Luxury Pools Blog

See luxury swimming pool designs and get great ideas for your backyard. Learn tips and trends for decorating your outdoor living space, pool area, and landscape.

In Perfect Tune: Amazing Glass-Tile Violin Pool

Unique Violin-Shaped Pool Hits a High Note

By Kimberlee Courtney

Glass-tile Violin Swimming Pool
Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone

This dazzling glass-tile violin pool in Bedford, NY, is truly the first of its kind. Designed and built by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping in Mahwah, NJ, the pool is an extraordinary, larger-than-life replica of a 1700s-era Stradivarius violin—in exacting detail.

One look and it’s clear to see why this amazing swimming pool design has won numerous awards, including a gold award for Exceptional Recognition in Design & Building – Concrete, Best of Competition, and People’s Choice Award from the Northeast Pool & Spa Association. The execution of this intricate and complex structure was no easy feat. We spoke to Chris Cipriano, president of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, to learn more about this musically-inspired masterpiece.

Luxury Pools: How did the idea of a violin pool come about?

Chris Cipriano: In our initial meeting with the homeowner we learned that he wanted something truly one-of-a-kind and completely customized for him. We soon found out there were limitations on the impervious coverage of the property, which meant that we could only put down so much pool and so much patio in order for the project to work. We came back to the homeowner and told him about the limitations on the property and he came up with the idea for the violin. He said, “Listen, I’m very into music, I love violins. If we do a violin pool it will give me the ability to still have a beautiful lap lane (he wanted to have at least 90 feet) and we could make something truly unique.” We went through the pros and cons of doing something so specific to his tastes and once we advised him on it, he was still willing to move forward, so then we really just ran with it from there.

LP: The pool is modeled after the homeowner’s 1700s-era Stradivarius violin. Can you explain the different details included in the design?

Installing violin-shaped poolCC: We took every detail from that 1700 Stradivarius and incorporated it into this pool. We have the neck of the violin down to the bout. We have the f-holes, which we did in custom jet-black glass tile inlays. We have the strings, which, of course, are a huge feature of the violin. We have a chinrest to the violin, which we thought would be a great place for a spa. It really worked out well with the layout and [the client] can access the spa right from his bedroom. The purfling, which is actually an inlay veneer, is also included in the detail of the pool.


LP: What were the client’s original wishes for the project?

CC: He wanted a lot of entertaining space around the pool and off the rear of the house. He does a lot of entertaining and wanted a nice bar area, so we designed this beautiful outdoor kitchen and bar. It has a 60-inch widescreen outdoor-rated TV on a hydraulic lift which comes out of the backsplash of the outdoor kitchen. Then we built a surround sound system into the masonry structure of the outdoor kitchen/bar area. We also did radiant heating in the patios because he does a lot of grilling and wanted to be able to have access to [the outdoor kitchen] in the winter. Also, the pool is open year-round, so the area surrounding the pool and patio have radiant heating. This way the client can come out of his room, go to the pool and not worry about having to shovel snow, and also have a moderate temperature patio.

Violin pool with night lighting
Photo courtesy of Bob Skinner

Another thing that was important was lighting. He wanted the backyard to be engaging at night, not just in the pool itself but in the landscape. We wanted to take a minimalist approach with the night lighting, so we mounted light fixtures under the wall caps of the retaining wall between the house and pool. You can’t really see the lights during the day, but at night they provide a beautiful visual and really light up the patio.

LP: The pool includes two Koi ponds which represent the bow of the violin. Where did this idea come from and how are the ponds incorporated into the pool?

Koi pond with fiber-optic star lighting CC: We were actually contracted to do this job before [the client] owned the home, and when I visited the house he was living in, he had a pond and lots of beautiful fish.  I thought it would be nice to integrate a pond feature as part of the pool because of his love of fish, so I came up with the idea for the bow.  We installed acrylic windows in the neck of the violin which allows the bather to see the fish when they’re swimming up and down the neck of the violin. The pond has 300 fiber-optic star lights in it, along with the Koi fish and lots of plant life.

Photo courtesy of Bob Skinner

LP: How did you integrate the landscape and outdoor living area with the musical theme of the pool?


CC:
I had the thought of flowing music in my head and wanted to translate that into plant life. I thought, if the violin is lying on the table, why not show flowers that would be laid in unison with the violin, almost like creating an arrangement. So we have flowers that flow away from the pool and take the shape of the leaves on a flower, then we used boxwood hedging to translate the stems [of the flowers]. At the end, we have these pockets of color to show the blooms of the flower coming off the stem. Because the pool is so large, we needed some large plant material to anchor the rest of the site. We had a lot of specimen material come from our farm to supply this project, including a 30-foot by 30-foot Japanese Maple which is the main anchor piece of the backyard.

Violin pool landscape design
Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone

The intent was to not only make it look like a photograph or picture, but also, as you’re walking through it, to make it feel like it’s your own personal garden. We created pathways that engage the user to walk through the beautiful gardens and boxwood hedges and really see all the different textures and colors. For instance, in the neck of the violin, where the tuning pegs would be, we have swim-outs on both sides. On the one swim-out there’s a rock path that goes through the gardens and brings you around the pond and then to the pool patio. It’s very engaging.

Violin pool design with tuning pegs
Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone

LP: What were the biggest challenges of this project? How were you able to overcome them?

Koi pond and patio with plantsCC: There was a lot of infrastructure upgrades that had to be done in order to make this project happen and to make sure we had power supply and communications to everything. We were working with various engineering firms, architecture firms…we had to move the septic field, so we had to get the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) involved because of the location of the new septic field which was near isolated wetland. As far as material was concerned, we did a lot of research on the material choices. We ended up using a dolomitic limestone which came out of Wisconsin—it’s a beautiful stone, very dense. There was such a convenience factor with this stone: On a 100-degree day the stone is manageable, you can walk on it barefoot. A lot of times it’s actually cooler than the ambient temperature just because of its reflective qualities.

There was also a lot of thought put into properly utilizing energy-efficient equipment. We did a drip irrigation system around the whole property and used moisture sensors so that we’re only utilizing what we actually need. The LED lighting is also energy efficient. For every one standard fixture you can run 10 LED fixtures. Everything [for this project] was well thought out and planned to detail.

Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone


LP: How does this project compare to pools you’ve built in the past? Did you use any new design or construction techniques, or encounter new challenges?

Violin pool with colorful lightingCC: The fiber optics were something new. I don’t know anywhere in the world where you can go and look at a glass-tile pool that has fiber optics in it. There are fiber-optic swimming pools out there that are plaster, but doing it in glass tile had a whole host of issues that had to be addressed. Everything had to be sealed properly. We didn’t want perforations from the fiber optics to jeopardize the setting of the tile so we worked hand in hand with the glass tile company and the manufacturer of the sealant to make sure everything worked in unison.

Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone

I think going into the build, having done several glass-tile inground pools prior to this pool, we were very aware of what it was going to take to make sure that everything was correct. Glass tile is very revealing and if there’s any imperfections, it will be shown with the glass. There was a lot of preparation going into the pool shoot. Everything had a template to it—every single radius, every wall—to make sure that everything was true to form.

LP: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this project?

Perimeter-overflow spa on violin pool
CC:
One of my favorite features of the pool is the spa. We did a perimeter-overflow spa and there was a tremendous amount of detail that went into the glass tiles.

We did rolled edges on the interior going down to the seating, and also did rolled edges on the seats themselves. Then tying this shape together on both corners with the glass tiles—a lot of thought and a lot of time and dedication went into getting it correct.

Photo courtesy of Ed Pirone

Then the inlays are something unique in of themselves. Creating the swirls of black tile on the floor for the f-holes was just something that I was really excited about, and I think it really came out beautiful.

Glass-tile violin pool
Photo courtesy of Bob Skinner

Browse more amazing pool designs by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping >>


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5 Dramatic Outdoor Fountains

5 Outdoor Fountains with dramatic flair

By Kimberlee Courtney

A custom water fountain can dramatically enhance the visual appeal of your home and landscape. Placed in a courtyard garden, at your home’s front entrance, on the backyard terrace, or incorporated into your luxury pool, a fountain adds a captivating focal point that engages the senses with the soothing sound and sight of its cascade.

The five outdoor fountains below range in size, shape, and design—from a Mediterranean masterpiece to a tropical attraction to a bubbling showpiece--but each is a delightful charm that brings stunning drama to the settings in which it sits.

Wish you had one of these water fountains in your landscape? Tell us in the comments below!



1. Mediterranean Masterpiece

Mediterranean three-tier water fountain

A striking statement all its own, this custom-built three-tier water fountain brilliantly accents the home’s stately architecture and landscape. The fountain’s exterior surface features the same white travertine tiles as the patio, giving its gorgeous sapphire blue interior the attention it deserves. Notice how each tier of the fountain takes on a different form, yet they all gracefully flow together.

Browse more backyard creations by Custom Pool Concepts >>
Photography by Blake Corcoran; landscape architect: BLV Enterprises, Inc.



2. Serene Sanctuary

Antique Brick and Stone Water Fountain

Nestled among fern masses and hardwood trees, this statuesque fountain has an enchanting aura that makes you feel as though you’ve entered a magical oasis far away from the ordinary world.

A mix of moss-covered red bricks and stone were used to craft the fountain’s two pond basins and masonry columns and give it an aged appearance. The fountain also features an antique bronze statue, cost-iron planters, fiber-optic lighting, and a variety of copper drip heads that create dazzling movement of water up, down, and around the fountain.

See more amazing projects by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping >>



3. Shimmering Spectacle

Splash Pad Fountain with Lighting

A grand home calls for a grand showpiece. Thirteen streaming geysers of heated water make up this elaborate splash pad fountain. Every night, the homeowners are treated to an entertaining—and interactive!—light show, right their own backyard.

View other projects by B&B Pool and Spa Center >>

Photography by Chris Nelson



4. Fountain with Flare

Water Fountain with Fire Bowl

An automated fire bowl crowns this elevated poolside fountain, which is illuminated by a color-changing LED lighting system. The addition of fire gives the fountain a dramatic evening ambiance and exciting allure. As the flames dance across the fire bowl, they are reflected in the fountain’s flowing sheets of water, creating a unique and mesmerizing visual.

View more pools by Blue Haven Pools & Spas >>

Photography courtesy of Blue Haven Pools & Spas



5. Opulent Entrance

Front Courtyard Water Fountain

Situated in the front courtyard, this traditional-style fountain is both an elegant focal point and the perfect introduction to the magnificent home set behind it. Water cascades down the ornate tiered centerpiece before spilling into the large concrete basin. The purple slate tiles that line the basin’s interior coordinate with the violet shingles on the roof, creating a harmonious connection between the two showpieces.

View all projects by Platinum Poolcare, Ltd. >>

Photography courtesy of Outvision Photography

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Top 5 California Pools

5 Fabulous California Pool Designs

By Kimberlee Courtney

Swimming pools may be commonplace in California backyards, but they all are not created equal. Designed and built by some of the best luxury pool builders in the world, the six California pools below are far from ordinary and feature some of the most stunning design elements, including sparkling Italian glass tiles and dazzling fire features. More importantly, each pool is a stunning focal point that compliments—not competes with—the beautiful landscape and architecture surrounding it.

Which pool are you ready to plunge into? Tell us in the comments below!


1. Petite Perfection

Small Geometric Pool Design

Small in size but big on impact, this geometric pool boasts a beautiful stacked stone wall with three sheer descent waterfalls that provide a shimmering sight and tranquil acoustics.

The glass-tiled raised spa, blazing fire bowls, and diamond pattern pavers contribute elegance and excitement while complementing the pool’s clean design aesthetic.

View more pools by Creative Environments, Alamo, California >>

Photography by Vern Nelson, Sonoma Vistas



2. Hilltop Escape

Exquisite Hilltop Pool and Spa

This exquisite pool and spa combination won a 2010 Pinnacle Award for its superb design and engineering.

Built on a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles, the pool features a negative-edge design, allowing for the best view possible—and the feeling that you’re swimming in the sky. Gorgeous Italian glass tiles adorn the raised spa and reflect the glittering lights of the city skyline.

Browse more pools by David Tisherman’s Visuals, Inc., Manhattan Beach, California >>


3. Simply Stunning

Stunning Backyard Pool in California

Sometimes simplicity offers the most beautiful outcome, as this classic California pool demonstrates.

The pool’s classic rectangular shape and attractive stamped concrete deck blend perfectly with the home’s Mediterranean style. The brilliant blue finish adds to the pool’s aesthetic appeal and complements the warm terra cotta tones found in home’s roof and outdoor furnishings.

Check out more pools by Carefree Pools, San Luis Obispo, California >>

Photo by Tom Meinhold Photography



4. Contemporary Cliffhanger

Contemporary Infinity Pool on Cliffside

What better way to explore the natural beauty of California’s hills and valleys than from this striking pool with cliffside views?

The pool’s sleek lines, sweeping vanishing edge, and dark interior finish pay tribute to both the property’s modern architecture and spectacular vista. Notice how the water in the pool reflects the surrounding scenery, giving the illusion that the pool's surface is a mirror.

See more pools by Questar Pools and Spas, Inc., Escondido, California >>

Designed by Skip Phillips in conjunction with Island Architects and Bruce Rudd, Landscape Architect; Photography courtesy of Gary Conaughton



5. Rustic Retreat

Rustic Vanishing Edge Pool in California

It’s hard to discern if this is a man-made swimming pool or a natural cliff-side hot spring.

Blending seamlessly with the surrounding mountain landscape, this 96-foot long multilevel pool features a river rock interior and vanishing edge, which offers an unobstructed view of the majestic vista. Water spills over the edge of the main pool and into the lower level, adding the sound of a calm trickle to the already serene setting.

View more pools from Master Pools Guild builders >>

Photo courtesy of Master Pools builder Mission Pools, Escondido, California



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Top 6 Texas Pools

6 Texas Pools That Wow


By Debra Maurer

Texas is home to some of the country’s grandest pools--and some truly elite pool builders. We picked our six favorite Texas pools designed to impress. This collection of luxury pools showcases a variety of features, including LED lighting, fire bowls, rock waterfalls, bridges, and more.

Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!



1. Sublime Sophistication

Westside Watershapes Texas modern rectangular pool floating steps

The design of this sleek rectangular pool reflects the cool beauty of the home’s sophisticated architecture.

The “floating” pavers at the far end of the pool serve as an understated yet intriguing accent, while the blue LED lighting is a perfect mirror to the Texas sky as nightfall approaches. The runnels on either side of the pool extend from the front yard back to the main pool, keeping the water circulated while also adding to the contemporary design.

View more pools by Westside Watershapes, Fort Worth, Texas >> 

Photography courtesy of Adam Wood



2. Infinitely Impressive

Elite Concepts Texas infinity pool lake paradise

This infinity pool blends so seamlessly with the overlooking lake, it’s hard to tell where the pool ends and the lake begins!

The vanishing edge and custom railing mimic the sweeping panorama that surrounds the setting, providing continuity. The pool sits on a cantilevered travertine deck, allowing plenty of room to recline, relax, and enjoy the view.

See more pools by Elite Concepts, Lewisville, Texas >>

Photography by Michael Nantz



3. Geometric Gem

Millenium Pools Texas geometric pool fire features laminars

From the blazing linear fire pit and glass-tiled spa edge to the trio of elevated laminar fountains, this pool definitely wows!

The geometric design, complete with a wide swimout on the left (also called a Baja shelf or sun shelf) and built-in bench seating at the right make this luxurious masterpiece the perfect hub for relaxation and entertaining.

Check out more pools by Millenium Pools, Austin, Texas >>

Photography by Tre Dunham Photography



4. Rockin' Resort

Backyard Amenities Texas resort slide rock bridge pool

This massive tropical oasis brings the fun and allure of a vacation resort to this Texas home.

Overlooking Lake Livingston, the pool includes a center island with landscaping connected by a large moss-rock bridge. A waterslide and waterfall are nestled in the middle cove of the pool. The pool also features a beach entry, adding to the style of a tropical lagoon.

See more photos of this project by Backyard Amenities, Baytown, Texas >>

Photography by Karin Gaylor



5. Extraordinary Edge

Custom Pool Concepts Texas infinity pool modern firebowl

What started as a remodel for some major improvements, quickly transformed into a masterpiece of design. The pool builder removed and rebuilt the spa, giving it an octagon shape, dark finish, and a raised perimeter-overflow design.

This photo shows that pool’s infinity edge is spectacular at all angles. As you walk down the lit stairs on the left, you see that the catch pool has a series of semi-circular “steps,” which create a striking water feature as water flows over the weir wall. Two firebowls on either side of the pool sync perfectly with the lighting on the stairs of the surrounding deck.

View more pools by Custom Pool Concepts, The Woodlands, Texas >>

Photography by Blake Corcoran; landscape architect: BLV Enterprises, Inc.

6. Island Inspired

Downunda Pools Texas pool spa rock waterfall firebowl
This lagoon-style pool may reside in Texas, but it has all the elements of a tropical getaway.

From the natural stone waterfalls, beach entry, and deep blue water to the stacked stone spa and lush landscaping, the poolscape appears to have been lifted right out of an exclusive island resort. The use of uplighting on the trees, as well as interior lighting in the pool and spa, creates beautiful evening ambiance.

See more pools by Downunda Aquatic Environments, Humble, Texas >>

Photography courtesy of www.ConnieAndersonPhotography.com


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A Humbling Journey - Skip Phillips Reflects on Trip to Africa

Luxury Pool Builder Skip Phillips Reflects on Africa Mission Trip

Skip Phillips, owner of Questar Pools and Spas and co-founder of Genesis 3 Design Group, recently returned from a humanitarian trip to Africa where he helped supply families with basic necessities in effort to help them rise out of poverty and build a better life. The trip left a lasting impact on Phillips. Below, he reflects on the overwhelming experience.

Mozambique Mission Trip - Skip PhillipsI recently had the honor of taking a trip that has forever changed the way I look at the world. For two and a half weeks I traveled in South Africa and Mozambique on a humanitarian mission organized by Father’s House, and Reaching the Hungry, two faith-based organizations that bring supplies and other forms of much-needed relief to areas where disease, hunger and lack of water have created pandemics of human suffering.

On a personal level, the trip was part of my own re-awakening of faith. It was something I wanted to do as a way to express my faith in Christ and do what I could to help others in need. Going in I had done some fairly extensive reading about African relief efforts and had some lengthy conversations with people who had been there before.

Once our journey was underway, however, and we came face to face with the people impacted by extreme poverty, I quickly realized that nothing could possibly prepare me for the experience that was about to unfold.

Prior to the trip, which included seven others and me, I was feeling pretty good about our efforts raising money and assembling resources. We had put together more than $82,000 in donations, which is about 10 times that of a typical mission of this kind. My friend and industry colleague, Chuck Baumann, and his family supplied 85 pairs of shoes — these were given to people that had never even worn shoes. We supplied school clothes to an entire school, soccer jerseys, kids clothing, and 350 solar bibles in their own language. Incredibly, not one cent or pair of shoes was lost to extortion or “taxes” through at least a dozen armed checkpoints.

The pride I felt at the start was quickly supplanted by a profound sense of humility. During the trip I attended church services in multiple small villages and schools, as well as in Vilancoulos, a large coastal town in Mozambique. I helped pull in a fishing net in the Indian ocean, slept on the sand under a net for eight days, witnessed the security measures necessary to survive in Johannesburg, took 1,400-plus images of people and towns/shops, as well as animals on the Savannah and beached boats on the ocean front. I came to understand the incredible difference a well or chicken farm makes to a village; I enjoyed an African bush dinner of corn mash and impala, cooked over an open fire.

Skip Phillips Reflects on Africa Mission TripAfter driving approximately 1500 miles, I saw many areas that most newcomers don’t see. Imagine clean-swept “dirt” floors in huts and clean villages — not the squalor you see in the city. I also found there are a lot of people in the pool and spa industry funding and accomplishing significant efforts globally, and it has nothing to do with marketing. This is work that is done strictly for the sake of doing good.

I’m overwhelmed at the success of this outreach, as well as the dozens of other viable programs that members of the business community fund. But I also believe this is only the beginning.

We all need to use our gifts to help others, not as a wasteful government mandate, but as an ongoing voluntary outreach. The government aid, whether American, U.N. or others, unfortunately funds the very structures and governments that have destroyed these countries in the first place. Faith based organizations are far and away the most effective at getting aid directly to the people that need it the most, and with those resources comes a message of hope as a bonus.

In Africa, lack of water presents a brutally different set of issues.I thought I was going to be instrumental in blessing the people less fortunate than myself, but the real blessing was for me. I am not the same person that left America September 6th, and I am pursuing the heartfelt joy that I witnessed in the local people, who are often forced to walk four hours every day in each direction to get a bucket of water.

On the subject of water, I couldn’t help but realize that in the U.S. my career is all about bringing the luxury of water to my clients, while in Africa, lack of water presents a brutally different set of issues. The region is in immediate need of countless wells to combat thirst, hunger and waterborne illness. I’ve always known that here in the U.S. most of us have it pretty good. I have “1st world” problems, but I don’t have any 3rd world problems. We don’t want for clean water, safe food or clothing and we have opportunities to provide for our families and ourselves as we participate in the most affluent and abundant society in human history. By witnessing the dignity, strength and hopeful warmth of people who have nothing by comparison, I’ve realized not only how fortunate I am, but also the immediate need to do whatever can be done to relieve levels of suffering that most of us can barely even imagine.

- Skip Phillips


Photos courtesy of Skip Phillips

Read more about the Mozambique Mission trip here.

To learn more about Reaching the Hungry, visit www.ReachingtheHungry.org.

Outdoor Room Accessories

8 Outdoor Room Accessories With Indoor Comfort and Style

By Kimberlee Courtney

Outdoor pillows, curtains, lighting, and other accessories bring the comfort and luxury of indoor living to your outdoor room. What’s more, accessorizing your outdoor room with these decorative and functional items is key to making the space feel more complete, personalized, and polished. Today there are a variety of outdoor accessories and decor to lend indoor style, comfort, and function to your outdoor living space. Dress up your outdoor room with some of the accessories below to make your outdoor room a cozy and inviting extension of your home.

Outdoor Throw Pillows and Rugs

Outdoor Throw Pillows and RugOutdoor throw pillows and rugs are a great way to bring color and living-room comfort to your outdoor space. Made from soft yet weather-resistant fabrics, outdoor throw pillows and rugs come in an array of colors and patterns, making it easy to achieve any look you desire.

While you can certainly choose pillows and a rug that coordinate with your outdoor furniture cushions, don’t be afraid to select colors or patterns that pull from your home’s interior appearance or other areas of your backyard.

Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

For instance, go with outdoor throw pillows that reflect the same pattern expressed in your living room furniture to create continuity between your indoor and outdoor living spaces. Or select an outdoor rug that highlights the intricate tile pattern in your pool or the beautiful color in your rose garden.

Above: A chic ivory print rug softens the stone flooring of this outdoor room and brings a warm and cozy feel to the space.



Outdoor Curtains and Drapes

Outdoor Curtains and DrapesCurtains and drapes add a soft, dramatic, and unexpected touch to outdoor spaces. Available in an assortment of colors, materials, and patterns—from gauzy white sheers to opaque curtains in bold colors and playful patterns to drapes with decorative pom-pom trim—outdoor curtains can bring the whole look of your outdoor room together, as well as help divide the space from the rest of the backyard. They also offer shade from the sun and privacy from neighbors when drawn, and a framed view of your yard when tied back.

Above: Outdoor curtains can be installed in a number of ways on any covered patio or deck. Here, grommet top curtains hang from rust-proof stainless steel rods affixed to the outer beams of a pergola.

See more outdoor rooms by All Seasons Pools, Spas, and Outdoor Living, Inc. >>



Planters and Urns

Planters and Urns - Outdoor Room AccessoriesLike the bright, lush greenery they hold, planters and urns are colorful accents in themselves. From rustic terra cotta and wood to elegant stone to modern metal and acrylic, planters and urns come in a wide variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and even colors. A few stylish additions can enhance the design of your outdoor room, lend a relaxing and inviting vibe to the space, and bring some of your own personality to the setting.

Along with providing a decorative accent, planters and urns can give structure to your outdoor room. Thoughtfully placed planters and urns can create a sense of enclosure, delineate an entrance or walking path, or emphasize a change in elevation. They can also be placed on risers to screen an unattractive view or add privacy.

Right: A quartet of planters enliven this elegant outdoor living room. The pair of pom-pom topiaries correspond with the room’s formal design while the yellow flowers lend surprising color and softness the setting.

View more outdoor spaces from Liquid Design, LLC >>

Photography courtesy of Tim Proctor & Associates, Inc.; Pool house designed by Bishop & Smith Architects, Laurel Springs, New Jersey; Pool house built by Tri-County Development Group, Medford, New Jersey


Outdoor Artwork and Wall Décor

Outdoor Artwork and Wall DecorArt and wall decor add character and personality to any room—indoors or out. Clocks, paintings, sculptures, frames, and even mirrors have all been designed for exterior spaces and will help finish the look of your outdoor room.

Create an attractive focal point and make your outdoor space feel more like a room by hanging outdoor artwork or wall decor on a fence, exterior wall of your house, or above an outdoor fireplace.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools

Above: The simple addition of a large clock turns an exterior wall of the outhouse into an “interior” wall for the outdoor dining area, giving the space a sense of enclosure and the look of a proper indoor dining room.

Check out more outdoor rooms from Aquatech builders >>

A mirror outdoors is unexpected and fun
Left: A mirror outdoors is unexpected and fun and a great way to reflect the beautiful sunlight and scenery in your landscape.

An outdoor mirror can also make a small patio feel bigger or create the illusion of a window, which will further encourage the feel of being indoors.

(Editor's Tip: When selecting art and wall décor for your outdoor room, look for items that reflect your home’s interior and architectural design style. This will establish a cohesive flow throughout your home and make your outdoor room truly feel like an extension of the indoors.)





Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus



Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Lighting for Outdoor Dining RoomLighting options for outdoor spaces go beyond typical landscape lights and Tiki torches. Overhead and tabletop outdoor light fixtures echo the look and feel of your indoor living room and set the perfect ambiance for an evening on the patio.

Outdoor versions of floor lamps, table lamps, chandeliers, and ceiling fans are available in a variety of styles, from modern to mission to Mediterranean. When choosing outdoor lighting fixtures, consider how much light is necessary for the space.


Photo courtesy of © Costea Photography. 
View more projects by David Tisherman’s Visuals, Inc. >>


Seating areas can suffice with the soft glow from a table or floor light; dining areas require ample illumination from an overhead fixture, such as a chandelier, pendant, or flush mount light.

Above: Alfresco meals can be enjoyed day or night in this outdoor dining room. Rows of spotlights installed on the pergola provide general illumination while two pendant lights bring concentrated light--and indoor charm—to the dining table.


Limestone Outdoor Candle Sconce
Candles are another outdoor lighting option and are perfect for adding a soft glow to any outdoor dinner party or gathering. Large hurricane candleholders and candle lanterns offer a safe and stylish way to light up pathways, stairs, and patio tables. You can also opt for battery-operated flameless candles if safety is a major concern.

Candle lanterns are available in many different colors and styles, so it will be easy to find ones that match your outdoor room’s décor. They're also easy to move where you need them and require no electricity.

Right: This elegant wall-mounted candle sconce reflects both the beauty of its surroundings and the flickering amber flames of the candles—and adds sparkle and a romantic vibe to the outdoor setting.



Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus


Accent Furniture

Garden Stool - Outdoor Accent Furniture

The primary purpose of accent furniture is to accentuate a room’s décor; however, these accessories—which include outdoor coffee tables, side tables, ottomans, and garden stools—provide more than decorative value. These versatile pieces of furniture are easy to move around and help fill empty spaces to make your outdoor room more cozy and inviting. They also offer extra surfaces for your guests to rest their food or drink—or feet!

Left: A decorative garden stool is a useful accessory for any outdoor room. This lightweight piece of outdoor furniture can be easily moved around and used as an impromptu side table, extra seat, serving table, or space filler.




Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Decorative Outdoor Storage Bench Cooler
Storage Benches


Keeping your outdoor room tidy and organized is just as important as decorating it. Outdoor storage benches, shelves, and cabinets offer a stylish way to store items like extra pillows or cushions, candles, beach towels, pool toys, or gardening tools. Plus, a storage bench or cabinet can double as a table or extra seating for guests during outdoor dinner parties or get-togethers.

Right: Perfect for entertaining, this elegant leaf scroll bench contains a cooler inside to keep chilled beverages at hand during outdoor parties.



Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Outdoor Storage Shelf for Towels
Outdoor Shelves


If your outdoor room is small or feels cluttered, use outdoor shelving to maximize your space and storage.  An outdoor shelf adds vertical interest and handy storage to your outdoor room without taking up prime living space.

Right: This decorative wrought-iron shelf offers a handy way to keep pool towels within reach and hang wet ones out to dry. It also provides a convenient spot for guests to place their jewelry, glasses, or wallet when they're ready to go for a dip in the pool.


Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus


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8 Types of Natural Stone for Pool Decks

Natural Stone Decking for Pools: Travertine, Flagstone, Granite & More 

By Patti Plummer

The area around your swimming pool is one of the most important parts of your poolscape. Not only is it where everyone congregates while poolside, it also plays a key role in defining your pool’s personality and style. There are a variety of manmade and natural materials that create superior pool decks, but those made from natural stone are matchless companions to sophisticated pool settings.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that in order for natural stone to retain its beauty around a pool, it should be treated with an approved sealer so it can handle weather changes, pool chemicals, and hard use.

Here are a few of the more popular natural stone types. Deciding which one to use depends on how you will use your pool and your property’s architectural style.



Rugged Class travertine pool deckTravertine


Travertine
is one of the more popular materials for building luxury pool decks. This material’s reputation for being hard-wearing yet beautiful has been known since ancient times. Today, the material is in as much demand as ever, especially with pool builders who have come to depend on this material’s porous nature and tendency to remain cool to the touch.

Because travertine typically absorbs water instantly, decks made of it are virtually slip-free. Plus, it can handle all types of weather conditions, including freeze/thaw.

Ordinarily mined from quarries in Turkey, Italy, Iran, Mexico, and the USA, travertine usually comes in ivory, light brown, brown and gold. Rich and luxurious in look and feel, pool designers will generally choose this material for artistic settings.

Travertine is commonly found in one of three finishes: tumbled (textured and porous), honed (smooth and matte), and polished (smooth and shiny).

Photo courtesy of Rugged Class Waterfalls & Pools, Yakima, Washington.; photography by Stephen K. Wolfe



Land Design flagstone pool deckFlagstone


Another pool deck material that is frequently considered is flagstone, a common term for any type of flat slab of natural paving, like the Oklahoma stone that was used to build this deck (pictured at right).

Rich in earth-toned colors and textures, this type of stone is ideal for around a pool because it has a non-slip surface, resists moisture and heat, and can withstand constant use.

Quarried all over the world, flagstone is low maintenance because of its highly dense makeup and will usually hold up for years. Easily installed, this material is the choice of those who like a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and who also want a one-of-a-kind creation.

Photo courtesy of Land Design, Boerne, Texas



Stone Mason slate pool deckSlate


Slate
is a type of flagstone that has been used by builders for centuries. Heavy and durable, slate is easy to install and can be cut in varying lengths and widths.

Colors range from dark blacks and brown to reds (like the one pictured at left), rusts, purples, greens, to blue-grays.

Quarries in Wales, Portugal, and the United Kingdom are known for high quality slate, but quarries in the U.S., especially those found in New York, also produce attractive, long-lasting slate. This type of stone decking is great for natural settings, but also suitable for traditional spaces as well.

Photo courtesy of Stone Mason of Spring, Montgomery, Texas; photography by John Guild



Drakeley Pools bluestone pool deckBluestone


Bluestone
is another kind of flagstone and is primarily quarried in the U.S., particularly in New York and Pennsylvania. Perfect for outdoor use, bluestone pavers are hardwearing, non-slip, and water resistant.

Normally blue-gray in color, this material is commonly finished in one of three ways: thermal, which gives a uniform texture; natural cleft, which creates a non-uniform texture; and honed, which have a highly smooth appearance. Bluestone is an ideal choice of stone decking for an outdoor space that is surrounded by natural charm.

See more photos by Drakeley Swimming Pool Company >>

Photo courtesy of Drakeley Swimming Pool Company, Bethlehem, Connecticut. Photography by Jeffrey Boucher



Cipriano limestone pool deckLimestone


Limestone
is one of the world’s go-to building materials. Limestone, normally quarried from local sources, is hardy and can retain its beauty for years, no matter the weather. Many pool designers not only construct decks using this material, but also prefer to use its good looks for pool coping.

Durable and alluring in a warm, earthy way, limestone can tolerate extreme weather changes and hold up against continuous use. Colors include gray, blue, tan, brown, and pink, among others, and can be cut in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it a stress-free choice of decking for many homeowners.

See more pools by Cipriano Custom Swimming Pool & Landscaping >>

Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey; Photography by Ed Pirone



Lewis Aquatech Pools sandstone pool deckSandstone


Sandstone
is comprised of quartz grains and is usually light brown or red. Exceptionally hard-wearing, even-toned sandstone is the ideal companion for pools that are dramatic in color and texture. Pool designers like this selection because they can obtain the amount of material they need without worrying about an extreme color range.

See more pool photos by Lewis Aquatech Pools >>

Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools, Chantilly, Virginia



Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa granite pool deckGranite


Granite
is one of the hardest natural stones, which is why pool designers select it when looking for a consistent look that can stand the test of time.

Made primarily of quartz, granite is usually dark in color, holds a shine, and repels water. Granite decking is perfect for pool designs that are natural in motif—but also a good choice for elegant settings, like this flamed Italian granite deck (at left).

Photo courtesy of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, Morgan Hill, California.; Photography by Barbara Bourne



Coral Stone coralina pool deckCoral Stone


Coral stone
, also known as coralina fossil stone and keystone, consists of coral and shell fossils, coral, sand, as well as limestone.

This distinctive material is strengthened by nature to survive a number of climate extremes, saltwater, pool chemicals, and heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for pool decking and coping. Virtually non-slip, coral stone also absorbs only a minimum of heat and is easily maintained.

Although commonly used in the tropics, coral stone can be enjoyed elsewhere, including in settings that experience a freeze/thaw cycle.

See more photos and videos from Coral Stone USA >>

Photo courtesy of Coral Stone USA, Haileah, Florida


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Outdoor Furniture Tips & Trends for 2014

Outdoor Furniture Trends for 2014 - Q&A with Ow Lee Co.

By Debra Maurer

OW Lee outdoor patio love seats cushion chairsThough autumn has just begun, now is a great time to start thinking about ways to update your outdoor space for spring. Many outdoor furniture manufacturers have come out with their 2014 collections, offering endless possibilities for adding style and comfort to your outdoor living space.

To get some outdoor design tips and learn about the new color and style trends for 2014, we spoke to Leisa Rogers McCollister, marketing & project manager of OW Lee Co., a national manufacturer of luxury outdoor furniture, fire pits, and accessories.






OW Lee outdoor patio furniture chairs fire pit madisonLuxury Pools: What are the top colors, patterns, and style trends in outdoor furniture for 2014? Are many of the styles included in your 2014 collection?


Leisa Rogers McCollister, OW Lee Co.:
We are noticing a color trend towards blues and greens, and pairing brighter colors with neutrals, and we cover all these trends in our stock fabric book.

Regarding the overall style of outdoor furniture, we have seen transitional and contemporary looks become more popular. Last year we introduced a very contemporary collection, Gios, and this year the more transitional Madison. Both are a departure from our traditional roots but are doing quite well.




OW Lee outdoor patio dining table set marquetteLP: Outdoor kitchens have become more and more popular over the last few years. Have you seen an increase in outdoor dining sets as a result? What types of outdoor dining sets have been the most popular? (shapes, sizes, etc.)


LRM:
We have actually seen the big increase in deep seating, not dining, although the popularity of outdoor kitchens has helped to increase our bar and counter stool sales. It seems a lot of families are foregoing the idea of a traditional outdoor dining set for more versatile and casual deep seating groups.

Chat height fire pits, which are a little taller than coffee tables, have been very popular in part because you can easily pull up a club chair and dine at this height.

With outdoor dining furniture, the trend seems to be the bigger the better. People are entertaining more outdoors and want room for all their guests at one table. A popular table for OW Lee is our expanding tables line. These tables go from 42 x 84 inches to 42 x 116 inches, allowing 10 place settings.



OW Lee outdoor table bar stoolsLP:
How important is it to have a cohesive style throughout an outdoor space? For example, should an outdoor living room set match/complement the bar stools, or can they be quite different in style? 


LRM:
I think it depends on the consumer’s personal preference and the amount of time they want to spend designing their outdoor space.

I have seen our wrought iron chairs paired beautifully with a wooden table and our fire pits used with all-weather wicker modular deep seating. But to artfully mix and match mediums can be difficult. Usually people who want to achieve this look tend to work with a professional designer.

We offer full line collections which include deep seating, lounge, and now fire pits and wall art. People, for the most part, tend to like to buy everything out of the same collection.






OW Lee outdoor patio chairs fire pitLP: Have you seen an increased interest in fire pit tables? Are more homeowners choosing them over traditional outdoor coffee tables? How can they accentuate an outdoor space?


LRM:
Yes, fire pits are hot! OW Lee was one of the first manufacturers with portable, propane fueled fire pits on the market and we have seen growth in this category every single year for the past 11 years. It has become a very important part of our business. For every one coffee table we sell, we also sell about six fire pits.

Fire pits can really be the focal point of an outdoor room. Everyone loves to gather around a fire and chat. I believe it is an innate part of human nature that dates back to prehistoric times. I once heard a story from one of our customers that said the only time their two teenage boys would open up and actually talk to them was around the fire pit. They have a natural knack for bringing people together.  



OW Lee outdoor table bar stools marquetteLP: What are a few things homeowners can do to give their existing outdoor furniture a new look? Any tips on how to incorporate some of the new trends/colors for 2014?


LRM:
The best way to refresh existing outdoor furniture is to purchase replacement cushions. At OW Lee, we keep all of our old patterns and offer replacement cushions for most of our collections from the past 15 - 20 years. It is astonishing what a set of new cushions will do to revive a 15-year-old patio set.

A great way to stay on trend with colors in your outdoor space is with throw pillows. You can easily spice up some neutral cushions with a few vibrant throw pillows in the latest color trends and change them out as your preferences change. 





OW Lee outdoor furniture living room set avalonLP: Any other outdoor style tips or trends you’d like to add?


LRM:
One tip I would give is to look at your outdoor furniture as an investment, just like you would your indoor furniture. Quality is even more important outdoors because the furniture needs to stand up to the elements.

Buying low-quality outdoor furniture means you will be replacing it every 2 - 3 years, which, even at low price points, adds up.


Photos courtesy of OW Lee, Co.




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Pool Finishes: Plaster, Aggregate, and Tile Pool Surfaces

Types of Pool Surface Finishes for Luxury Pool Designs

By Kimberlee Courtney

The interior finish of a pool can transcend its design to a whole new level of style and grace. There are many types of pool finishes to choose from, including plaster, tile, and aggregate finishes, and each type comes in an array of materials, colors, and textures—from classic white plaster, to sparkling iridescent glass tiles, to a kaleidoscopic blend of river pebbles or glass beads.

Whether you’re building a new inground pool or starting a pool renovation project, the pool finish you choose will have a significant impact on your pool’s final design aesthetic. Explore the different pool finish options below to find out which options will best suit your needs and design aspirations.

Plaster Finishes

Traditional white plaster pool finishPlaster is the oldest and most common pool surface finish. It is a simple mixture of water, Portland cement, and either marble dust or silica sand.

Traditional white plaster (or marcite) gives pools a smooth, classic appearance and remains a popular choice despite the range of pool finishes that have emerged over the years. White plaster is the most inexpensive pool finish option and typically lasts five to seven years before any signs of etching or chipping appear.

Above: The pool's white plaster finish reflects light around the inside of the pool, creating a brilliant, light blue glow.Photo courtesy of Krisco Aquatech Pools

View more pools by Aquatech builders >>

Pool with Purple Plaster and Glass Tile Finish Plaster can also be mixed with colored pigments or dyes to give more dimension and drama to the poolscape. The most popular colored plaster pool finish is medium grey, which gives the pool’s water an enticing blue tint.

Darker plaster colors, including deeper shades of grey and black, add depth to the pool and enhance the water’s reflective quality. A dark plaster pool finish is often used to give the appearance of a natural lake or pond. It also creates a stunning effect where the pool acts like a mirror, reflecting the surrounding landscape or architecture.

Above: A combination of purple plaster and glass tiles were used to merge this bold pool design with its striking desert setting. The purple plaster gives the pool a deep blue hue, which plays off the deep burgundy red presented in the nearby mountains. Red Rock Pools & Spas; photography by Michael Woodall

See more pool designs by Red Rock Pools & Spas >>


Aggregate Finishes

Pool With Polished Quartz FinishAggregate pool finishes are the new generation of plaster pool surfaces. They consist of white or colored plaster mixed with small pieces of quartz, granite, river stones, or glass beads.

Aggregate finishes are becoming more popular and desirable because they provide a luxurious pool surface that is harder and more resistant to chemicals and staining than plaster alone. They also offer an array of beautiful colors and textures and can be custom blended to create a truly one-of-a-kind pool look.

Above: A polished colored quartz finish was used to give this tropical pool its brilliant aqua blue interior. Essig Pools; designed by Michele Sherman

See more designs by Essig Pools >>

Pool with Hydrazzo Polished Marble Interior FinishThere are two forms of aggregate pool finishes: polished and exposed. Polished aggregate finishes contain finely crushed colored stones, such as quartz, granite, or marble. After the aggregate finish is hand applied with a trowel to the pool shell, it is polished to bring out the stone’s luster and create a smooth surface. The flecks of colored quartz or granite give the pool finish a decorative sheen and extend the life of the plaster to 12 to 20 years. Polished aggregate finishes have a timeless beauty that works well with classic pool designs.

Above: A polished marble finish gives this pool a smooth and even luster. HydroScapes, LLC; photography courtesy of Scott Sandler

View more swimming pools by HydroScapes LLC >>

Exposed aggregate finishes contain tiny river pebbles or glass beads. As with polished aggregate finishes, exposed aggregate finishes are hand applied by trained craftsmen. However, once the application is complete (and while the surface is still wet), the finish is power washed with a mixture of water and muriatic acid to remove the top layer of concrete and expose the colored pebbles or glass beads within.

The exposed aggregates in the plaster add traction to the pool surface and come in various sizes and colors, which allows for a range of textures and color combinations.

Pebble finishes have a more rustic look and complement natural surroundingsPebble finishes have a more rustic look and complement natural surroundings; they are often used for tropical or lagoon-style pool designs.

Right: The pool’s pebble aggregate finish lends the look and feel of white sand to the beach entry yet deepens to an island blue hue as the pool’s depth increases. Designed and built by Year Round Pool Co., Inc.; photography by Rob Kaufman Photography.

View the pool photo gallery for Year Round Pool Co. >>

Glass Beach Pool Finish
Glass bead finishes
catch the sparkle of the sunlight and give the pool surface a three-dimensional effect. A glass bead finish will add beautiful elegance to any pool design but are best for enhancing the visual effect of contemporary or modern pool environments.

Left: It’s tough to determine what part of this vanishing-edge pool is more breathtaking: the spectacular view of Manhattan or the dazzling glass bead finish. B&B Pool and Spa Center; Photography by Chris Nelson.


View more pools by B&B Pool and Spa Center >>


Tile Finishes

Tile is one of the most durable pool finishes and offers an array of design possibilities. Tiles are often applied to the pool’s waterline, floor, or steps to provide a colorful accent; they can also be used to finish the total interior of a pool. Tile’s glossy appearance makes the most of water’s reflective properties and are adored for the artistic look and upscale glamour they lend to pool designs and other watershapes.

Though tile is the most expensive type of pool finish and takes longer to install than plaster and aggregate finishes, it is the longest lasting pool surface. With proper application and minimal maintenance, tiles should never need to be replaced.

Tiled Pool with Bright Blue Porcelain TilesTile pool finishes include ceramic, porcelain, glass and stone tiles. All pool tiles come in a vast selection of shapes, styles, colors, and sizes, offering virtually endless combinations and designs.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are the most popular and least expensive tile pool finish. A number of ornate patterns and mosaics—from whimsical fish to flowers to Art Deco graphics to Mediterranean motifs—can be hand painted on ceramic pool tiles for a bold and unique look.

Above: The bright blue porcelain tiles complement the home’s Mediterranean style and shimmer in the sunlight thanks to a silicon glaze which also makes them non-slip. Red Rock Pools & Spas; photography by Rick Chafey

View Red Rock Pools & Spas' pool photo gallery >>

Stone tile, such as granite, marble, slate, and limestone, is popular for finishing natural pool designs because they help blend the pool with the surrounding landscape.

Stone tile will also complement pools or homes with a modern architectural style.

Right: Stone tile finishes are often used to lend a natural look to beach entries and tanning ledges. Banks Pool & Spa Design; project designed by Land Art

See more pools from Banks Pool & Spa Design >>




Pool with Colorful Glass Tile PatternGlass tile has been rising in popularity over the past few years thanks to both its resilience and mesmerizing aesthetics.

Glass tile is impervious to moisture and non-porous, so it does not erode or stain. Glass tile also has the ability to manipulate and magnify light, which gives pools a bright, clear shimmer no other tile can produce.

Left: Featuring an avant-garde design, this pool demonstrates the multitude of color, shape, and pattern combinations that can be created with tile. Creative Environments; photography by Vern Nelson, Sonoma Vistas.

View more pools from Creative Environments >>

All of the pool finish options above will provide years of performance and dazzling beauty in a well-made and well-maintained pool. Discuss the various pool finish options with your pool builder and consider using multiple finishes throughout your pool design for a stunning, multidimensional effect.



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Conservatories and Sunrooms: Outdoor Living Rooms for All Seasons

Conservatories and Sunrooms: Benefits, Uses, and Designs

By Kimberlee Courtney

A conservatory combines the beauty of the outdoors with the comfort of being indoorsCombining the beauty of the outdoors with the comfort of being indoors, a conservatory or sunroom adds timeless style and unique living space to a home. Traditionally used in England as a place to house and cultivate citrus trees year-round, these glass-enclosed rooms are now being added to sophisticated homes across the country and are evolving into everyday gathering spaces for people, not just plants.

“There’s something about a conservatory that is magical,” says Alan Stein, president of Tanglewood Conservatories, Ltd., Denton, Md. “There’s this quality of light that comes in from above—from the glass in the roof—which makes the space unlike anything else you’ve ever been in. It’s sort of like being completely outside when you’re inside.”

Conservatory used as pool enclosureThough they continue to be used for gardening pursuits, conservatories provide an elegant, sun-filled space ideal for a variety of other purposes, from entertaining to dining, work to hobbies, spa rooms to pool enclosures, bird-watching to stargazing, and, of course, rest and relaxation. “We’ve done just about every possible type of room,” says Rob Suman, president of Creative Conservatories, Quakertown, Pa. “We’ve done a lot of kitchen additions, living rooms, libraries…pool enclosures, hot tub rooms…we’ve done a lot of greenhouses, and we’ve even done bedrooms, believe it or not.”

“We had a client use [the conservatory] as a turtle terrarium,” says Amy Magner, director of the U.S. branch of Oak Leaf Conservatories, Ltd., a York, England based company that designs and builds conservatories throughout the U.K., U.S., and Continental Europe. “It can really be anything you can imagine.”


Above and top right
: Photos courtesy of Oak Leaf Conservatories, Ltd., Atlanta, Ga.


Working with one of today’s skilled conservatory architects and builders, you can design a conservatory or sunroom that not only complements the architecture of your home, but also your lifestyle, tastes, and interests. When looking for a company to build your conservatory or sunroom, it’s important to check references and look at the history of the company. “To build a conservatory, you absolutely need to know what you are doing,” says Suman, who advises hiring a company that has been in business for a long period of time and is dedicated to building and designing conservatories.


Conservatory Design Detials - Interior View Conservatory Design Details

Building a conservatory or sunroom begins with an initial consultation with your designer or architect to identify your needs and aspirations. This early exchange of ideas and information is of utmost importance because when you add a conservatory, you are not just adding another room: you are creating a new and unique environment for your home. As such, many factors will be discussed, from the architectural style of your home to the intended purpose of the room to the available space and your budget. “

The most important question is how they are going to use the room,” says Stein, “and that should be in great detail.” For instance, if a homeowner tells Stein that the space is for dinner parties, he will ask how many people will usually be coming for dinner. Or, if the homeowners plan to sit in the conservatory and read books, he wants to know what time of day they’ll be sitting there. “From there the design of the room grows organically,” he says.

With function established, other specifics such as the conservatory’s size and location can be addressed. “I always try to get the flow of the house to put you in the conservatory,” says Suman. For instance, when clients are deciding between locating the conservatory off of the dining room or kitchen, he’ll choose the kitchen.

Photo courtesy of Tanglewood Conservatories, Ltd., Denton, Md.

conservatories provide an elegant, sun-filled space ideal for a variety of purposes“Usually the dining room is an isolated room; you’d have to walk through the dining room to get to the conservatory. It’s not as accessible or even visible through the house, so you wouldn’t commonly find yourself there without intentionally walking that way. But if it’s off the kitchen, that’s where you are anyway and it’s a natural flow,” he says.

While it’s popular to have a conservatory or sunroom be adjacent to a kitchen or family room, it can also be a structure remote from the house. Freestanding conservatories are commonly placed by the pool where they can be used as a pool house or cabana room; they can also serve as a pool enclosure or greenhouse.

Photo courtesy of Oak Leaf Conservatories, Ltd., Atlanta, Ga.


An Architectural Accent

Home Conservatory RoomRegardless of its placement, it’s important that the conservatory’s architecture creates a relationship with your home and its surroundings, while also upholding its historical character.

“[A conservatory] is not just an all-glass room,” says Stein. “A true conservatory comes from this pedigree of classically designed architecture from the 19th century.” Derived from Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian architecture, a conservatory makes a truly beautiful addition to any period of building, from Colonial to Neoclassical to Postmodern or Contemporary.


Photo courtesy of Creative Conservatories, Quakertown, Pa.

Often, a designer will find an architectural detail in the existing property and incorporate it into the conservatory’s architecture. “If the front of the house has an arch-top window, we will at least discuss the idea of having an arch-top [window] somewhere in the conservatory so that the whole house fits,” says Suman.

While the host of design features and amenities for you to consider may seem overwhelming, your designer or architect will guide and counsel you throughout the decision-making process and advise you on the best options to achieve your dreams for the space. And once complete, you’ll soon find your conservatory is not only your dream room, but the only room you live in. “The feedback that we get from our customers most often is, ‘I wish I made it bigger because this is the room everyone gravitates to,’” says Magner. “People walk in and they’re just like, ‘Ah, this is magical. It’s sunny, it makes me feel good, I’m in a good mood, it’s the place I want to be.’”



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