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Swimming Pool of the Week: A Generous Pool for a Modest California Weekend Retreat


Swimming Pool of the Week: A Generous Pool for a Modest California Weekend Retreat

June 21, 2018

When San Francisco landscape architect Loretta Gargan and her partner, the art photographer Catherine Wagner, set out to buy a weekend house in the warmer climes of Marin County just north of the city, they shopped modestly, with big plans for the future.

The pair purchased a 500-square-foot, one-bedroom cottage that was the blight of its neighborhood in Ross, California. Likely built in the 1930s as the guest house to a larger estate since divided, the house had low ceilings and small, dark rooms. Its smallish lot—about 7,500 square feet—was unkempt, full of weeds and mature trees that had sprung up haphazardly, bordered by a fallen fence. But the aging property charmed its new owners and, though the lot’s slope precluded outdoor seating, it had views of a small mountain nearby.

The owners hired architect Jonathan Feldman to overhaul the cottage and add a small new wing, while Gargan and Wagner planned the landscape. They wanted usable outdoor spaces more than anything, so they graded the slope into tiers fit for outdoor dining, sun soaking, container gardening, and swimming in their new sunken concrete pool. For parking, they added a detached garage on the edge of the lot, designed by Feldman and planted with a living roof by the homeowners. Let’s take a closer look.

Photography by Phil Bond, courtesy of Feldman Architecture.

Above: A cherry blossom tree grows next to concrete stairs leading from the new addition to the detached garage.

The new wing, pictured here, is 500 square feet split between two levels. The top floor features a master suite with deck, and the bottom floor family room opens onto the garden via full-height glass doors.

Above: The view of the house from the roof of the new garage. The original home, at left, has siding of old-growth redwood and an exterior chimney made of local Sonoma stone.
Above: The pool was fittingly sited on the sunniest part of the property. The Corten beds adjacent to the gravel patio are planted with edible flowers and herbs.
Above: The sunken concrete pool is 36 feet long—enough for swimming laps. On the pool deck, Gargan had plots reserved for plants, both in-ground and in containers.
Above: A water-resistant wood bridge crosses between the pool and hot tub.
Above: The pool and its sunken benches are lined in pale gray cement tile.
Above: Two in-ground umbrellas provide poolside shade as needed.
Above: During the demolition phase inside the house, architect Feldman found original Douglas fir paneling and details—which inspired his use of local, reclaimed woods wherever new wood was required throughout the project.
Above: A stepped wood fence behind the pool is lit by warm-hued LED strips.
Above: Gargan carefully positioned uplighting throughout the landscape to highlight features like a small rock grove behind the pool.
Above: The new garage has stained board-and-batten siding to match the new wing of the house, and is planted with a green roof of drought-tolerant grasses and wildflowers.

There are just two days left to enter our garden design awards! Submit up to 10 photos of your project by this Friday, June 22. There are separate contest categories for professional and amateur designers on both Gardenista and Remodelista, and winners get a $500 gift card to shop Schoolhouse.

For more California favorites, see:

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