Where do I start with a Pool Project?

Here is the pool project I promised you. This client asked me a common question, “We want to build a pool, but when do we get River Valley involved.” My answers was NOW. Most people don’t realize how much everything intertwines. People often fail to contact a landscape designer or architect early enough. Most commonly we find someone builds a house and puts in there walkways, driveway, and sometimes a patio then calls a landscape company. The problem is these things are all put in without any forethought to what is next. We often find walkways are too close to the foundation of the house. This limits the choice of plant material and/or increases the maintenance these plants will need. You would be amazed how many more choices we have by just adding 2 or 3 feet.

Another mistake is calling the pool contractor first. Their knowledge is often limited to the design and construction of the pool itself. They usually site the pool for what is easiest for them and not what makes sense overall. I am a strong believer in one should contact a designer before a house is ever built or purchased. A designer can see past what is there and see what could be. I could go on and on about the savings with a well thought out design. The savings even magnify when landscape construction is done simultaneously with the construction of the home. It looks like that is an idea for a future post. When designing my house I had them add a wrap around porch. We added, moved, and deleted windows and doors to improve circulation from the inside to outside. These are decisions that can’t be made without a vision for what is unseen.

This first video shows the process from start to finish. If you enjoy seeing before and afters, I think you will love this transformation. I will mostly mention things you may not pick up in the video. We started working on the design concepts in late fall of ’07. We sat down with the couple to take inventory of what they were looking for and how they plan on using this space. I find a lot of people have a limited idea of what they are looking for and how to communicate it. This is at no fought of the client, it is the designers job to dig deeper. A good designer will listen, but a great designer will hear the difference from what the client is saying and what they mean. Most people don’t realize the possibilities of their project. A well experience designer should be able to guide the client through each step of the process. This client had a good idea of the end goal, but needed help on getting there.

After getting a good feel of what they were looking to achieve, we took measurements and elevations. Elevations were very important on this project. We were dealing with a side sloping yard with a daylight basement. We also were restricted by a sand mound on one side, the reserve on the other side and an easement in the back. Our pool fencing could not not have been moved more then a foot. Although we were restricted side to side the real challenge was the elevations. I felt it was important for the pool house elevation to feel like it was the same elevation as the house. River Valley set all the elevations for this project. If the pool was just a couple inches higher or lower it would have restricted the circulation around the pool deck. By pouring a concrete wall on the lower side of the property, it allowed us to maximize the square footage we had to work with. This wall was raised up past the pool elevation to eliminate the need for fencing on that side of the pool.

The pool has a sunbathing shelf, a sitting bench running along one entire side and a diving area. The far wall helps nestle in the pool and imply a room inside of a room. The upper pool house terrace is the main entertaining area. It includes the pool house, outdoor kitchen and the hot tub. The original pool house and outdoor kitchen designs were done by River Valley. We then called in the original house architect to redesign the pool house and outdoor kitchen.

All the walls playoff of the house’s architecture. We used a combination of stucco and stone veneer to acheive the continuity. It took us awhile to nail down the patio surface. We considered concrete pavers, stamped concrete and finally decided on a Travertine stone. Travertine most commonly is beige in color. The house was made up of brown tones, so Travertine was very easy to introduce.

River Valley also designed and installed all the outdoor lighting. Lighting extends the usability of any landscape into the evening. I often say you get the biggest bang for your buck with lighting. This home owner complimented things along the way, but nothing like the first night the lights were on. He called me that night and said, “You gotta get overhere and see this.” I put the kids to bed and headed over. It always amazes me each time I go back and see projects at night. I have done lighting so many times, you would think I would know the impact it makes.

This video is from our clients perspective. Hope you enjoy.