Semberan Summer
By Leigh Ann Stuart
Laps of LuxuryNearly a decade ago (eight years to be precise), the Sembera family took a stand against the long, hot summers of Louisiana by having Cornerstone Pools Inc. install the oasis of their dreams: an elegant escape featuring a 15-by-41-foot lap pool, as well as a 16-by-27-foot recreational pool –– a combined total of more than 1,000 square feet!

Roy Sembera, a petroleum engineer, and his wife, Wendy, enjoy their pool to the utmost –– often three or four days a week –– as do their three children, Tyler, 20, and 13-year-old twins Alexis and Abby.

Pups Cali and Mattie round out the gang, and even they appreciate the watery haven. When asked which of the Sembera clan likes the pool the most, Wendy says, “Abby, Alexis and Cali –– in that order!”

Wendy credits Brian Kemper Sublette of Daly-Sublette Landscape Architects Inc. with the well-thought-out configuration of the outdoor area, as he assisted with the placement of the pool house and overall garden design.

“Since we have children,” Wendy says, “entertaining often involves families with children. The design makes [the pool] a main gathering area for all types of parties, large and small.”

Laps of LuxurySublette says the main goal with the project was to make sure the pool and related structures had a “strong architectural relationship to the house design”; in other words, he wanted to be sure that everything matched.

“The pool design was intended to carry the same design theme of the house,” Wendy says.

The pool’s many unique features abound: a cypress pergola with columns that extend into the pool; a spa area, complete with stone lions’ heads; and a fountain that aligns with the pool house and spills water into the pool.

“The most unique feature of this pool,” Sublette says, ”is that it’s two pools in one that tie the pool house and main house together, along with unique views throughout the garden.”

A multifunctional pool like the Semberas’ is great for all family members, whether looking to exercise, play or simply lounge through the long days of summer.

 Laps of Luxury
Virtual Reality
By Sarah Ravits
Laps of LuxuryIn May 2008, Michael and Christine D’Antonio installed a swimming pool in their English Turn backyard, which overlooks the golf course. By designing it themselves, the couple was able to personalize it down to the last details and make it the perfect place for relaxation and entertainment.

The pool was a dream come true for Christine, an ophthalmologist, who had wanted one since she was a little girl. “We also wanted the pool to enhance
our backyard, make it more inviting and better for entertaining,” says Michael, a radiologist.

The couple got to work and designed the pool using a computer program called Pool Studio. “We reworked the design many times until we were satisfied,” says Michael, who adds that they had limited space to work with. “Pool Studio’s virtual walk-through allowed us to actually visualize what the final pool would look like inside of our space. Once we were satisfied, we called around, and Ladner’s said they could work directly from our design.”

Ted Ladner of Ladner’s Pools completed the design, which included handling the plumbing, filters, pumps, heater, controls and the in-floor pool cleaning system.

“The combination of bubblers, swim jets and in-floor cleaning system required a remarkable amount of plumbing for a pool of this size,” Laps of Luxurysays Michael of the 34-by-18-foot installation. The couple also stuck to the New Orleans French Quarter theme that is apparent through the rest of the yard. “We already had French Quarter-style flagstone on our patio, and we added the flagstone coping and stacked flagstone wall,” to the pool, Michael says. The D’Antonios believe it gives the yard a natural yet elegant look. Brick pavers and a gas lantern from Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights continued the theme.

  Ray Burlette, who landscaped the yard, “was great,” says Michael.
The pool, which features a 7-foot spa, large tanning ledge and bubbler fountains at each end, matches the virtual snapshots from their Pool Studio design. “We’re very happy,” says Michael.

So are their children: Nicholas, 13; Benjamin, 11; and Rebecca, 7. “The kids have been in it almost every day,” says Michael.

This summer, the family looks forward to “lots of kids and adults enjoying our new space as often as possible,” says Michael. “We love to entertain, and having the pool and surrounding deck and landscaping now brings both sides of our backyard together to easily flow for parties. Casual, spur-of-the-moment works best for us, and the pool is the perfect focal point.”

Perhaps best of all, Michael says, “The kids never seem to get bored.”

 Laps of Luxury
Doctor’s Orders
By Eve Kidd Crawford
Laps of LuxuryGlenn Johnson values quality over quantity. The busy cardiologist doesn’t get a lot of time off, so he knew he’d need to make the most of his limited leisure time.

“I wanted a comfortable place to relax,” he says of his 40-by-15-foot pool. “I knew that with rebuilding my business after Katrina my vacation time would be scarce, so I wanted something comfortable and relaxing right in my backyard.”

So in July 2007, he contacted Backyard Living to design and install the pool, which comes complete with a waterfall, a Jacuzzi, a fire pit and two fire rings mounted on towers.

“The fire adds a nice ambiance,” he says. “And it’s on the golf course, it’s relaxing, and it lays next door to an outdoor kitchen. It fits into my lifestyle perfectly.”
As Backyard Living was putting the finishing touches on the back decking last month, interior designer Lori Swanner was also hard at work.

 “In addition to picking out furniture that complements the pool, Lori helped pick out the colors we used in the overall design,” Johnson says. “The relationship of the outdoor kitchen and patio to the pool was done in large part by Lori, as well.”Laps of Luxury

Johnson, who has opened his home to his goddaughter, Hannah Matte, while she finishes up nursing school, says that his family and friends, Hannah included, love the new pool.

“It’s a fun place for them to come, and we always enjoy the company,” he says. “We’re definitely looking forward to an outdoor cookout this Fourth of July, and then I have a big gathering planned with family and friends to celebrate my birthday; my cousin’s birthday, which is close to mine; and two other family birthdays that are also in July.”

Despite the frantic pace of his professional life, Johnson makes time to use his pool, or at least the Jacuzzi, about three times a week.

And though he jokes that his family and friends love the pool only because they aren’t responsible for its maintenance, he knows that it’s a great way to gather them all together.

“It’s a nice opportunity to get together with friends and family,” he says. “We always like to visit with one another.”