Cocktail Pool Part II: The Cocktail is Served

photo of Cocktail Design poolIn my last post I introduced Browning Pool and Spa’s “Cocktail Design.” This time I’ll take an example and walk the reader through the process. Our industry typically divides pool construction into categories such as concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass. Cocktail Design spans all the categories. The concept is about sliding up and down the priority scale of each ingredient and selecting just the right amount to balance the total budget.

This process guides the client through a field of possibilities exposing them to a wide range of opportunities from which they can define their dream backyard. Clients are asked to identify, and more importantly, prioritize their desires. At this point each ingredient is assigned a price range, and as we all know, this often reorganizes the priorities. Once a budget agreement is reached, the design phase begins. This is where the fun starts!

This particular project selection process began with a meeting, where we took careful notes detailing the clients’ requirements. Our homework began. The series of meetings that followed further defined these requirements and provided us with a clearer picture of the clients’ desires. 

These clients expressed a need for intimate entertainment areas that would be utilized throughout the year. Our questioning revealed that they enjoyed entertaining family, friends, and business associates. These events generally consisted of 10-20 people and were sprinkled throughout the year requiring an environment that could thrive in all seasons. The clients’ mentioned they loved grilling, especially with charcoal, and that food preparation for them was an event. It became obvious that the outdoor kitchen was a key ingredient! In our evolving plan, the swimming pool would handle summer activities, the outdoor kitchen would work in all seasons, and the fire ring could meet their needs on cool summer nights. Refreshingly, these clients appreciated the beauty created when landscape is used to blend the elements of a design. In addition, they understood the importance of feature and path lighting allowing for after dark entertainment.

Gathering Ingredients

Cocktails are a mix of ingredients, and these ingredients may range from generic to top shelf. The ingredients perceived value is reflected in the price. This concept applies to our Cocktail Design process as well; budget plays into the design and is a factor in defining the mix of ingredients. In addition, timetables of implementation and client expectations are also important components. 

Presentation is vital as well (ask any bartender), and defining what level of presentation is expected is as important as the information being presented. Paramount to this process is defining how the client takes in or processes information — that will dictate the level of and style of the presentation. In our industry, several methods of presentation are available to a designer. These options range from hand-rendered works of art to 3D animation. I’ve also seen designers utilize scale models. In addition to in-house presentations, we also incorporate on-site visits of both complete and in-production projects — all valuable, top shelf options for presenting a design.

OK, it’s time to design the cocktail. All the ingredients have been selected and prioritized. We have managed expectations. We have agreed on a project budget. We have completed a thorough review of the property including elevation report, drainage pattern, location of any significant structures, plants and trees. In addition, we have identified how this particular client processes information and therefore defined how best to present our solution. This specific client was visually oriented. 

The Cocktail Presented

The decision was made to present the information utilizing a combination of actual project visits, specific example photos, hand drawn renderings, and a 2D plan. 

The onsite examples helped to identify specific product levels, resulting in a slight change to a design ingredient along with its strength. A required wall was re-defined from a natural stone wall to a pre-manufactured, segmented block wall. In addition, it was discovered that the look and feel of the interior had a much stronger appeal than initially believed. Ironically, our overall discovery was quite the opposite from what we had originally expected. These particular clients were far more tactile — requiring a hands-on “feel” of specific design ingredients — as opposed to our initial belief they were visual. The presentation of information shifted to hands-on samples of material when and where practical.

The Cocktail served

With all the ingredients gathered in the right amounts, and mixed perfectly to taste, we served the following delightful refreshment.

Patio: a blend of colored broom textured concrete with transitions of natural stone dividers. The design of the patio allowed for a couple of dining tables as well as sun lounging. 

Retaining Wall: split face textured segmented block with a matching cap stone. 

Outdoor kitchen: a mix of natural stone veneer incorporating the texture of a flagstone counter surface. The outdoor kitchen was nicely equipped as well, spotlighting a large charcoal grill, gas grill with rotisserie option, refrigerator, and plenty of counter space for food preparation. It featured a raised bar seating area allowing the cook a view of the pool as well as easy conversation with guests. 

Pool: The freeform pool featured concrete construction with porcelain tile, glass bead interior, and LED lighting. Typically, a beach entry with a sunning shelf is featured in a swimming pool; this client valued an open pool design allowing ample room for family to enjoy the pool. 

Fire ring: gas fed for convenience, using matching segmented block material and nicely sized to allow several people access at a time. The landscaping encompassing the backyard environment is a blend of botanical selections offering visual excitement at all times of the year. 

Completing the mix, night lighting allows easy transition from one design ingredient to the next. The client was rewarded throughout the Cocktail Design process by being the key factor in selecting and prioritizing all ingredients used to create the backyard environment aperitif.

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