Photo: Irvin Pacheco/ In View Media

"Symphony of Water"

Scott Cohen, Garden Artisan/President
T.R. Mills, Vice President
Tyler Clark, Designer
Jose Hernandez, Drafter
Frank Larios, Superintendent
The Green Scene, Chatsworth, Calif.

"Symphony of Water"

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"Symphony of Water"
Scott Cohen, T.R. Mills, Tyler Clark, Jose Hernandez, Frank Larios
The Green Scene, Chatsworth, Calif.
2023 PSN Masters of Design
Category: Concrete

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For this lot overlooking Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, the clients wanted to capture the view, both from outside and through the glass walls at the back of the home. This meant little to no interruptions in the sight line. Additionally, they wanted the waterscape to match the abode’s contemporary style and serve as a water feature at least as much as a pool and spa.

For Scott Cohen, framing the view would require elevating the back of the site 18 inches to hide certain elements below that the homeowners didn’t need to see. This extra height would provide other design benefits.

“I was going to need to be up three steps,” Cohen says. “And 18 inches is kind of a magic number because that’s your industry-standard seat height. So this allowed me to put the firepit on the backside, have the raised bond beam serve as a seat bench, be flush with the rim-flow spa, and have a spa that reflects the horizon and views of the valley.”

Raising the spa also made the firepit feel as if it were recessed and more intimate.

For the deck directly next to the spa, Cohen used artificial lumber for its easy upkeep, and to add another natural texture.

To create more terraces of falling water, Cohen separated the sunshelf, making it a freestanding perimeter-overflow square, set at an elevation between the spa’s and the pool’s. Placed directly next to the pool’s entry stairs, the sunshelf can provide a point of entry into the larger vessel.

Cohen had another reason for addressing the sunshelf this way. “Now each of these [elements] feels like an individual space — a go-to destination,” he says.

The spa spills into the sunshelf via a cantilevered spillway, which Cohen underlit with submersible LED lights. To create the spillway, the crews created a mold and shot to it. A groove on the underside accommodates the lights.

Most of the interior surfaces are covered in 1-by-2-inch blue ceramic tiles. A silver marble covers the pool’s raised bond beam and the steps leading to the raised wood deck. The same stone is used to veneer the high wall to the side, which conceals the equipment set and provides screening for the waterscape.

Plank pavers, which resemble longer bricks, were chosen for the deck to help make the area feel larger. “When you’re dealing with narrow patios, and you have a nice, long clean line, that enhances that line,” Cohen says.

A strip of lawn inset with stepping stones sits to the side to break up the hard materials. At one point, the client wanted to take the lawn out of the plans and set more pavers instead.

“I did have to fight for that,” Cohen says. “I said, ‘We need to break up the hardscape, and it separates out the living area of the covered loggia from the rest of the yard, and it allows me to get just a touch of green back here that I feel is really important.’”

With the project done, the client was glad they stuck with the original plan.

Filter: Hayward C7030
Heater: Hayward HDF400
Controller: Hayward HLBASE
Coping: MSI: Silver Shadow
Deck Finish: Azek: Dark Hickory Vintage Collection
Interior Finish: Mini Pebble Sheen: Slate Blue
Fire Features: Monolithic Fire-Trough and Burner from Outdoor Plus
Automatic Cleaner: UV Ozone
Lights: Hayward Omni Logic Lights
Outdoor Elements: Al Azek: Dark Hickory Vintage Collection