Laps of Luxury

Custom pools create blissful living space beyond a home’s four walls
GOOD DESIGN Architect Mark J McBride says he designed this contemporary home around the goals for the pool. // Photograph by Jeff Garland

Going for a swim never looked so good.

In Huntington Woods, finding the right location saved the day. Michael J. Dul, director of design at Birmingham-based Michael J. Dul & A ssociates Inc., worked his magic on a pool, water features, ornamental hardscape, and landscaping for a modern home with a U-shaped layout that naturally embraces an outdoor space.

“The shape of the pool is important, but the positioning is more important,” Dul says. “It was very tempting to place it in the courtyard, but that space is so valuable to view year-round.”

By locating the pool away from the house, Dul ensured that the windows surrounding the courtyard don’t overlook a pool cover during the winter months. Instead, there’s a dramatic fountain feature/splash pad with bubblers and jet streams that doubles as a sculpture. “It’s definitely a space that’s oriented to kids,” Dul says.

On warm-weather evenings, dancing water jets are illuminated by a colored LED lighting system. The pool also features a sun shelf with bubbler jets and an elevated Jacuzzi. “It has all the bells and whistles, yet looks in line with the whole vibe of the house and the outdoor space,” he adds.

The pool contrasts with the brick and exposed aggregate floor surface, exuding a clean and contemporary feel. Hedges create privacy for the outdoor space.

Dul, who took cues from the architecture and worked in unison with the architect, loves the feel of the entire space. “To walk through it feels good,” he says.

For the architecture, Mark J McBride, president of McBride STUDIO in Royal Oak, says his clients wanted a flat-roof ranch with a courtyard and pool similar to a previous home they’d owned. Floating concrete steps lead to the pool house on the lower level of the residence. The architect’s direction to Dul was like reverse engineering. “I told him, ‘Tell me where you want the pool and I’ll design the house around it,’ ” he says. “It was definitely a collaboration.”

MAKING A SPLASH Patrick Zaremba, principal designer at Zaremba & Co., oversaw the landscaping at this Plymouth home and collaborated on the family’s pool house and a second pool. // Photographs by George Dzahristos

Meanwhile, at a home overlooking a 40-acre property in Plymouth, the residents already had a pool in place when they requested a second, more shallow style for family activities like volleyball, swimming laps, and water basketball. They wanted a versatile outdoor area the entire family could enjoy — but it had to respect the existing landscape and promote outdoor living.

Patrick Zaremba, principal designer at Zaremba & Co. in Pontiac, who did the landscaping and collaborated on the family’s pool house, was chosen to make it happen. As he explains it, the homeowners wanted their smaller, original lower pool to be utilized and integrated along with the new one. “I wanted to come up with multilayered pool grades, and the topography allowed for that,” he says.

The edge of the new infinity pool, which includes a Jacuzzi, separates the two, and water cascades over the wall to the smaller, original pool, which features a water slide and diving rock. The well-appointed pool house and a seating area surrounding an outdoor fireplace are ideal for casual gatherings.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the homeowners say they spent a considerable amount of time in their outdoor space.

Mature trees were integrated into the design to celebrate the natural beauty of the site, a former apple orchard. Understated plantings blend into the existing vegetation, while durable materials like Carnelian granite and limestone ensure sustainability.

“It borrows from the surrounding scenery. It’s uninhibited. The new pool spills into the lower pool and the simplicity of the rectangle has a nice flow,” Zaremba says. “It fits into the earth without any visual constraints.”

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