Award-winning pool and spa project in Austin, Texas

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Our clients love to entertain and spend time outside, so we set out to transform a space with lots of potential into the outdoor environment our clients craved.

Our clients had a great yard, but it was 15 feet below their back deck, which protruded like a balcony out of the center of the house, so we brought the yard and its amenities up to the house's level, creating an expansive area for outdoor living and entertaining. A bonus 20-by-20-foot living area below part of the pool houses an exercise room, steam shower, bath and lounge. The area under the decks was used to create storage room and house the pool equipment.

A waterscape wraps around the back of the house, connecting the outdoor kitchen, spa, fire feature and the main part of the pool on the right of the house with a grassy area adorned with fountains and runnels that is viewed from the entry and formal living room to the left. The two parts are connected by a 20-by-20-foot, 9-inch-deep wet deck to form one continuous body of water.

The grade changes three times creating large spillways as the water seeks the lowest basin surrounding the main pool. The wet deck area is level with the travertine deck, which connects to the house and is edgeless on the other three sides. One of those sides spills over a 20-foot-by-9-inch sheet of Plexiglas. On the opposite side, the spa - which repeats the fountain's shape - flows over a sheet of Plexiglas through a shallow fire pit area and around step stones that cross into the main pool.

The entire project - pool, spa, beach and fountain - is clad in a stunning iridescent obsidian ¾-inch glass mosaic tile, meticulously placed so each step and each corner ends with a full tile. A combination of 16 low-voltage and LED lights plus a 50-point, color fiber-optic star floor in the wet deck, makes the project sparkle at night. The benches under the pergola, the outdoor kitchen and columns are fitted with a state-of-the-art sound system. Two sets of doors on the left side of the house allow access from the bedroom and kitchen areas.

We used primarily limestone, Lueder stone and travertine to keep with materials used in the house. We also used "Apache fire" stone for the benches, which looks like petrified wood.

Each month we feature one of 11 annual AQUA Choice winners. The 2009 honorees are: Botanical Decorators, Olney, Md. • Catalina Pool & Spa, Maple Ridge, British Columbia • Da Vida Pools, Austin, Texas • Ocean Quest pools by Lew Akins, Belton, Texas • Pools By John Clarkson, Jacksonville, Fla. • Rosebrook Pools, Libertyville, Ill. • Royal Oasis Pools & Spas, Medford, Ore. • Southernwind Pools, Dallas, Texas • Tumber & Associates, Orangeville, Ontario • Wise Pool Company, Conroe, Texas. For more information about AQUA Choice or to enter the competition, visit www.aquamagazine.com/aquachoice.

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