Where I come from, pavers are used for driveways.
So when I walked into the backyard of my prospective client’s midcentury modern house and saw the murky old pool surrounded by chunky old bricks, I might have immediately turned to my client and said, “THOSE HAVE GOT TO GO.”
I also might have said, “You have a DRIVEWAY going into your POOL.” (And by “might,” I mean, I did say that.)
The pool itself—well, it needed a facelift. A spa day. When you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck, and maybe you have, if there’s a driveway right up to your face, a little botox and a peel can work wonders.
Some people would look at a catastrophe of a courtyard and feel worried. I get juiced. Standing there, that afternoon, I knew exactly what I was going to do to make the backyard worthy of its surrounding views of the Arizona mountains and a place my clients would want to spend time.
Where I live now it is HOT. The sun absolutely bakes everything and it is not an exaggeration to say that paving an entire courtyard literally 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.
I always want my designs to have legs, and to be grounded in their surroundings. Sure, it take a little extra time to perfectly position a gigantic boulder so it is artfully perched on the stairs. It takes a certain level of “WTF not?” to drop one in the pool.
The result is that when you sit on one of the tanning ledge loungers and look out at the mountains, you feel at home.
I didn’t completely lose 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 not undercover is painted concrete with a salt finish so that you don’t immediately fry the soles of your feet when you step on it.
A few other points of interest while we’re here:
First, the charcoal wall.
Yep—halfway down the existing wall, I changed the paint color from white to, basically, black.
The client wanted to feel cozy and cocooned in the courtyard. I wanted to maintain a connection to the space beyond. The new wall color does both—it serves as a barrier to enclose without creating a hard stop, visually.
Then there are the chaise loungers, which “talk” to the saguaro right outside the gate.
Finally, 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
My 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