THE CANVAS: An unfinished eyesore, vistas of Heartland trails

THE PALETTE: Deep crisp lines, strokes of burgundy, verdant accents against stark white columns

THE MASTERPIECE: A regal site for high-society mixers, a statement in symmetry, grandeur perfected

Jim Urzendowski won’t admit it, but he saved the day with this vinyl-liner pool project. When he originally met with the client, she was infuriated.

“One of our local competitors started the pool, dug a hole and put up some panels. Then it sat for about a year,” says Urzendowski, owner of Classic Pool & Spa. “The yard was torn up, and it was an eyesore for the neighbors. She was really distraught over it.”

To top it all off, the homeowner needed to get the pool done as soon as possible. Well-connected in political spheres, she frequently held political luncheons and parties at her home, drawing the likes of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

In less than a month, Urzendowski repaired the damage. Since then, his relationship with the client has generated more than 10 new leads in the wealthiest neighborhoods of the city. More importantly, he has achieved a new level of personal satisfaction. “To turn something that had become a massive headache for the homeowner into something that she’s so proud of makes our company proud as well,” he says.

Trials and tribulations

Undoing the damage done by the original pool company was Urzendowski’s first order of business. The contractor had not considered the plot’s elevation changes in his construction plan. It included a problematic 4-foot drop in the far end of the yard.

“The way he had the pool laid in was going to cause water issues for the home,” Urzendowski says. “No consideration was taken for the grade, so we repositioned the pool and changed the elevation to eliminate drainage problems.”

The backyard was in such shambles that the only access to the area was through a walking trail that entered the site from the rear. “We had to come in through this trail and up the steep incline, bringing in lots of dirt and using some ingenuity,” Urzendowski says.

As a result, the pool’s dimensions required tweaking. Though the shape was predetermined by the homeowner, Urzendowski convinced her to modify the depth configuration to better meet her entertaining needs. He chose a play pool form, which ranges in depth from 3 feet to 5 1/2 feet. He also created multiple entry points and placed two wide benches on each side of the fountain feature.

“We wanted the pool to be open and grand, to fit the style of the home,” says Urzendowski, who travels to a number of tropical and resort environments to get inspiration for his projects. “It’s an affluent neighborhood, and the home is a red brick, Tudor style, so this design fits well.”

A detailed eye

With the basic shape and form of the pool settled, he and his team began the fine-tuning process. They wanted to boost the “wow” factor of the vessel, starting with the vinyl liner.

“We measured and remeasured to get the proper fit. You can’t take enough measurements,” Urzendowski says. “We also make sure the bottom is prepped so it’s perfectly aligned. Then we use numerous liner vacs that enable us to get a super-tight fit around all the corners. We put three on this pool to get tight suction.

“It fits like a glove,” he adds.

Urzendowski also recognized that the concrete stamping was going to be an integral part of the project. It serves to outline and highlight the pool’s stately undertones.

“Our concrete people did an outstanding job,” he says. “They put in a burgundy border to accentuate the shape of the pool. They were also tedious about lining up all the joints and borders of the stamp.”

Finally, the team tended to the other components of the yard that would complete the project. Small planters add accents of green to the neutral color scheme and serve to shield unsightly skimmer lids. Fiberoptic perimeter lighting makes the pool shimmer at night.

A precast fountain under an immense pergola forms a focal point. From the home’s elevated wooden deck, visitors can view the fountain and the pool.

To create some privacy in the otherwise wide-open landscape, a portable spa was sunk into a concrete vault. It was decorated with false flagstone and installed underneath the deck.

“We were fortunate that every element of the pool tied together quickly and elegantly,” Urzendowski says. “As a company, we were diligent and made a statement with this project.”