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Hamptons pool design: modern, clean styles are in

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Some of the latest ideas

When planning a new pool, there are so many things to consider: size? site? shape? To make sense of all the latest features in pool design, we chatted with Greg Darvin of Pristine Pools in East Hampton.

So what’s hot in pools this season? Any new trends?

I would say that modern clean details are definitely what we are seeing and installing more often. This can mean in the size or shape of the swimming pool, as well as the area around the pool. We tend to do most pools with a longer and leaner dimension: for example, 16' wide x 50' long. With this ration of length to width you give the illusion of the pool and area being much longer and cleaner. It is a subtle detail, but one which has little impact on cost, but a huge benefit on the aesthetic.

Once we have outlined the size and shape of the swimming pool, we can concentrate on the layout of the paving or decking spaces. At first it is best again to really only concentrate on broad stroke dimensions. If you try to include too many design elements too early in the process you will have a hard time making progress. Once you have settled on the size and shape of the patio areas now you can start to consider layout (pattern) and material. Again, the stone pattern can have a subtle, but large impact on the overall feeling of the space. By using larger stones in a grid or brick pattern you can again create or define the space with a more modern undertone.

What’s passé in pool design?

I don’t think that anything is really "passé," but I do think that the current trend is definitely toward more modern rather than organic and natural.

We love a natural looking pool. Do you think they’ll ever be popular again?

Using fashion and design as a barometer, I think it would be naive to think that the "natural" looking pool won’t make a comeback at some point. There are only so many design options that exist, so I believe that the natural pool look will definitely be back….

How long does it take on average to construct a simple rectangular pool in our area?

For a simple pool you can assume 6-8 weeks. But this is just for the pool and assuming the client has made all decisions and that permitting is in place. The key to streamlining the process is to give your contractor as much information as possible when the project actually starts. With all necessary information in place, it will be much easier to stick to a tight schedule. By leaving decisions to the last minute you can easily break or affect the momentum of the project. You also need to allow enough time preconstruction for the necessary survey and permitting work. This could easily add another 6-8 weeks on the timeline depending on the workload of the town as well as the surveyor.

How important is the seating area in a pool design?

I believe the seating is even more important than the swimming pool itself. Although the pool is the anchor to the backyard, the seating spaces are where you will actually spend most of your time. I often tell my clients to sacrifice some space in the pool and give it back to the seating in order to allow for a comfortable space. You need to keep in mind the size of most outdoor furniture and the distance between each piece, and the pool which you will want or need. You definitely don’t want to create a beautiful outdoor space that takes on a cramped or cluttered look once furnished.

What if a customer wants a pool in an impractical area?

When a client approaches me with an impractical idea I will typically gently try to persuade them in a more realistic or functional direction. If they are still insistent, I will become slightly more aggressive with my opposition, by trying to outline the reasons why their idea might not be the most effective. If they still insist, as long as safety is not an issue, I will defer and build to their needs. I try my best to help my clients avoid making mistakes, but at the end of the day, these spaces are very personal and I am there to help to the best of my abilities. I can also admit that on occasion, I am wrong and the "impractical idea" turns out to be brilliant.

We hear a lot about outdoor living rooms. Are you doing more than just pools these days?

Yes, we are very involved in outdoor living rooms and kitchen areas. These are becoming very, very popular. We have built some wonderful outdoor fireplaces and water features to help punctuate these spaces and I am really enjoying the freedom and enthusiasm that surrounds these areas.

Any predictions on what’s next in pool design?

I believe that as with architecture and design in general, we will continue to push the envelope on what we are asked to design or build. We live in a very rare community where our clients have the sophistication, vision and resources to constantly raise the bar on everything we do. Infinity edges and spill over details that were rare 15 years ago have now become the norm and even the simple backyard pool client is taking the time to explore the overall design rather than simply picking from a catalogue. Every pool is now "custom" and the customization can include stairs, lighting, benches and finished materials. By taking the time and giving the process the proper attention clients tend to be much happier with their investments and show a greater return if and when they decide to rent or sell.