ANYTHING BUT An innovative design transforms an unusual lot into a
PHOENIX HOME & GARDEN
ORDINARY dynamic outdoor setting
Text Text by by NANCY NANCY ERDMANN ERDMANN
Water pours from copper wall scuppers into the pool below. The ocher-color wall also serves as a support for a trio of agaves in wok-shape pots.
photography photography by by MICHAEL MICHAEL WOODALL WOODALL
PHOENIX HOME & GARDEN
and his wife, Pat, had only two requirements for the
design of their Gold Canyon, Ariz., landscape: It needed to relate to the indoor/outdoor sensibility of their home, and it had to be out of the ordinary. This was music to the ears of pool designer Kirk Bianchi, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. The Gavins met Bianchi through Ted Miller of Sapphire Pools, who had worked with the homeowners on a previous project. Miller knew Bianchi would understand the complexity of the Gavins’ site, as it meant dealing with a small rectangular backyard, an unlandscaped common area visible from the house, and dirt hard as rock. On the plus side, the lot offered unhampered views of the Superstition Mountains. “Being snowbirds from Illinois, it was important for the outside to be as nice as the inside,” says Tom Gavin. “We told Kirk to use his imagination and not do anything typical.” To avoid creating anything boxy or predictable, Bianchi introduced a wedge-shape wall and a pool with a skewed angular spa in the backyard. The wall appears to expand and grow as it stretches toward the horizon, explains the designer. By contrast, the raised spa, with its vanishing edge, does exactly the opposite, diminishing sooner than one would expect. “Dynamic shapes can be used to distort depth perception in a way that makes a space feel larger than it is,” he notes. Architectural details aside, what really makes the design stand out is the spa’s translucent glass tile veneer. Over the course of the day, the brilliance and color of the tile changes as the Earth rotates around the sun. “Sometimes the spa appears to be obsidian black. Then it shifts to blazing bronze, pewter and iridescent fuchsia at other times,” Bianchi says. PHOENIX HOME & GARDEN
“The tile is the icing on the cake, the main wow factor,” he continues. “With the overall geometry being so dynamic, we wanted to follow through by selecting a breathtaking material to dial it up even more.” One of the challenges of the project was finding someone willing and qualified to install the glass tile, according to the designer, who worked with Jason McNew of Manzanita Tile. “It was vital that we find the right artisan,” says Bianchi. “It’s a different installation process that isn’t necessarily hard but a lot more tedious than your everyday installation.” To highlight the water feature, Bianchi added a wedge-shape pedestal for a fire wok. When lit at night it illuminates the area in a warm, romantic glow. A single palo verde tree was placed in the far corner of the yard to create reflections in the pool. Agaves and ocotillos were planted for their structural form, while brittlebush and Above left: The pool and spa Santa Rita prickly pears were are finished in Black Marble used en masse to obscure the Pebble Tec®, which imparts property’s fence. a coppery blue-green hue “It’s absolutely beautiful,” to the water. Above right: remarks Gavin, who enjoys Oceanside Glasstiles on the seeing the continually changspa were chosen for their ing color show with his wife. translucent quality. Oppo“We love to sit out here day site: The Gavins wanted a or night. It’s our own little long enough pool for exerparadise.” cise. The palo verde tree proSee Sources. vides a striking focal point. PHOENIX HOME & GARDEN
An innovative pool and landscape design transforms a small backyard into a dynamic outdoor setting.