THE CANVAS: Rural tranquility, infinite green, slice of middle-American life

THE PALETTE: Tennessee crab orchard stone, ceramic tile with natural stone finish, weathered boulders

THE MASTERPIECE: A personal resort, the comfort of moving water, a cooling summer sanctuary

Ken Whitlow’s clients needed a pool, but they were more interested in creating a getaway, where they could take the occasional dip.

“They wanted a lush garden backyard with a small pool and waterfeature — something aesthetically pleasing, but where they could get wet, just jump in and cool off,” says Whitlow, owner of Watercolors.

Whitlow teamed with his son Ben, the company’s field manager, for the project. They immediately faced several challenges. Because the backyard was already well-landscaped, the builders needed to construct a pool that would fit effortlessly into the existing environment without damaging any of the flora and fauna.

Making the collar

The first chore was digging a hole for the small, free-form pool shell that the owners had selected. Then 2-by-2-inch tiles were added.

Once the shell was in the ground and tiled, it was time to pour the concrete. “The edge of the [fiberglass shell] is only about 6 inches wide,” Whitlow says. “So we poured in this collar, like a footing. It’s 18 inches wide.

“The PVC is tied to the shell,” he adds. “Concrete was poured around the piping and the collar, so we still had room for the coping.”

Four more inches of concrete was added in anticipation of the Tennessee crab orchard stone that would comprise the coping. In fact, three different forms of Tennessee crab orchard stone were used in this project. A flagstone variation was installed for the deck, pool and spa coping, and the deck steps. Dry stack versions were created for the spa and the tier walls.

Finally, natural boulders were used for the waterfall. “Tennessee crab orchard stone comes in this multicolor type and shades of gray,” Whitlow says. “The [clients] wanted the gray. It goes well with the blue water.”

Tiers of joy

The builders created a split-level deck and raised the spa 18 inches off the ground. It was surrounded by dry stack stone and topped with more Tennessee crab orchard stone of the flagstone variety to create a seating area.

The process of cutting and placing the dry stack stone around the spa was the most time-consuming, according to Whitlow. The waterfall, on the other hand, was assembled relatively quickly.

The final cost of this soothing Southern sanctuary, including the pathways, was $45,000.