There’s no better name for them. Pool designer Frank Wells finds himself inspired by everything local.
Written by Jessica Muncrief | Photography by Donicio Madrid
Frank Wells first dove into the pool business in Southern California in the early ‘80s. He took a job servicing pools, and, for someone who loves water and working outdoors, it was a perfect fit. He progressed to designing and building and opened his Las Cruces company, Pools by Design, 15 years ago.
While he’s created all sorts of pools, Frank says the most memorable are inspired by the city he has come to call home. He calls them simply “Las Cruces Pools.”
So what makes a true Las Cruces Pool? Well, they’re a lot like our neighbors. While these traits could easily describe many of our local residents, they also line up perfectly with Frank’s pool concept.
What I aim to do is to capture the natural setting—the colors, the views, the rocks, the textures—they all reflect where we live.”
“What I aim to do is to capture the natural setting—the colors, the views, the rocks, the textures—they all reflect where we live,” Frank explains. He created the pool shown here for Albuquerque transplants Tom and Jeanine Springer, owners of Pecan Grill & Brewery. “The elevation and silhouette of the waterfall is subtle, but it mimics the Organ Mountains on the horizon.”
While soaking in the elevated hot tub, the Springers also have a full-on view of Picacho Peak. “It’s an entirely different view from this angle,” Frank notes, “but it was very intentional that we made use of it as well.”
Whenever possible, Frank opts to use native materials and support other small business owners. The natural stone boulders surrounding the pool were mined in nearby Organ, NM by Toro Rock Products. Frank points out the fernlike, pattern, known as dendrite, that gives the rocks an extra touch of character. “These stones have all been sealed, which protects them, but also brings out more color and emphasizes the fine details. It makes their innate beauty even richer,” he adds.
Beautiful & Smart
Don’t think that this means all Las Cruces Pools are alike. Frank enjoys working with his clients and personalizing each project to their unique styles. “With the Internet, people are educated. They’ve checked out a lot of designs, they’ve done their research, they know what their options are,” he says.
That doesn’t always mean he can always give them everything on their wish list, but Frank has gotten pretty adept at keeping them pleased. The Springers originally wanted an infinity edge, but their lot wasn’t quite right for it. Instead, Frank convinced them to go with the waterfall, which ended up fitting in perfectly. “It’s part of the view; it doesn’t compete with it,” Jeanine notes.
This water feature also fits in nicely with Jeanine’s desire for a space that would feel like being on vacation without having to leave home. “I told Frank, I want to feel like I’m on an island somewhere. I want to swim in a lagoon,” she says.
To that end, Frank helped her select a greyish, blue plaster finish for the pool interior that not only complements the window and door trims on the home, but also turns the water into a tropical, steely blue. He solidified that vibe by piling more boulders around the elevated hot tub. “It’s made to look like it’s jutting out of a natural setting,” Frank explains. “Like the rocks were already there and we built the tub into it, not the other way around.”
While aesthetics are the fun part, a lot more goes into creating a pool that a homeowner can truly enjoy. “My job is to create that design they have in mind, but also to make sure it doesn’t kill them on utilities, that it doesn’t take up all their time to maintain, and that it lasts as the years go by,” Frank says. “They want the beauty, but they want the function too.”
About 80% of these “smart pools” are saltwater. While it requires a larger initial investment, it pays off over time in terms of both maintenance and materials. “Plus, my skin, my hair, everything feels so much softer after a swim,” Jeanine adds.
A strong believer in green building, Frank likes to incorporate eco-friendly features in his pools. On the Springer’s pool, all the lighting is LED and the water feature and the pool both have variable speed pumps. “A variable speed pump literally uses a fraction of the energy of a fixed horsepower pump,” he explains. “They have the option of slowing it down or speeding it up, so it doesn’t have to be running full throttle all the time. We’ve programmed it to run at hi-speed during the day when it’s more windy, then we taper the flow down to conserve energy in the evening.”
The surrounding landscape package highlights the textures of the native terrain, but is also super low-maintenance and requires minimal water use.
There’s one more trait that could easily describe both our lovable locals and Frank’s stellar pools: Values family. There’s something for everybody in his designs. Tom enjoys soaking under the stars in the hot tub, and Jeanine says she finds herself swimming laps at all hours of the day and night. Their granddaughter has also gotten plenty of use out of it. “She was terrified at first, but now we can’t get her out,” Jeanine says with a laugh. “We use it nonstop. I can’t describe how much we love this pool.”
Pools by Design | 575-993-0901 | poolsbydesign.us