HGTV -Million Dollar Rooms inground swimming pools from Platinum Poolcare Part V

HGTV -Million Dollar Rooms inground swimming pools from Platinum Poolcare Part V

Shell Games

by James Atlas

Part V

Flood of Details

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Indeed, it wasn’t long before we were very happy we’d provided room for expansion: After we’d set up and buried the outdoor chase under tons of gravel and concrete, the project evolved to include 16 substantial change orders that called on us to use just about every available line we’d set up. What had been just a swimming pool now became a complex including an outdoor hot/cold therapy spa, a play pool, a waterfall and elaborate fire and lighting effects.


The therapy spa is accessed by a set of steps adjacent to the channel leading into the sauna, the thought being to create an indoor/outdoor therapy zone. The spa’s elliptical shape echoes the design of the indoor pool, and it features multiple jets as well as tile inlays from Craig Bragdy Design and a pedestal for a piece of sculpture (yet to be selected).

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Shooting the outdoor pool was a major exercise in logistics, with multiple crews working in various areas around the site until they all came together to take care of the main pool’s huge floor. Once the shell was ready, another stunning tile composition was set in place to mark a swim lane running the full length of the 60-foot pool.

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A similar pedestal supporting a mermaid sculpture was added as one of the many changes to the main pool itself: The owner wanted lighting for the pedestal and also wanted water to emerge from the statue’s base – not a problem given all the extra capacity we’d built into the plumbing and electrical systems. Also competing for space in the chase were the numerous fire and lighting effects added as the project moved forward.

The main pool features a 20-foot-long vanishing edge into a forest view. The edge is flanked by a sculpture and spills into a catch basin that’s 25 feet long and six feet wide.

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The basin was much larger and deeper than it needed to be because the homeowner wanted the downslope side of the vanishing edge to serve as a waterfall that could be enjoyed on the level just below the pool. To that end, the system is set up to send a healthy 400 gallons per minute over the edge, creating a sheet of water that cascades into the catch basin. The outsized basin is large enough to handle that robust flow; at the same time, it serves an aesthetic purpose as an architectural pond.

The catch basin itself is finished with a Bluestone facing and coping that matches the edge’s finish. All of this serves as a visual extension of the Bluestone flag decking that surrounds part of the pool and the granite field boulders that make up the rest of the coping system as well as the rock waterfall. (The owner also wanted smooth river rocks mixed in with the boulders to accentuate the look she was after.)

We completed the package outdoors with an extensive lowvoltage lighting system and six fire features interspersed among the boulders at the edge of the pool.

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With the shells and other basic structures complete, crews came on site to install what seemed like acres of stonework on the pool house and decks – rough boulders, smaller river rocks, flagstone decking and more.

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Final Touches

In reading through this article, you may get the impression that the project flowed smoothly from one phase into another, with all changes and variations handled in stride. Yes, there was a certain momentum that kept things going,but it’s important to recognize that just about every detail of this project was the subject of extensive discussion, revision and review.

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It was an arduous process, and it took us every one of the 1,800-odd days we spent on the job to get things done in ways that satisfied the client. Let me illustrate that point with one more vignette, this one having to do with choosing the interior finish to go with the reef mosaic for the outdoor pool.

Where choosing the finish for the indoor pool had been straightforward, doing the same outdoors was an ordeal: The client wanted a pond-like look for the water and was extremely concerned about how everything would look. To meet the need, we recommended a custom blend from Southern Grouts & Mortars that leaned toward a dark bluegray.

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The client was open to the idea but still needed to be sure. In other words,we had to show her how everything would look underwater.

We took a sample of the finish to a local paint store and had them match it in paint. We then took a big barrel, painted the insides and set up some tile on the bottom to give her a clear sense of how the colors would work together. She was satisfied with what she saw, so we went ahead – and I’m relieved to say she was thrilled with the result.

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But this and other scenarios described above are just a few of many such episodes, each of which required us to pull up, figure out approaches, propose solutions and move forward knowing we might have to go back to the drawing board if things weren’t just right.

It was incredibly frustrating at some points,distinctly traumatic at others – but always exciting and unique in our company’s experience. Even at this writing, we’re still visiting the site on a regular basis to iron out wrinkles, deal with minor requests that have come up and continue to apply various finishing touches.

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Although I’d like to think we’re finished, it’s fair to say that this project will likely be a perpetual work in progress on some level. As we have been for the past five years,we’ll be there to make things work.

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Five years in the making and likely never to be ‘done’ in the usual sense, this project engaged us in every conceivable creative, practical, and logistical level.  Snow blankets conceal the work here, but all will be revealed in the next installment.