By Debra Maurer
When your kitchen and family room have you feeling boxed in, look to the outdoors. From inground swimming pools and spas to pergolas and outdoor kitchens, your backyard gives you the space and ambiance to entertain and have fun. We interviewed the builders of several amazing backyards to give you their commentary on the infinite possibilities for your next backyard project, pool design, or renovation. Get new design ideas from the photos and pictures below and read about the details of each project to learn what your options are.
Photo courtesy of Cipriano Landscape Design
Builder & Designer Cipriano Landscape Design
Project Location: Mahwah, New Jersey
Theme: Family-friendly entertainment
Goal: The clients wanted a tropical-themed place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, but they also needed a fun, interactive, and safe area for their kids to enjoy.
Design/Special Features: This custom project included a waterfall, pool, spa, patio, outdoor kitchen, cabana, dining area, and fireplace. The pool has a sunshelf, dive stone, and
a waterslide, which provides hours of entertainment for children and adults! The soothing sounds of the waterfall and spa give guests an overall relaxing feeling. Having a grill, bar, kitchen, and fireplace outdoors makes poolside entertaining fun and easy.
Materials: Nature, beauty, and comfort were the inspiration for the selected materials. The outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and cabana were all finished with a thinstone veneer from Buechel Stone Corp. The pool coping was done in a 3-inch Gray Tennessee crab orchard, which continued through the patio. Natural stone mosaic was used for the waterline and as an accent on the steps, swimouts, and sunshelf. We used a dark gray marcasite plaster for the pool finish. The waterfall was done with Pennsylvania fieldstone boulders.
—Chris Cipriano, founder and president of Cipriano Landscape Design
Photos courtesy of Cipriano Landscape Design
Builder & Designer Custom Pool Concepts
Project Location: The Woodlands, Texas
Theme: Organic meets upscale
Goal: The owners wanted a look that would draw interest but blend with their personal style and function as an extension of their home. I worked with them to create an elegant, yet simple outdoor pool and dining area.
Design/Special Features: The home’s exterior looks like a big traditional farmhouse turned upscale, while interior decor is that of a New York loft. With that in mind, we kept the design simple and used organic materials. The long rectangular shape of the pool is raised about 18 inches to play off the idea of a trough. It also fits with the estate-like columns on the back of the house. The richness and focal point come from the pergola and entertaining area at the end of the pool.
Materials: We used pine for the decking to match the upper porch and reinforce the rustic theme. The fireplace and outdoor kitchen are brick, and we used concrete for the pool’s entry stairs and coping. Details such as
1-by-1-inch glass tile around the waterline provide a touch of understated elegance. Adding to the use of metal, seen in the pergola, the owner chose wrought iron furniture and lanterns for the seating area.
—Rob Dickison, president of Custom Pool Concepts
Photos courtesy of Custom Pool Concepts
Builder & Designer Pool Builders, Inc.
Project Location: Davie, Florida
Theme: Roman classic
Goal: The goal of the project was to provide the owners with an outdoor entertainment center for the entire family, including those that do not swim. They were looking for a timeless, classical look that still incorporated unique qualities.
Design/Special Features: The freeform shape includes wide semi-circles separated by detailed linear edges. The 24-inch elevated spa forms a centerpiece as water flows down its tiered edge. One of the most unique elements is the large sunken seating area complete with a built-in table, weatherproof seat cushions, and an umbrella. It allows the owners and their guests to be “in” the pool without any need to put on a swimsuit! At the pool’s entrance, we incorporated a sun ledge with fountain bubblers. This creates an attractive water feature and provides a convenient place to cool off while socializing.
Materials: Ultra White Pearl Brite (manufactured by SGM, Inc.) was used for the pool’s interior finish to provide a sparkling blue look to the water. The coping and decking are travertine, which blends with the stacked stone used on the surrounding planters. Brilliant blue Sicis glass was used on the tiers of the spa, which coordinates with the brown cedar roof of the pergola. Decking, pergola, and landscaping done by other companies
—Kevin C. Ford, president of Pool Builders, Inc.
Photos courtesy of Pool Builders, Inc.
Builder & Designer Botanical Decorators
Project Location: Ashton, Maryland
Theme: Total outdoor living
Goal: We renovated the entire backyard to give the homeowner an inviting outdoor space to entertain his family and guests.
Design/Special Features: The pool was an integral part of the renovation. It includes swim-outs and oversized entry steps to provide relaxing areas where guests can cool off. The raised bond beam wall forms an upper seating area and blends beautifully with the retaining walls around the planting beds. Three 24-inch-wide sheer-descent waterfalls create an elegant focal point, while two color-changing lights set the mood for evening affairs. We rebuilt the existing decks, screen porch, and patios to blend with the new pool, and included an automatic pool cover for easy maintenance.
Materials: The pool is finished with a Tropical Breeze PebbleTec for durability and aesthetics. Waterline ceramic tile blends nicely with the bull-nosed Pennsylvania flagstone used for the coping, patio steps, and wall caps. Travertine was chosen for the decking because it stays cooler in hot temperatures. The retaining walls were built with local Carderock quarry stone to enhance the clean, natural feel of the backyard. This stone was also used on the exterior of the partially recessed portable hot tub to provide a seamless look.
—Christopher J. Cahill, president and owner,
and Brian Hahn, landscape designer, both of Botanical Decorators
Photos courtesy of Botanical Decorators