Some jobs can’t be performed in the usual order.

This property sat on a sheer cliff, and was configured in such a way that the pool had to be built before the accompanying home’s remodel was even designed. This made it a challenge to blend the pool’s aesthetic with the house.

Fortunately, designer Skip Phillips had worked with the architect before and understood his sensibilities.

“I knew his details had a tendency to be more contemporary,” says Phillips, president of Questar Pools & Spas in Escondido, Calif., and cofounder of the Genesis 3 Design Group. “But [the homeowners] didn’t want it to look sanitized.”

To satisfy this need, the team chose a textured, flamed granite for the deck as well as the grates covering the slot overflow closest to the house. In addition to being more traditional, this material adds warmth to the yard, yet still blends well with the powerful black and white details throughout.

To further soften the effect, Phillips utilized asymmetry. Rather than book-ending the pool with two identical fire woks, he only used one, balancing it with a square planter on the opposite side. Another fire element bears a different footprint and sits away from the pool.

Here, Phillips and partnering builder Gene Brown, president of Valley Pool & Spa, based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, discuss the project.