A Pool of Pools

Do you ever find that sometimes the weekend activities of summer can leave you even more stressed when Monday comes back around? If your only chance for summer relaxation is during the week, then what could be better than an oasis in your own backyard. There are a variety of different pool styles, to suit almost anyone’s tastes and size requirements. This is just a sampling of some pools to whet your appetite:

Lagoon Pool by Marquise Pools via Houzz.com

A Free-Form Pool is designed in a naturalistic style with curves and flowing lines, tailored to fit each space. They’re also known as natural lagoons or oasis pools, and can become quite whimsical in design. Contemporary versions feature rock outcroppings and waterfalls, and may allow for the design of elevated living areas and built-in elements such as spas, fireplaces, and outdoor kitchens.

Lap Pool by C.O.S. Design via Houzz.com

Lap Pools are installed for the purpose of swimming laps for health and fitness benefits. Up to 50 feet long, but as narrow as six feet wide, these pools are a good choice for smaller backyards. Not exclusive to fitness purposes, their shallow depth allows for lounging and cooling off with friends on a hot day, similar to a plunge pool.

Infinity Pool by Downunda Aquatic Environments via Houzz.com

Infinity Pools are probably the most stunning of pool styles, with at least one edge where water is allowed to spill out of the pool, being caught in a basin below. The illusion that the pool runs off into “infinity” is most striking when installed beside a body of water and the edge of the pool blends in with the distant view. This type of pool is a popular choice for hotels, resorts and luxury homes.

Geometric Pool by Liquidscapes via Houzz.com

The Geometric Pool is what most of us are familiar with, and as the name suggests, composed of straight lines and basic curves. Most other pool styles are variations on the geometric style, but this traditional swimming pool still holds a strong place as being the most elegant and versatile of pools.

Half-Moon Pool by Lewis Aquatech via Houzz.com

Plunge Pool is a cross between a traditional pool and a spa, some would even call it a “spool”. These pools are too small to really swim in, anywhere from 18’x10′ to 10’x6′, and are kept shallow for the purpose of wading, relaxing and cooling off. Some pools are also built with jets and heaters, quickly turning your pool into an over-sized spa. This versatility and decreasing house/lot sizes are making the plunge pool a popular choice for urban and suburban homes. The smaller size makes them much easier to maintain than a traditional sized pool, with reduced water requirements and costs.

Perimeter Overflow Pool by Rosebrook Pools via Houzz.com

A Perimeter Overflow Pool features a slim notched or grated perimeter around the pool’s edge, allowing the water level to be even with the surrounding area – similar to an infinity pool, but allowing water to run-off all four sides instead of one. Without walls for the water to bounce off of, the still water takes on a calm glass-like appearance. These pools are exceptionally beautiful but can be expensive, requiring special equipment and the need to hire someone with experience installing the underground system.

Diving Pool by Vermont Vernacular Designs via Houzz.com

Diving Pools are deeper than most pools, typically 8 to 9 feet deep, and have to be quite long to accommodate a safe diving area and shallower play area. While these pools were a popular choice over 15 years ago, concerns with safety and high maintenance requirements have caused these childhood favourites to fall out of favour.

Endless Pool by Jetton Construction via Houzz.com

Swimming Machines are an interesting option, as they only take up the footprint of a plunge pool, but offer the exercise options of a lap pool. A recirculating current of water provides resistance to swim against, with just enough space for one person to move around comfortably. When not being used for exercise, it can be used exactly as a plunge pool.

Images: Houzz.com


The American Craftsman House

The American Craftsman house is considered to be the quintessential American Home. As the first type of house to cater to the burgeoning American middle-class, open floorplans, quality of work and simplicity were valued over the ornamentation of Victorian period houses.

Abernathy-Shaw House via Wikipedia.com


  • Low-pitched roof lines, gabled or hipped roof
  • Deeply overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or decorative brackets under eaves
  • Front porch beneath extension of main roof with tapered, square columns
  • Hand-crafted stone or woodwork
  • Mixed materials throughout structure
  • 4-over-1 or 6-over-1 double-hung windows

American Craftsman House via Varley.net

The craftsman style began in England with the Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris, among other philosophers, craftsmen and artists, denounced the mass-produced style of the industrial revolution, fearing the use of machinery would not only lead to bad design but a reduction in the worker’s satisfaction at his job. The saying that we know so well from Morris “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” was about Morris’s desire for art and beautifully crafted work to be a part of everyone’s life. The problem with this ideal of craftsmanship was the expense. Handmade furniture, fabrics, tiles and other building materials could only be afforded by the wealthy.

Craftsman House - Bungalow, Columbus, OH via Flickr

A group of architects and designers in Boston drew on these British ideals, but opened the way for industrial construction methods to make the craftsman style goods more affordable. Gustav Stickley, a mission-style furniture maker, created a magazine called The Craftsman that celebrated the philosophies of the Arts & Crafts movement. Soon after, Craftsman homes would be bought throughout the United States and Canada as kits from mail-order companies like Sears, Montgomery Wards and Aladdin.

Interior of Craftsman Home via LaurelHurstCraftsman.com

American Craftsman homes are a popular choice today for restoration projects. Their emphasis on solid construction and design using quality, natural materials, means that these homes are still standing and have the “good bones” that most home renovators look for. The Craftsman style is even undergoing something of a revival today, counter to the mass production of suburban cookie-cutter houses.

For more information about the Arts and Crafts movement and American Craftsman Houses, I found a few sites to be quite interesting:

Craftsman Style by AntiqueHomeStyle.com
The Arts & Crafts Movement in America by SanDiegoHistory.org
The Arts And Crafts Society

Images: Wikipedia.comVarley.net; Flickr.com; LaurelHurstCraftsman.com

A Frame Arrangement

Choosing the right matte and frame to complement a favoured photo or piece of art has long been it’s own form of art. Then what? The framed piece gets hung up at the center of an empty wall at eye level, and we call it a day? Hanging art and creating frame groupings is now an art-form of it’s own, with everyone weighing in. The possibilities are as personal as our homes, so I’ve pulled out a few of the general themes here to get you started.

Gallery Wall via YourNestDesign.blogspot.ca

A salon-style gallery wall is probably the most popular, with a collection of various frames and sizes grouped together to create a striking visual. This style could be a controlled mix of pieces, with matching frames and restricted colour palettes. This style could also be an eclectic collection of anything that strikes your fancy – designer rules thrown out the window. So long as your own personality shines through and it feels right to you, a salon gallery really is limited only by your imagination.

It’s not as easy as it looks to just put things up as you go. An essential tip from other DIYers to getting it right includes, tracing and cutting out paper versions of all your frames and taping them to your chosen wall. Play around with the groupings and placement until you find an arrangement you’re happy with, before ever lifting a hammer.

Uniform Grid Gallery Wall via Elle Decor

The grid formation is another gallery style of hanging art, but is much more structured and uniform in appearance. Frames and matte kept to a minimum create less visual interruption between pieces and read more like a single larger element. For rooms that are primarily soft in texture, shapes and colour, a strong grid like the one above can add an contrasting architectural element that helps tie a room together.

Creating an art grid might not require the same effort of cutting out kraft paper and taping it up, but you’ll definitely want to carefully measure everything out at least twice. Even one piece hung slightly out of place will throw the whole look off.

Frames on Picture Rail via WhileIm.blogspot.ca

A picture rail installed along the full length of one wall can be a perfect solution for the indecisive of us, or if you like to keep a rotating collection. This look is definitely more casual, with pieces leaned against the wall that can easily be changed around on a whim.

Leaning Art on Floor, Photo by Per Gunnarsson

The easiest and most flexible option is to just line a few frames up along the floor. It’s certainly not a look for everyone, but we’ve all tried it at some point and for some people, it could be just what they were after. It has a very relaxed vibe, and adds a casual touch to any space.

Images: 1. YourNestDesign.blogspot.ca; 2. ElleDecor.com; 3. WhileIm.blogspot.ca; 4. PGFotograf.com

The Personal Library

With the rise of digital readers, ebooks and the ability to have more information in smaller packages, it’s not difficult the to see the declining popularity of physical books. However, much like the vinyl record, physical books are never going to completely disappear on us. Books are an art-form as much as they are packed with sentimentality. Future generations might not grow up looking through books quite like we did, but they’ll see photos of great personal libraries and build one for themselves.

Using books to decorate is probably the most obvious of designer secrets to creating a cozy room. They add surprising pops of colour and introduce a graphic element through typography and cover design. A small stack of books can highlight or elevate any number of special objects in a room.

Library in artist live/work studio in Clinton Hill by BWArchitects via Remodelista

A personal library is more than just a wall of books though. It’s a collection of hand-picked items, carefully curated by the owner and speaking volumes to their style and tastes. It’s also become a common interest for book and decor lovers,  sharing images of libraries and collections with websites devoted to bookshelves.

Library with Genuine Fake Bookshelves via EmpireVintage

Gathering a room-sized collection does take time, but there are other options. Here a bookcase on one wall has been paired with a faux bookcase wallpaper, getting the same design effect of repetition to achieve consistency and create harmony, without a room full of books.

Images: BookRiot.comRemodelista.comTheWhiteHouseDaylesford.com.au

Sophisticated Slipcovers

Hermitage Slipcovered Sofa Set in MonarchHGS Store
Hermitage Slipcovered Sofa Set in MonarchHGS Store

Whether you like to redecorate as the seasons change, or if spills and mishaps are a way of life, slipcovered furniture is probably already your preferred choice of upholstery. Historically, slipcovers were used to cover expensive or fragile upholstery, and was only removed when special guests came to visit. In some cases, the slipcover itself was made of the expensive, lavish fabric, and would only be brought out for special occasions.

Tailored Slipcover on Sofa via ElleDecor.com

Most recognizably part of the shabby chic and coastal decor styles, slipcovers can really be suited to almost anyone’s tastes. Styles are made in a variety of ready-made fits, colours and fabrics, not to mention the infinite possibilities should you choose to have one customized. Create a big impact by experimenting with slipcover colours and patterns, without the commitment or cost of reupholstering.

Striped & Chocolate Brown Slipcovers via CoastalLiving.com


  • Tailored slipcover, fitted to the exact style and size of your couch, usually custom made or from chair manufacturer
  • Standard loose slipcover that uses a one-size-fits-all approach, available from most major furniture retailers
  • Extra loose, using a blanket or throw as a slipcover and allowed to hang freely over the sides

Loose Slipcovers on Armchairs via The-Brick-House.com

Before you start looking for a slipcover to hide a less than favourite seat in the corner, make an honest assessment of the style and condition it’s in. Slipcovers cannot fix a lumpy seat, or change the lines of a chair design that you don’t like.

Images: MonarchHGS.caElleDecor.comCoastalLiving.comThe-Brick-House.com