Design HOME — 11 July 2014
Pool and outdoor design that make a splash

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

The backyard has evolved from the days when the only thing around back was a pool surrounded by a few pieces of inexpensive lounge furniture. Today’s well-decorated outdoor areas may now include a kitchen/built-in barbecue, elaborate dining and an enclosed conversation area. Here’s what’s making a splash in outdoor design.



Benjamin Schreier’s clients wanted the most from the oceanfront view at their two-story home in Manalapan.

“It’s a very family-oriented home,” he says. “One of the primary goals was to make sure the family room, kitchen and breakfast room took advantage of the great view. It is not typical to be able to stand at the kitchen sink and face the ocean.”

He enhanced the feeling of the outside-in with NanaWall, bifold doors that can be closed or opened completely. What was an open loggia can now be closed and air conditioned during the summer and reopened during cooler months.

The 20-by-50 foot infinity-edged pool, which appears to spill into the ocean, was designed in cooperation with Marc-Michaels Interior Design. It features a spa with a waterfall that cascades over glass tile and a shallow water sun shelf. Grass strips separate Dominican stone pavers. He completed the design with a large day bed and four chaises.





Cliff Freyman’s clients in Pembroke Pines wanted a comprehensive remodel that included a renovated pool (with a custom surface and marble spillways, new tiles on the steps and a spa bench); an expanded patio, outdoor barbecue and a new screened pool enclosure. He also set custom 12-by-12- and 16-by-16-inch Sedona stone rock pavers in a hopscotch pattern on the patio floor.

“These people are on a lake and when we expanded the deck we installed the newest technology in screening,” Freyman says. “The picture window screen eliminates support beams that would be every eight feet and adds fewer stronger beams to optimize the view. These structures are engineered to withstand 160 mph, meeting the Miami-Dade County code, the most stringent in the nation. The large support beams will handle almost any Category 5 hurricane.”

The barbecue area includes a grill with side burner, refrigerator and raised bar top with room for bar stools.

“We don’t want to call them kitchens,” Freyman says. “It is a different world. The outdoor cooking areas are made with solid concrete and steel. Indoor kitchens deal with drywall, cabinets and countertops.”




Sometimes, Chase Greene says, less really is more. Clients in Boca Raton wanted him to use plants to frame – not detract – from their waterfront view.

“This one had more challenges,” he says. “They wanted a classy presentation and focal points to enjoy in the evening. They wanted aesthetic value and privacy from the neighbors without blocking the view. They weren’t concerned with frilly plants. They wanted the whole show.”

Greene, who also has a nursery, went with an eclectic group of plants he found over the years – ponytail palm, European fan palms, double-bottle palm, Sylvester palm and a double-trunk coconut palm. He added LED lights for nighttime drama.

Clients in Parkland wanted to add some extra punch to the tropical resort feel of their pool. He added landscape lighting and updated the retro 1980s finish of the waterfall. Plants he added include coconut palms, Sylvester palms, specimen bougainvillea and polished black tumbled stones.




Bryan McCallum’s clients in Fort Lauderdale wanted it all: An outdoor kitchen, modifications to the spa, a remodeled pool and an updated pergola.

“Basically, they wanted a place they could use for entertainment,” McCallum says. “They wanted an outdoor kitchen and a counter where the guests could sit and enjoy cocktails. The TV is mounted on the back wall. It was a whole corner for eating, drinking and watching TV.”

McCallum used outdoor cedar to panel the walls of the loggia and granite to create a countertop for the bar. He added a fire pit and a bar inside the pool, too.

 McCallum also designed “the largest room on the property” for another family in Hollywood. That space has an outdoor kitchen/dining area, a remodeled pergola and pool. He added a new canvas top and used outdoor cedar again for the pergola’s legs. The pool remodeling included a beach step, river rock interior finish, glass tile and a limestone deck with travertine border.

“It is excellent for entertaining,” he says. “There is plenty of room for everybody.”




Pool remodels:  “A typical remodel today includes upgrading to color LED lighting and changing the chlorine system to a salt-water system. Other options include water features such as bubblers, a waterfall or deck jets. New building codes require 12-volt lights, a point of egress in the deep end and an anti-entrapment feature that releases the vacuum if someone gets stuck on the drain.”
— Bryan McCallum, Watermark Construction

Pool trends: “What’s hot today on pool and patio decks is travertine marble, especially when it is finished with a vanishing edge. Artistic pavers are very popular. New pool surfacing in aggregate creates dynamic water illusions. The aggregates come in pebbles, quartz and glass.” Cliff Freyman,
Cliff’s Pools & Patios

Preview before it is built: “We model in 3-D and show the client a 3-D representation of the house. We put it in Google Earth so the client can see what the view is where you are standing. We can model how the sun moves around and show when the pool or deck would be in shadow.” Benjamin Schreier,
Affiniti Architects

Outdoor furniture: “A lot of people want to be able to entertain and have sit-down dinners for eight to 10 people. They also want outdoor kitchens and multiple seating areas. We create zones and furniture that is flexible and can be moved around. A lot of clients want the outside to be an extension of the indoors so we select a color palette that flows from the inside to the outside. — Frances Herrera, Frances Herrera Interior Design

Landscaping: “The most important thing is defining what the customer is looking to experience. Maybe they want it neat and clean, contemporary, super lush with a rock waterfall or more of a Mediterranean experience. The idea is to take what the customer is looking for and applying it in a productive manner. Behind the style and functionality we will deal with water consumption, sun exposure and growth rates.”
Chase Greene, Broward Landscape



Cliff Freyman

Cliff’s Pools & Patios, 10178 NW 47th St., Sunrise,  877-699-2301,


Chase Greene

Broward Landscape, 7501 Wiles Road, Suite 106A, Coral Springs, 954-752-7027,


Frances Herrera

Frances Herrera Interior Design, 350 SE Second St., Fort Lauderdale, 866-605-8111,


Bryan McCallum

Watermark Construction, 4460 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-776-3338,


Benjamin Schreier

Affiniti Architects, 6100 Broken Sound Parkway, NW #8, Boca Raton, 561-750-0445,


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