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OFTB Terrace HouseWhen Rose decided she wanted to build a family-sized swimming pool in her Albert Park backyard, there was just one problem: space.

“We wanted to make sure the pool was large enough to have a decent swim and play, given the limited space we had to work with,” Rose said.

Having completed an extensive renovation of her two-storey Victorian terrace house, she was also keen the pool complemented the finished home, which she shares with her husband and 10-year-old son.

“We didn’t want the pool to seem like an afterthought, but instead look as if it was done at the same time as the renovation,” she explained.

Taking the plunge

James Lascelles, senior landscape architect and designer at Out From The Blue, was the man tasked with bringing the family’s dreams to reality.

Mr Lascelles said the tight L10m x W6.5m site sat between the house and stables that had been converted into a garage and gym.

“Rose was keen the pool didn’t take up the whole courtyard so they could easily move between the two buildings, as well as have space to sit or kick a ball around,” said Mr Lascelles, who worked with contractor Vivid Landscapes on the project.


His solution was to site a slim L8m x W2m pool against a side boundary wall, which left space for a bluestone paved area between the pool and the glass fencing, with a decked area and artificial lawn on the other side.


“Real grass wouldn’t have grown very well there because it’s in a spot overshadowed by a high wall from the warehouse next door,” Mr Lascelles said. “Synthetic turf also makes for a very low-maintenance garden.”

The hardwood timber decking also forms a path between the house and the gym/garage and spreads out into a larger covered deck next to the house.

Let there be light

When it came to selecting materials, Mr Lascelles took some of his cues from the colour palette and timber battens used by architect Matt Gibson, of Matt Gibson Architecture + Design, who renovated the former stables.

“We were very much about complementing what was there, rather than throwing a lot of new materials at it and making it busy and different,” Mr Lascelles explained.

The striking wall of timber battens features a number of LED light boxes, which won a gold award for Best Lighting Feature at the 2019 Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Victoria’s Awards of Excellence. (The project also scooped the Best Residential Concrete Pool under $100,000 award.)

“We didn’t want a plain, vertical wall behind the pool as it can look a bit boring, so putting something geometric and three-dimensional there adds interest,” Mr Lascelles said.

The lights are maintenance-free LED panels instead of globes. “This was important to the client because getting to the light boxes is near impossible,” he added.

Into the blue

The bluestone tiles around the pool’s edge were chosen because they would be more robust than timber in that position.

“They are also Melbourne’s signature stone, and link in with the cobblestones in the laneway at the back of the garage,” Mr Lascelles said.

The vibrant ceramic pool tiles were selected because they make the pool look brilliant blue even without sunlight. And even on cooler days, the pool is the perfect temperature, thanks to solar and electric heating. With the project finished, Rose said the pool delivered everything they asked for.

“We love it. It’s been a great addition to our home,” she said. “It’s perfect for our family summers, it keeps us active and is great for entertaining. And we love that it’s so low maintenance, with everything from cleaning to lighting to filters being automated.”

Top tips

Thinking of putting in a pool? Here is some advice from Mr Lascelles on pool design:

• Bigger is not necessarily better – get the pool size right and work in proportion with the rest of the garden.

• Leave enough space between the pool and the fencing to ensure you can easily walk around the edges or sit and relax.

• Install gas or electric heating in addition to solar so you can use the pool for more months of the year.

• Think about the position of your pool, not only so you can see it from the house but also where the sun will hit it in the afternoon.

• Don’t try and cut costs by leaving out timesaving features like in-floor cleaning.

• Consider adding a spa to extend the use of the pool year round.

Read this article by Joanne Hawkins on

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