A Family’s Space for Outdoor Living in Media, PA
Chris Volk worked with the Cilli family to develop a luxury outdoor living space at their home in Media, PA where the focus is water.
“When we started looking for an opportunity to spread out,” Darryl Cilli said, “we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but it had to be in Media.” The town they’d called home for 20 years is just three-quarters of a square mile, 12 miles west of Philadelphia on a high plateau in the center— hence the name “Media” for “in the middle”—of Delaware County.
There were few large lots available, but they finally found a remodeled farmhouse situated on three-plus acres. They moved in with their two boys, then 9 and 12, at the end of 2019.
The lot’s steep slope at the rear of the property presented a challenge for expanding the house and building their outdoor living spaces. It would take another 24 months of careful planning, coordination, and skilled execution to achieve their dream. Cilli gives credit to the exceptional team he put together—architect, builder, pool and spa design/build group, and tennis court builder.
He said each team member is an expert in his field and showed respect for the skills and special knowledge of the other team members. The result is a house that flows from house to deck and patio, to pool, to pool house, and on down to tennis court on a lower level. It all fits together in modern, comfortable style, set in a landscape that delights the senses.
Pool and Spa occupy prime space in the overall plan, setting the stage for all you see and all that happens in the outdoor living area. “Chris Volk isn’t just your usual pool contractor,” Cilli said. “He’s an excellent designer. He nailed the location—where he sited and oriented the pool, where he located the pool’s infinity edge.”
And then there’s the spa. “Chris elevated the spa, so it rises from the pool, with its own infinity edge. When you sit in the spa you’ve got the best view of all.”
“He’s an artist,” Cilli added. “You can see it in how he picked the perfect tile for the spa. His choice of materials throughout the area adds just the right texture and contrast.” You can also experience the art of design in the placement of what the family calls “the little house.” It sits beside the pool, with pocket glass doors that open wide, merging indoor and outdoor spaces into a complete outdoor living experience.
Everywhere you stand or sit, everywhere you look in this WaterSpace, your eye finds something that delights, surprises, and continually changes as each day progresses. When night falls, the entire space surrounding the pool is bathed in light, reflected in falling water and accompanied by dancing fires.
“The lighting Chris designed is amazing,” Cilli said. “It’s the best surprise of the whole project. I didn’t anticipate how the lighting would cast lines and reflections on the architecture. It transforms the pool. The spa. The waterfall basin.”
A Passion for Function and Details
Darryl Cilli found Volk equally passionate on the mechanical and construction side of the luxury pool business. “The guy is essentially an engineer,” he said; especially when it comes to making the best mechanical and construction choices.
For example, Cilli said he had favored a salt system to sanitize pool water, but Chris recommended Ozone. He cautioned that in the long run salt would lead to problems for the infinity edge pool and spa. “It turned out the Ozone system is one of the best moves we made,” Cilli said. “It’s like swimming in fresh water.”
Maintaining the Vision
When it comes to Luxury Design/Build pools and spas, a third—often overlooked—challenge comes with maintaining your WaterSpace. Many potential maintenance problems can be anticipated and avoided, as in the selection of an Ozone rather than saltwater treatment system. Other things need never become a problem when the builder has the resources to provide competent water and pool maintenance services.
But when something happens, as Darryl Cilli points out, that’s when you learn more about the quality of your builder. “Chris is great about coming back and fixing the little things that crop up and showing up in a hurry if something unexpected happens,” he said. “It’s a level of service beyond what’s expected.”
Outdoor Living with a Vision
Both sons play tennis and take lessons. They train and play for fun at home with their father, who was a seeded champion in high school and college. After play, everyone can cool off in the pool, or just hangout poolside and in the air-conditioned little house. There’s a TV, refrigerator, food and drinks, sofa, table, and chairs, even a Murphy bed for overnight guests.
And then there are the views. You’ll never tire of the views: The water falling from pool and spa. The changes of the seasons, The daily change from light to dark. The lights. The fireplace in the little house and fire table on the deck, casting light in the dark and warming cool nights.
Beyond the fine view from the spa, there’s the relaxing, therapeutic jets and warm water, a space shared with family and friends. “You just feel amazing,” Cilli said. He said the pool is heated so it can stay open until after Christmas. Heating the water also lets the family reopen early in April, ready to enter another season of outdoor living, just as envisioned.