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Swimming Pool of the Week: A Lap Pool Above the Vines at Baker Lane

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Swimming Pool of the Week: A Lap Pool Above the Vines at Baker Lane

January 12, 2018

When winemaker Stephen Singer and his partner, Michel Boynton, set out to create Baker Lane—a livable landscape and working vineyard on a former apple orchard in Sonoma County’s Sebastopol, California— they wanted a design that felt true to the land.

Said landscape architect Andrea Cochran, “We chose to take cues from the agricultural buildings of the area,” to design a landscape that’s “simple and honest,” weaving together the the utilitarian parts of the wine and olive oil-producing estate—including the house, a winemaker’s barn, a garden shed, and a garage—with native plantings, minimal retaining walls, and newly planted orchards. (Take a full tour in The Winemaker’s Life: A Garden Idyll in Northern California.) But the estate deviates sharply from farm vernacular in two ways: its overtly modern architecture, and a dramatic, infinity-like lap pool.

To make the pool feel at home on an agriculturally inspired estate, Cochran and project architect Keith Anding designed a narrow box, visually akin to a sunken trough and long enough for swimming laps. It’s perched on a sort of “plinth,” says Cochran, which makes the surrounding patio seem more like a viewing platform for keeping an eye on the weather than a posh pool deck for lounging. “The clients wanted the landscape to be kind of quiet,” said Cochran, and the pool’s minimal design and integration into the views make it “fit into the landscape without trying to dominate it.”

Photography by Daniel Dent for Gardenista.

The pool does not have an infinity edge, explains Cochran, but its long side is close enough to the terrace boundary to make it feel like an infinity pool.
Above: The pool does not have an infinity edge, explains Cochran, but its long side is close enough to the terrace boundary to make it feel like an infinity pool.

Of his desire for an estate with a pool and a strong connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces, homeowner Stephen Singer said: “I’m very warm-blooded. I like to be outside as much as possible.”

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Above: “The pool deck is really like a viewing platform looking out over the vineyards,” said Cochran. A meadow abuts the deck, planted with grasses indigenous to Mediterranean climates.
 A long strip of polished stones borders the edge of the pool deck, accounting for drainage. To the right, a hedge of dwarf olive &#8
Above: A long strip of polished stones borders the edge of the pool deck, accounting for drainage. To the right, a hedge of dwarf olive “speaks to the olive trees beyond” in the grove, said Cochran.
Estate owner Stephen Singer took a golden hour swim in mid October. &#8
Above: Estate owner Stephen Singer took a golden hour swim in mid October. “It’s great for old bones to have a little less gravity on them for a while,” he said.

The pool is warmed exclusively via solar heat, so the homeowners take an annual hiatus from the pool during winter “when it’s not environmentally appropriate to keep the pool warm,” said Singer. “During the summer season, I swim every day.”

Jenner Lounge chairs are hand-cast by Concreteworks in nearby Alameda, California.
Above: Jenner Lounge chairs are hand-cast by Concreteworks in nearby Alameda, California.

See more furnishings in 10 Easy Pieces: Concrete Outdoor Furniture.

 Cochran noted that her clients wanted the landscape plants to be environmentally appropriate, so she chose drought-tolerant plants that would thrive in the hot Sonoma County climate.
Above: Cochran noted that her clients wanted the landscape plants to be environmentally appropriate, so she chose drought-tolerant plants that would thrive in the hot Sonoma County climate.
Bright turquoise tiles and a pale concrete deck define space in and around the dark teal pool.
Above: Bright turquoise tiles and a pale concrete deck define space in and around the dark teal pool.

N.B.: Are you designing or updating a swimming pool? Start with inspiration from our Garden Design 101 guides including Swimming Pools 101: A Design Guide. Browse more California pools:

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