In this year’s Masters of Design Issue, I noticed a trend that, when looked at one way, is a little unsettling. But when seen from a different light, it is very cool.

This time, many of our project profiles start out something like this: “The home was a dark-wood, Craftsman bungalow with 1920s details, yet the client wanted a sleek, contemporary pool featuring sand-colored travertine and abstract, metallic sculptures. So-and-So designer had to find a way to marry the two styles.” (OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

My first reaction was to wonder why someone would want to inflict such torture on two perfectly good designs. But then I had a thought that was much more optimistic. In every case, the designer was able to pull off a near-impossible melding of styles in a way that was exciting, truly original and felt organic to the home as well as the pool.

For example, take a look at Matt Schmuker and Michael Paré’s project. The lakeside home was conceived in a traditional log cabin style, but the clients insisted on a modern-looking pool. Their answer? Create a stunning environment that’s nothing but sparse, clean lines when viewed from the home, yet appears rustic and completely natural when seen from the lake. Design wizardry at its finest.

Or consider this pool. This time, the house had a more Tuscan theme, but again the homeowners wanted a sleek, contemporary waterscape. To meet both demands, Daniel Stewart and Steve Sargent crafted a pool that’s unmistakably modern yet pays subtle homage to a number of Tuscan elements, placing it in a vibrant conversation with the home rather than sitting in opposition to it.

Whatever your personal preference, this year’s Masters of Design Issue is a testament to the winners’ expertise, originality and daring vision. Congratulations and warm wishes to our 15 winners!