavers on one side, the entry to the pool, but has grass on the other side. Perhaps the perfect balance! I also like that this pool is surrounded by a fence of hedges. To see more of the Vervoort’s magnificent garden, please see Greet’s post.

Another pool by Howard Design Studio has pavers on two sides, grass on one.

This pool (again, Howard Design Studio) appears to be set in a lush garden paradise! I love the design of the steps – a set on either side. Howard Design Studio has a great Facebook fan page, and have recently had two series of pool pictures – great inspiration! Also, check out the beautiful pool and pool pavilion by Howard Design Studio in the July-August Veranda.

I am not sure where this image came from, but I love the fact that the pool area is structured like its own outdoor room, with the greenery defining the walls.

The pool at my sister’s new house is set in its own area, fully surrounded by a wood fence. I particularly liked the covered area to the right, with the Janus et Cie lounge chairs.

Finally, an image I found just last week, via Acanthus & Acorn (a wonderful blog that I highly recommend). The clean and simple shape of the pool, the color of the stone around the pool, the secret garden quality all appeal to me.
This post is particularly timely given that Atlanta has had an unusually hot summer (although we have had a bit of a break over the past week). Just looking at these images is refreshing! If you have any interesting pool pictures in your files, I would love to see them – I had to search a bit to find these pictures, and would love to have a bigger inspiration file.
Do you like the clean lined pool design as much as me, or does something else catch your eye?

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  1. Dear Holly, all pools here are very beautiful!
    But on the practical side, it's better to have a pool surrounded by some kind of pavement, stones, etc. instead of grass. We had a house with a pool for many years, and it seems like the grass and dirt always ended up in the water, because kids run and jump all the time.
    We had to change it and add stones to the surrounding area.
    Good luck there!

  2. Absolutely beautiful images. I love the design for your pool house and the image similar to it!

    Art by Karena

  3. you are so wise to do a pool! We only built our pool 3 years ago and i swim one mile everymorning, between the electric cover and propane, i can extend the swimming season by at least a couple of month (here in the Northeast). I do not have a pool house but with use of stone, the pool is completely private and its own little oasis. I love your pool post!

  4. These are all beautiful and I love the clean lined design. On a House and Home blog, they had a recent post on pools: http://tiny.cc/yyxo2

    I have often wondered too about grass around the pool and its upkeep.

    I'm so envious of you!!

  5. I am seeing almost entirely rectangular pools these days. I wonder if anyone is still doing rock pools or kidney shaped?

  6. gosh, these beautiful pool images aren't helping my lack of motivation much this morning! beautiful!

  7. As it is 100 degrees here today I am experiencing serious pool lust. I miss our pool from our old house on days like this. Any of these pools are dip-worthy in classic style. My favorite..........the first one I think, but I would have trouble deciding.

  8. My landscape architect said that many of his clients ask for a grass surround pool. Maybe this is because the pool looks more a part of the natural environment when it is surrounded by grass. My landscape architect also noted that a few years later, many of those same clients call him in to redesign the pool deck in stone because it is lower maintenance and more practical.

    I knew from the beginning that I wanted pavers around the pool - too many experienced with baby pools and slip and slides making a huge mess of the grass! I could just see that happening with my new backyard.

  9. Dreamy -- I"m reading this after I stepped back inside from the oven roaster outside, so it's particularly appealing. I"m so glad we went to the beach last week instead of this week!

  10. What a wonderful post with awesome pools!!!
    Thank you so much for mentionning me my dear!

  11. Holly Love all of these images. I have a rectangle pool with a deck and I remember someone saying it was elegant and I thought to myself it is just a plain rectangle but after seeing these images I can see what he meant. Not that my pool looks as wonderful as these but it has been a great resource of fun for my family and it is wonderful to look at out my window. You will be so glad that you put a pool in I know you plan on staying in this house for a long time and you are making it a wonderful family home. Have a wonderful week,Kathysue

  12. Those pool images are my cup of tea.
    Love pools, love 'um, love 'um, love 'um!

  13. I ADORE the 3rd pool. If I'm not mistaken it is in the fantastically beautiful home done by Benecki Homes and designed by Melanie Turner? That home goes down in my books as one of the most successful executions of a classically designed home with modern touches and a livable understated elegance that is rarely seen in many new builds today. Their Rosemary Beach pool, which I think can be seen on her web site is also a feast for the eyes. This post makes me want to dive in... It's also extremely hot over here in Tuscany today.

  14. Gorgeous pool options, which I will share with a client. Makes me wish I would not live in downtown San Francisco. :)



  15. I can't decide. I'd love grass by the pool but ever mowing, no matter how careful will load the pool with clippings. We saw quite a few decorative pools at MA 10, more for wading than laps.

  16. Each one of these images are magnificent!!! As well as the drawing...

    We had a rectangle pool in one house growing up that was beautifully landscaped and very private.

    It will likely be easier and more enjoyable for alfresco dining to have stone/pavers surrounding the pool and grass beyond.

    Regardless, skimming will be necessary everyday (one of my chores as I recall) and there is no point making it harder.

    The steps are so important! Nothing better than being able to enter a pool beautifully and gracefully!

    As the temperture soars, you must be dreaming of this every night!

  17. All these are gorgeous! We've had pools with grass and pools with cool decking and pools with a wood deck and you know what? They ALL get junk in them no matter what. Most of it from the beautiful bougainvillea or trees in the yard. Go with what you want and just have a great pool system/filter and pool person.

  18. OH, today of all days, this is particularly welcome! It is hot as blazes in NY today....and I want to DIVE into one of these....any of these. The images are fantastic and I love rectangular pools. I can't wait to see your photos once it's in place. Now, that's a project worth plunging into!!! xo Elizabeth

  19. We put in a pool 5 years ago and have loved every minute of having it (as I speak it's a 100 in DC) Ours is surrounded by a combination of slate and concrete. Our backyard is in the sun the majority of the day and the slate gets almost too hot, so in the end I'm glad budget won out and we didn't do an all slate surround. We know people w/a grass surround and it's impractical. Their experience is that it gets waterlogged and ends up being a bit gross/squishy to walk on.

    Loved all these images and your plan for the side entry stairs.

  20. All of them look very refreshing....and the pool houses are stunning....smiles.

  21. So lovely!! I can imagine lounging by the water would be spectacular in any of the settings you have shown above! I think it's great that you are including a pool, because as you said, it normally becomes either much more expensive or impossible to add later. Very exciting, it is going to turn out beautifully!

  22. What a great post! I live in Arizona where it is now about 110 degrees F in a day. I have a pool but it is wonderful seeing the different designs and luxurious settings. It cools me off just looking at your post! Thanks. *hugs*

  23. oooh i just love that pool surrounded by hydrangeas. you're right...very secret garden-esque!

  24. Beautiful pictures.


  25. Gorgeous pictures! Our pool has at least 3 feet of concrete/stone on a side, with more in other areas; then grass beyond that. I wouldn't want grass right up to the pool. Be aware that stone/pavers etc can be very hot on the feet. We had a cool deck topping put on the cement areas, with flat stone at the edge.

  26. I too wanted grass around our pool and was strongly persuaded against it by our landscape architect. We made a compromise with a smaller paving surrounding one side and a large lawn on the same side...giving me the illusion and feeling I was after. These are all so great...can not wait to see yours!!!! Betting some fab magazine scoops the final project...they would be insane not to!

  27. I"m a fan of pavers around the pool and all of these look fabulous. I am actually quite "drawn" to your drawing. Can't wait to see what the real deal looks like.

  28. It is going to look lovely! What a great place for entertaining and relaxing.


  29. You know what is so beautiful about all these images?... no UGLY pool fences!!!... powder coated steel jobs that you see everywhere here in Australia. It is legislation here to have your pool area securely fenced ..helps with the drowning thing but aesthetically... hmmmm! I made sure our pool area basically encompassed the back yard as well so we only had one glass fence across the terrace and then the surrounding garden fences did the job of securing the area from wayward run away neighbourhood children. A-M xx

  30. Love the simple pools the best. Your outdoor room is going to be so fabulous. Can't wait to sit it all completed.

  31. So much gorgeous inspiration! Your outdoor room will be a dream — I can't wait to see it!

  32. I love all of these, mostly because they don't have fencing around them. I think it is the law here in CA to have at 5ft high (minimum) fence around the pool. Good for drownings, but not aesthetically very pleasing. I wonder what you will do for the drapes on your new pool house?? Please please post on those choices when you get there :) Thanks for all the pics...have a nice weekend.

  33. Thank you for the comments!

    I believe that the material of the drapes in the outdoor room are going to be sunbrella or canvas.

    There is a fence law here in Atlanta too - a pool must be fully enclosed by a fence or structure. Most of the perimeter of our property is already fenced, and we are going to add some fence in the back and on the side behind some shrubs to fully enclose the pool area.

  34. Gorgeous!!! I so would love a pool especially here in Ontario right now...Big heat wave this past week!!! Maybe I'll win the lotto? lol

    New to blogging, love yours


  35. I saw this image in the current Washington Home and Design Magazine and immediately thought of this post.


    I love many of your images...love the look of the grass....but don't like the practical aspects. I was thinking this may be a middle ground....

    Hope you are having a nice weekend.

  36. Grass around a pool is cool on the feet.
    If you choose pavers, be careful of the color- the LIGHTER the better!
    Slate and brick both look beautiful, but, in the hot summer sun, they are impossible to walk on with bare feet. Coquina, limestone, or white marble are best, imo. They are reasonably comfortable, even in the harshest sun.

  37. that last pool might be my favorite but it's hard to choose! so many of these pictures are gorgeous.

  38. I have always wanted a pool, but m husbands parents have one, and he hated the work of maintaining it. I still want one...

    A cabana is part of the charm of a pool...and I love that first one.

    Great choice to include what your site can handle. Especially with kids...it creates memories.


  39. Wow! I love the designs. I think a plain and simple rectangular swimming pool is enough because it provides more space for swimming than any other shape of swimming pools.


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