A Modern Approach To Renovations

By Randy Angell

I often find that renovation work can be the most challenging and the most rewarding work I do. The process of working with the bones of a space, embracing the parameters and limitations of it, then completely re-imagining how the user engages with it, is invigorating.

One of the most common challenges in recent years has been re-inventing the “template” style curve line pools built in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s into a more modern aesthetic that speaks to the style of my clients’ current architecture and interior design. The client pulls together a Houzz folder or Pinterest board of clean, modern designs that catch their eye, but become a bit hopeless upon realizing that their wurvy-curvy kidney bean pool is the antithesis of every straight-line, rectangular pool that captures their attention. “How can we turn what we have into this?!” is a common question. I would like to share a little “behind-the-scenes” from a few such projects, illustrating some of the base principles I use to accomplish what the client thinks may be impossible.

Create a purposeful dominant line.

The design should not ignore the shape of the existing pool, but rather find ways to connect it with new straight lines. As a beginning point, I will generally decide on the strongest angle to highlight with a new dominant line. More often than not, this line is parallel to the back of the house, but in some cases, it may be an angle that leads the eye to a particular viewpoint or vista. Once this angle has been established, I will draw a reference line that encompasses the furthest point at the top and bottom of the pool. Dividing the distance between these two lines into equal intervals creates the dominant line of the new space. This grid work creates the foundation for all new elements of the design. As you develop each new piece of the project on these dominant lines, the visual strength of the straight line overtakes the visual strength of the curvilinear pool.

Create an element that interrupts the shape of the pool.

Whether it’s a floating wood deck that cantilevers over a portion of the pool, or a raised wall that juts into a section of the pool, visually interrupting the line of the existing pool shape diminishes its dominance in the space.

Create a material palette that speaks to a modern aesthetic

The proper selection of materials is the key to a successful design. Consider a simple rectangle pool with a raised wall on one side. Depending on what materials are used, the aesthetic could range from formal, to rustic, to modern. With my modern projects, I tend to utilize a simple, neutral palette, working with tone-on-tone or monochromatic themes. In this project, for example, selecting a monochromatic theme for the coping, waterline tile, and plaster helps to blur the lines even more, further de-emphasizing the curves of the pool.

When dealing with the curves of the pool, you are limited to smaller format waterline tiles, so I try to create opportunities for long, horizontal lines where I can use thin ledgestone or plank tiles. On the Starwood Modern Renovation, we added a bastion wall that juts into the curves of the pool, interrupting the flow. This addition, along with a low planter wall, are veneered with Pewter Honed Ledgestone by Realstone, creating a strong horizontal line. The long, rectangular fire pit is faced with a 6×36 wood-look tile, for an additional emphasis on the horizontal line.

These are just a few of the common elements that I consider when re-inventing a curve-line pool into a modern aesthetic.  Each project is unique, and each client wants to express their personality differently, but the processes and elements of design remain true across the board.  Happy Renovating!