Las Estrellas Streamlined

A Sleek Solution, Streamlined

This edited, lighter design still features overlapping rectangular forms to unite the varying locations in the yard.

This refined version of the previous design shows that it is really the underlying layout that drives the design. As long as that is intact, a lot of elements can be reduced to their essence without detracting from the overall effect.

In this example, all of the raised planter walls have been eliminated and the landscape is flush to the ground plane, yet the organization and grouping of focal elements remain the same.  The spa that was once raised 12″ above grade, is now only slightly so. Seven inches above water makes it flush to the ground plane.

The backdrop to the fire, instead of a wall with a cantilevered trellis, has been distilled down to three vertical trellis panels. A lighter version that still defines the space and distracts ones view to the neighbors house beyond. The same vertical motif was repeated at the spa in lieu of the Saguaro cacti.

An element that is retained is the tile retaining edge at both planters and lawn. Small details like this are affordable and have a great impact toward dissolving the defined edges of the pool, allowing it to be more seamlessly integrated in the space.



Las Estrellas Design One

A Sleek Solution

Overlapping rectangular forms were crafted to weave foreground, central spaces with distant corners of this elongated, shallow yard.

To create interplay between distant spaces,  strong focal elements were established throughout the yard, and edges were erased by thinning boundary profiles to their thinnest component. The result is that panels of lawn then merge seamlessly with panels of water, while slightly elevated rectangular vessels serve as weighty sockets for key landscape features to plug into, drawing the eye from afar.

An art wall does double duty, serving also as a screen wall (to shield a view to a neighbors house beyond), and as a structural support for an elongated, cantilevered trellis. The overhead element lends both shade and a sense of intimacy to the “floating” couch beneath.

A sun shelf in the foreground perfectly aligns to a slightly elevated planter behind, showcasing a specimen Joshua Tree viewed directly from the main living area. Nine rills of water also accentuate this focal point, serving as the main water feature. Westward to the right, a similar socket continues the language and features organ pipe cacti, to be viewed from the master bedroom. Relief is interjected between these two weighty elements by visually lightening the wall that connects the two planters.  Tile facing set 2″ higher than the connecting wall allows it to be covered over with granite, obscuring it and rendering its mass wafer thin. A similar raised tile profile on the foreground pool edge allows the lawn and water to merge visually, blurring the edges even further.

Continuing the theme of interlaced rectangles, the diagonal focal point of the yard is a vanishing edge spa, with a fire feature just beyond. The flames were set to dance and reflect in the spas mirrored surface, while casting a warm, inviting and flickering light over the more secluded side of the yard.

Enjoy the tour and let me know your thoughts below!



A Serene Sanctuary Calls for Reflection


Near the base of the Superstition Mountains, this modern, curvaceous home was begging for a more appealing yard and landscape design than just the typical closed in pool and patio. Joe and Diane Corvino, while living out of state for nearly the entire project, entrusted Kirk to bring his insights to their AZ home-away-from-home. Bianchi, delighted at the opportunity, sought to reflect and integrate the surrounding desert landscape of boulders and cacti to create an expansive, seamless-with-nature outdoor living experience.


Several large mature “salvaged” trees are craned in while the pool is yet under excavation, positioned in key locations to provide reflections from multiple living areas, both indoors and outdoors.

Three elements would be instrumental in Bianchi’s approach: unobtrusive fencing, an “edgeless” pool that blended into the native surroundings, and several large scale mature salvaged trees, craned in place, to bring the desert context right into the patio area.

By introducing a vanishing edge overflow detail to reflect the surroundings, Bianchi was able to take advantage of the incredible mountain backdrop and create a visually seamless transition between the patio, pool, and natural areas. Bianchi wanted the viewer to feel as though the desert spills down into the back patio.

The colors and materials were also key in blending the setting to the surrounding. Richer than your average travertine pavers were selected, to pick up the amber and caramel tones found in the home’s stone cladding and the desert floor beyond. A steel colored tile was used for the pool overflow, and a glass spa, crowning the jewel of the yard, was also blended by selecting a tile that pulled from the yellow brittle bush flowers and palo verde greens immediately behind the setting.


The amber and grey green glass tiles were chosen by Bianchi for the spa to visually merge the coloration of the mountains and desert landscape.

The stone cladding of the home was further distributed around the yard as well, adorning several site walls, seat benches, and even the bbq facing.

Barely visible, the rebar fence is the key to this scenes success. It’s lack of a top horizontal bar, and staggered height, dissolves the line that would otherwise catch ones eye and enclose the space.

Bianchi, loving to collaborate with experts in their craft, brought designer Morgan Holt of EarthArt Landscape in to further the planting and lighting design, and then implement the construction of the site work, while Tyler Matthews of Natural Reflections was instrumental in bringing the pool to fruition.

Holt crafted a fence that blended perfectly into the landscape, made of 1” rebar stakes, 4” gaps to keep out large animals, and rust-colored to match the desert coloration. Each stake is at a different height in order to dissolve what could otherwise be a clearly delineated and distracting fence line. The staggered heights make it harder for the eye to follow, rendering the fence all the more invisible.


Holt carried over the vanishing edge and modern design from the swimming pool to create a showpiece front entry planter.  The symmetrical cacti flow straight into the desert landscape echoed the concept of the vanishing edge pool.

One of the striking characteristics of the home was a sweeping radius arc that delineated the roofline and shape of the back patio. Always looking for cues and precedent, this line could not be ignored. Instead, Bianchi reinforced this feature by carrying the same curvatures out into the patio and form of the pool itself, so that the elements then played off of each other.

The swimming pool borrowed lines from the home’s curvaceous architecture, and was positioned to reflect the mountain and vegetation from every angle.

“It was a privilege to bring this site to its full potential for the Corvino’s,” Bianchi says. “When one enters the space, immediately you feel light, and your cares lift away, and you never want to leave! THAT is what I do. Pools, landscape, lighting, these are merely tools to bring about that emotional response. For every client, no matter the scale or setting, I seek to create that perfect place to live out every day, the place you long to come back to, the place to call home.”


Paradise Restored

The artful touch of Bianchi Design on this home unlocks the jewel hidden within.

A neglected ’60s ranch in Paradise Valley, Az, situated along the north face of Camelback Mountain was not only dated, it was never designed to take in the spectacular setting afforded by its prime location in the first place.

Recognizing the opportunity at hand, Bianchi was entrusted to craft and unveil a vision for this property that would completely transform it into the gem it longed to be.

Celebrate, share, and watch as the metamorphosis unfolds!

A Complete Metamorphosis

A complete metamorphosis was needed to bring out the buried treasure hidden beneath this yard, and a family of five rattlesnakes had to find a new home!

A glass tile vanishing edge spa becomes the foreground focal point.

Here’s the short list of the awkward elements that had to be remedied:


View of neighbors living room and kitchen windows, and corner ramada from the no-room-to-stand patio.

First, the neighbors’ living room window peered perpetually (like, all the time) and directly into the yard with no privacy whatsoever. None.

Second, the vast deep end swallowed up the patio and provided no place for furniture, or walking. Only tripping and treading water was allowed.


Closeup of lawn pit and the why-would-I-come-here ramada.

Third, the sunken lawn must have been an arena of some sort! Intentionally excavated from natural grade a full -42″ from the patio, for no good reason.

Fourth, the not-worth-a-visit ramada was the focal point for the entire yard. See it up close! It’s gone.

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A spa is way over there. Don’t step in the boulders. Don’t fall in the trough. Or the deep end.

Fifth, the spa was shoved against the farthest wall and provided no invitation. It was so bad, it never had a photo taken! See the statue peeing between the two short columns? It’s over there. Peeing in the corner as all little boys are want to do.

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How do I get over there, and, do I want to?

Sixth, the bbq and fire place were non-functional and equally uninviting, and here’s a better view of just how crowded the furniture is. Don’t fall in!


View from the matador’s arena. What else could it have been for?

Last, we will not mention the boulder pile droppings distributed around the yard. Oops! Sorry.HoosePool5.29.14The first order of business was to spend several weeks tearing out everything but the pool shell. Then another few weeks were spent wheelbarrowing in a few hundred yards of top soil (there was no access) to fill the matador pit flush to a more relatable -18″. The large gaping trough was then discretely hidden with large removable stones, so it was out of sight but still serviceable.

Second, the neighbor was screened instantly with a row of mature Texas Ebony trees in a raised planter, that also housed a sculptural ironwood tree as the focal point of the property, soon to be reflected in the pool’s richer Midnight Blue pebble tec finish.

A hundred or so yards of shotcrete filled not only the reclaimed deep end, but also created a sun shelf and spa ledge, now the focal jewel in the foreground as a 360 overflow vanishing edge spa clad in Pewter glass tile from Oceanside Glass, and viewed from all the interior living spaces.

The BBQ was tucked around the corner out of sight but still easy access. The fireplace for two gave way to a large inviting built in banco, with a splashes of colorful fabrics to draw one out. The fire pit serves about 10 people easily, for hours at a time.

Last but not least, the foreground of the pool became a sweeping entry shelf extending the full length of the pool, bedecked with fiberoptic starlights and six glowing bubblers set low, to just barely break the surface of the water, giving a lovely and tranquil sound while sleeping away with all retractable doors wide open.

Simple. Serene. Self-evident.  That is the remedy.

If your project needs a similar touch, more or less, drop me a line and we’ll figure out a plan.

Enjoy the before and after pictures below!

Kirk Bianchi



Outdoor Living as an Art Form

As an outdoor architectural designer, I bring together three disciplines; landscape, swimming pool, and exterior architecture, to form one harmonious vision that will transform and liven your outdoor experience. Ordinary settings become extraordinary.

For a complimentary consult, drop a line at our Contact page.