design focus: swimming pools

A swimming pool is the heart of an outdoor space, so wherever possible and if budget allows, we always recommend installing a concrete fully tiled underground pool. And selecting the right pool specialist is so important, to ensure the process is smooth and stress free and that you have the pool you have always dreamed of. We love what the professionals at Laguna Pools can design and create. They have just won the incredible accolade of ‘Swimming Pool of the Year, 2020’ which is so well deserved. They are fastidious about every tiny detail, and deliver passion, commitment, accuracy and first class design.

Glenn Maxton is at the helm of Laguna Pools, a pool design enterprise that he created. “After leaving school I started my career as a motor mechanic which I really enjoyed, and being good at maths at school, the mechanical aptitude came easily to me. However after moving from the Bellarine Peninsula to Melbourne, I found I really didn’t enjoy being in the workshop. So in late 2003 with summer on its way I thought it would be pretty cool to work for a pool business. I simply looked up pool companies in the Yellow Pages and applied for a job – and that was the beginning of my love of pool design and construction.

After working in the industry for a number of years, Glenn launched Laguna Pools with a business partner before buying him out after 13 years. “It’s been solely my enterprise for the last few years and I have really enjoyed having custody over the culture and being able to shape the business in the way I wanted to. The last six months during Covid-19 have been really strong for us, in fact we hired seven team members, so we now have a crew of 22.”

Laguna Pools generally designs and installs around 80 pools a year, however this year will see a record 90+ pools installed. With much of the population working from home, people have been concentrating on making the most of their own environment. And with international (and even interstate) holidays off the agenda for a while, people are now looking to swim in their own backyards. “There’s obviously a lot of people spending much more time at home, so it’s been the perfect storm for the underground pool industry.”

So what are the three key considerations when you decide to install a swimming pool? Explains Glenn:

Design:  Choosing the right design is 100 percent important. Many people come to see us thinking that you simply dig a hole and put a pool in. As we have developed as a business and become confident in what we do, we have really pushed back on the client and reinforced that the starting point is the design. For some reason when people are looking to install a pool or landscape a garden, they don’t give it as much consideration as they do to the house itself. No-one would ever build a house without a set of plans, and the same applies for a pool. A carefully thought through design is the key to a successful outcome.

Technology. Fortunately technology has really changed the amount of time pool owners have to spend looking after a swimming pool. Automated systems make pools a much more desired item. A lot of us will have grown up with parents who had swimming pools who complained about how time-consuming they were to maintain. That burden has largely been removed with some great systems that automatically look after the pool maintenance, so it’s important to investigate these options when installing a pool.

The Outcome: We always try and re-engineer from the client’s outcome. We are quite often asked what we would do, but our personal family profiles and needs could be completely different from our client- so it’s really important for the client to understand what outcome they are looking for. They need to be clear on how they want to use the space and what they want from the swimming pool. If they won’t use a spa, there’s no need to add one, if they love swimming then the shape needs to satisfy in terms of depths and steps, or it might be mostly decorative or to add value to the home. Being clear on the desired outcome will ensure we can achieve that.

A swimming pool adds to the soul of a property, creating a connection with water and providing a water feature within your own landscape that can light up at night and add atmosphere to the whole property. And in cooler climates like Melbourne, where we can only really use a pool for a few months a year, a pool needs to enhance the architectural profile of a home as well as being a source of leisure and pleasure. The addition of heating can add a year-round aspect to the use of a pool, whether that be solar, gas or electric. “Again it’s about re-engineering back from the desired outcome and whether the client wants to use the pool throughout the year. Most pools these days benefit from solar heating and spas require gas or electric  heating. Electric heating can add a few months of use to a pool in a cooler climate, and quite often clients use a combination of all three for energy saving.”

New pool regulations in Victoria have been a talking point for some time, but as Glenn explains they have been a cause of unnecessary confusion. “It’s like most regulations that are introduced, they are often not communicated very well. The only thing that’s really changing with pool regulations is that residents have to register their pool with the local council and have the safety elements checked every four years. As long the pool safety features were correctly signed off when the pool was installed then there’s no issue for concern.”

Having a pool designed and installed is a reasonably smooth process, taking around 16 to 20 weeks from the time of confirmation. This of course varies depending on circumstance, but takes into account documentation, building permits and engineering plus the actual installation. Landscaping can have an effect too, depending on how elaborate the scheme is.

In terms of pool trend designs, there is definitely a movement towards curves, and creativity in terms of tile varieties. “There was a period five to ten years ago when glass mosaic tiles were the only way to get an innovative or premium look. This seemed to spur the ceramic tile manufacturers into action because the variety of tiles available now and the range of colours on offer provide a wide number of options. The typical resort blue pool is a bit passe now, there are lots of greys, blacks and charcoals on trend – and now with Kate Walker and KWD, we have Biscayne Blue.”

One of KWD’s latest projects, Biscayne, is Kate Walker’s new home – and is one of the most exciting and innovative projects the team has been working on in terms of pushing the boundaries of design. Explains Glenn, “Working with Kate and her team on Biscayne exemplifies the principle of working with the client through the design process. It really is the crucial first step. Kate engaged Heath Blair from Plume Studio for the landscape design, and he had a really cool brief to work with. He designed how he wanted the whole outside area to look and then we got involved to determine the ideal pool design in terms of functionality requirements and what would tick the boxes for the user experience. The pool design has a real sense of fun about it that perfectly reflects Kate’s Biscayne style. The tiling choice was really important for achieving the right aesthetic and the selected colour is so perfect. It’s a really subtle, light turquoise blue with a bit of white through it that adds some variance. It’s really hard to describe, so it’s being called Biscayne Blue.”

Explains Kate Walker, “When we developed the idea for the landscaping with Plume Studio and the pool design with Laguna Pools, we wanted to make sure we had thought through every detail. So we engaged Reality 3D to create a render that would bring our vision to life. Their work is incredible, and really cemented what we wanted to create, consolidated our ideas and confirmed that we had designed the perfect solution for Biscayne. We knew we needed the just the right shade of aquamarine for the pool tile – one of my absolute favourite colours – and we searched high and low for the perfect colour. We finally found the exact shade at Klay Tiles – they have such an amazing array of tiles to choose from and helped us to find the perfect shade, which is now known as ‘Biscayne Blue’. I am fastidious about execution when it comes to the tile laying and Laguna Pools’ work is second to none. I couldn’t be happier with the whole process, from concept to design to installation.”

When engaging a pool designer it’s so important to work with an experienced company. Explains Glenn,“It’s a very emotional decision for most people when they decide to install a swimming pool – it’s often something that they have dreamed about for years and that they have longed to create for their family. Our team at Laguna Pools is 100% committed to ensuring that the positive emotion, the excitement and the anticipation that is felt at the beginning of the process is carried consistently throughout the whole period until the moment when they see their vision come to life.”


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