Eric Miller’s San Fernando Valley residence was heavily influenced by the work of Joseph Eichler, a post-World War II developer who helped define a branch of architecture that came to be known as “California Modern.”
So when Miller and his wife Beth began thinking about their outdoor living area, they decided to pay homage to Eichler, whose clean, linear creations stood in marked contrast to many of the cookie-cutter homes that sprouted across America in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Eichler was known for integrating outdoor and indoor spaces largely through the use of skylights, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that transition out into contained patios and pool areas.
Of his own design plan, Miller explains: “We wanted to keep the whole thing very wide and open, as an extension of the interior. You could say the house is mid-century modern, with vaulted ceilings and basically no windows — just sliders that open out into the backyard.”
Although unusual in Southern California, the Millers opted for a fiberglass pool — a 33’ 9” by 16’ Caesar’s Palace model from San Juan Pools .
“We went with fiberglass because we knew it would be a relatively quick install and would be easy to maintain,” Miller says. “Plus, the technology of fiberglass was appealing to me.”
Along a side wall in the pool’s shallow end, Keith Hall installed a pair of swim gym jets so bathers can swim or exercise against the current, and grasp the rounded edge of the spa for support, if needed.
As far as the decking was concerned, Miller wanted a partially natural look, so Hall’s crew washed the top of the cement and produced a stone aggregate finish.
The design team then added squares of grass to break up the hardscape, creating a geometric look that echoes the home’s linear design while softening the concrete.
“From the shallow end to the shaded area, you’ve got cement with a rougher aggregate,” Hall says. “And those 3 inches of sod jutting between the concrete squares — it makes a big difference in giving it a more natural look.”
To provide relief from the sun, Miller selected a pair of large shade covers suspended on six galvanized steel support poles. The covers are made of lightweight, yet sturdy Kevlar — again mixing different textures and materials. The fabric also cuts UV rays by about 60 percent.
All told, Hall describes the project as one of his favorites, crediting the homeowners for helping make the experience one he won’t soon forget. “[Miller] made it really easy to work with him,” Hall says. “He definitely had a design idea in mind.”
“And he really made great use of his property,” Hall adds, noting that just 10 feet or so stand between the home’s French doors and the water’s edge. “He wanted a sizeable pool with a nice yard — and enough playing space for the kids, versus an oversized pool that dominates the backyard.
“We were given great direction, and Eric had very good taste,” Hall concludes. “He wasn’t afraid to take chances, and I really enjoy working with people like that.”