Kathryn Lair Photography
When the new owners looked at the backyard of their home, all they saw was a bland, boring plot of grass punctuated by a regulation rectangular swimming pool and an aging, old-fashioned pool house.
When Randy Angell looked over the property in North Dallas’s tony Bluffview neighborhood, all he saw was a blank canvas: the opportunity to create a living indoor-outdoor work of art that would function as a luxurious, family-friendly entertainment center.
“The house is virtually all glass,” says Angell, whose eponymous design firm is based in Plano, Texas. “You can see the backyard when you enter the gate in front of the house. My object was to create a dramatic scene visible all the way through.”
The $500,000-plus project, built by Pool Environments of Plano, Texas, gives the house the ambience of a vacation home.
Angell’s design won a gold in the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ 2017 Awards of Excellence competition—and it won the hearts of the clients, who had a baby while construction was under way.
The owners wanted to save the pool, which was relatively new, but everyone agreed that the pool house, which dated to the 1930s or ’40s, should be demolished.
To tie the interior and exterior spaces together, Angell took his design and material cues from the main residence, a newly built multi-million-dollar modern house clad in limestone and brick and topped with a standing seam steel roof.
Using the same materials, he designed a cabana with full bath; a climate-controlled storage room, which can be converted to a guest bedroom at a later date; an outdoor kitchen with full-size refrigerator and freezer; a dining area whose table converts to a pool table; and a living room with a flatscreen TV and fireplace.
A low red brick wall running along the side of the pool serves as a signature design connector, as does the landscaping by Jason Osterberger of Dallas.
The pool, the centerpiece of the space, was refurbished with Pentair equipment, including a pump, filter, and heater. For a linear, modern look, the coping was changed to Lueders limestone and surrounded by a color-coordinated concrete deck of block slabs and troughs of Mexican beach rocks.
The project’s most significant feature is the eight- by five-foot Lueders limestone water wall with a trio of stainless steel scuppers pouring into the pool. Siting the wall off center allowed Angell to perfectly align it with the front door.
“It is visible through the glass,” he says, adding that three tall planters on one side enhance the wall’s significance. “It had to be substantial to balance the design.”
Glittering chartreuse glass mosaics line the feature’s three recessed panels.The wall’s downlighting from Pentair Globrite LED spotlights plays off the pool’s Pentair Intellibrite lighting.
“The Pentair system has color change capabilities, and it can sync the colors to scroll at the same time,” Angell says. “Its flexibility is the best feature. You can pick your favorite color and create a different atmosphere whenever you want.”
Although these clients didn’t want any color—they thought the chartreuse tiles in the water feature were too bold—the system helped them select a warm, white light that Angell declares is “just right.”
Angell says he chooses Pentair products for his projects because “the company has proven to be the best. The Intellitouch computer system, turned on by a smartphone app, is user-friendly. The homeowner can control everything from the landscape lighting to the fireplace feature easily.”
The real beauty of the project lies in the details, which are subtle and surprising. The floor of the cabana’s shower, for instance, is pebbled, a motif that is picked up in the pool deck. The outdoor kitchen’s counters are the same quartz as those indoors, and the glass tiles in the bathroom shower, kitchen backsplash, and water feature all complement each other.
Angell designs a personal piece for each project, and in this case, he created the cabana’s concrete-topped coffee table with cedar plank inlay. “The baby came while we were finishing it,” he says, “so we named it the Harper Table, after her.”
The project’s biggest challenges, Angell says, were managing the logistics of major construction and keeping to the owners’ short timetable.
“Building the cabana was like building a small house,” he says. “And the demolition of the old guest house was tricky too. Everything was made more fun because our only access was through a four-foot-wide gate and narrow side yard.”
When people see the house (and the water feature from the front door), they get the sense that everything was designed at the same time, which is exactly what Angell intended.
The water wall, he says, “is a stunning, beautiful focal point that draws you in. Every time I walk through the front door, it makes me happy.”