Carmel Valley, Calif., residential pool project

"I do not want the pools I design to draw your attention because of a dramatic design," says Richard McPherson, landscape architect with Richard McPherson Landscape Architecture in Oakland, Calif. "I want them to blend with the surroundings, which is kind of an elegant statement, something that is very serene looking."

There's a 20,000-acre preserve in Carmel Valley that is mostly open space, but it is home to 300 properties. This waterscape is part of a 56-acre parcel, but the owners are allowed to build on only five of them.

"When we first talked about the idea, they were just looking at a rectangular pool," says McPherson, but after some research McPherson proposed that the pool follow the contours of the home.

"I said, 'What if we did a curve? What if we did an infinity edge? What if we tied the formal balustrade into it?' And they just went along with all the ideas."

Since the house sits on the side of a hill, McPherson incorporated the vanishing edge to capture the panoramic views. He also brought in nearly 40 Japanese maple trees and planted ornamental grasses to complete the look.

McPherson collaborated with Paul Davis Partnership - the home designers - on the project's hardscape elements to tie together the design of the house and the pool.

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