The Perfect Pool

January 19, 2010 | 26 comments
In my last post about a beautiful new English-style home in Atlanta, I mentioned that the one thing missing was a rectangular pool. The home didn't have a pool at the time it was sold, but I'm sure one will be installed. It's rare for estate homes in Atlanta not to have a pool.

Given the balmy weather lately in Atlanta (excepting this week), it's hard not to daydream of warmer days and all that entails, such as enjoying a dip in a pool. If that new English home was mine, I know exactly what style pool I would have installed. I have an affinity for rectangular pools surrounded by grass on a few (if not all) sides and that's exactly what I'd have done. Here are a few of my inspiration photos for the perfect pool.

I recently stumbled across this photo by Andreas von Einsidel while reading through posts on the Blueprint Bliss blog. It became an instant favorite. I don't think I'd ever tire of that view.

This home designed by architect William Hefner showcases the perfect example of a long, narrow lap pool. It's interesting how the blue color of the home's windows and doors mixes gracefully with the blue water of the pool. I wonder if that was on purpose or just a nod to French architecture.

No post about my favorite pools would be complete without showing the pool from the Mediterranean Masterpiece post I did recently. Having seen the pool in person at the peak of summer, I can attest to just how superb it is. Photography by Blayne Beacham.

One of my favorite things about Atlanta is how lush the landscape is. This pool and landscape designed by Land Plus is an excellent example of that. I have seen this pool in person as well. It's perfect in every way. To see more of the house, view a post about it on Things That Inspire.

Aside from the fact that all of the pools are rectangular and surrounded by grass, you're probably noticing another theme in my favored pools: a stone border. This pool house from Phoebe Howard's portfolio highlights another example of just that.

This house designed by Ferguson & Shamamian Architects illustrates how captivating an infinity edge pool can be. The view from the covered patio makes it appear as if the pool and the body of water in the distance are one.

Perhaps the most alluring of my photos is this one from Martha Stewart Living. The white flowers (hydrangeas?) on the bushes really speak to me. White and green are the two principal colors I prefer in a landscape. I appreciate other colors, but enjoy the simplicity of just the two. Beyond the plant life, another detail in this picture that represents what I like in a pool is the steps. I like for the pool to have length-of-the-pool steps. By that I mean that the steps span from one end to the other on the narrow side of the pool instead of just being in the corner or some other configuration.

This pool stands out mostly because of the unique roofs on the structures straddling the pool. Photography by Alec Hemer via Tricia Joyce. I know I found the first image from an architect's site (McAlpine? Ken Tate?), but unforunately I don't recall which one.

Landscaping makes the house in my opinion. For me a house's glass is half full without the proper landscape architecture to complete it. These pools represent part of that completion at its finest. This post is just the beginning of many more posts I intend to dedicate to landscape architecture - something I believe is under-represented on design blogs in general.


Things That Inspire said...

Good timing on this post - the placement and direction of the pool is high on the list of topics for my meeting today with the landscape architect and architect.

I love the pool at 22 Chatham - I love how it is oriented to the loggia, how simple and elegant it is. However, as much as I like the look of grass around a pool, I don't think it is very practical. When there are just adults at a home, it is manageable, but when you have kids and dogs using the pool, I can't help but imagine that the pool and the grass surrounding it would get very muddy.

My landscape architect commented that so many families who have a lot of grass around their pool usually call him within a year and ask him to replace the grass with hardscape.

Another thing I have thought several times - my lot is perfect for an infinity edge pool, yet it has never been suggested. I have not requested it either. But I was wondering if it would be suggested given that the edge of the pool is at a place where the lot starts to drop off.

TSL said...

I did a double take on that last photo as at first it appeared the pool was below sea level (and the wall just past the pool was a retaining wall.) I got a good chuckle out of myself upon realization.
These photos are gorgeous. I think as well that though I love the look of grass around the pool I do feel with children or guest's children that perhaps not as practical. But sometimes you just have to live dangerously.
Another enjoyable post, thank you.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Yes please.....beautiful. I think I like the grass surrounded pools because it looks less...municipal and more like a reflecting pool or fountain.

Terry said...

Beautiful pictures. Home pools spend so little of their time being used for swimming they'd better be decorative. I think that probably works too. Swimming was huge in my youth. My buds and I always preferred the public and club pools where we could get away from parents and have a social scene. Parents preferred the life guards for safety and to keep us from running amok.

I remember some serious over the top underage partying in backyard pools when parents were gone. Some of those party's became legendary.

Anonymous said...

• Use just "estate" to describe a large house and its grounds never use
"estate" in conjunction with "house" or "home" as this is redundant

• "large house" not "estate home"

• always "house" not "home" when describing residential architecture

The Down East Dilettante said...

Great choices, all lovely pools well placed...and I share your preference for pools with grass. By coincidence, I posted about a lovely house with a horrible pool in my blog this morning...pity the owners hadn't seen your post before they dug.

James said...

@Things That Inspire: You bring up a good point about the practicality of this type of pool. I have had the same line of thinking, however, I believe that you can work around that issue by having a side or two that is completely covered with stone. For example the Mediterranean house's pool or the William Hefner design. That way you get the best of both worlds. Of course, you'd still have mud around the pool if kids and dogs used the grassy sides for entry/exit.

As far as the infinity edge goes, it is a more contemporary look, but I'm sure your star team could incorporate it elegantly into your project if you were interested in one. It affords a beautiful look from a certain angle.

@ArchitectDesign: Good point about the look.

@Terry: Swimming was a large part of my youth too. I can remember summers at a family friend's house with a pool where multiple families would congregate.

@Anonymous: Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate the feedback as I have written a few books in my professional life (not design-related) and try to be cognizant of proper grammar. I don't have an English background, though, so I'm light on many of the "rules."

@The Down East Dilettante: Thanks for commenting. I just visited your blog and it looks like I'm going to enjoy reading it. I saw the post you mentioned and agree with you that it was poor execution of the pool. Who puts a pool in the front yard anyway?

Anonymous said...

For some strange reason almost everyone today and for at least the last
20yrs has been putting swimming pools right smack dab in the middle of the garden up close to the house. NOW, this is fine in warmer climates where the pool and the look of water all year round is part of the landscape and the landscape vernacular. But these fools are doing it in New England and the Midwest where the damn thing is covered with a tarp for 6 or 7 months of the year!! Of course this location would be fine at a house in a colder climate if it is just used as a Summer House. Why on earth every one has lost all sensitivity to this act of smothering a house with pools and hardscape is way beyond me. There has been a main stream swimming pool culture now for a very long time and people use to understand the beauty of the pool as a "destination" or an "element" in the garden and an opportuity to add to dynamics of the garden- the whole business is BAFFLING AND STUPID!!

Blayne Macauley said...

Where is that William Hefner house? It looks so much like one we sold on river forest! Right down to the color of the shutters. I can't believe you got a grammar lesson! I hope that person doesn't read my blog... whew. Great post. Pass me my margarita, I'm missing all the good sun :)


All the pools are gorgeous, completely divine. I love the one Blayne shot and Lands Plus designed, but let me tell you-I would take any of them, any where, any time. BTW, your anons are relentless and you were very gracious. I hope that pro bono editor does not come over to my blog, he could write more material correcting me than I could ever write on design. Good Sport, Mr. James!

TTI said...

I must say, I learned something from anon. I always wonder when I should use 'house' and 'home', and often use them interchangeably in order to prevent using any one word too much.

PS talked to my landscape designer about this post today. He said that stairs on the entire width of a pool, while beautiful, do reduce the pool's function for swimming laps as you can't turn around efficiently.

TOPSY said...

I too liked Anon's tutorial on the use of "house" and "estate". Although brief Anon is right and using "home" in the wrong way does sound rather odd. I also liked Ranting Anon's dictum on pool placement.

I didn't find either of these comments critical of your lovely blog but instead they added to dialogue. Your pool post is beautiful and informative as is your entire Blog.

Anonymous said...

Great inspiration photos! I too share an affinity for the clean line of a rectangular pool that emerges from the lawn surrounding it. I think I would end up deriving more pleasure viewing it from inside the home than actually using it. Another great example of form and function in a seemingly simple form allowing so much visual impact to your outdoor space.

paula said...

these are just gorgeous. What a dream this would be to own.

alice said...

These are all so classy, elegant and beuatiful. Rectangular pools are my favorites too.

Sarah said...

Hi James, I just found you through Tracery. I love your blog~these pics are fabulous! i'm going to add you to my blog list now!

Cathy Still Johnson said...

The last image was shot by Alec Hemer for Coastal Living Magazine. It is part of an estate owned by a lovely Rhode Island family. This story ran in Coastal Living magazine about 7 years ago - Just to fill you in - cause I wrote it ---- Pretty much a classic - and one of my favorite all-time shoots. You should have seen the rest of the house. Glad to see it still garnering attention. Cathy Still Johnson

ZoeB said...

The pools are lovely. Not something that has to be considered in the UK.I prefer the look of grass around the pool and would be inclined to get rid of the kids !!

Anne @ The City Sage said...

you are killing me here with these photos! the long narrow lap pool and the third from the bottom (the one with the little steps) are my faves.

i recall being five years old and being asked by my grandparents if I'd rather they keep the swingset in their backyard or put in a pool. you can guess which one I chose, and let's just say it didn't involve swings. best decision ever ;)

James said...

@Anonymous: Interesting point about the pool's proximity to the house. I believe we can get away with it in Atlanta as the pool can easily be left uncovered all year when you heat it.

@This Photographer's Life: I believe the William Hefner house is somewhere in California. That's based on where the firm is located.

@TTI: The constant form versus function debate continues. Thanks for the info from Landplus. I love their work and appreciate their feedback.

@sarah: Welcome!

@Cathy Still Johnson: Thank you for the clarification. I have updated the post to reflect that Alec was the photographer.

Anonymous said...

Wow... I am officially tired of winter.
The pictures are beautiful! I love the Martha Stewart picture with the flowers and steps. I agree about the 'length of pool' steps because let's be honest- everyone floats around the steps! xoRH

Haven and Home said...

Oh to look at that every day, it would be a dream.

Sarah Klassen said...

Oh, these are just stunning! My very favorite is the first one -- with such an incredible view, I don't think you could get me out of that pool.

I can't wait to see more inspiring post on landscape design -- I've only touched on it once, but would love to see more.

Have a great weekend*

p.s thanks so much for the kind comment the other day.

Charlotta Ward said...

Wow - another brilliant post. James you are ruining my day here.. can't seem to tear away from your blog.

Pools. Yes they are divine and something that everyone either has or dream about here in sunny Sydney. There is an abundance of pools here but sadly many of them are shabby or plain ugly.

I so totally agree with you on the grass, but have to go with 'Things that Inspire' and the lack of practicality in this approach. Not only because of the 'mud factor' but because it makes grooming the grass a little more difficult as it leaves a lot of debris in the water. It does look amazing though.
I do however also believe in allowing the pool sufficient space, and really dislike it when they are jammed in against a garden or house wall. This may for practical reasons (shade) be ok here in Australia, but generally doesn't make the whole pool experience all that pleasant.

Thanks for the great inspiration and brilliant thoughts.


Linda {Calling it Home} said...

Great posts never get old! I am in the process of planning a pool....and you read my mind. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

We have had a similar rectangular pool surrounded by grass with 3 kids and 3 dogs and have never had a problem with the grass in the pool or mud. You mow with the grass away from the pool. This type of pool also prevents muddy decks and slipping and we love it.

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