Private Blend

After architect Arthur Valk completed the redesign of a family’s stucco home in Western Run Valley, he turned his attention to designing a pool for the back yard. “It needed to be far enough from the house but not the focal point of the yard,” says Valk. “And, aside from wanting the pool to blend with the property, we wanted a sense of privacy, too.” To maintain the vista of the countryside, he positioned the pool on a terrace level just downhill from the house. “We wanted to take advantage of the view of the Western Run River,” he explains.

Valk designed a mahogany trellis for the far side of the pool and let a profusion of flowers and shrubs (including bottle bush, sweet shrub, cypress and butterfly bushes) create natural walls on the other three sides. “The wife is an avid gardener who wanted to develop vines as a shading device,” he explains of his choice of the trellis. Bluestone terracing outside the pool and a standard colored plaster finish inside create a soothing natural feel.

Architect: Arthur Valk, Baltimore, 410-321-6925; Pool: Maryland Pools, Columbia, 410-995-6600; Trellis: Black Horse Construction, White Hall, 410-557-9319.

Mediterranean Getaway

“I knew what I wanted in terms of style and just needed someone to deliver it,” says the owner of this luxurious pool house, designed as a back yard getaway for the Green Spring Valley farmhouse she and her husband bought in 1990. The “someone” who could deliver the dream was architect and designer Patrick Sutton. The pool had been constructed in the 1920s, and Sutton updated it with a dark blue pebble-tech finish, adding an elevated Ipe wood deck to hide a retractable pool cover.

The area around the pool was replaced with poured concrete inlaid with tiles in an off-white tone. At the northeast corner, Sutton sited the new pool house, a six-arch stucco and glass structure full of custom materials, from weathered oak support beams to French terra-cotta roof tile and formed-cement pillars. A professional grill is built into the outside wall of the pool house, and inside are a kitchen, salon and full bath, plus eight cubbies for storing clothes, swimsuits and towels during parties. “It’s an entertaining paradise,” says the owner. “I love every minute we spend there.”

Architect: Patrick Sutton Associates, Baltimore, 410-783-1500; Builder: Donald S. Huber Inc., Cockeysville, 410-628-7275; Tiles: Chesapeake Tile & Marble, Owings Mills, 410-363-7363; Roofing: Timothy T. Bollinger Co., Baltimore, 410-889-3770; Lighting: Jones Lighting Specialists, Towson, 410-828-1010; Landscape installation: Shawn T. Richard, Sykesville, 410-549-7967; Concrete work: Hunt Valley Contractors, Owings Mills, 410-356-9677.

Urban Oasis

When a couple living in a duplex in the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood purchased the other side, too, they suddenly had another half a back yard to landscape. They asked landscape architect Walter Reynolds to design a naturalistic free-form swimming pool that would correspond well with a landscaped fish pond on their original half-lot.

“It’s more of a lagoon than a pool,” says Reynolds, who built a filtration system into a waterfall (not shown) that courses over a rock outcropping to make the pool feel spring-fed. He added tall evergreen trees as a privacy screen and brought plants right down to the edge of the pool to better mimic Mother Nature. “We created an interesting tapestry of textures and colors in an area where not a whole lot blooms because of the shade,” Reynolds explains of the plantings on the small lot.

“It’s an oasis in the middle of the city,” one of the owners says of the results. Adds designer Reynolds: “If you didn’t know where you were, you’d feel a long piece away from downtown Baltimore.”

Landscape architect: Walter Reynolds, Upperco, 410-239-8831; Builder: Pleasure Pools, Reisterstown, 410-833-0850; Landscape installation: Foxborough Nurseries, Street, Md., 410-879-4995.

The Swimming Hole

“When you’re living on 300 acres of beautiful Maryland countryside, you don’t want to look out at a big expanse of concrete,” says Henry Johnson, the architect and interior designer who masterminded this serene grass-edged pool for an active family of five. “You don’t want Motel 6. You want the feeling of having happened onto a good swimming hole.”

The swimming hole Johnson created is hidden from the house by a new fieldstone wall that looks ancient. “The theme was rustication,” he explains. “It’s the look of an old barn foundation.” The designer planned a walkway down from the house to mimic a natural hillside path, placing huge Butler stones as steps. At trail’s end is the stone wall and, around a corner, the bluestone terrace whose edge gives the pool its start.

Designer: Henry Johnson, Johnson-Berman, Baltimore, 410-752-2030; Builder: Ilex Construction, Baltimore, 410-243-6796, and Lothorian Pool Service, Phoenix, 410-785-1000; Landscape installation: Natural Concerns, Reisterstown, 410-308-1405.

Island Style

On a plane to Grand Cayman Island, a Baltimore County resident sat next to architect Edward Haladay and conversation drifted to her favorite restaurant on the island, Hemingways at the Hyatt. “When I build a pool house, I want it to look like Hemingways,” she said of the restaurant with its British Colonial styling, open, trussed ceiling and profusion of lattice sunscreening.

As it turned out, the restaurant’s architect was none other than Haladay, and two years later he was creating a dream pool and pool house for his airplane seatmate. Haladay designed a wet-edge pool in the shape of a quarter-ellipse, situating it on the home’s steep hillside in such a way that its sweeping curve plays perfectly off the curving lawn beyond it. The downhill edge of the pool is a four-foot wall, and the uphill side is lined with sand-colored concrete pavers that stay cool on the feet.

For the pool house, Haladay designed a two-story structure that holds a kitchen and sitting area at pool level and a dressing area and bathroom below. Interior designer Rita St. Clair eschewed the expected tropical look in favor of a Tuscan-inspired grouping of comfortable upholstered pieces covered in textured cottons. In the corner closest to the pool is a table for two, where the owners can enjoy meals year-round.

Connecting pool house to house is an arbor-style loggia whose roof is latticework on the pool side to screen the sun and solid on the driveway side for privacy. A fire pit, with lava stones heated by gas jets below, is a place to warm up after a swim or in cooler weather. “It serves the same purpose as a campfire,” notes Haladay, who says the pool and pool house are the most comfortable pieces of architecture he’s ever designed. “The wet edge of the pool just makes you feel you are at the ocean. It sets up feelings of peace and harmony.”

Architect: Edward Paul Haladay Partners Ltd., Baltimore, 410-466-8892; Builder: Bement & Sons Construction, Baltimore, 410-732-1555; Site planner: Gorman Design, Columbia, 410-730-2469; Landscape installation: Mudge Landscape Design and Contracting, Baltimore, 410-235-0776; Interior design: Rita St. Clair Associates, Baltimore, 410-752-1313.

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