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The inside of the client's home reflected her refined style sense, but the outside, well, not so much. That led Kurt Kraisinger to pursue a path that transformed her humdrum suburban backyard into a sleek Contemporary showpiece -- one with a subtly nautical presence.
The inside of the client's home reflected her refined style sense, but the outside, well, not so much.  That led Kurt Kraisinger to pursue a path that transformed her humdrum suburban backyard into a sleek Contemporary showpiece -- one with a subtly nautical presence.
By Kurt Kraisinger

As a landscape architect, I generally approach projects with a balanced view of a space’s potential.  I weigh all of the possible elements in the prospective design, envisioning pools, spas, decking, lighting, shade structures and plantings as well as the flow from the inside of the home out into the backyard and the uses to which the homeowner intends to put the space.

Every once in a while, however, the unique features of

When Ian McGregor approaches a backyard project, he does all he can to embrace the entire environment. In doing so for this project, he created connections between existing indoor spaces and new outdoor rooms that echo familiar functions while injecting dashes of fun.
When Ian McGregor approaches a backyard project, he does all he can to embrace the entire environment.  In doing so for this project, he created connections between existing indoor spaces and new outdoor rooms that echo familiar functions while injecting dashes of fun.
By Ian McGregor

The modern concept of “outdoor living” took hold a long time ago – the very first time a homeowner set up a barbecue grill somewhere near the backyard pool, then figured out a way to enjoy a family meal al fresco.

This sort of casual and mostly seasonal approach held on for decades, but approaches to outdoor living took a giant leap forward in the 1990s, when swimming pools started being joined in increasing numbers of backyards by

Beautiful glass tile can be the crowning touch for a great watershape. But if the budget's not really there, advises Paolo Benedetti, you should avoid the urge to cut corners with materials or installation to make it work: You'll only disappoint your client -- and hurt your bottom line.
Beautiful glass tile can be the crowning touch for a great watershape.  But if the budget's not really there, advises Paolo Benedetti, you should avoid the urge to cut corners with materials or installation to make it work:  You'll only disappoint your client -- and hurt your bottom line.
By Paolo Benedetti

For quality watershapes, there’s nothing like a finish made up of mosaic glass tile:  The material has a great look and a spectacular texture, comes in amazing colors and offers a full range of visual effects, from complete transparency to shimmering iridescence.  It’s the perfect crowning touch for an outstanding project if the budget is right – and that’s where the trouble often starts.

Through the years, I’ve inspected more than 40 projects in which

Encountering a backyard with a good bit of room but a super-wide easement, Tanr Ross dug deep to optimize the space for a pair of design-oriented clients. It took plenty of creativity to organize all the features, he says, but now it works -- both functionally and aesthetically.
Encountering a backyard with a good bit of room but a super-wide easement, Tanr Ross dug deep to optimize the space for a pair of design-oriented clients.  It took plenty of creativity to organize all the features, he says, but now it works -- both functionally and aesthetically.
By Tanr Ross

It’s a small backyard with a Texas-size easement – and a good thing that I like challenges, because designing a project for this outdoors-loving family in Katy was an exercise in making a whole bunch of ideas fit comfortably within an unusually constrained space.

As we learned, their gated-community property is separated from the street directly behind it by a tall boundary wall.  This meant that there was no backing parcel to share

11-2-16PB0While he understands why some homeowners might think that acting as their own pool contractor is a good idea, Paolo Benedetti also knows it's likely to be a huge mistake.  That's why he wants professional watershapers to get involved and be part of the solution.

When Jimmy Reed approaches intersections of planes in tile surfaces, he sizes up the situation and figures out ways to complete the transitions with polished visual dexterity. It's not easy work, but he knows that these deft touches turn the common into the awesome.
When Jimmy Reed approaches intersections of planes in tile surfaces, he sizes up the situation and figures out ways to complete the transitions with polished visual dexterity.  It's not easy work, but he knows that these deft touches turn the common into the awesome.
By Jimmy Reed

Even after years of operation in the tile-application business, we still find fresh challenges and new sources of pride in what we do.  I think it’s primarily because we spend so much of our time focusing on fine details – the little touches that turn routine work into creative exercises and repetitive tasks into ongoing sparks of inspiration.

A case in point is the huge job on display in this article:  The three watershapes encompass vast square footage that includes fields of

Working at a distance is nothing new for Brian Van Bower, whose projects frequently carry him across the globe. But this one on a beach in Sri Lanka tested his limits, both in the scope and scale of the project and in the fact that it was all done without him ever visiting the site!
Working at a distance is nothing new for Brian Van Bower, whose projects frequently carry him across the globe.  But this one on a beach in Sri Lanka tested his limits, both in the scope and scale of the project and in the fact that it was all done without him ever visiting the site!
By Brian Van Bower

Working on a wide range of projects in a wide range of locales for a broad range of clients is an interesting way to make a living, I have to say, but in some cases the projects we participate in are so high end that we know we’ll only ever experience the finished product in pictures.

A case in point is the Ani Villas, a resort property in Dikwella on the southern edge of Sri Lanka, a large island off the southern coast of India.  It’s a water lover’s paradise, with 270-degree views of the Indian Ocean as well as grounds dotted by multiple watershapes:  two large main pools, numerous small private plunges for certain guest rooms, a pair of pools for kids, a weeping wall to greet visitors and a river/cascade system through portions of the property.

It’s an amazing place, and I’m proud to say we

The hilltop spec house called for a soft-spoken pool and spa that didn't interfere with the great view beyond. So he started with a simple form, writes Ben Lasseter -- then focused his creative energies on details that make cool impressions when it's time to take a closer look.
The hilltop spec house called for a soft-spoken pool and spa that didn't interfere with the great view beyond.  So he started with a simple form, writes Ben Lasseter -- then focused his creative energies on details that make cool impressions when it's time to take a closer look.
By Ben Lasseter

When outsiders think of Texas, they very often assume that it’s flat as a pancake with no topographical distinctions to consider.  That may be true in some parts of our big state, but where I live and work in the vicinity of Austin, there are areas that offer great views and have attracted developers who are intent on using those prospects to full advantage.

The spec home featured in this article is an example of this trend:  It’s in Westlake Hills, a small neighborhood within Austin’s city limits that affords some amazing views of

The old poolscape had its problems -- chief among them having been built partly over a huge trash pit. Correcting that situation was no fun, but it was only the first step in a process that saw Shane LeBlanc revise and upgrade the space from the back door to the view beyond.
The old poolscape had its problems -- chief among them having been built partly over a huge trash pit.  Correcting that situation was no fun, but it was only the first step in a process that saw Shane LeBlanc revise and upgrade the space from the back door to the view beyond.
By Shane LeBlanc

This is the story of the rebirth of a pool – and then some.

It all started when I was contacted by a homeowner who was in what I’d call perfectly reasonable distress:  His swimming pool was a mess, he told me, surrounded by cracked decking, a crumbling slide structure and a deteriorating fireplace.  He’d already spent a bundle on piers and other fixes recommended by engineers, hoping to

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With new rules and varying codes, setting up drain systems for pools and spas is more complicated than it once was, notes Paolo Benedetti.  Here, he offers a bit of technical advice that will help clarify the process -- and make it easier for systems to pass inspection.

 

Faced with a small site but encouraged by clients who gladly accepted his initial design proposal as presented, Tanr Ross applied all of his skills in creating a backyard environment that combines great entertainment spaces with family fun -- no change orders required!
Faced with a small site but encouraged by clients who gladly accepted his initial design proposal as presented, Tanr Ross applied all of his skills in creating a backyard environment that combines great entertainment spaces with family fun -- no change orders required!
By Tanr Ross

As a designer, I am quite familiar with projects that involve a good bit of give and take between me and my clients.  You know how it goes:  the typical process of success by approximation as you work through sets of possibilities and navigate around a couple dead ends before a design is approved and accepted.

In a WaterShapes article earlier this year, for instance, I wrote about the ordeal of developing seven distinct

10-year logoBy David Tisherman

‘In my observation,’ wrote David Tisherman in his Details column for the August 2006 edition of WaterShapes, ‘steps tend to be afterthoughts and are seldom fully considered.  But I’ve always taken them seriously because I see them as prime gathering places where people sit, move in and out of the water and in general spend a great deal of time.’  

‘Children also jump from the steps into the deeper water and

A client's request for a turf edge to go along with his perimeter-overflow pool confronted Brian Van Bower with an unusual challenge -- and led to a solution that serves as the crowning touch for a project filled with watershapes from one side of the property to the other.
A client's request for a turf edge to go along with his perimeter-overflow pool confronted Brian Van Bower with an unusual challenge -- and led to a solution that serves as the crowning touch for a project filled with watershapes from one side of the property to the other.
By Brian Van Bower

Of all the design trends that have taken hold in watershaping through the past ten years, the one that leads us to work with plenty of slot-edge, perimeter-overflow systems may well be my favorite.  

I’ve done them partway and all the way around pools and spas; I’ve run them up against all sorts of materials, from poured concrete to incredibly beautiful varieties of stone; and, most of all, I’ve appreciated the skill that goes into installing them and making these water-in-transit

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