If you want to make a big splash in your outdoor living space this summer, here are five red-hot trends and cutting- edge companies that will have you living in a pool’s paradise.
FIRE AND WATER
Two natural and essential elements – fire and water – have combined in spectacular style to become one of the hottest trends in residential pool landscaping this year.
Pebble Technology International, a global leader in the transformation of pool building and remodeling as the manufacturer of Pebble Tec pool finishes, recently launched Fire & Water, using fire to add drama, light and movement to outdoor pool areas.
“Fire adds a unique element to pools and creates an exciting experience for everyone to enjoy,” says Bob Haning, Pebble Tec’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.
“Homeowners can turn on their fire features automatically and look out and see the flames working off the reflection of the water. And at night, they really become a dazzling focal point of the pool.”
Fire features also take indoor-outdoor living to new levels. “We are finding more and more customers are designing their outdoor spaces as true extensions of their homes,” adds Haning. “Outdoor living is where it’s at for 2014.”
The award-winning firm headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., has also added a fourth and innovative new custom finish to its popular Pebble Tec, Pebble Sheen and Pebble Fina pool finishes.
Beadcrete combines glass beads with pigment and white cement to create a super smooth pool lining underfoot and eye-catching water effects, reflections and patterns by day and night. pebbletec.com
GOING THE EXTRA TILE
Vita Nova tiles
History is repeating itself in another major pool trend with the rise in demand for the ancient Roman art of mosaic tiles for pool linings and decoration.
In 2010 Rick Skalak and Ken Rotstein, two master craftsmen with a combined 60 years’ experience in the custom stone art industry, teamed up to form Vita Nova Mosaic, a full service custom mosaic studio based in Pacoima, Calif.
The in-house team of fine artists, skilled craftspeople and draftsmen work with glass, natural and semi-precious stone, ceramic and metal elements, inspiring and working with clients from visual concept stage to finished works of art.
The company has collaborated with some of the world’s best artists, architects, interiors and landscape designers on major hotels, casinos and private residences keeping this timeless and enduring medium alive. vita-nova.com
Another industry leader is Artaic, a cutting-edge company based in Boston, Mass., which transforms tile into an impactful architectural surface finish that’s ideal for an outdoor pool.
Fusing art and technology, Artaic pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with tile by using innovative design software, one-off sample creation, and hi-tech robotic manufacturing which allows for complete control over the color, material, layout, imagery and overall aesthetic of a mosaic’s design. Artaic mosaics come in standard 12 x 12 inch sheets with a guide for easy installation. artaic.com
TAKE IT TO THE LEDGE
Another pool trend making a splash this year is the Baha Ledge – an area of a pool that’s about 6 to 9 inches deep and perfect for catching some rays or staying cool – and one company has created a furniture product that’s both comfortable and practical.
“All too often patio furniture is dragged onto the ledge which can damage not only the furniture but also destroys the pool’s surface, costing the owners stress and a great deal of money,” says Chris Anderson, owner of Houston, Texas-based Ledge Lounger.
His comfy chaise is made of ultra-strong but lightweight polyethylene (weighing only 35 pounds), has no sharp edges, is made to withstand harsh pool chemicals and UV, stacks easily and comes in 12 colors.
A new line of accessories, including a pillow made of marine- grade Sunbrella fabric and an 18-inch cube side table (which also holds an umbrella for shade) is now available with other items set to release in time for summer 2014. ledgeloungers.com
LET THE FLAMES BEGIN
Pebble Tec isn’t the only company firing up pools. Several other innovators are fanning the flames of the hottest trend in 2014 and delivering new products that provide all-season warmth and light to outdoor living spaces. Spark Modern Fires, co-founded in 2005 by Tom Healy, a former custom home builder, is an award-winning manufacturer of indoor and outdoor fires, lighting up five-star hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental and W Hotels, as well as many ocean homes.
New outdoor products include The Cube, a contemporary, freestanding fire that creates light and warmth when in use and looks like an art installation when powered down. Available in stainless or powder-coated red, it can be fueled by natural gas or propane.
Spark’s other new product is the Outdoor Vent Free Fire Ribbon which is built-in and can be fitted into an exterior wall with no chimney or flue. Burning natural propane or gas, the fireplace comes in two widths of 3 feet and 4 feet, and is quick and easy to start via remote control. sparkfires.com
Grand Effects creates beautiful fire and water elements, including the new and luminous Stone Candelere, available in round or square. Handcrafted from white quartz and pieced together using a marquetry inlay effect, each Candelere comes with a decorative powder-coated base in black or brown. The effect is translucent and ideal for an outdoor pool area. grandeffectsinc.com
Automation in fire features is another growing trend (who wants to light a fire by hand or see it continually blown out by the wind?).
Enter Fire by Design, which not only offers automated tiki torches, fire on water surface features, wall mounted torches, and fire bowls, rings and glass, but has also created AWEIS, its own All Weather Electronic Ignition System.
New for this year is the AWEIS Mini, the world’s smallest electronic ignition system, making Fire by Design a global leader in automated fire and fire on water surface products. firebydesign.com
A stunning poolhouse by ZEN Associates and Flavin Architects
With the transformation of outdoor living spaces as an extension of contemporary ocean homes, another major trend for 2014 is the move toward seasonal cabanas and all-year pool pavilions.
Peter White, co-owner and principal landscape architect of ZEN Associates, based in Woburn, Mass., says a pavilion offers several advantages from lifestyle, practical and investment standpoints.
“A cabana or pavilion takes all of the activities out of the house, allows you to move from sun to shade, offers all-day and year- round enjoyment, and creates a weekend retreat feel,” he says.
“On the practical side, it allows you to store pool equipment and accessories out of sight, and as an investment in the property it can pay itself back by increasing the value of the home.”
White’s company has built several pool pavilions on the U.S. East Coast including a spectacular example (pictured opposite, below) with Boston-based Flavin Architects for an oceanfront estate in Gloucester, Mass.
“The size and definition of a pavilion drives a lot of what goes on around a pool area,” he says, adding that a seasonal cabana makes sense for a smaller weekend home while a permanent pool house can approach the scale of a guesthouse depending on space and budget. zenassociates.com and flavinarchitects.com
For more details, advice and ideas, contact the Master Pools Guild, a global network of elite custom pool builders. masterpoolsguild.com