When a Wynnewood couple approached Gale Nurseries to reimagine the backyard of their 1930s Brognard Okie-designed stone farmhouse, a pool was among the necessities. It was something of an unusual request for the Gwynedd Valley-based company, which has been designing and building landscapes and gardens around the area for four generations.
“With this project, we definitely didn’t want to compete with the architecture of the house,” says Loren Foster, Gale Nurseries’ vice president. “We went with a very clean aesthetic, so as not to disrupt the architecture.”
That in mind, they chose an infinity pool, with Bridgeport’s Armond Aquatech Pools handling the installation. “When the owners look out from inside the home, we wanted them to see a body of water without an edge,” says Foster.
The stone covering the pool’s exterior walls closely matches that of the home, and a flagstone trough catches the water that flows over the sides. The original garden shed remains, blending seamlessly with the new additions. “It was so important to incorporate these elements and let them be a part of the design,” says Foster.
One of the pool area’s terraces.
Elsewhere, Foster and his team expanded an existing flagstone terrace to accommodate a dining table and grill. An additional terrace near the pool’s shallow end has lounge chairs, a table, a sofa and side chairs. Inside Out
“If you bring some of the aesthetics from the home out to the pool, it makes it seem like it was all designed and built at the same time,” says Tom Casey, vice president of sales at Anthony & Sylvan Pools. “It’s an extension of the home.”
Casey recalls a time when pools were only open for three months out of the year. That’s no longer the case. “We have a service part of our business that starts opening pools at the end of March and the beginning of April, and they don’t close them until the end of October,” he says. “Even if the client isn’t using the pool, they still want it uncovered so they can enjoy the beauty of [it].”
An existing garden shed blends perfectly with newer elements.
When it comes to customization, many Anthony & Sylvan clients are looking for illumination, with lighting packages that are preprogrammed. “Say you’re entertaining family and friends for the Fourth of July,” poses Casey. “You could program the lights so the color palette is red, white and blue.”
Color choices are nearly limitless, and most new pools are equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting. “An illuminated pool looks spectacular at night,” Casey says.
Water features have also become increasingly popular. Waterfalls cascading out of raised areas like built-in spas make for visually and aurally soothing points of interest. Even more elaborate are jets set in the decking that periodically shoot water that arches up and into the pool. “It accentuates the traditional nature of the pool,” says Casey. “People like to sit outside and hear the sound of water. It helps them decompress.”
Flames are another option. A recent Anthony & Sylvan project features two fire bowls on raised stone pillars at either end of the pool. “It has propane or a natural-gas element in the middle of a copper bowl,” says Casey. “At the click of a button, they light up and you can illuminate the backyard with fire.”
Fire bowls can also double as water features, with liquid cascading from the rims into the pool. “When you combine all these things—an illuminated pool, calming sounds from the water features, and bright flames from the fire bowls—it makes for a captivating outdoor environment,” Casey says. “It’s very relaxing—not to mention new, innovative and different.”
It’s also quite common for homeowners to bring back inspiration from their travels to incorporate into their homes. Hence, the demand for suntanning ledges, which allow you to place a chair in only a few inches of water. For a recent project in Haverford, the Anthony & Sylvan team incorporated a tanning ledge and a raised stepping-stone path from the ledge area into the spa. “Spas will never go out of style in pool design,” says Casey.
And that should come as no surprise. After all, it’s about relaxation.