Dramatic Pool Designs

There are myriad ways to add drama to a landscape, with plantings, hardscaping, inviting outdoor living areas, and more, but a smartly finessed pool is particularly effective. The following pool designers have each taken a unique approach, resulting in distinct shows of ingenuity.

“This project evolved quite a bit from the initial layout,” notes architect Paul Fischman, principal of Choeff Levy Fischman Architecture + Design, with respect to this South Florida property. “It was inspired by an aquatic design [firm] I work with, Aquatic Consultants Inc. They have a partial patent for what’s called a Lautner knife-edge perimeter overflow.” That edge drove much of the design.

The goal was to maintain privacy with a courtyard feel. But, given the courtyard’s expanse, Fischman was adamant that the coping not be visible as it would be interruptive. Hence, the Lautner design.

“What it allowed us to do,” he explains, “was keep that courtyard feeling that you might see at a big estate in Hollywood Hills with green everywhere. The client wanted that same feel.” Without coping, the lawn transitions straight into the pool water—an effect made possible using synthetic grass to avoid die out and maintenance complications.

The one-story home—also designed by Fischman’s firm, and oriented such that the back façade and exterior spaces were of primary importance—is unique in that its interior and pool courtyard are on the same elevation.

This sharing of a grade level proved a blessing in disguise. “That challenge is exactly what makes it beautiful,” notes Fischman. “We were able to bleed the architecture into the landscape and into the pool. It all behaves seamlessly.”

“The difficulty was keeping everything seamless in the back and [determining] the transition to the lower grade [below the courtyard],” he continues. The solution took the form of hiding the retaining walls, disguising them with plantings and boxwood hedges. Fischman notes, “We don’t want to look at walls; we want the landscape design to be very integrated.” This strategy helped to achieve the client’s desire for a seamless aesthetic in the rear—they wanted the house to “float.”

He chose a light gray pebble sheen for the nine-inch splash area—a transitional zone into the pool proper—lending it a deep-blue color with a hint of turquoise. “It’s a little more masculine and commensurate with the interior of the house,” says Fischman. Other hardscape elements include ipe wood flooring and gray limestone for the cabana, which, he notes, is the most used space on the property. “It’s the place everyone seems to gravitate to.”