Award-Winning Swimming Pool Design

A dreamy lakeside summer home rich in amenities. This was the homeowner's vision when they purchased a private 5-acre lake home in Afton, Minnesota. The house itself was nearly perfect, but the outdoor living space wasn't quite what they envisioned. Being a summer house, the homeowners wanted to optimize their time outdoors. However, the space was missing a few key items from their dream property wish list.

swimming pool with pool house surrounded by bluestone natural stone

Clients Wish List

The homeowners wanted a cozy, yet sophisticated space to spend time with the family and entertain their friends. Their wishlist included:

  • A full-sized swimming pool
  • Pool House
  • New Front Entry
  • All the spaces to be connected and feel cohesive

Project Challenges

The project faced a few key challenges.

  • Working around a lake setback. The pool was originally located off the red "party barn" in the backyard. Due to the setback, the pool was moved north of the driveway.
  • The clients were adamant about including a pool house but the city would not permit a third outbuilding on the property.
stone retaining walls with colorful perennials and a bluestone patio

The red barn is a game house with big screen TVs, bar, luxury seating, game tables, jukebox, and darts

Unifying the old and new

The yard had some pre-existing amenities, but the space was disjointed and had no "flow". As part of their wish list, the clients wanted the old and new to tie together into one cohesive design. To fulfill their vision, bluestone was used throughout all the outdoor living spaces. Moss Rock veneer stone (the same stone on the homes exterior) was selected for the retaining walls, pool house and columns. Low-voltage lighting on the masonry walls highlights the colors and texture of the veneer stone.


bluestone walkway leading to a gas fire table surrounded by mulch beds and colorful perennials

Colorful perennials are inviting to the eye and introduce new textures into the design.

Bluestone All the Way

Bluestone steps were added closer to the lower-level door for easy access to the patio and game barn. To the east, a second set of steps were added for those approaching from the lake. Keeping with the Bluestone theme, we expanded the patio outside the game house to include space for a fire feature, and dining table.

fire table on a bluestone patio overlooking a lake

The property features two fire tables. The one above is located off the red barn and overlooks the lake. The other is located on the pool deck.

Two Relaxing Elements: Fire & Water

Surrounded by comfy chairs and overlooking the lake, the backyard fire table is the perfect place to gather with friends and family and listen to the humming of nature.

Before: No access to the pool area

After: Direct access to the pool house

Slide the bar to reveal the before and after

Connecting the pool area and the back yard was accomplished with a breezeway. The bluestone walkway leads guests directly through the pool house and into the enclosed pool area.

masonry pool house with pergola and bluestone pool decking

Overcoming Project Challenges

The clients were adamant about including a pool house but the city would not permit a third outbuilding on the property. The solution? We connected the pool house to the home with an enclosed walkway. The pool house, built by Yerigan Construction, features a bathroom, two refrigerators, an indoor shower, an outdoor shower, washer/dryer, and storage for poolside furniture, pillows, towels, and toys.

moss rock veneer stone and bluestone pool decking

Moss Rock columns match the stone on the exterior of the house.

pool house and swimming pool with bluestone ad hydrangeas

A Sophisticated Softscape Design

For softscape, we used a large mix of colorful perennials and evergreens. Around the pool, a plant palette of Dakota Pinnacle Birch, Mugo Tannenbaum Pine, Boxwood and Hydrangea were selected for color and privacy, as well as their modern and sophisticated aesthetic.

front entry with bluestone walkway and cedar mulch

Upgraded Curb Appeal

A Re-designed front entry that yells "Welcome Home"

As for the front entry, the original landscaping included a typical concrete sidewalk and oversized beds with random boulders and scattered Hosta. The vibe was very "blah" and did not match the style of their home. The new front entry features a bluestone walkway with seat boulders cut into the corners. Cedar mulch was selected to compliment the cedar shakes above the front door. Night lighting “extends” the front entry to the driveway.

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