Chris Slaughter of Scenic Blue Design shares with us some of his favourite projects as well as a bit about his company and its values
“It’s only a pool” is a phrase we occasionally hear. What are your thoughts on this?
Let me break this down a little to show how important it is to choose the right pool for your space and family’s needs. Sure, you can go out and buy a prefab pool from a website and there is nothing wrong with this. However, such an approach runs the risk of a design that bears no relationship to the rest of the project (including the house, the landscape and the site), privacy requirements, surrounding materials and the intended use of the pool.
When I meet with a client, I have them ask them what the pool will be used for. Is it for one or more of the following: cooling off, remedial massage, relaxing, training, playing, socialising, sharing, investment?
My moto is “do it well, do it once”. It’s an expensive and stressful experience to cut corners on research, involvement and budget and be left with a garden that doesn’t bring you happiness, wellbeing or add value to your property.
Some of your clients tell you they want to feel as if they’re on holiday at their own home. Give us an example of a project you’ve designed to address this.
In one specific project where a client requested this holiday vibe, we investigated further and spoke about what parts of the world the client was inspired by. This particular client wanted a tropical oasis, so tropical plants became a critical component of the design. We used plants that carried both size and sound and that would create vertical accents, that divided the garden into “rooms” and created a sense of needing to explore.
Give us an example of how you found a way to add life to an unused area.
One of our clients had a pool that dissected the garden and left the very back corner completely disconnected and unusable. There wasn’t a lot we could do with the pool location as it was beyond the client’s budget to renovate the pool shape, so we looked at how we could trick the eye and work with what we had. We decided to install a shade structure positioned at the water’s edge to create a resort feel. As the area wasn’t large, we went with a small and round structure — the shape tricks the eye into thinking there is more room than there really is. The size of the structure left us space to fill garden beds with lush tropical plantings. Now the space not only has a purpose, it’s also visible and interesting to look at from the home and adds another dimension to the garden.
What do you consider to be the principles of good design and how do you apply these as a designer?
- Respect for the land on which the design resides.
- Understand the owners of the land and their wishes.
- Understand the restrictions placed on the land, be it cost, regulations etc.
- Understand the positives or negatives of the land and its surrounds.
- Understand the entire purpose of the project — emotion, desire, individual needs, investment.
- Ability to bring to life the client’s dream.
- Ensure accuracy and establish the trust of clients.
- Flexibility to tweak, fine tune or change designs.
Tell us about your company
Scenic Blue Design was created in 2005. We offer our clients a range of services in landscape design and construction. The company founder, Chris Slaughter, holds qualifications in civil engineering, building, landscape design, architecture, construction and horticulture. Scenic Blue’s principles are:
- To work closely with clients.
- To develop a close understanding of the brief, enabling the creation of a well-thought-thought design.
- Respect for the immediate and surrounding location.
- To design spaces that are suitable for the location.
- To create bespoke designs that suit the lifestyle of the individuals living in the home.
The entire team at Scenic Blue Design pride themselves on gently delving into the lifestyle of their clients. This allows them to use their experience and ingenuity to make wishes and passions become a reality. Without such a recipe, the design can stall and become reflective of so many uninspiring designs we see today.
For more information
Originally in Poolside Showcase Magazine Volume 27