“It was always a dream of mine as a kid to have a pool,” says Garrick Hollander, a bankruptcy lawyer and Newport Coast father of two. Today he can luxuriate in his very own 40-foot, knife-edge, saltwater pool with custom spa—that, and so much more. The family’s other backyard amenities include: an outdoor room with a cantilevered fireplace and flat-screen TV; a built-in barbecue and custom dining bar with a second flat screen; comfy, bed-size lounges by the pool; and built-in seating for 12 with a fire trough nestled into a hillside with canyon and ocean views.
The kingdom is controlled by a HomeLogic Automation universal remote that adjusts lights, music, spa temperature, and TVs. You get the picture.
“When we bought the house five years ago, the back yard looked like a mini-Versailles, with a formal rose garden, topiary, and lots of statues and fountains,” wife Shelley, a personal trainer and fitness boot-camp instructor, says with a laugh. “It definitely wasn’t our taste,” adds Garrick, who removed the accoutrements before the family moved in, substituting a simple swath of grass for daughters Brooklyn, 8, and Ivy, 6.
The Hollanders spent four years saving for and imagining their back yard—one that would cost them in the six figures. Then they called designer-builder John Shippy of Geoscape Landscape Construction in Rancho Santa Margarita.
“Each person’s dream yard is individual,” says Shippy. “For the Hollanders, it was a low-maintenance yard with a relaxing spa vibe and a South Beach palette of white, sand, and aqua hues. They wanted it to be sophisticated—like resorts such as the W Hotels and the Setai in Miami where they had stayed—but also friendly and welcoming for their daughters to play.”
To that end, Shippy placed the pool perpendicular to the house. This created a dramatic view line, and freed up space on either side for alfresco entertaining. He placed the bar and barbecue area on one side of the pool, and created the outdoor room, complete with sofa, club chairs, TV and fireplace, on the other. Imported travertine marble, cut like a random-plank wood floor, offers a handsome, skid-resistant surface. The neoclassical columns were replaced with a dramatic split-level seating area and gas fire pit with a backdrop of sculptural, drought-tolerant plants, including cordylines and echeverias.
In keeping with the couple’s wish for an ecofriendly, low-maintenance yard, Shippy also installed state-of-the-art artificial turf that could pass as the real thing.
As you might imagine, weekends usually are booked at the Hollander home. Parties are small and intimate, a few close friends and their children invited to enjoy the yard’s many pleasures.
Last Super Bowl Sunday, for example, while TVs were tuned to the game, the kids surfed the pool on blue floats, and Archie, the family’s goldendoodle, snoozed on the ersatz grass. At halftime, adults headed for a soak in the custom 10-foot-square spa that seats eight to 10. They listened to the Ruby Friedman Orchestra’s “Shooting Star,” and took turns in the hydro tube’s eight powerful calf-to-neck jets.
“Our goal was to have a back yard where everyone wants to hang out,” says Garrick. There’s only one problem with his dream yard: “It’s completely spoiled us for going anywhere else.”