Friday, August 31, 2012

Pool Fireplace

An outdoor fireplace needs to look great, especially in Florida where most of the year it is more of a "garden ornament" than it is useful.  But the form of a fireplace lends itself to defining an area (or room) in your garden, or in this case, on the pool decking.

For this fireplace, a preformed, concrete fireplace box was used.  The masons first set two courses of concrete block to raise the fireplace up off the ground.  This will allow the hearth to function as a seat.

The box was then built out with concrete board to create a more appropriate shape for this setting.  This form was then clad with the same field stone that will be seen on the spillway and surrounding the spa.  Tying these two areas together by using the same material is an important part of the overall design.

Today, it's almost all complete.  The interior has been lined with fire-brick which will weather perfectly.  Just a few more pieces of stone to go, then carefully selected pieces will be set for the hearth.

I can't wait to get the landscaping and lighting around this, and see it all come together.  But first, the decking has to go on.  If the rain stays away, and the pool company stays on course, we should be looking at that piece of the project next week!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Progress is still moving slowly at our pool project, mostly due to the rain this week, but the details are starting to fall into place.  The mason has been working on the spa area, creating the field stone spillway and the facing on the raised portion of the surround.  A touch of natural will really ground this project!

This stone will be contrasted by a beautiful glass tile at the water line.  The 1"x4" tile is a very dark glass, and has a slightly iridescent quality when in direct sun.  The modern shape and material will add an elegance in detail that will be complemented in details we'll see later.
This photo shows the tile with the paper fronting that facilitates installation.  This paper is soaked off once the mortar has set.

Next will be the fireplace.  The form for the pad is in place and ready to pour.  Hopefully, this time next week we'll be sharing that with you!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Starts and Stops

It seems to be typical of pool companies that their progress at certain points is somewhat "measured". It's been pretty slow at our pool project for the past couple of weeks.  But meanwhile, our contractor who is responsible for the building portions of our landscape plan has been busy at work.

One element of our landscape design had its inspiration in this trellis application I have admired for a while.

Since we want the side of the garage at our site to become part of the garden area, this seemed like the perfect way add some interest and soften the side of the garage.  The clipped formality of the application will create a wall of sorts for what will be the "fireplace room" when everything is finished.

Since the garage already had a cool mirror left by the previous homeowner, it was a perfect starting point for our trellis design.  We measured out the area precisely and made a scale drawing to be taken to the metal fabricators.  They did a great job, and were very exact in their construction.  The entire piece was constructed off-site from stainless steel, then transported to the site and installed.  Watch it go up!

They were as careful with the installation as they were in the construction.  It took several times on and off the wall to get all the stand-offs marked, drilled and bolted to the wall.  Once it was up, the rest of the cabling could be installed.  Here are a few detail shots.

These crimped cable attachments prevent the need for messy eye-bolts and turn-buckles.  I love them!

This shows what it looks like when the installation is completed.
I can't wait to see everything cleaned up, and vines growing on this trellis.  A lot of trimming ahead, but this should be oh-so-worth-it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Scrubbed and Ready for Makeup

Though the finished product on stage is what we all wait for, there is always a lot of work behind the scenes to any design project...and sometimes it's downright nasty!  Our recent pool project is a prime example.

Once the pool plumbing was all installed and inspections passed, irrigation that needs to be underneath the pool decking was installed.  This irrigation will be its own "zone" on the sprinkler control panel, and will supply water (daily, if needed) to large planters that will be interspersed on and around the pool deck.  The irrigation will ultimately come through the decking and right into the bottom of the pot so that nothing is visible, but the homeowner will be saved from the chore of near-daily watering for the planters!

Once this step is completed, a rough grading is done around the pool.  Now it all starts to look better!  (Well, at least I can see it!)

Coupled with the daily temperatures of 90+ degrees, the periodic rain storms don't do a thing to help this process along, and once again the rain water is pumped out of the pool.  But despite these difficulties, progress is made.  The pool edge is being prepped for the Travertine coping and the water-line tile underneath.

And here is the Travertine coping ready to be installed.
Meanwhile a stone mason is waiting in the wings to do the field stone spillway on the jacuzzi, and the fireplace.  I'm excited to see it all starting to come together.  Keep watching as our pool story unfolds!

Friday, August 3, 2012


A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to appear on the NBC "Daytime" program, talking about some ways to bring interesting vertical elements into your garden space.  I was interviewed for the show by Lindsay MacDonald.  It was great fun, and when Lindsay asked if I would be willing to do a segment touring three garden spaces, I quickly jumped at the opportunity.

The show taped in mid-June, and appeared on air on July 10th.  We taped for a full three hours, but somehow they managed to artfully edit it down to a little over five minute segment.

Lindsay and I had a great time together!  Touring the three gardens, I was able to compare and contrast many design elements, and offer suggestions on how to bring some of these into your own garden.

Here's a link to the segment you can watch on YouTube!

I would love to hear what you think!