Pool Guide

A zigzag of tiled walls defines the swimming area and creates a series of paved decks and walkways. "At night, it's spectacular," says homeowner Bob Yount III. (Vince Hobbs/Orlando Sentinel / March 11, 2009)

Bob Yount III admits it: "I am not an easy customer."

His request to his pool contractor, Jim Findley of Pools of Jade, illustrates his point.

"I told Jim: 'I want my pool to be a liquid work of art,'" says Yount, a business consultant who lives in Orlando's Baldwin Park neighborhood.

Liquid art? Findley was stumped. But after several consultations with his client, he got the picture.

It took a year of collaborative planning to complete the design and secure the permits, and another nine months to execute the project. But the wait was worth it, says Yount.

"Bingo! Welcome to the vision," he says.

It was also worthwhile for Findley. At the Orlando Pool & Spa Show in February, which features pools from all across Florida, Pools of Jade won the best-of-show award for the Yount project.

"The pool was an intricate design and extremely well built," says Clay Andrews, the contest's chairman.

"Simplicity at its best," says Adam Alstott, a contest judge.

The design features more than just a pool, however. Bordered on two sides by Yount's L-shaped home, it is a complex, multilevel installation occupying the entire 40-foot-by-60-foot backyard — and costing close to six figures.

The asymmetrical arrangement of pool, spa and conversation grotto is linked by shallow canals. Water flows between the three, and cascades from decorative copper scuppers into the pool.

A zigzag of tiled walls defines the swimming areas, encloses planters filled with palms, jasmine and bougainvillea, and creates a series of paved decks and walkways.

From a covered patio at the rear of the house, a set of wide, shallow steps leads down to a gas fire pit set in a bed of smooth pebbles. At the far end of the yard is a second fire feature — a wall with gas-flame jets all along the top. Privacy is provided by a custom metal fence and tall hedges of podocarpus and holly.

"At night, it's spectacular," says Yount, who can enjoy the sights and sounds of the design from inside his living room and bedroom.

The fire wall was the most difficult feature, says Findley, a certified pool and building contractor, who is based in Ocoee but does work in 10 Central Florida counties.

"There were all these different elements — concrete, steel, gas. And we had to combine aesthetics with safety," he says.

Working in Yount's confined yard was also a challenge. There was little room for heavy machinery, so much of the work was done by hand. But the end result justified the extra time and effort, says Findley.

"A pool is an extension of a person's personality. It's my expertise, but it's Bob's pool. I'll never do another one quite like it," he says.

"I wanted my pool to be an extension of my house, a serene place that would draw you out like a California beach," says Yount.

"I still step outside and go, 'I can't believe it. It's my vision exactly.'"

Jean Patteson can be reached at 407-420-5158 or jpatteson@orlandosentinel.com.