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Small space pool yields big splash

Design features 5-foot sheer-descent waterfall
By: Jane Rounsaville, Home & Garden correspondent
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On just about every block in America, there is usually one cool house where everyone loves to hang out. In one close-knit Granite Bay neighborhood, that house belongs to Michael and Susan Drake, and their three kids. Whether they’re watching football on the 50-inch flat screen TV, drinking beer from the built-in tap, grilling on their DCS barbecue, or splashing around in the pool, Michael and Susan love to entertain their friends and neighbors. They love entertaining in their outdoor kitchen as much, if not more, than the one inside the house. However, turning their dream backyard into a reality was a bit of a challenge. Because their estate-size home barely fit onto this .2 acre slice of suburbia, they only had about 12-15 feet of available space for the project. Fortunately, they didn’t have to look very far to find their Dream Team of talented local professionals. “We brought back the original builder and the architect lives two doors down,” Michael said. Pool builder Jim Chandler had been highly recommended by a neighbor, and interior designer Julie Smith had already helped the Drakes with previous phases of their remodel. The general contractors were even more familiar with the Drake property. “It was our personal residence,” said Mandy Snell of JBS Home Crafters. “We built it for ourselves seven years ago, and the Drakes purchased it from us. It made sense for us, because we knew the house really well, to come back in and do the remodel.” “They wanted a swimming pool and spa, and then an entertainment area,” said landscape architect Ron Allison, who compared the process to “putting the pool in with the shoe horn.” In order to squeeze everything they wanted into the space, something had to go. In this case, it was the Drakes’ three-car garage. The builders transformed this space into a columned, Old World-style loggia with a full-size kitchen and a play area for the kids. Interior Designer Julie Smith was able to match the pool and outside entertainment area with the rest of the home’s Tuscan theme. “It integrated beautifully and basically gave them like another family room/kitchen area that really felt like part of the house, and not ‘we are going way out in the backyard,’” she said. “Just a very charming, romantic space.” The 13-by-28-foot pool ranges from 3-1/2 to 6-1/2 feet in depth, and features 6-inch by 6-inch Golden Plains quartzite tile, a pair of 8-1/2 -inch round bronze rosettes and a 5-foot bronze sheer descent waterfall. “The biggest expense was construction,” Michael said. “When it came time to dig the pool, the cost accelerated when they found themselves literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. “We hit granite at 5 feet.” “It was a difficult installation. Since we were very close to a neighbor, we could not dynamite,” Chandler said. “So, we had to put a demolition hammer on an excavator, and I believe it was like about a thousand-pound jackhammer. It took a long time to do. It was very difficult excavating, it being in such a tight area.” “It was a real challenging project,” Chandler said, “but it was enjoyable. The homeowners were really exceptionally easy to work with. Everybody was really, really cooperative.” Michael was impressed with Chandler’s leadership with the other team members, and by his ability to keep the project running smoothly. “Jim worked with all of them constantly,” said Michael, “everyone did their part.” “It was really a team effort.” said Chandler. “Most people in the neighborhood were surprised they can fit a pool and a loggia in there,” said Mandy Snell, “but it really fits nicely, and it is perfect.” “We built it for the kids,” Michael said. Armed with a Speedo safety vest and a contagious smile, Michael’s 4-year-old son looks up at dad. Beaming, the father and son exchange a look that is absolutely priceless.