Choosing the stone and tile for a large-scale project from only pictures and chips can be an anxiety-inducing task, says Cooper Smith Koch.

Choosing the stone and tile for a large-scale project from only pictures and chips can be an anxiety-inducing task, says Cooper Smith Koch.

By Cooper Smith Koch
Special Contributor

This is the second pool we’ve built and, at the halfway point of this one, I still think the hardest part of the process is choosing the right materials. Even though, after 16 years together, Todd and I generally share the same taste and gravitate towards similar design styles, there’s nothing that can get us into a full-on argument than picking out the materials to finish a home improvement project.

You’re expected to make this massive commitment, based on small samples and color chips. You have no idea how it will look when there’s hundreds of square feet of a particular stone climbing the walls or an expanse of stained concrete underfoot.

It’s also where the dollars really start to add up and cost-value benefits start to come into play. Do we splurge on the fancy tile or the super-quiet pool pump? Do we really want an oversized fireplace with stone mantel if it means we have to postpone the outdoor kitchen? And, perhaps most importantly, where can we add the most value to the house?

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After 7 years in their Kessler Park home, Cooper Smith Koch is taking the plunge and putting in a pool.

After 7 years in their Kessler Park home, Cooper Smith Koch’s family is taking the plunge and putting in a pool.

By Cooper Smith Koch
Special Contributor

When we bought our Kessler Park house seven years ago this month, we acknowledged that it had a handful of “fatal flaws” that kept it from realizing its full potential. In fact, the house had been on the market for nearly a year before Todd and I first looked at it — and then we hemmed and hawed ourselves for almost a year before we finally took the plunge, right as the housing market was crashing … snagging it for about 60 percent of its original list price.

First, the dark galley kitchen was horrific: plastic countertops (yes, plastic that a hot pot could melt through), ancient appliances, peach-painted cabinets and access from the rest of the house only through a claustrophobic butler’s pantry. About four years ago, we remedied that “flaw” by blowing out walls, combining four small rooms into one and completely moving the kitchen from the back of the house to face the street. It’s now the favorite area of our home.

Now, we’re tackling the second biggest flaw: the backyard…or lack thereof.

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Photo: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Photo: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

In the midst of a sweltering hot Texas summer, we’re dreaming about a lounging by the beach with a margarita in hand, and a cool breeze. But since we’re quite a few hours away from the ocean, a luxurious pool will have to suffice. After speaking to Lance Dickinson with Harold Leidner Landscape Architects, it’s obvious that not all pools are created equal.

From technology that enables you to heat the pool to your liking from anywhere, to haute finishes that make you feel like you’re at an exclusive resort, there’s no reason why your pool shouldn’t be your mini getaway. With a little bit of guidance from the proper experts, you can easily turn your pool into your sanctuary.

Here are some current pool trends from Harold Leidner Landscape Architects you want to know about:

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