Pavers are used for driveways.
The “before” of this client’s midcentury modern house sported a murky old pool surrounded by chunky old bricks. Immediately, we knew: “THOSE HAVE GOT TO GO.”
It looked like a driveway going into a pool.
The pool itself needed a facelift.
Some people would look at a catastrophe and feel worried. We get juiced. Standing there, that afternoon, I knew exactly what we were going to do to make the backyard worthy of its surrounding views of the Arizona mountains so it would be a place our clients would want to spend all their time.
In the southwest desert, the sun absolutely bakes everything and it is not an exaggeration to say that paving an entire courtyard turns it into an oven.
We ripped out the pavers and resurfaced the courtyard with a mixture of materials.
Desert gold 1/4 DG screened gravel is now the main surface element surrounding the pool. Here and there we dropped in boulders, including one in the lounge pool.
It is important to us that our designs be grounded in their surroundings. Although it takes extra time to perfectly position a gigantic boulder so it is artfully perched on the stairs and boldness to drop another one in the pool, this integration of the natural landscape makes a big impact at a modest cost.
The result is, sitting on one of the tanning ledge loungers gazing at the mountains, you feel at home.
We didn’t completely forgo the pavers. We crafted custom steppingstones out of local Catalina stone quarried for use as siding, which ties the backyard with the house.
The main outdoor seating area that is not undercover is painted concrete with a salt finish to maintain a walkable surface for bare feet even when the sun is out.
A few other points of interest:
Halfway along the existing wall, we changed the paint color from white to a dark charcoal grey.
The client wanted to feel cozy and cocooned in the courtyard, and yet we wanted to maintain a connection to the space beyond. The new wall color does both—it serves as a barrier to enclose but without creating a hard stop, visually.
The chaise loungers “talk” to the saguaro right outside the gate.
The pool. She got her makeover and a little cosmetic “enhancement,” too— lounge pool on one side and a spa on the other (added when the rest of the job was just about finished).
Get the Look
Tips for revamping a tired pool deck.
- Break up the paving surface
- Add something unexpected (like a boulder)
- Connect to the surrounding landscape via furniture, paint color, or materials