From the June/July 2010 Issue:

Point of View

  • Designer: CIPRIANO LANDSCAPE DESIGN

In Bergen County, a backyard designed for entertaining makes the most of its hilltop location


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enlarge | All photos by Ed Pirone of DPD Studios/Courtesy of Cipriano Landscape Design
The vista that spreads beyond a hilltop home in Kinnelon is a major feature that attracted the owners to the property. That the view is now framed by flower-filled urns sitting on pedestals incorporated into a vanishing-edge swimming pool is reason to never want to wander far from home.

The concept — conceived and installed by Cipriano Landscape Design — was to give the homeowners different destinations for entertaining family and friends and to make the most of the view from the backyard. “On a clear day you can see the Manhattan skyline,” says Chris Cipriano, owner of the Ramsey firm.

Cipriano designed a terraced patio with a stone gazebo, a cabana, and different spots to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. However, the highlight is the swimming pool with integrated spa. The 850-square-foot pool features a custom Greek key design on the floor and at the water line, delineated in post-consumer-recycled iridescent glass tile, a material that is part of Cipriano’s sustainability business model. Water gently tumbles over the vanishing edge and down a wall covered in iridescent cobalt blue glass tile into a small pool from where it is recirculated.

The pool ranges from three to six feet in depth and features a sun shelf nine inches underwater at the opposite end from the spa. The pool surround and patio are Wisconsin limestone, which is almost as dense as bluestone but doesn’t get hot in the summer sun. “You can comfortably walk on it in your bare feet even on 95-degree days,” Cipriano says. He mixed gray and dovetail white (beige) tones of the limestone for a natural appearance.

At night, the backyard comes alive with fiber-optic lights in the floor of the pool and illuminating four jets of water that spray from the deck into the pool. The system features a light wheel with 23 settings — the owners can cycle the lights or choose just one color.


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enlarge | Water cascades over the vanishing edge into a small pool where it is recirculated. The owners entertain at poolside frequently and particularly enjoy visits from their grandchildren.
Challenging Project

The lighting — one of the most striking features of the pool — was also one of the most challenging aspects of the installation, Cipriano says. Each of the approximately 200 fiber-optic lights in the pool floor is actually a glass stem. The stems had to be cut even with the floor of the pool once the plaster was installed. That meant workers who installed the tile and plaster had to carefully step around light stems without breaking any before they could be cut even with the floor.

Add to that the installation of an in-floor cleaning system and the intricate Greek key tile design, and Cipriano calls it one of his company’s most difficult, albeit most rewarding, pool installations.

Even before construction began, Cipriano had to remove an old pool and about 18 feet of fill underneath. For better stabilization, the new pool has about a thousand tons of crushed stone beneath it. Bringing the stone, other building materials, and water to fill the pool onto the property proved challenging also because of the hilltop location and narrow access, requiring smaller trucks than usual.


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enlarge | A complicated Greek key pattern adorns the floor and reappears at the water line.
Finishing Touches

The property had a lot of mature trees so Cipriano salvaged every one he could, even though that meant moving some temporarily during construction. In addition, he layered plant material to look natural in the hilltop setting and added masses of annuals for color.

Cipriano’s advice for anyone planning a pool project: Plan early because such projects are intricate and require time to design and to secure approval from municipal governments. The Kinnelon project took about six months from removal of the old pool to completion of the new pool, gazebo, cabana, and patio.

The eye-catching design caught the attention of two pool industry associations, winning a Gold Award of Excellence from the North East Spa and Pool Association and a Gold International Award of Excellence from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.