Masters of Design

The Artists: Ric Reineke, Jeffrey Watson & Oscar Richardson
By Bob Dumas
Source: Masters of Design section, Pool and Spa News

Any pool builder likes to hear these words from a client: “Money is not an issue.”

Ric Reineke was no different. The Pool Guyz president was excited about a project that would test his design skills and boost his company’s reputation as a cutting-edge pool builder.

“They were looking for quality,” he recalls.

The clients’ property and borderline were heavily wooded, and they wanted the pool project to blend organically into that setting. That meant Reineke could use only natural materials.

“They wanted [the pool] to look like something you would come across during a walk in the woods,” he says.

Their request was met in short order by this lagoon-style installation, complete with a rock waterfall and two-tone deck.

A real challenge:

To fit the natural environment, the designers needed a free-form shell. That was a no-brainer, as was the addition of a rock waterfall. A small, man-made pond and stream were built behind the pool and waterfeature to provide a more private destination point. This was the brainchild of subcontractor Jeffrey Watson, president of By the Brook Watergardens & Pond Plants in Chesapeake, Va. Chlorinated water flows out the front while pond water falls out the side into a biological filter system. The stream flows around the patio and drops into a formal koi pond.

For the waterfall’s look, the designers decided to combine boulders with pieces of the same flagstone that would be used on the deck and the stacked stone pond behind the falls. Structural engineering was necessary to keep them from putting pressure on the pool wall on which they were set.

“We put a structural slab under there, plus a big concrete footing, about 6 feet deep and the entire length of the waterfall,” Reineke says.

Nature calls:

One challenge for Reineke was to create the natural, woodsy feel the clients sought, but still have the installation match the look and design of the house, which sported tan- and bronze-color brick and gray trim.

This led him to separate the deck into two distinct looks that would segue seamlessly into each other. The crab orchard flagstone color choices — tan, copper and gray — were picked primarily because they matched the natural rock of the waterfall, as well as the brick and trim on the house.

“The other half of the deck is Trex, a composite product,” Reineke says. “It wasn’t chosen for its cost because it’s expensive. We wanted it to break up the deck and tie into the trim of the house. It’s a better transition up to the house.”

During construction, joining the two deck materials together wasn’t easy. The flagstone was placed on compacted stone while the Trex was framed on joists and attached to the flagstone. Leveling the two sections of deck with each other took some planning and extra time on the site.

“It had to be consistent [from one portion to the other] and that was difficult,” Reineke says. “We did it the old-fashioned way, using strings, levels and transits.”

Landscape design fell to Oscar Richardson, owner of Signature Landscapes in Chesapeake, Va. Plants were chosen to fit organically into the Virginia countryside milieu, to complete the natural feel of the installation.

Finally, a barbecue and fire pit were added to the deck, which was finished with a mixture of crab orchard stone and Carolina rose stone to bring all the elements together.

Special touch:

The pool, deck and waterfeatures accomplished the quest of the client and builder to create a natural look in a woodsy setting, but Reineke wasn’t done. He needed to add the crowning touch: a trellis with a ceiling fan and outdoor lighting. Vines trail up the posts to blend in with the trees in back.

“[The customers] wanted to create a sitting area out there,” Reineke says. “We did the trellis with wood to keep it natural. We wanted to use the most natural products we could find, and we didn’t want to dress it up.”