Swimming Pool and Spa in Hinsdale, IL illustrate space allocation for maximum effect

Swimming Pool and Spa in Hinsdale, IL illustrate space allocation for maximum effect

Project: Swimming Pool, Spa, and Landscape in Hinsdale, IL

Designer: Jason Armour, Platinum Poolcare, Wheeling, IL

Materials: Eden outcropping retaining walls and waterfall

Cleveland Quarry’s Buff stone with Rock Faced edging for the pool and spa coping

Prairie Buff stone pool deck

French Grey pool and spa interior

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The design was influenced by the existing landscape; a cozy little woodland garden cut into a hill side that was their back yard. The homeowner understood that her yard was a very unique and beautiful space; consequently her main concern was that the addition of the pool would completely change the overall atmosphere of their backyard. The homeowner’s wish list consisted of a natural looking free form pool, spa, waterfall and stone patio. Both husband and wife did not want the spa attached to the pool, and wanted the walls of the spa hidden to the extent possible, as they wanted to see water- not concrete. It was also very important to have the water fall visible from the kitchen.

Taking into consideration the homeowners wish list coupled with their decorating taste, our overall goal for the design was to create a natural looking oasis of sorts on the south half of the yard that that would seamlessly meld together with the existing woodland to the North.

We designed a pool with soft meandering curves, dug into the hillside with a series of tiered outcropping stone retaining walls that mimicked the lines of the pool below. This aesthetic left enough room between the walls to soften the area with plants. Three sheer descent water features were also built into the lower retaining walls at various levels to help visually break up the sight line.

The pool itself, at 30’0″ long and varying between 8’6″ and 16’0″ wide, took on a shape influenced by an overall lack of space and need for flow. So into the smallish main entrance area of the pool which measures 11’0″ wide, we designed a horseshoe-style bench flowing from the steps to instill a lagoon-type feel, further aided by the pool side walls. Past the lagoon, the main play area of the pool has a 5’0″ deep end and Badu jet swim resistance system on the back wall. The swimming pool also has all the features of a modern, low-maintenance, energy-efficient vessel. In floor cleaning system, LED color-changing lights complete the aesthetic of the pool.

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A natural stone patio was designed and constructed that encompasses the front half of the pool, stretching all the way across the lower yard along the house. The extension of the patio creates a dining and lounging area for guests, and an efficient use of the allotted space for seating and traffic.

The free form spa, 10’0″ long and slightly more than 6’0″ wide was placed across the stone patio, just outside of the kitchen bay window, and elevated approximately 2’0″ up the hill. Two sets of stone steps built into the lower retaining wall allow for easy ingress and egress from the pool and patio to the spa. The lower retaining wall and mass of boxwood help to cradle and screen the spa inside the hill. Just behind the spa, the waterfall was integrated into the hill and visually ties into the middle tier of retaining walls.

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The biggest challenges for design and constructions stemmed from the existing grade of the yard, tight axis, existing trees, and the old timber retaining walls. In the area we proposed the pool, the grade rose up 6’0″ to 15’0″ from the house. A 40’0″ tall silver maple and 30’0″ white pine sat at the top of the hill into which the excavation was to transpire. The trees therefore had to be removed, and few large arborvitaes, hemlocks, shrubs and a 10’0″ Japanese maple all had to be relocated as a consequence .

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Prepping the site was also difficult because the retaining walls could only be constructed after the excavation was complete and the pool shell installed. The swimming pool’s proximity to the property line combined with the steep grades and “springtime in Chicago” (unseasonably wet and cold weather) exacerbated our challenge.


Once we were able to address these challenges by utilizing sound design, planning, and sequencing of construction, the project came together beautifully. The true test of any project is that is looks as though it had always been there; and this project certainly meets that test. We join the homeowner in their excitement, and we mutually take comfort in the fact that the project’s timeless beauty will only improve with age.

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