This floating “rejuvenation room,” designed by Blue Heron, uses water to create a peaceful, reflective space in which to relax.
This great room, designed by Blue Heron, appears to be suspended in water
Bellacere Courtyard, designed by Christopher Homes Renovations, includes water features around a cabana
The same company created this infinity edge pool with a breathtaking view of the city lights
In a desert town like ours, one standout element can often turn a buyer’s eye away from a short-sale deal and toward the luster of a brand-new home: the newest technology in backyard water. Infinity edge pools, poolside martini bars, spas with televisions, pool-area kitchens—these have become key to enhancing value and making the sale.
“Pools, spas, and water features have been a huge part of our success over the last couple of years,” says Tyler Jones, founder and CEO of the high-end custom home designer/builder Blue Heron, which has built homes in luxury communities like Marquis Seven Hills and Stone Canyon. “We focus very much on the outdoor living space, and the pools and spas are a critical part of our appeal to convince people to buy our homes over resales. Because of the great bargains in the resale market, you have to be special.” The latest designs integrate water seamlessly into the architecture so it becomes part of the home, almost like a floating room. In one example, Blue Heron built an outdoor dining and seating area between two pools and covered it with a large deck that spanned the property.
“When seated in this area, the guest is at eye level with the two pools, and you get the feeling that you’re almost submerged between the water elements,” Jones says. Blue Heron is also building pools with black bottoms, which reflect like a mirror, and designs that allow air to cross the water into open doors and windows, creating natural air-conditioning. “We believe that what we’re doing is the trend and trigger point to entice people to buy a custom home,” he says. “The water elements are a big financial commitment, but we did it intentionally.”
For homes valued at more than $500,000, ensuring that water is a key part of the design is critical to the success of high-end builders, says Steve Bottfeld, principal of Marketing Solutions, a Las Vegas–based firm specializing in real estate economics. “You’re seeing hot and cold pools, and indoor pools,” he says. “Or a bar in the pool, like at a luxury resort.”
In fact, mimicking luxury resorts has been a growing trend, says Leslie Parraguirre, founder of the Vegas design firm Colours, which has designed homes in The Ridges, Red Rock Country Club, and Queensridge South. Her favorite trend is the deck-level pool, whose water is at the same level as the surrounding deck. But one of the most popular new features, she says, is an expensive saltwater pool, which eliminates the need to deal with chlorine in the hair and on the skin. People are also forgoing diving boards and opting for plain rectangular designs, which Parraguirre calls “simple European elegance,” rather than the lagoon and kidney shapes that were once commonplace.
“It’s now about cleaner and simpler shapes and European style, and no more mini-Mirage-type backyards,” she says. “Families are building play pools that are only three or five feet deep, where they can play volleyball or basketball.”
Many are following the trend of hotels such as Red Rock by installing furniture and umbrella sleeves in their pools or decks. Backyard barbecues are being turned into outdoor kitchens, with a roof, fireplaces, furniture, heaters, and fans.
Homeowners are also focusing on spas. The current vogue is to install a spa on the balcony or rooftop of a luxury home, where there’s more privacy, says Renée Gibbs, owner of Spas by Renee. Spas with marble and stone can cost more than $25,000; others may include a television, a wireless sound system that syncs with a home stereo, and Bluetooth to allow it to be operated via a smartphone app.
Even in existing homes, buyers are choosing to incorporate the latest water features by enlisting high-end renovators such as Christopher Homes Renovations, says Erika Geiser, the company’s vice president of marketing and business development. One of the most popular additions is an infinity edge pool, especially if the home is situated on a hillside. Poolside kitchens and entertainment areas are also trendy. “Buyers are not just viewing the backyard as a place to swim in the pool, but as a place to entertain,” she says. “They’re taking advantage of the weather and using [the backyard] as a retreat.”
Luxury-home buyers might also tear out and replace a pool that’s not to their liking. Broker Jerry Masini, owner of Award Realty, recently sold a $7 million home in Queensridge that featured a pool with a waterfall and a meandering river. Amenities such as waterfalls with light fixtures and firebowls—gorgeous glass bowls with flames inside—are important to luxury buyers. “If they’re paying more than $3 million for a house, having a pool that’s less than $35,000 turns them off,” Masini says. “They want a lot of wild features.”
photography by james scolari (rejuvenation room, blue heron); Raef Grohne (infinity edge pool)