Designer: Jason Armour, Landscape Designer

Firm: Platinum Pools, Wheeling, Ill.

What the judges thought: As a waterfeature, it’s wonderful to look at. As a spacious spa, it invites serious soaking. It’s the best of both worlds.

Beautiful basin: A substantial grade differential was overcome with a terraced patio that called for a standalone statement: A combination spa/waterfeature. Two types of stone were used to veneer the exterior, providing contrasting – yet complementary tones. The cooler colors come from a rock called Chilton, while Moose Mountain stones, which make up the waterfall portion, provide deeper shades of brown and tan to blend with the home’s chocolate exterior.

Have a seat: At 1,500 gallons, this spa didn’t skimp on size. The 11-foot walls offer ample seating, as does the curved infinity edge wall – unusual for this kind of configuration. The dolomite coping is harder than Indiana limestone and more resistant to staining. The bright blue in the glass tile ties into the vibrant patio furniture, but stands in contrast to the black granite tile on the infinity edge and the deep blue of the pebble finish.

Rock on: See the large boulder in the corner? That was an on-the-fly decision. The rock was installed as a safety measure to keep people from stepping into the catch basin where the stairs on the right dead-ended. It also works well as an aesthetic touch: That’s the same outcropping used in the surrounding landscape.

Spa and stairs, in step: Gentle curves in the stairs and the riser around the catch basin break up the hard lines of the patio and create a transition to the freeform pool on the lower level.