Written by Royce Norman
It’s very rare to have an opportunity to design and build a project of this scale. When the home owners approached us and asked to design a pool, they asked that it would be very unique with a multi-level concept in mind. The main requests by the homeowners were to have a negative edge pool that spilled towards the Resaca to create a mirrored look. They asked us to create different levels along each side of the pool with different water features at all levels. The large lower patio area was to be close to the elevation of the existing resaca water level. And we were to install a series of retaining walls and planting areas with plants and landscape lighting complete. The homeowners also wanted a large outdoor kitchen area with a pergola. But most of all… design the best pool possible!
I approached the design like I do all my projects by trying to understand the requests of my client and then design based on that and as if it was my own pool.
The shape of this pool is a series of curves and bends trying to capture a water-in-motion effect and truly creates something no one else has seen. The entire design is distinctive in every way and the backyard is, as they say, one-of-a-kind. The unique shape draws your eye toward the pool but at the same time creates a focal point at the end where the vanishing edge spills. This gives the illusion of the pool water and the water beyond as the same body of water. The pool size is roughly 1,000 square feet; length and width is 40’x26’. The entire pool has a self-cleaning system or in-floor pop-up spray jets by Blue Square Mfg.
At night there are six LED color-changing lights in the main pool and five in the lower pool that can change color in sequence. The pool equipment is all high efficiency variable speed pumps that circulate the water and power all the water features. The pool is completely operational by remote control and linked to a smart phone app. The owner can operate the functions of the pool: lighting, heat, and landscape lighting, all by phone from anywhere. All this equipment is by Pentair Pool Products, the world’s leader in swimming pool equipment.
The interior finish is a special pool finish (by Finniest Finish Radiant Fusion Plaster) with blue glass beads and abalone shell as added mixtures to the plaster. The abalone shell gives the pool a sparkle/metallic look that shines day and night.
One of the most unique aspects of the pool is the custom mosaic in the floor by Moretti Mosaic. It measures 22’x14’ and is a custom design handmade glass mosaic. When designing the mosaic I wanted a European Fresco design with artistic swirls that complement the shape of the pool so that it would be a piece of art with the mark of a true artist. The home owner was amazed with the design and the way it turned out. The water line and vanishing edge tile is a custom glass tile 1”x1” Jules Series, Rustic Blue by Nathanial Pool Tile, NPT. It has a unique color blend, mixing darker and lighter blue glass tiles with a metallic shine finish that reflects well and is a great choice for the pool.
The travertine bowl fountains were custom ordered. They are a classy design choice that adds value to any project. The stacked stone along the swimming pool walls and vanishing edge wall is a multi-color quartz rock that adds a rich clean texture to the project supplied by Premier Granite, Brownsville. The vanishing edge wall is eight feet high creating a fantastic waterfall. The stacked stone allows the water to eloquently splash as it cascades down the wall. Also, on each side of the wall are two brass lion heads that spill water out of their mouths.
The pool edge perimeter, or coping, is all natural stone travertine bull-nose that was hand-cut and installed. The decking/flooring system is also travertine in a large Versailles pattern supplied by Verona Tile. The owner and I selected travertine and the pattern which was a great choice. The natural stone blends well with a Mediterranean style design and brings an old world rustic look to the project. The owner said, “It looks like the old walkways that were in Italy, and it feels like I’m at an Italian villa”. I like using travertine around my swimming pool projects- it gives it a nice classic look that is never dated and lasts a lifetime.
The landscaping portion of this project was quite extensive. Designing and building a project of this size requires a lot of thought. When you’re dealing with multi-level areas and terraced planting you have to carve away lots of soil and build retaining walls to maintain soils in the area. All the retaining walls are eight inch shot concrete walls with stacked squares and rectangular rock sourced from Colorado and supplied by Southern Stone. The stone selection gives the job a distinctive look. All of the planting, which is a blend of tropical and sub-tropical plants, really adds to the effect of a natural setting. The use of palm trees and flowering tropical plants are always a great choice; we live in a great sub-tropic area where many tropical plants can survive compared to other parts of the country. So by using these plant species you can really create the backyard oasis you always wanted.
We included some decorative boulders in the planting beds and placed the planting to give areas of accent thoughout the project. All areas have irrigation and some electrical installed to power outlets and landscape lighting. We constructed the yard’s perimeter walls which are a decorative feature by themselves with stucco on each side and ledger stone on each column with a flagstone cap. All the doors and gates are solid mahogany wood, hand crafted for each location. The landscape lighting is first class bronze LED lighting that is adjustable to illuminate the vegetation and retaining wall at night. Lighting is always key when designing; it adds so much value to a project that is truly realized once everything is completed. Also, lighting was installed on the perimeter walls to create a subtle glow that brings the entire yard into effect. Lighting was supplied by Lightcraft Outdoor.
The kitchen features an L-shaped bar and cooking station layout. The stainless steel grill and cabinet doors were supplied by Bull Outdoor Equipment. The owner chose a distinctive granite Delirium Fusion for their bar and the counter tops were supplied and installed by Premier Granite.
Another unique aspect to this project is the custom pergola, with moving slats. The pergola is a multi-functional structure that can open and close by a motorized linkage system. This allows the home owner to close the roof during the day to have the kitchen shaded and protected by the rain and then open while grilling or to see the night sky. It is constructed all out of aluminum that is hurricane proof and corrosion resistant. This type of pergola is unique in many ways, supplied and installed by Equinox. The TV and outdoor stereo is all state-of–the-art with specialized rock speakers and a ninety pound barrel shaped subwoofer buried behind the bar. The acoustics are amazing, and the user has ability to change volumes at each speaker. Plus the system is linked to the smart home entertainment system inside so the owner can listen to any music that they have in their library and satellite radio. Watching the game on the sixty inch waterproof all weather TV is great. It is mounted on an adjustable arm so you can view your programs from the kitchen area or pool with no problem, by D-Tronics. All projects like these are extensive and demand a lot of expertise to make it all come together. Always here at South Texas Pools, attention to detail is one of the most valued goals for every build and it really shows with this project.