Design Master Class: Tips and Tricks from The N&O Design Team

Design Master Class: Carol Adcock helps create a space to swim and relax

June 27, 2014 

  • About the designer

    Carol Adcock is the owner/designer of Defining Design, LLC, which specializes in interior and landscape design. She has an interior design degree from West Virginia University and began her career in high-end furniture sales. She later headed the sales department at Adcock’s Nursery in Fuquay-Varina, which her husband owns. Their businesses provide both interior and landscape design services.

  • Design Master Class

    N&O Design Team members who share their expertise twice a month in Home & Garden are all members of the Alliance of Interior Designers, a group of Triangle-area professionals. Learn more at

The challenge

This traditional brick home offered only one location for a swimming pool and outdoor living area. Our task was to make that space work even though the rear entrance to the home and the pool site are on opposite sides of the home. Another challenge: incorporating an existing brick gazebo accessed from the back deck.

Super space

The one thing this family of four’s neighborhood lacks is a community swimming pool. With their children entering middle school, the homeowners decided to add that missing link. To create access from the back of the house to the pool deck one level below, we expanded the existing Trex deck to wrap three sides of the gazebo. This resulted in a walkway on one side, an 18- by 22-foot deck on another side, and a staircase to pool level on the third side.

Lower patio and pool: To stay in keeping with the natural surroundings, we chose Tennessee flagstone for lower patio areas. Brick columns, which match the house, not only break up the fence line but also allow for small, copper downlights to provide subtle illumination. We placed the pool parallel to the gazebo, creating natural movement from the front entry to the lower gathering space or deck above.

Although not pretty, the slide provides plenty of fun for kids and grownups alike. In the future, it can be easily converted into a sophisticated water feature or hot tub. Suncoast chaise lounges feature easy dry slings of natural green, brown and tan, large-pattern bolster pillows and rear wheels for easy arrangement. Functional panels of outdoor fabric underpin the staircase, hiding tools and toys and creates a backdrop for the Janus et Cie Amari chair.

Covered patio: Adding the upper deck creates welcome shade for the lower patio’s covered area. Simplicity rules, as the space will fill quickly when in use. A Whitecraft sectional sofa with bunching tables offers flexibility and a clear view of the adjacent pool as well as a television on the gazebo wall. Botanical fabrics complement the natural surroundings and hide soil and spills.

Upper deck: While primarily connecting the house to the pool, the upper deck is fortified for a future hot tub. Now it offers simple serenity. Potted palms and fuschias in terracotta pots draw you into this space, where two chaise lounges invite you to linger.

Terrific trick

The goal for any project is getting the most for your money. Consider cultivating your pieces from different sources. Focal pieces may be unusual, of good quality and more expensive, but accessories need not be. Collections from travel or a trip to the local decor store can yield a find. Terracotta planters work as well as an expensive glazed pot – a classic look.

(Not) by the book

In design, especially landscape, the rule of thumb is to use odd numbers, as it is more natural, more often found in nature. However, sometimes there simply isn’t enough room. Instead of overplanting or overcrowding your space, always plan for only what the space allows.

Defining Design

6141 Sunset Lake Road, Fuquay-Varina 919-270-4137 or

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