Award-winning residential project in Dallas

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"They wanted to accomplish a lot in a fairly tight space."

That was the mission and the caveat for Southernwind Pools, AQUA Choice 2009 winner in the Concrete Pool or Pool/Spa Combination category. Meeting that goal within the strict confines of the property required ruthless spatial planning. Access to the yard was further restricted by several 70-year-old oak trees that could not be disturbed.

With three children under the age of 6, the homeowners wanted the project to be kid friendly. So Southernwind incorporated the following:

  • a safety gate at the entry to the pool,
  • a 6-inch-deep tanning ledge for toddlers,
  • an 18-inch-deep walkway to provide shallow access from the tanning ledge all the way to the other side of the pool. This ledge extends 8 feet under the bridge to provide an additional shallow play area,
  • two 10-inch spillways from the spa to add another feature for children in the play area,
  • a shaded play area provided by the second bridge between the house and the seating area, and
  • antique iron spigots, imported from France, which provide playful water features in both corners at the shallow end of the pool.
For the parents, this miniature play land offers:
  • rotating massaging jets in the sides and foot-well of the spa for 10 or more adults,
  • a gas fireplace just steps away to take the chill off cool evenings, also comfortably seating 10 or more adults,
  • a seating area on the far side of the pool that allows complete relaxation for parents while maintaining a watchful eye on children's activities in the house and in the pool, and
  • benches built around the raised walls that provide additional seating when entertaining large groups.

At the homeowners' request, even the family dog was considered in the design. A special tunnel/passageway was built under the part of the house closest to the pool. This allows the dog to readily access the grass yard without opening a gate or entering the pool area.

This project included these special touches, as well:

  • hand-painted white accent tiles, imported from Mexico, which add an elegant playfulness while providing a striking contrast against the French Grey Diamond Brite quartz interior,
  • ornamental gas lamps on the house and pillars that add a sense of old French country charm, and
  • steps, benches, a tanning ledge and 18-inch depth play area accented by 1-inch-square blue safety tiles.

The unusual selection of styles, features and materials came together to create a seamless backyard activity center. This project gave the entire family exactly what they were hoping for, and much more.

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

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