A liquid mirror

An Arizona swimming pool at one with the desert
Peter O. Whiteley
Cool water in a hot climate has never looked more appealing than in this serpentine pool overlooking the vast Sonoran Desert. Instead of a raised lip that would interrupt the visual flow to the distant landscape, the pool has a 50-foot-long infinity, or negative, edge that seamlessly blends sky, horizon, and the water's mirrorlike surface. The edge of the pool lies slightly below the waterline, so water spills over the rim and recirculates from a downhill basin. To emphasize the reflected landscape, the pool has a black bottom (coated with an exposed pebble finish called Pebble Tec) and black tiles along the waterline.

The riverlike edge repeats in other features of the stone-covered patio. One end of the pool has an elevated, kidney-shaped spa; the other, an 80-foot-long, boulder-lined streambed with recirculating water that meanders down the sloping site.

Since the home sits at the edge of an open desert that's punctuated with stately saguaro cactus, the owners wanted to interject a sense of the area's wildlife. The patio features a family of sculpted iron javelinas that appear to be sipping from the water of this desert oasis.

DESIGN: Steven Rogers, Sonoran Desert Designs, Cave Creek, AZ (www.sonorandesertdesigns.com or 480/595-6400)

POOL CONSTRUCTION: Mike Ferraro, Phoenician Pool, Scottsdale, AZ (www.phoenicianpool.com or 602/996-6686)