Kings of Summer: Behind the Design with Keith Zars Pools

“My favorite family moments happen at home,” says Elizabeth Kilgore, selects designer at San Antonio’s premier pool company, Keith Zars Pools . This summer, as the rest of Texas is heating up, the design team at KZP is staying ultra-cool…as new reality TV stars!

pool furniture

Coral cushions pop against a custom coffee table & fire feature.

The premise of DIY Network ’s hit show Pool Kings is simple: to transform family homes with phenomenal swimming pools. The challenge? Customizing each space to reflect the unique personality & needs of each client. With five episodes co-hosted by KZP design consultants Paul Zars and Tony Aguasvivas, Pool Kings’ second season follows each pool’s creation from design, to construction, to the final reveal. If you can dream it…they can build it!

Today, Elizabeth Kilgore takes us behind-the-scenes to share Keith Zars Pool’s journey to national television acclaim along with professional tips for transforming your own outdoor oasis and choosing the best pool furniture. Lights…camera…action!

pool furniture

Dream Cushions take the Majorca Lounge to new levels of comfort.

First Time Filming
Running on nerves & adrenaline, Elizabeth made it through her first on-camera experience, an episode highlighting the Riddle family. In the end, this custom transformation was her favorite Pool Kings project: “The furniture was so elegant and beautiful. It fit the pool perfectly.”

Behind the Design with Elizabeth Kilgore

During the hottest summer days in San Antonio, cooling off by the swimming pool is an enjoyable activity for all ages. Add luxurious amenities, and the fun only multiplies! “The best part of having a pool is that every member of the family can enjoy a cooling swim, a treat from the outdoor kitchen, or just the pleasure of hanging out with family in the shade of an umbrella. From young to old, everybody gets to participate,” Kilgore explains.

SC: When selecting luxury pool furniture, what are some design features and materials that you look for?
EK: I think it is important that the furniture matches the style of the home and the family’s lifestyle. I always prefer to buy quality pieces and then enhance the furniture with accessories. I like the entire outdoor space to feel cohesive by incorporating the pool colors into the furniture colors. For instance, I like to match the pool tile or the water color with the furniture upholstery because the pop of color stands out against the colors of the natural stone and landscaping.

SC: Let’s talk about accessories! How do you use textiles, lanterns, etc. to complete an outdoor design?
EK: Accessories are great because you can change them out as the seasons change to create a completely different look. We use a lot of natural stone on our pools and I found the accessories can really soften the surroundings. Lanterns and candles can create a soft glow at night for a more romantic setting. I love using pillows and blankets to add color and texture.

pool furniture

Majorca Arm Chairs evoke the elegant simplicity of Spain’s southern coast.

The Show Must Go On!
Under the blazing heat of the Texas sun, some outdoor accessories had a tough time on-set…namely the candles, which began to melt and warp before the cameras started rolling. “Luckily, the lantern was so beautiful, no one would ever notice,” laughs Elizabeth.

SC: What design elements + special features would your ultimate poolside paradise include?
EK: My ultimate poolside paradise would have overstuffed chaise lounges large enough to take a nap in the sun. I would need an outdoor kitchen with a huge dining table for all my friends and family. And of course, a cute cabana boy serving drinks and food!

SC: Which Summer Classics collection do you believe best exemplifies family-friendly design?
EK: The Bentley collection offered by Summer Classics is the go-to collection for family-friendly design. It’s an all-weather furniture that is low maintenance and easy to clean. I don’t worry if the kids spill food on it and even feel comfortable inviting the dogs on it. The pieces are lightweight which makes it easy to move around when the family wants to gather together, yet is stylish and well-designed and brightens the appearance of the deck.

pool furniture

Water-friendly Bentley Lounge Chairs are perfect for poolside relaxation.

The Big Reveal
When the project is finally unveiled, the family’s reaction is often the greatest reward: “Both parents and children have such a wonderful look of excitement as they splash around in their own backyard paradise. I love seeing their dream become reality.”

pool furniture

Elizabeth Kilgore enjoys a relaxing moment on our Sedona Daybed on the set of Pool Kings.

Purchasing pool furniture this season? Follow Elizabeth’s Top Tips for designing a TV-worthy
poolside paradise:

  1.  Go with the flow. “I recommend walking the space first and getting an idea of the flow pattern and the amount of usable space. That way, you avoid buying oversized pieces that invade the walking space or underwhelming pieces that disappoint.”
  2. Create conversation points. “Pay attention to how people will enter the pool, which side has the deep end, and where the natural gathering spaces will draw together. I like placing comfy seating and tables on the decking near the popular ends of the pool so the swimmers and non-swimmers can talk to each other and interact.”
  3.  Reveal your true colors. “Show your personality! Whatever makes you happy needs to spillover into your living space.
    -Showcase your favorite colors and prints with umbrellas and outdoor rugs.
    -Add a centerpiece to your table that reflects your personal style.
    -Display souvenirs from your favorite destinations to remind you of the feeling you get when you’re on vacation.
    -When I find myself in doubt, I always just add more pillows!”
pool furniture

Rustic Bar Stools overlook a completed backyard retreat.

Aside from receiving national recognition and fulfilling small-screen dreams, working on the Pool Kings production had an extra-special set of perks. Elizabeth explains the most rewarding aspect of filming: “I loved picking out all the furniture and accessories, but the best part about participating on Pool Kings was seeing the family’s reactions at the final reveal.”

For more information on Keith Zars Pools, a Pool Kings episode guide, and details about key product partners, visit the KZP website.

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