By Graham Orme
These days, using LED lights to illuminate rectangular or kidney-shaped pools is pretty simple: You just space the fixtures out at proper intervals on a wall facing away from prime viewing spots inside the house and on deck, specify the appropriate wattage, hook them up to a suitable control system and step back to bask in the warm nighttime glow.
But that sense of routine quickly disappears when
By Graham Orme
The advent of underwater LED lighting has changed the way we look at and perceive swimming pools and spas once the sun goes down. In contrast to past days, when a single incandescent light blasted the eyes of anyone nearby, lighting is now a far subtler design feature – an intricate, integral part of a pool’s aesthetic presence and the key facilitator in creating an ideal backyard ambiance once the sun goes down.
But LED technology brings a learning curve with it – one that is even more of a challenge in an era when pool designs are increasingly dynamic and complex. And no matter whether you’re a veteran or a
By Glen MacGillivray
With increasing frequency, I’m running into higher-end clients who lead hectic 9-to-5 lives – too packed for them to be able to enjoy the swimming pool we’re proposing to build with much more than holiday-weekend frequency. Obviously, the key with these homeowners is making certain the pool we’re discussing is something they can appreciate and enjoy 24 hours a day – whenever they happen to be home and can be drawn out into a
By Mike Farley
This article concludes a little series I’ve been doing that feature bowls in association with my pool and spa designs. The first two were about water bowls in very different applications. This one is about fire bowls and, in greater detail, about materials you can put in them to cover the burners, disperse the flames and make them look good even when
By Mike Gambino
‘If there’s ever been such a thing as a match made in heaven, swimming pools and landscape lighting lay a strong claim to that perfection.’ That’s how Mike Gambino opened his Currents column in November 2009.
‘Separately, they take little-used spaces and transform them to all-day hubs of activity and sources of constant beauty. Together, however, the magic
There’s a common misperception among designers and builders whose projects carry them beyond a pool and spa and out into the landscape: In large numbers, these professionals believe that low-voltage landscape lighting systems are perfectly safe for use in close proximity to the water.
The truth of the matter is that the National Electric Code (NEC) has defined an exclusionary zone of ten feet around pools and spas for these fixtures!
That’s right: Even with low-voltage
By Mike Hersman
It’s a simple fact: No matter where you are on the globe, ultimately it’s dark exactly half the time. So no matter how beautiful your watershapes may be, if you don’t fully consider lighting as a key component of your projects, you may be robbing your work of half its potential for pleasing your clients.
That makes it a bottom-line issue, because lighting adds real value to most any watershape installation with a long list of benefits. For starters, it extends the time a watershape can be used beyond daylight hours. It also adds
By David Tisherman
I truly enjoy including shade structures in my designs. Whether I’m working with an overhang, an arbor, a loggia, a pergola or some other structure (and, yes, they are all different), I see them as ways to create visual extensions of a house – and wonderful places to enjoy being next to the water.
There is, of course, as much art and skill to designing and installing the right shade structure as there is to setting up all of the other features of a great backyard. Done well, a structure that projects out from a house will pull your eye from inside to outside while it provides relief from the sun. Similarly, freestanding shade structures
By Paolo Benedetti
I love the versatility of fiberoptic lighting: The technology works equally well in conjunction with landscaping or architectural features, and because there’s no electrical current to worry about at the light fixtures themselves, they’re a natural around water.
Better yet, you can use fiberoptics to create traditional point-light sources, or you can set them up as mellow bands of light over long stretches. I don’t use fiberoptics on every job, but when the situation is right and the customer is willing, I’m eager to dig in and design a system that will wow them for years to come.
As is true with any lighting system, the main reason to use fiberoptics is
By Brian Van Bower
In recent years, I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in the demand for shade structures – so much so that it would seem the era of slathering on suntan oil and basking in the sun in search of a savage tan might be gone forever.
It’s an exciting trend that really expands the creative possibilities for watershapers working across a broad range of styles and pricing levels.
And no one could be happier about that than me: For one thing, I’m fair-skinned and burn easily; for another, adding
By Brian Van Bower
When we think about how the environments we create are used, the first image that probably comes to mind is one of people enjoying themselves in or near the water on a beautiful, warm afternoon. That’s natural – and a vision that’s a big part of the watershape experience we set up for our clients – but it ignores the other half of the day when our clients are left to themselves with our work.
The fact is that watershape owners are mostly working people who spend their days away from home earning their daily bread. So despite the fact that we build these things
By David Tisherman
For the most part, the designers and builders of pools, spas and other watershapes visualize their projects in full sun, install them during daylight hours and seldom (if ever) see them after the sun goes down.
That’s both a problem and a shame, and it’s reflected in the fact that the run of projects you encounter by mainline pool-industry folks – and, to a lesser extent, by people from the landscape trades – tend to treat the lighting of exterior spaces as an afterthought if it’s really thought about at all.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that