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Seven unique New Orleans-area pools 

These stunning pools are artful blends of form and function

Pedigreed perfection

Dana and Steve Hansel's elegant house has an illustrious past. The first of two houses Edith and Edgar Stern would design at Longue Vue House and Gardens, it was built from 1920 to 1922. In 1938, it was moved to an acre-and-a-quarter lot on nearby Garden Lane. Today its pool, flagstone deck and surrounding outdoor areas are as beautiful as the house itself.

  Rene Fransen sketched the master plan and details, integrating the landscaping, lawn and tennis/basketball court. Read Richardson built the pool. With an unusually large lot to work with, the pool was made slightly shorter than Olympic-size — providing plenty of room for children and grandchildren to play water volleyball. It includes a sunbathing corner and a seat along the spa side for sitting and talking. Fountains arc over the pool, bringing a classical effect to the scene, which overlooks the New Orleans Country Club golf course.

click to enlarge GREG MILES
  • Greg Miles

Resort style

Hope and David Richards' Covington pool riffs on the scenery of Rosemary Beach, Florida. Designed by architect Michael Piazza, the house contributes to the resort feel. It features two spacious balconies overlooking the pool area.

  But the pool delivers an equal measure of vacation destination appeal. Designed by the landscape architecture firm of Daly Sublette and constructed by Paradise Pools, it combines three pools in one. In addition to the main pool, there is a raised hot tub with an infinity edge and a "puppy pool" with a shallow pet- and kid-friendly depth. A narrow stream of water connects the main pool to the puppy pool and LED lights illuminate the water. Behind the pool are a pergola and a view of the lake in the Terra Bella neighborhood.

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Cool connection

When Vincent Saia and Glynn Stephens purchased a neighboring property, they connected the two houses (one used as their main home, the second as a guest house) with a pool. To ensure the success of such a major undertaking, landscape architect Rene Fransen experimented with designs and did a full-scale mock–up of the design on site. The main feature of the pool, built by Read Richardson, is a water curtain with the pool on one side and a spa behind it. At night, the curtain of water is illuminated for extra drama. Palms, plants and sculptures by Lin Emery, Jesus Moroles and David Bates were brought in by crane. The pool's deep hue is called Mediterranean blue, a mix of green and black pigment.

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Miami nice

When designing their pool with landscape architects Kim Alvarez and Allan Basik of Alvarez+Basik, Nancy and Franco Valobra brought two sources of inspiration to the table: the clean, tropical look of present-day Miami and the simple pool at the Hotel International Au Lac in Lugano, Switzerland. They also wanted privacy and a giant chessboard.   

  Alvarez and Basik created an uber-modern, streamlined pool edged with seven scuppers, shaded by palms and surrounded by heat-resistant Italian tile. They also created the chessboard, which alternates light and dark squares of stone and includes plastic chess pieces imported from Italy.

  "We spend an enormous amount of time outside," Nancy says. "We heat the pool and the kids use it summer and winter." The pool's biggest fan, according to Franco, is the family turtle.

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Staycation allure

Miami's Delano Hotel and the crisp beach-cabana white of Alys Beach, Florida inspired Renee and Peter Laborde's vision for their pool.  

 "I wanted to feel like I was on vacation at home every day," says Renee, a designer with a penchant for sleek and linear looks.

  As part of a home renovation, the Labordes filled in the existing pool and started from scratch, utilizing yard space previously dedicated to accessing a garage. Designed by Rene Fransen and built by Read Richardson, the pool's focal point is a white wall adorned with custom-made contemporary lanterns. According to Fransen, enormous footings were required to anchor the wall, which floats above the pool.   

  The Labordes' pool area includes a covered patio with an outdoor kitchen and modern white furnishings. A side porch holds an outdoor fireplace. The limestone deck is furnished sparingly with white chaises longues, and a focal wall conceals an outdoor shower.

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Reflective moods

Writer and activist Jon Kemp and her husband, criminal defense attorney John Reed, are committed to preserving the French Quarter's history and quality of life.

  "It's a neighborhood — not an entertainment district," Kemp says.

   So it's fitting that when the couple added a lap pool to their historic French Quarter home, built in 1810, pools from the past served as their muses. "The design concept is based on the reflecting pools we saw in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris," Kemp says.

  The saltwater pool is surrounded by traditional Spanish colonial-style tiles, an homage to the Spanish colonial architecture of the house and slave quarters. Reed swims laps in the pool, and the couple often hosts pool parties.


Small matter

When homeowners Sarah and Jim Wood hired landscape architect Rene Fransen to design the backyard of their Garden District home, they had a list of things they wanted the small space to include: a plunge pool, generator, storage for four bikes, paving, a lawn for their dogs and a path to parking in the rear.

  Along with builder Read Richardson, Fransen met every request. He created a clean-lined, temperature-controlled plunge pool with seating as well as a shelf for the small dogs, a contemporary patio of charcoal leuder pavers and zoysia grass, and a compact rectangular lawn. The pool includes a tall vertical waterfall constructed with the same charcoal leuders and black pebble runnels. Recessed grooves finished with black pebbles send streams of water down the art wall, which also conceals a storage shed and generator.

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