/ by Brendan Blowers and Stephanie Burnette

Imagine stepping out onto a white deck overlooking sparkling blue water. The colors  and spaces evoke a Caribbean dream, but it’s  the backyard of an estate project in LeJardin,  a gated community in Greenville.

It was a property meant to communicate a love for being outside. “The owners wanted the house and all of the outdoor living spaces to be one unified space,” says builder Chris Bailey, founder of Stoneledge Properties.

The great room, dining area and kitchen all flow out to a covered porch and cooking area which opens onto an 18 x 38 rectilinear pool with an additional covered cabana area; it has its own  Big Green Egg for yet another outdoor cooking experience. “You can entertain and have a party and all of the spaces feel like one connected space,” Bailey says, explaining that each offers  a plethora of options for dining, entertaining, swimming or reclining.

There are automatic retractable screens over the entire porch to change the size and configuration of space as needed. A commercial-sized range hood was also installed over the outdoor Wolf oven. “Truly elegant outdoor living needs to be functional,” says Bailey.

When Stoneledge hit the midpoint of construction, they brought in Steve Smith of Atlantis Luxury Pools, who Bailey describes  as “a great partner.”

The decking and bull-nosed coping around the pool are made of sandblasted marble and glass tile around the raised hot tub provides just the right splash of aqua color. The veneer around the custom fire pit and cabana cabinets are split-face travertine with slivers of silver to coordinate with subtle gray striations in the marble. The marble pairs with the white brick of the house while its sandblasted texture makes it less slippery underfoot.

The pool has three water features, two fountains in the tanning ledge and a special fountain in the spa. “When you’re using the spa, the fountain is flush with the floor, but when you’re not using it, it’s a telescoping fountain,” says Smith.

Hearing the fountain’s gentle flow from the back porch lounge chairs adds to the resort-like vibe. “We try to create unique spaces that people can escape to,” Smith says.

In addition to this outdoor space’s great versatility, it can also be enjoyed year-round, day or night. The pool is heated with a self-cleaning system by Paramount and there is an outdoor fireplace, in addition to the gas fire pit to take the chill off of evening swims. Low-voltage LED lights provide an even glow to the water at night. The colors can be changed through an app on the owner’s smartphone and there’s even a setting called “Caribbean.”

Step into Donna and Bill deKay’s Cobblestone home and there it is: a back yard sanctuary. On display across a wall of windows are the pool, spa, arbor, cabana, fireplace and grill station, backed by an expansive blue sky.

“The previous owner had completely cleared it of trees so it was just this back yard full of grass,” Donna says. The couple moved back to Greenville to get closer to their grandchildren after spending a dozen years in northern California. “Housing is smaller there and unlike everyone else, we upsized instead of downsized,” she says. “We were ready for more yard, well a lot more yard!”

Bill says they had not owned a pool before,  but the yard seemed to call for it. “We knew we wanted to walk through the front door and see  the pool going straight back, but that was about all we knew.”

The project, designed and constructed by Signature Luxury Pools and Outdoor Living, took nine months to complete. HOA requirements meant moving the cabana closer to the pool than originally planned, ultimately working to the yard’s advantage: the structure shades almost half the water during the hottest part of the afternoon.

Its cornered fireplace, visually stunning from nearly every vantage point, created space for a bathhouse behind it, something Donna appreciates when the grandkids come over to splash around in what is considered “an adult  style pool” with a ledge entry of just nine inches of water stepping down to a three-foot shallow end and a deep end any adult can stand in. The design allows homeowners to maximize the pool’s full length. A premium interior of pebble and glass bead aggregate adds the sparkling finish.

Zach Sikkelee of Signature says they like to design for year-round outdoor living and a pool  is just part of that equation. Entertaining is high on the list for large scale projects and typically include specs for grilling stations, outdoor kitchens, multiple places to gather, beautifully designed covered structures, fireplaces, firepits, water features and ambient lighting. Donna  likes the addition of the bubblers and deck jets, especially at night and says the grandkids ask for “the light show in the water.”

The shape of the spa is a unique feature. It was a design that Craig Sikkelee, president of Signature, came up with and was looking to use for just the right project. It’s a medallion shape, a mix of right angles with curves, spilling into the pool while also obscuring the pool’s auto cover vault.

For the deKay’s project, Zach thought the placement of the cabana with its fireplace and  tv was an apt use of the yard’s footprint. “We like that you can face the fireplace while not having your back turned totally to the pool,” he says.  The cabana’s ceiling is finished with stained tongue and groove hardwood, sealed to retain  its natural color. There’s timber framing too, stained a dark brown.

The limestone decking was selected for its classic look and comfort. It is set in a French pattern and Bill says he was in awe watching the installation. “The guys who set it were artists.”

The Volar Group worked in tandem with Signature’s careful planning for overall landscaping and Donna brought in someone she knew to put the “icing on the cake”; Traci Carver of TLC Garden Design installed the flower beds and the many lush containers placed throughout the property and continues to maintain them year-round.