Transforming tired and dated backyard retreats into personal and welcoming family havens just so happens to be Scott Cohen’s specialty.
“Decorative concrete continues to be a growing trend in our high-end swimming pool and outdoor kitchen designs,” says the president of The Green Scene Landscaping & Pools in Chatsworth, California. “This remodel takes advantage of not only the durability of concrete, but the endless color and finishing options as well.”
In this case, for that personal touch, concrete was fashioned into a built-in chess table as part of the pool’s Baja shelf layout.
“The client’s son is an avid chess player and he flipped out over the idea of being able to challenge his friends and family to a heated chess match while chilling in the pool,” Cohen says. The table was built with cast concrete and granite tiles, which were then ground, honed and polished with a handheld three-head polishing machine.
Next to this gaming area, in the square where the former hot tub had resided, Cohen added a precast concrete pot with an LED waterspout and a tiled spillway. To add more ambiance to a nighttime party, dual precast concrete firepots anchor the rear of the pool and a sleek fire trough complete with built-in seating and a cast-in-place concrete cocktail table are behind the new whirlpool.
In addition to the fire features, lighting is integral to the design. More than 300 fiber-optic cables are embedded below the large recycled glass chips and chunks in the cast-in-place concrete kitchen counters. An illuminator uses a “sparkler wheel” to create a show where multicolored lights dance in a seemingly random pattern across the barbecue counter and serve bar.
“I love to incorporate decorative concrete techniques and features into all of my high-end outdoor projects,” says Cohen, who will be teaching a seminar — “Make a Splash with Decorative Concrete Around Swimming Pools” — Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the upcoming Concrete Decor Show in Arlington, Texas. He’ll also be teaching “Building and Designing Sizzling Outdoor Kitchens.”