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Getting into the Swim


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What people do with their outdoor space is so personal that landscape contractor John Ewing describes his job as "getting to know customers and how they use their yards." He points out: "Imagination is tailored to a customer’s desire and tastes."

Designing in San Diego "is so dependent on site, project and who our clients are," explains Ken Ronchetti of Ronchetti Designs. The climate here encourages him to create pools as places where people can swim and play, as centerpieces for exquisite parties or as canvases "to make patterns of light."

Building architect Norm Applebaum wants to include the human element in his body of work. "There are so many personal things you have to ask," Applebaum says. "People come to me not for trends, but for timeless designs for where they live."

Patios can stand alone without pools, landscape architect Steve Adams of Adams Design points out. But without a pool, the focus of the patio changes, usually to an outdoor fireplace or a view. Nonetheless, "usually a water element is a nice thing, for sound and kinetic action."

"Slate is my favorite material," says Mac McCarter, president of Tecton Master Builders and a partner in Builders Trading Company in Encinitas. "It’s a natural stone and very durable." Slate quarried in China and Kashmir provides tones that can’t be matched by former patio pacesetters quartz and sandstone. Plus it "comes in as many colors as possible," adds Jim Thompson of Modern Building Supply, and it gives "a new style and look," particularly when matched with the vanishing-edge pool.

These fool-the-eye pools capitalize on a sloped yard to exaggerate the impression of the water at the pool’s edge falling off into the horizon. While the disappearing-edge pool is popular, it is not the best choice for some yards. Landscape architect Larry Sheehan won’t recommend such a pool unless the yard has at least a 4-foot drop. "Where they really look great is when you can look out, say to the ocean," says pool builder John Rice, owner of Pacific Sun Pool ’n’ Spa.
san diego swimming poolKen Ronchetti designed this La Jolla coastal home, achieving more than mere beauty with water features at the entry. Mission Pools built the pool.
san diego swimming poolIn the same La Jolla pool area, a glimpse of the ocean is carefully preserved in a view through glass.

san diego swimming poolA limited lot size doesn’t necessarily limit a pool’s beauty potential, as demonstrated by this Mount Woodson model home with pool by Burton Associates of Del Mar.
san diego swimming poolsThe waterfall beneath the gazebo flows down to join a second waterfall at a lower pond in this Rancho Santa Fe home by Gerhard Design Group. Landscaping by Peridian International.
san diego swimming poolNancy Intermill opted for a vanishing-edge pool for her Blossom Valley home. The Lakeside Middle School vice principal collaborated with designer Bob Stouffer of Total Custom Pools. The palapa umbrella is patterned after one she admired at a local restaurant.
san diego swimming poolNeon artwork applied to the mirror provides the illusion of being suspended in air in this expansive Rancho Santa Fe cabaña by the Gerhard Design Group. Swimmers taking a break from the adjacent pool are spared the sun’s rays as they lounge at tables and bar.

san diego swimming poolFountains often add just the right sparkle to brighten a smaller pool, as demonstrated by Burton Associates in this model home for Summer Walk by California Pacific Homes in Carlsbad.
san diego swimming poolThe waterfall opposite the spa masks a retaining wall at this lushly landscaped San Diego pool by Pacific Sun Pool ’n’ Spa.
san diego swimming poolThe mystery of the disappearing edge is explained in this side view of a pool designed by Skip Phillips of Questar Pools & Spas.
san diego swimming poolSpilling into the pool from artificial rocks, water features accent the vanishing edge of this El Cajon pool built by Pacific Sun Pool ’n’ Spa.
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