Forget about granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, steam showers and fitness rooms. If you want to make the neighbors jealous, you’ve really got to step it up a notch, writes Phil Berger in the July issue of New Homes.
This month, Phil looks at the types of extreme luxury finishes popular on the North Shore, such as vintage Art Deco home theaters, replicas of Scottish pubs, and indoor / outdoor swimming pools.
Swimming pools are not exactly stunning news, but in a climate like Chicago’s, they are so impractical as to border on the idiotic. Although technology has improved the maintenance equation – most pools don’t need regular service visits from the pool man – owners still only get three to four months of usage per year, and the cost of keeping the water warm is rising with the same velocity as gasoline prices. Even more extravagant – and rare – are indoor pools, which require not only ample square footage, but even higher heating bills.
That’s why a combined indoor/outdoor pool on a large compound in Barrington Hills is in a category of extravagance by itself. It almost doesn’t qualify as an amenity in a single-family residence: The property is populated by various branches of an extended family, and the pool area is really more like a private swim club.
The indoor pool is housed in a barrel-roofed structure attached to the main residence. The wall connecting the indoor and outdoor areas is mostly glass, interrupted by a fantastical fiberglass pink clamshell announcing the tunnel that connects the two parts, which are separated underwater by an etched Plexiglas divider. (Each pool actually has three separate water areas: a general swim area, a child’s pool and a cold-water therapy pool.)
It’s not enough that the pools are splendidly tiled; the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the indoor pool house is painted with a fresco that suggests the canopy of trees towering above the landscaped outdoor pool.