Dip & Dive

South Beach style is right at home in Oakland County.

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POOL No. 1

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WHAT// South Beach style is right at home in Oakland County
By Lynne Konstantin

Twelve years after building a house on an Oakland County lakeside property, a couple turned to the home’s original architect, Kevin Akey, owner of AZD Associates in Bloomfield Hills, to add a “pool and a small cabana, somewhere to hang up wet towels,” the homeowner says. “We wanted functional.”

Then the creative minds got started, including designer Rick Laney, of R.J. Laney Design; builder Dennis Glick; and go-to pool pros Gillette Brothers. Attached to the home by a glass tunnel, which houses a mud room with lockers for the family’s three kids, the cabana blossomed into 1,600 square feet of stunning living and dining areas (with soft-white seating covered in user-friendly, locally based Crypton fabrics), heated floors, a washer and dryer, a wine cellar, a steam room, and more. With soaring ceilings and 70 feet of retractable doors, the space opens to the outdoors, where a poolside shower, barbecue, and fire pit made of crushed glass await. Steps from the cabana, the infinity-edge pool has no ladders; its invisible steps and glass railings give the pool the distinct feeling of being “at a resort,” the homeowner says.

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Inspired by the relaxed energy and pristine, watery palette of South Beach, the pool and cabana were specifically designed to be united.

The infinity-edge saltwater pool is slightly raised, which adds privacy and offers views that make you feel as though you’re one with the lake.

The four-sided, negative-edge hot tub is centrally perched above the pool, and was “created to be both an art feature and a functional spa,” architect Kevin Akey says. The hot tub lines up with the negative edge on the other side of the pool, and is finished with the same Italian Mirage glass tiles that line the pool and the cabana bar.

All pool/deck/cabana materials complement one another, and it was fascinating for the family to watch the installation.”The kids would come home from school and watch them install it — it was an awesome process to see,” the homeowner says. “It’s built to be so strong and precise.” The entire deck and cabana interior are tiled in Crema Marfil honed marble.

A waterfall feature is backed with a glass wall with LED lighting, which shoots up colored bubbles at night.

To create a functional kitchen while perpetuating the South Beach lounge feel, designer Rick Laney, of Royal Oak, tucked all the necessities out of sight — the fridge is hidden by wood panels, and there’s an undermounted commercial cooler — and transformed the curved space to look like a bar. The mahogany cabinetry is under-lit with a frosted acrylic riser — “so the bar bottles light up, making it more inviting,” Laney says — and topped with white stone, while a drum-shade chandelier pops out of the ceiling. The entire back wall mimics the pattern of the pool, even using the same watery aqua Mirage tiles that line the pool.

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“We never need to go up north,” the homeowner says. “We’re on vacation every day.”

Entry ledges allow guests to chill on chaises (from Tropitone’s South Beach Collection) in the water, yet be close enough to chat with friends inside the cabana.

“Our biggest concern was that it would be very noisy and public,” the homeowner says. “Actually, it’s been the opposite. We get to take advantage of all of the lake activities, but it is very private and quiet. It’s like having our own private beach.”

To ease the transition from the main house to the cabana, Akey covered the cabana’s exterior with maintenance-free, long-lasting and pre-stained Trespa, a composite panel with a wood finish. He then updated the exterior of the main house with the same material, creating a unified look.

The pool’s interior Pebble Tec finish, embedded with crushed seashells to give the shimmering effect of diamonds, was chosen to take on the color of the water: Tahoe Blue. “The first time we filled it up, the water was clear,” the homeowner says. “We were wondering when the color would show up. Then it transformed into this gorgeous sea blue.”

POOL No. 2

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WHAT// Frivolity — and a chic splash of style — rule in and around this Birmingham pool
By Megan Swoyer

When Rob and Treger Strasberg moved into their Birmingham home a few years ago, one of their earliest decisions was to install a pool. “The backyard wasn’t conducive to a large, in-ground pool, so we did the next best thing — we designed a living space that incorporates a pool/spa in both the indoors (just off the kitchen and family room) and outdoors,” explains the couple’s interior designer and project manager, Kristen Armstrong of KCID LLC (part of the Forest Avenue Design collaborative in Birmingham). Armstrong also oversaw the interior changes in many of the home’s other main rooms. Rob, a creative director at a large metro-area advertising firm, and Treger, cofounder of Humble Design (humbledesign.org), an organization that helps design and furnish spaces in homes of those in need, were after a carefree pool that would garner a thumbs-up from their two young children (and friends). The results? A playful indoor-outdoor, 10- by 20-foot saltwater pool, outdoor waterfall/shower, entertainment/party pool bar, putting area, and more.

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“We could come 5 feet off the house, so we excavated what was the sunroom and opened it up with NanaWall doors (sliding glass doors) that bridge the family room to the pool,” recalls designer Kristen Armstrong, who worked with Kastler Construction of Royal Oak. Useable year-round (it’s heated in the winter), the pool, 3- to 6-feet deep, was built by Gillette Brothers Pool & Spa of Troy. Glass garage-style doors were added on the exterior, and provide a contemporary twist to this stucco-faced Tudor.

A playful area calls for fun-loving furniture styles, like the eating area’s iconic Saarinen table and tulip chairs from Knoll with water-resistant charcoal mesh cushions. A piece of glass protects the wood tabletop. The overhead graffiti lamp was found online. “The clients have a sense of humor,” Armstrong says, “which is reflected in things like the clock that says, ‘It’s about 2 minutes to 5.’ The scope of work in this home almost always connects to having fun.” The family room rug is from Stark Carpet. A Jonathan Adler vase adds an attractive touch, as does the floor lamp with a marble base and swing arm, available through the designer.

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The outdoor, 10-foot-high waterfall/fountain rock from northern Canada is from Rockworks and was brought in and placed via crane. “We drilled through it to create a shower on the backside,” says Armstrong, who chose industrial-looking shower hardware. “It’s so nice to hear that water sound running down onto the rocks below.” Recalls Strasberg: “I wasn’t sure how it would look, but Kristen assured me it would be a cool piece.”

White, relief-style custom tile from ModCraft adorns the south wall of the pool, and serves as a splash wall and recessed space for the television.

The pool ledge is made of bluestone from Albaugh Masonry Stone & Tile in Pontiac and extends a few feet into the family room, providing a non-slip surface.

“We heard ‘no’ rather than ‘yes’ from a lot of people when first talking about this project,” says homeowner Treger Strasberg. In the end, she says, it was an inventive team who was able to pull it all off. “It looked like an impossible project in the beginning, but we ended up with a nice team and I’m very happy with everything.”

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To bridge the exterior look of the home with the pool, Armstrong selected a stucco wall and ceiling for the pool room.

“The pool makes for more family time,” says Strasberg. “It’s an activity we all do together — it creates more conversation.”

The family’s Boston terrier, Gypsy, adores poolside activity.

Soon, this family may have yet another cool hangout spot — a Frank Lloyd Wright-style tree house nestled among the treetops. “We’re kid-centric,” Strasberg says.

POOL No. 3

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WHAT// A West Coast native finds a metro Detroit home swimming with familiar style
By Judith Harris Solomon // Styled by Stephanie Potts

Not long after moving to the Detroit area, Julia and Richard Slatcher purchased a 1960 home in Beverly Hills. When Julia first saw it, she immediately thought of the house she grew up in in California, which was designed by renowned architect William Wurster (known for his California residential designs using indigenous materials). Because the home — both inside and out — was, according to Julia, “very tired and dated,” the Slatchers hired Birmingham-based architect Michael Poris of McIntosh Poris Associates and Chris Juneau of JunoBuilt in Beverly Hills to do a major renovation. “We wanted it to be very warm and modern … not sterile and cold,” Julia says.

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As for the L-shaped pool, the couple (he’s an assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University and she’s a consultant for nonprofit organizations) kept the existing one as is for the time being. “We didn’t change the pool; we just changed the context of the pool,” Poris says. Before, the windows and doorwalls facing the pool were framed separately so it didn’t read as a continuous window wall, he adds. “It was visually disjointed. By adding trim panels between the doors and windows, we made it more cohesive and it feels more serene.”

The Slatchers find the four great-looking white, molded-plastic armless chairs from Ikea along the pool deck, the two white cast-aluminum martini tables, and four white Barrow lounge chairs from West Elm to be very accommodating for family and friends during summertime gatherings.

“The pool area is very California and mid-century, which the Slatchers really like,” Poris says. “It’s right out of a David Hockney painting.”

Two dark green rocker chairs from Brown Jordan’s Tamiami line add just the right touch.

“The pool area is the centerpiece of the house,” Julia says, “as it is visible from most of the house through floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors.”

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“We (the couple has two children) swim in it almost every single day in the summer,” Julia says. “It is very private, yet it affords a beautiful view of the Rouge River.”

The brick exterior walls that face the pool, formerly a boring yellow-beige, were repainted a rich dark gray color “to help make the home look more contemporary and to help differentiate the brick walls from the continuous glass and white window wall,” Poris says.

“Michael’s design for our home has a warmth that extends outside, due to the striking Western red cedar overhangs that surround the entire house — including the window wall by the pool,” Julia says.