Watery Retreats

Whether it’s a bronze fish spouting water or a man-made meandering creek, water features can add zest to an otherwise commonplace project, and they can be so much more than a simple sheet waterfall or laminar jet.

The following four projects are examples of how one builder is creating unique poolscapes designed to seamlessly incorporate spectacular water features. From amazing vanishing edges to an air pump that pushes columns of bubbles that rise 12 feet to the surface of the water, each of these water features creates an exotic and personalized environment that has all the neighbors talking.

Project No. 1

Aq 605 71pg 0002The owners of this home in Las Colinas, Texas, desired a poolscape that would match the beauty of the border ing Four Seasons Resor t Cottonwood Valley golf course. Coyle Whitten, president of AquaStone Pools. com, Irving, Texas, provided the homeowners with a customdesigned backyard that beautifully combines a meandering river and various other water features, creating a unique environment that looks and sounds like a natural oasis.

Whitten began this $195,000 project by creating the network of concrete beams and metal decking necessary to support the poolscape because of the area’s expansive soil. He then custom-designed a six-person, nautilus-shaped, negative-edge hot tub. Water cascades from the gunite hot tub into a man-made river that is surrounded by Millsap boulders, which Whitten says are native to northern Texas, readily available and susceptible to moss, giv ing each rock a unique color.

The cascading water slowly descends 18 inches over its 40-foot-long journey, flowing over a large stepping-stone rock bridge that leads to a path snaking around an adjacent flower garden. The river, which is lined with 2- and 3-inch round river rocks, continues past a strategically placed bronze statue of a child holding a small animal that is spouting water, and streams under a large stepping stone bridge that also leads to the adjacent flower garden. Water then settles at the entrance of the 18-by-19-foot swimming pool, creating a tanning ledge that lends itself to relaxing under the bright Texas sun.

Finally, the water enters the custom-designed swimming pool, which includes a play pool for the homeowner’s smaller guests, as well as a negative edge. Stamped- and colored-concrete decking borders parts of the pool, river and hot tub, creating a warm atmosphere that blends with the small bushes and bright flowers surrounding most of the poolscape. “The homeowners absolutely love it,” says Whitten. “It’s just a real tranquil scene.”

Project No. 2

Aq 605 71pg 0003Ten years ago, homeowners rarely included vanishing-edges on even the most expensive and exclusive swimming pools. Today, it takes more than just a vanishing edge to create a unique pool.

Whitten designed this $175,000 poolscape to include a customdesigned eight-person gunite hot tub, as well as two overlooking decks made of stamped- and colored-concrete that feature full-length flagstone steps that border one side of the custom- designed swimming pool. But it’s the negative edge on the swimming pool that captures the attention of even the most serious golfers on the bordering golf course.

This 18-by-30-foot negative-edge gunite swimming pool features three 2-horsepower pumps, which quickly move 1 inch of water from the pool over the weir to drop into the catch basin, creating a powerful and dramatic vanishing edge. The result? The swimming pool looks as beautiful from the golf course as it does from the house.

“The customer wanted to see a huge waterfall,” Whitten says. “The Byron Nelson (golf tournament) is played there in front of it on that fairway, and the homeowners just wanted to have a dynamic water feature.” Those who play on the golf course aren’t the only people who can admire Whitten’s handiwork. The backyard recently appeared on the cover of Avid Golfer magazine, a lifestyle magazine for men in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

Project No. 3

Aq 605 71pg 0004Water features below the waterline can be just as exciting and unique as those above it.

For instance, it’s not the two pools, hot tub or stepping stones that attracts kids from all over the neighborhood to this pool. It’s the air bubble water feature nestled in the 8-foot, 6-inch diving area that gets most kids excited. The water feature, similar to smaller water features found in aquariums, requires two drains for operation and a $3,000 air pump that pushes air through the two drains. “Air bubbles rise from the deepest part of the pool through the drains and float to the top,” Whitten says. “As you dive into the pool you see columns of air flowing up from the bottom.”

The pool area, designed to give the homeowner’s children more space to swim and play, includes a 20-by-30-foot negative-edge gunite pool that allows water to flow into a newly built 20-by-30-foot pool. The new pool, which is placed 2 feet lower than the original, includes a basketball hoop and Leuder stepping stones and pedestals that were cut from large slabs of rock at the job site.

The deck surrounding the pools is made of flagstone and features custom-cut Leuder stone coping. A fiveperson custom gunite spa is located near the upper pool, and a full-size tennis court is located immediately behind the pools.

Project 4

A 3-foot-round water feature in the entryway of Dallas’s World Trade Center, inspired these homeowners to design and construct a similar water feature in the interior of their home. “Denise loved the black Egyptian tile and the extremely fine water veil” in the Center’s water feature, says husband Stan Waldrop.

So the Waldrops had Whitten build them something similar . This $80,000 fountain dominates the entry foyer to the family room of the Waldrop’s home in Irving. The simple elegance of the fountain could lead you to believe it was easy to construct, but technically it was very difficult, says Whitten.

The 16-foot-wide, custom-designed vessel, which is nestled between curved, cast-stone stairways, was made in California and shipped to Texas, where Whitten covered it with ice- and snow sealer to prevent water condensation from damaging the wood floors surrounding it. A high-end air-conditioning system and 20-foot-tall ceilings help the homeowners control any additional moisture in the house.

The fountain’s basin features a copper pan plastered with a 4-inch structural gunite shell and sealed with 1-inch-square black Egyptian tiles. The exterior finish is custom-made cast stone that matches the stairways. The fountain features a 12-foot-wide sheet waterfall that flows over a sharp edge of the copper. It’s so quiet, says Whitten, “You almost can’t hear it. It’s so thin, I call it an angel’s veil.” Waldrop agrees. “It’s not a traditional sound of a waterfall,” he says. “It’s more of a smooth pouring. It’s very tranquil sounding.”

The home also has French doors directly across the room from the fountain that lead to an elliptical negative- edge pool that features black plaster and black Egyptian tile, as well as cast-stone coping and steps. If you’re interested in seeing the project, the house is on the market for $4.2 million.

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