Few things in life are as pleasurable and relaxing as sitting by or swimming in beautiful pool on a brilliant summer day.

Colorado Home Design

This masterpiece of a free-form pool adjoins a round hot tub, forming an intriguing shape.  An exquisite bridge, used as a patio of sorts, crowns the pool.  To be on the bridge is to be literally over the water, because the pool is sited so close to the home, the owners enjoy wonderful views of the pool from all the windows on the back of the house.  Home by sears barrett architects, pool by marpa design studio.

Story by Andrea Bankoff

What is it about swimming pools that we are so drawn to?  Whether Hollywood-style glamorous, rustically natural or designed for family fun, swimming pools draw people to them.  If one is lucky enough to have a pool, it’s generally the place around which to entertain and congregate in the summer.  A pool setting enhances the most casual barbecue and turns it into something special.

Pools aren’t a modern innovation by any means.  On the contrary, man-made water enclosures, once known as baths, have existed in some parts of the world since ancient times.  Romans were luxuriating in them in the 2nd century B.C., for example, and elsewhere archeologists have unearthed pool structures more than a thousand years older than that.  The word “bath” is a reference to the pool’s original purpose of communal cleansing.

After a period of time, however, these often-elaborate “watering holes” had come to be regarded as popular venues for relaxation, recreation and exercise, as well as important focal points for social and family life-in much the same way as private pools today.

Whatever their setting, pools seem to fill a space with an energy force that draws our attention.  Perhaps the most obvious attraction to pools lies in the fact that, of all the elements within a landscape or garden, water has an aesthetic appeal that connects almost immediately with our emotions.

Natural beauty reflected in water evokes a sense of mystery and calm.  The sparkle of light on its surface and in its depths rejuvenates the spirit.  Whether it’s splashing from a fountain, flowing over a shoreline, or lapping against the sides of a swimming pool, it’s impossible to deny the soothing effects of water’s music.

Not so long ago, the pleasure of that particular sound was reserved for the wealthy.  These days, however, the combination of improved materials and streamlined building techniques has resulted in a proliferation of private outdoor swimming pools.  What once was regarded as a symbol of great wealth has become almost commonplace, especially in locales that are warm most of the year.

Area landscape designers and pool builders have seen a surge in requests for pools in private homes over the past 10 years.  Since a well-designed backyard pool increases the value of a home, often homeowners take the plunge and build one, because of the incentive of increased property value.  While the pools we feature here might be considered extravagant, it’s not unusual for the backyard of the most ordinary house on the block to contain a nice in-ground pool surrounded by a landscaped deck with a bubbling spa or hot tub.

There are as many styles of pools as there are of homes.  Landscape architects generally steer their clients toward a pool that is consistent with, or a complement to, the home’s architecture and style.  A pool, just like the landscaping around it, should enhance, not detract from its environment, nor should it look or feel incongruous or inappropriate within its setting.  A pool straight out of a Hollywood movie set with white statues, fountains and gargoyles spouting water doesn’t work in a rustic or mountain setting.

There are many styles of pools, materials and shapes from which to choose, although some sort of rectangular version is still by far the most popular.  Site is important, too; you may choose to place a pool immediately adjacent to your home so that indoor and outdoor living spaces are blurred and you have a view of the pool from inside.  Or, for owners of a large property, another option is to put more distance between the house and the pool so that it becomes a destination point, suggesting a retreat from everyday household activities.

There are natural pools, dramatic pools, romantic pools, formal pools, rustic, free form, elegant and classic pools, as well as sleek contemporary ones.  In Colorado, nothing is more beautiful and peaceful in a mountain setting than a rustic, natural pool.  This often dramatic, usually free-form pool can be designed so that is seems to be the glorious centerpiece of a mountain view, or a part of the landscape itself.  Sometimes the pool’s lining may mimic the coloring of a pond or a lagoon.  The best natural pools do not look man-made, but five the impression that one has stumbled upon them during a walk in the outdoors.

In fact, the most appealing pool sits so comfortably in the landscape that is seems to be a natural, though eye-catching, component of it-private oasis.

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