By Kathryn Varden
Author’s note: This couple built their dream home on a beautiful lot, strategically designing and installing the backyard patio and sunken hot tub in a manner that would allow them to take in the view of the neighbourhood pond. After many years of enjoying the backyard, it fell into disrepair after the husband took ill and later passed away. Rather than move, the wife decided to rejuvenate the backyard, giving it an extensive makeover to create a space for adults and grandchildren alike.
A complete transformation was required to revitalize this backyard. This included the installation of a pool that provided an area for adults to entertain and socialize, but also a place for children to play and have fun. To retain some of the backyard’s existing esthetics, boulders and rocks from the late husband’s garden were incorporated into the new design as a way to preserve his memory. The pool builder, John Pitezel of JP Construction, and his project manager Danny Whiteman, took their client’s desires and colour co-ordinated the entire pool and its new amenities around the repurposed rocks to make the client’s dream a reality.
The inspiration for the new pool’s design came from a lower brick patio in the backyard, which was kidney shaped. Although most pools built today are more geometric in shape, the homeowner loved the tribute to the old brick patio by putting the pool in that footprint, as it was a natural fit. In addition, Pitezel was able to take the natural grey and brown boulders from the now vacant garden to shore up the pool level, blending the shade of the rocks with the colour of the house and pool.
Once the pool shape, location, and colour scheme were selected, the next step was to determine how to make the pool an entertaining space for the family, while preserving a colour co-ordinated esthetic appeal.
With the many product options presently available, which help make pools more entertaining, builders are now looking at these projects similar to how a landscaper approaches the design of an open space. A builder starts this process by dividing the pool into sections where various products can be used. For instance, Pitezel used this technique and divided the homeowner’s pool into multiple entertainment centres—in the shallow-end, deep-end, and middle-shallow areas—where fun could be had by all. He looked for colour co-ordinated products that were attractive and offered various levels of amusement, while considering the homeowner’s view from the home, large, water-loving dogs, grown children, and four grandchildren (all under the age of six).
The shallow end
Today’s shallow-end entertainment centres are often designed around a sun-shelf, bench, or swim-up bar area. The pool’s middle or middle-shallow section lends itself to a sports centre, while the deep end typically includes amenities such as slides, diving boards, grottos, or another type of water feature.
The focus for this homeowner’s pool was a sun shelf, which would serve as the main ‘entertainment’ area in the shallow end. To ensure easy access to the pool, steps were installed along with a colour co-ordinated grey designer rail. Today, rails are available in colours using powder-coating or thermo-plastic coating techniques. In this case, the grey rail matched the pool plaster colour, as well as the home’s grey rock veneer. The size of the sun shelf was simply based on the ability to place two in-pool loungers next to a plastic umbrella sleeve in the centre of the shallow end. The sleeve enables the homeowner to insert an umbrella or a removable table. This created the perfect place for two adults to enjoy the pool while watching the kids play.
|The swim-up bar phenomenon|
|Swim-up bar seats are another popular addition for the middle or middle-shallow section of a pool, depending on its size and configuration. Generally positioned in the shallow end in 1 to 1.2 m (3.5 to 4 ft) of water, swim-up bar seats are economical add-ons that can be easily incorporated into a gunite and/or vinyl-liner pool design. This area can comprise a couple of seats next to the pool edge for lounging or several seats adjacent to a sunken kitchen, which can give a pool the feel of an upscale resort.
Bar seats offer a place for people to talk with friends, play cards, have a drink, or sit while watching the kids. These seating options are also available in a variety of colours to ensure the pool retains its esthetic appeal.
Permanent bar seats can be costly to build and, in some cases, pool cleaners become tangled up between them. Therefore, removable bar seats are a much more affordable alternative because it is more economical to install anchors, while the pool will not need to be upgraded to an in-floor cleaning system. Anchors are usually placed between 457 and 559 mm (18 and 22 in.) from the pool wall depending on the slope. Since they are removable, the homeowner simply takes them out when the festivities are over to clean the pool. It also makes the pool easier to winterize.
An increasing number of vinyl pool designs are embracing the swim-up bar phenomenon. Thanks to a new vinyl anchor option, builders can now create these swim-up seating spaces next to sunken areas or pool edges during new construction. The specialty vinyl anchor needs a concrete pour that is approximately 610 x 610 x 305 mm (24 x 24 x 12 in.) with a minimum thickness under the anchor of 102 mm (4 in.) to ensure a solid hold.
Swim-up bar seats are another profit centre for vinyl-liner replacement sales. It is a quick and easy upsell by reminding the pool owner that this is his/her chance to upgrade the pool by adding some anchors to accommodate these features. If the homeowner elects not to have any add-ons installed, they will have to wait until the next replacement liner.