THE CANVAS: Sea-swept hamlets, wood-shingled Tudors, the historic bluffs overlooking Oyster Bay
THE PALETTE: Custom bluestone tile, mountain lake intimacy, a vanishing edge touched by destiny
THE MASTERPIECE: Sublime curves, the view from heaven’s patio, the ideal private-beach accessory
As any builder with a high-end clientele knows, fickle tastes and a relentless pursuit of perfection often prevail. “When you’re dealing with the upper class, you have to be flexible and nurture them,” says Paul A. Como Sr., president of The Pool Doctor.
“What they want is what they want,” he adds, “and they’re not going to deviate from it once their minds are made up.”
The owner of this vinyl-liner pool was cut from a similar cloth. A successful apparel magnate, he wasn’t shy about getting his way, especially with his own backyard.
The house is located on Sagamore Hill, an elite neighborhood in Oyster Bay, N.Y., that President Theodore Roosevelt and singer Billy Joel once called home. Situated atop a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound, the English Tudor mansion, which is on an 11-acre lot, is mostly flanked in salt-washed wood shingles. The designer continued this theme in the backyard by using moss rock around the spillway of the spa and gray bluestone tiles for the decking.
The client also wanted a pool that would easily combine with the woodsy context of the backyard, so the designer recommended a free-form vessel. With a little natural rock and some additional landscaping, the vessel fit perfectly into the native environment.
“This mountain-lake look is hot right now,” Como says. “We try to push for it when we get a piece of property in that area and style — and a client who can afford it.”
Cantilevered rock and Westchester stone coping enhance the natural-looking aquascape, which complements the property’s private beach at the base of the bluff.
A late request
About two months into construction, the homeowner approached Como with a new demand.
As it turns out, the difficult part was just about to begin.
“The shell and plumbing were done, the hopper was dug and the spa was poured,” Como says. “We were just waiting to put the liner in when his wife decided she wanted a vanishing edge because she thought it would be a nice feature. We told them in the beginning it would be a beautiful feature, but ...
“So he asked us how much extra it would be to put in a vanishing edge,” Como recalls. “I told him $22,000. He said, ‘All right, do it.’”
At that phase of the construction process, building a radius vanishing edge was more complicated. The backyard already had limited access; even the concrete had to be pumped in from the driveway. But with the already built pool restricting access, a miniexcavator had to be brought in to dig the catch basin.
The structure also needed to be underpinned with cement blocks. Como wanted to prevent ground settling or the weight of the trough and vanishing-edge wall from crumbling down the hill.
The weir wall is cantilevered in a custom bluestone tile, which adds a unique touch. It blends in with the gray scale color palette developed by the deck tiles and moss rock. It also enhances the project’s views of the channel.