Our Favorite Room: Zen Pool

WHERE IT BEGAN  The tranquil oasis that rests behind this Castle Pines Village home is a far cry from the landscape Courtney McRickard encountered when she first visited the site. “It was a very native landscape, with an existing water feature, that had gotten extremely messy over the years,” the landscape architect and principal at Denver-based Three Sixty Design recalls.

Fortunately, the homeowners had some directives for bringing order to their overgrown backyard: “The design needed to be all about entertainment, exercise and appreciating the views,” McRickard says.

To create good flow for mingling during parties, McRickard designed terraced forms that follow the
contours of the site. “To accommodate groups of all sizes, it was really important for us to create intimate spaces as well as larger ones,” she says. Our favorite “room” is one of the intimate nooks within a larger layout of gardens and hardscaped areas.

Not only is the spot a chic gathering place for guests, it’s also functional—the wife exercises daily in a current pool (above, right) tucked inside the spa house (also envisioned by McRickard). Though not actually connected, spa house and main house appear to be true companions, drawing upon similar architectural lines and materials.

THE PROCESS  Creating such an effortless space wasn’t all that easy; it took three years, with plans evolving from a simple pool to an elaborate landscape. McRickard classifies the terrain as “an extremely sensitive site”—one that would require a careful design touch. Happily, that’s what her philosophy is all about. She used water in a smart, sparing way, keeping the depth of the pool shallow and using shiny glass tile near the steps to give the effect of more water than there actually is. Stone and soil weren’t hauled off during construction, but reincorporated into the new design. And native, low-maintenance plantings encircle the space.

PERFECT TOUCHES  A “floating” deck made of ipe wood promises a moment’s escape. In fact, McRickard likens the deck to an island you’d find in a Japanese garden. “You have these intimate spaces in Japanese gardens, these destination points that offer solitude.” Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood, was a natural choice for the platform; it’s resilient to the elements and “perfect for bare feet.”

The understated furniture—all from Restoration Hardware and chosen by the homeowners—is the ideal companion to McRickard’s clean design. Simple lanterns prove that pretty accessories aren’t just reserved for interior spaces.

And what about the views? Big to begin with, the surface of the pool makes them appear even grander. “When you’re in that space looking out from the main living area, you get this total extension of mountains and sky,” McRickard says.


Landscape Architect: Courtney McRickard, Three Sixty Design, Denver, (303) 534-0325, sitedrivendesign.com

Categories: Landscaping & Gardening