With impeccable design acumen and savvy engineering, a homeowner/contractor team creates a dynamic visual connection between this stunning pool and fire pit setting.
Story by Jeanne de Lathouder | Photography by Matt Kocourek
Contemplating a move after their children were grown, a Kansas City couple came to the conclusion that there wasn’t a better place to be than their current residence. After a few years of casual searching, they realized nothing could quite compare to their existing home where they had lived for the past 16 years, nestled within the posh resort-style Village of Loch Lloyd, Missouri. Once deciding to stay put, homeowners Mark and Kelly began focusing on their lot expansion potential and on upgrades that would ultimately make their home that “special place” they always dreamed of.
“We are avid water sports enthusiasts,” says Mark, “so we thought creating a large outdoor area with pool, patio, and kitchen would be ideal for our gatherings with family and friends. Kelly’s primary exercise is swimming laps, so a 50 x 20-foot pool was the initial motivation for the project, followed by my desire to add a covered lanai just off our house equipped with a full kitchen and bar,” he adds.
Cyrus Dawson, local contractor, designer, and owner of Stonehenge Outdoor, oversaw the project from top to bottom, bringing his innovative ideas to the table to create an aesthetically pleasing — and solidly built — exterior space. Meticulously engineered, the project incorporates a striking display of one-of-a-kind features and materials highly unique to the region.
“I like to source and import materials that aren’t commonly used,” says Cyrus. “All the concrete surfaces are covered with either quarried stone, marble, or granite. The marble pavers we used are imported from Turkey. They are blindingly white and 30 degrees cooler than concrete — you can walk on them in the dead of summer and still be comfortable versus the temperature created by more commonly used materials,” he notes. “We used that same marble for the coping stone around the pool.”
Other unique features include a bar in the lanai made from a black-and-white swirl granite imported from Brazil and ‘Old World Swirl’ stone floors in the fire pit that look distinctly like hardwood flooring planks and emulate the grain and texture of natural wood. But without a doubt, the showcase of this project is an exquisite 16-foot-wide acrylic underwater viewing panel intended to visually connect the pool to the sunken fire pit and intimate seating area.
“I thought this was a really cool idea, and had seen it in a picture of a pool in Australia,” notes Cyrus. “It was Mark’s idea to do this — I can’t claim it — but I liked its uniqueness. It’s definitely the winner here. You can sit in the fire pit and see into the entire pool — everyone who sees it is impressed,” he adds.
The cozy sitting area around the fire pit is also heated via a liquid pumped through the plumbing. The pool, finished in PebbleTech plaster, is accented with iridescent glass tiles on the waterline and throughout the in-pool spa, and outfitted with Pentair equipment that can be operated from a smart phone to control the lights, bubblers, blowers, and heaters. Dramatic lighting effects and lavish landscaping details work to complement the finished outdoor space that spans nearly 4,000 square feet.
“Our overall design direction was a modern-contemporary look that had to work well with our traditional-style home,” says Mark. “Given the terrain of our yard, we incorporated different elevations around the project that flow right into the surrounding golf course. It all ended up working really well together while maintaining a private yet open setting on our lot.”
Another important aspect of this project — and somewhat of a Cyrus Dawson signature mark — is that all structural elements are methodically engineered and intentionally overbuilt to ensure problem-free longevity, durability, and ease of maintenance.
“It’s essential to avoid cutting corners, especially when building a pool, as correcting unforeseen structural issues are costly, time consuming, and frustrating for a home owner,” Cyrus notes. “If it’s not cost prohibitive, overbuild everything. Mark is an engineer, so it wasn’t hard to convince him. The pool rested on bedrock, eliminating the concern for the structure shifting, but we also decided to considerably increase the shotcrete shell thickness and minimize the rebar spans for additional reinforcement. Thus the final product is a stronger and more stable structure yielding a longer functional lifespan.”
“Cyrus has been exceptional in all aspects of this job to guide us through the project,” says Mark. “His incredible eye for detail and broad skill set enable him to grasp the entire project scope and direct it to completion. I deal with lots of commercial contractors regularly in my business and without hesitation, Cyrus is the best I’ve come across. We are extremely pleased with the final result,” he adds.
With their pool area just completed in June, Mark and Kelly look forward to trading a torn-up yard and lots of dirt in the house for the many memorable occasions that will undoubtedly take place in their newly designed space.
“The main question asked by all our children was why we waited for them to move out before putting in a pool,” laughs Mark. “We told them it was a little extra motivation for them to come home often to see mom and dad.”
Stonehenge Outdoor (Cyrus Dawson) General Contractor
Lorax Design Group (Kurt Kraisinger) General Design Concept (Pre-Construction)
Jackson Pool & Spa (Ralph Jackson) PebbleTech Plaster and Glass Tile Installation