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A Serene Sanctuary Calls for Reflection

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

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:

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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.

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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!

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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

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Reasons to Hire a Small Custom Pool & Landscape Designer for Unique Design in Arizona Neighborhoods

When it comes to companies that create custom, beautiful pool designs and build them, bigger is not always better. Salespeople of large and small companies alike are not generally versed in architectural strategies and principles, so that a pool or landscape becomes one with the home. Even their “custom from scratch” solutions can be forced and disjointed, out of sync with the space if they aren’t sensitive to the subtleties needed to blend, transition, and integrate. The unenlightened proceed with the idea that a pool is an attachment to a space, and that more is better when it comes to “stuff.”

Achieving understated elegance and refinement requires editing, streamlining, and simplifying, in order to create art with stunning impact that all respond to at a visceral level. Doing so requires a thought process that is counterintuitive to the masses and the builders that supply them.

Achieving understated elegance and refinement requires editing, streamlining, and simplifying, in order to create art with stunning impact that all respond to at a visceral level. Doing so requires a thought process that is counterintuitive to the masses and the builders that supply them.

“Wait a second,” you say. “Aren’t those ‘production-oriented pool companies’ you’ve been talking about usually the best, like a well oiled machine? I mean, how else would they have gotten where they are?”
Bigger pool companies usually don’t get big the same way other companies do, that is by slowly building their business over time. Most high production pool companies are in bed with tract and semi-custom homebuilders, and they punch out scores of cookie cutter pools in an assembly-line style. In fact, at most companies (especially the bigger ones), supervision of projects by the salesperson/designer is referred to as “meddling,” because if they aren’t selling the next job, they are taking away from profits.
[Read more…]

3 Things to Look for to Get Expert Level Custom Swimming Pool & Landscape Design

You are probably about to make a significant expenditure in your outdoor living space. But whom should you call first to help? It depends whether you need a quick utilitarian fix to an urgent problem, or if you want a long-term solution offering the highest level of beauty, functionality, and maximum return on your investment.

How do you discern between who offers what? The key is in contrasting the strengths of a contracting company vs. a design company, and knowing which is right for you.

The pool as it was before had a striking geometry that matched the lines of the house, but was encumbered by contrived, artificial rock outcroppings.

The pool as it was before had a striking geometry that matched the lines of the house, but was encumbered by contrived, artificial rock outcroppings.

Here are 3 things that will help you get expert level custom pool design and custom landscape design.
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Finding the Right Builder for Your Pool & Landscape Project

Designing the outdoor areas of a home has become part of a growing trend for homeowners who want to integrate innovative and customized designs into their estate with the purpose of maximizing their living space.

Especially in warm climates, such as Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Tucson, Sedona, Austin, L.A., San Diego and San Francisco, where indoor and outdoor living overlap, designing the landscape, pool, and patio area is a fusion of function and art.

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For those who adhere to this approach, outdoor living reflects a particular lifestyle and turns into an art form. However, such an achievement requires special skills, expert knowledge and extensive experience. If you are exploring landscape design because you hope to transform the outdoor areas of your home into that ideal retreat space where you can enjoy special moments with your family and entertain friends in a delightful and natural atmosphere, it is imperative to consider entrusting this task to a landscape and pool designer with artistic skills and a strong reputation. If you want your outdoor living space to become that special place where you can relax and escape when you feel the threat of being swamped by routine, it is advisable to avoid going for DIY or ordinary options that are less than what they claim to be, such as contractors who aren’t architects or salespeople who work for large franchises and who aren’t designers.
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Pool and Landscape Design Ideas From an Expert Arizona Designer & Builder

If you are in the market for a major landscape and pool construction project for your home and yard, and you are feeling inspired with the many home and garden ideas that are shown on TV and in print, you may already know you want something different than the status quo. However, if you’ve never worked with a designer before but are looking for pool design ideas, you should realize pool designers have a very different approach from that of the construction companies.

Construction companies are specialists in construction and their staff are salespeople, not designers. The hallmark of a true designer is that he or she has credentials in design, and charges for their services.

Pool and Landscape Design

The major benefits of working with a designer are that he or she takes the time to walk you through the process, considers your individual site, budget, concerns, taste, and can offer custom pool design ideas.
Here are FAQs for pool designers from people who have never worked with a designer before, including valuable landscaping design tips.
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