Great Escapes: Cool Pool
The mood of this patio can be adjusted as easily as switching on a faucet.
“We tried to make this space as versatile as possible, for sun or shade, and with soothing water noise or with quiet,” says Timothy Adcock, a designer with Thompson+Hanson, a full-service, design-build landscape architecture firm with offices in Houston and Austin, Texas. The company, which also owns a retail nursery stocked with native and unusual plants and an espresso bar-cafe called Tiny Boxwoods, has established a reputation for elegantly hydrated spaces and residential gardens.
This “arcfall” of pressurized water tumbling into the shallow of this 3'-5' deep pool is incorporated into the coping of the pool at this home in the River Oaks community of Houston. “The problem with most fountains is that if they’re not in use, they look as if they’re just sitting there, broken,” Adcock says. “This one has its own pump. You don’t see it when it’s off, so the idea is that you don’t notice it unless you want to, and there is also a cover for the pool that can slide easily over it, concealing the water element altogether.”
Cool whites and grays enhance the light-dappled effect of the pool, subtly echoed in the tiles, which are blue flagstone, a popular material for castles in Europe. “In a small space like this, it’s important to go monochrome to look as expansive and spacious as possible,” Adcock says. Bronze and brown accents add touches of warmth.
In the patio’s open, sunlit moments, much of the lighting is left to nature, but low-voltage, gas-powered lanterns and illumination within the pool kindle an inviting glow at night. A vertical mirror also pulls in light and outdoor movement, and doors are plate glass to reflect the ripples of the water. “You can’t see it in this photo, but there is a large, plate-glass window looking from the inside over the chairs and into the pool,” Adcock says. “The idea here was to make the indoors and outdoors look and feel as similar as possible, without dramatic interruptions in lines.”
The woven-wicker furniture is positioned in the shade, and the drapes, made from weather-resistant Sunbrella fabric, function as more than just a design element for verticality; they also can be drawn to enclose the lounge space. “We erected that steel arbor and planted giant-timber bamboo along the pool,” Adcock says, “for privacy and versatility. The ambiance of this space is fairly easy to change, depending on your needs."