Anthony Nicholls: HNB Exclusive

Published: 25th November 2022

The founder and creative behind HNB Exclusive answers our questions about their latest project: a cutting-edge swimming pool on a luxurious country house estate in Oxfordshire.

Talk us through your latest project.

We were working with our client on their country house estate to convert a barn into staff and guest accommodation when she asked us to take a look at another project she had in mind. Our client showed us what was essentially a large hole in the ground and said she would like to put an outdoor pool and pool house there. In the first instance, the drawings had to be drafted and issued to the local authority for planning permission. Once permission had been granted we put a plan and programme in place setting out how and when the works would be completed and began the works on site. A few months later, the project was completed and our client and her family were enjoying the pool just in time for the summer.

What was the client brief?

The swimming pool is located in the heart of the estate and as such, needed to blend into the environment so that it didn’t look like a new addition and rather one that had always been there. We achieved this by matching the stonework around the pool to tie in with the rest of the estate and also by extending the brick and flint boundary walls and shrubbery to enclose the pool area to give a courtyard feel similar to other external areas around the estate.

What made the project so unique?

The client wanted the swimming pool to stand out as a luxury addition to the estate but to also be understated. This was a very difficult blend to achieve as the balance had to be just right. To make the swimming pool stand out we incorporated creative lighting, as well as luxurious but discreet fittings and finishes. One feature, in particular, is the swimming pool cover which is completely concealed and appears from under the water which gives a surprise wow factor. There was significant consideration given to the surroundings of where the swimming pool was situated, to keep the whole scheme understated. By matching features, materials and the general feel of the estate the finished swimming pool sat effortlessly within the grounds of the estate.

What were some of your favourite design features?

One of the requests was for a chemical-free swimming pool. To deliver on this request we worked closely with one of the leading pool specialists in the country to design and build a bespoke mineral water swimming pool. The running costs are lower than traditional chemical pools, the maintenance is less, and you do not get any of the chlorine smells or irritation to your skin or eyes. A natural swimming pool has a luxury feel that far surpasses what most people have become accustomed to with traditional swimming pools.

Guide us through the process of designing and building a swimming pool.

The overall process can take approximately 9-12 months to complete, including any planning permissions that need to be obtained. In the first instance, an initial design consultation meeting should be held with the client to discuss what they would like to achieve and then come up with a design that matches the brief.

What are some of the key considerations?

The most important thing is that your swimming pool matches your lifestyle. Do you want minimal maintenance or low running costs? Are you looking for an indoor or outdoor pool, or one that can be used all year round? Do you want additional features like changing rooms, plunge pool, entertainment area or a drinks bar? These are just a few examples of what needs to be considered to ensure the project and not just the swimming pool is designed and built to match the client’s lifestyle.