Differing Perspectives

When the team began work on this Lake Michigan property, it became apparent that the homeowner’s taste and the log cabin’s architecture were giving different cues. “He had a design from a previous company that was very natural, which made sense with the setting,” says Matt Schmuker, principal of Apex Landscape in Grand Rapids, Mich. “But he has very contemporary taste.”

So they conjured a vision that was contemporary where needed and natural in the right places. The pool/spa combination is modern when the client views it from his home. But when seen from Lake Michigan, the waterscape only shows natural materials, such as the Michigan field stone placed on the raised pool walls to blend seamlessly with the house.

“We tried to incorporate modern with kind of rustic to come up with a design that would fit,” Schmuker says.

See-Through Wall

A 4-foot-high acrylic wall adds an aquarium-like effect. Paré, who also built the pool and general contracted the backyard, had crews install the panel about 5 inches into the pool wall, then wrap field stone around the sides, so it looks like the acrylic is actually set into stone. A swim-up bar sits at a 90-degree angle to the wall, creating the perfect congregation area.

Shape and Texture

Overlooking the pool from the side is this lounging area set on pavers and lawn. “We didn’t want to need a mower in there, so we used buffalo grass, which only has to be cut a couple times a year,” Schmuker says.

Where the furniture rests, installers placed pea gravel between the pieces. This way, the homeowners can slide the furniture back and forth without it catching on the ground.

The Small Details

As part of a 10-by-12-foot sunshelf, the team created two limestone “lily pads.” Foam jets add action to the area. From this view, one also can see the 18-inch-wide strip of black Mexican beach pebble, which closely borders the entire outline of the rectilinear pool to provide a modern color and textural contrast.

To soften the aquascape’s contemporary lines, Schmuker created a considerable planting area and filled it with large groupings of grasses that mimic the dunes beyond. “I really like to mix a rectangle pool with soft, flowing landscape lines,” Schmuker says. “There’s a lot of movement, a lot of wispiness to the plant material. We used hardly any trees, so it kept that clean, low-profile dune look.”

He also scattered indigenous rocks throughout the planting area. Installers added some stones in the natural dune on the property’s perimeter for a visual tie-in.