We are hitting record heat here in the Valley and as such, swimming is on the brain. I've fielded a lot of phone calls, text messages and DM's this month all about building the perfect pool, so I thought I'd round up my top 5 tips for building it right the first time. For a little tour around our pool, head here.
#1: Just like they say in real estate, location, location, location, is the most important thing when building a pool. Often times when you walk model homes the pool is smack dab in the middle of the yard, so perhaps they've convinced you that is a good idea. It looks pretty from the windows, but other than that, it's a horrible idea. Homebuilders will ALWAYS put the pool smack in the middle of the backyard of their models because their goal is to create a feeling within that model home, the pool is part of that, so it goes right where you will see it when you walk in the door. Having your pool right in the middle of your yard by way of function, is a bit of a nightmare. When the pool is placed right in the middle it divides your yard into three different sections, as opposed to two, when you build it to the side. So instead of having 1 big lawn or entertaining area, you have two smaller ones. It also tends to box in your patio space. In short, if you can avoid it, avoid it.
My own pool was build right in the middle of the yard, and while my pool and yard is beautiful, I'd pay a hefty amount to be able to pick it up and put it off to the side. Instead of having one big lawn and play area, I have two small ones. It makes entertaining in the winter months a bit awkward and doesn't allow me any room to extend my patio space any more than what it is.
When choosing which SIDE of the yard where your pool should be placed, you'll want to take into account a few variables like which windows you'll be able to see the pool from -- I love that I can see the pool from my office window, it makes watching the kids in the summer really easy. Another to consider is how the sun sets and how it shades your yard. Afternoon shade on the pool is never a bad thing in our climate
#2 Shape matters. I tend to prefer the clean lines of a resort style pool, but if curvy and organic is your thing, go for it. As you're choosing the shape, you'll want to think about how you'll use the pool & separate it into zones. A play zone, a relax zone and deep dive zone, etc. Depending on your needs, the shape and size of your pool will change. If it only needs to accommodate a few, a simple rectangle with some fountains will do. My pool, on the other hand, needs to do some heavy lifting and accommodate a lot of babies, kids and adults at the same time. So we have a big step with umbrella sleeves to keep moms & babies wet & shaded, an area for water basketball & sliding and a diving board for deep diving. All four of those things can be happening at once, making it suitable for a crowd. I've heard from lots of people that they hate the way diving boards look, so instead they are adding raised platforms for jumping off of. I think its a great alternative, but in my mind, nothing compares to a diving board and it is by far the accessory that is used the most by kids and adults. We play all sorts of games off of it. Who can jump the furtherest, who can make the biggest splash, who can sink a shot with the basketball and who can catch the football.
#3 Poolside Lounging. As you're determining your shape of the pool, it will impact how you entertain around the pool. Ask yourself how you intend to use the space. Are their areas for tables and chairs? What is the flow of movement around the pool? The only thing better than swimming in the pool in the summer is sitting by the pool. Make sure you have room for lounging poolside, as you do, pay attention to how your yard shades throughout the day because no one is sitting poolside in the sun in July.
#4 Architectural Details. If you get the location and the shape right, you don't need to go crazy adding architectural details. On a resort style pool, I love a wall fountain on the backside of the pool or an interesting tile on the oversized step. If you want a slide, I love them built into the pool as opposed to after market. We have an after market slide, and while my kids love it, I wouldn't recommend it. It gives me a heart attack anytime someone under 5 tries to use it and my big boys wrestle at the top...also giving me a heart attack. Perhaps it is my kids who are actually the problem and not the slide?!? When you build them in, they tend to be much more sturdy and you avoid all the issues of the freestanding variety. You can also add big pots that pour water or that can be planted with flowers.
#5 Soften it Up. All that hardscaping can end up looking harsh, so think through your landscaping. Add a tall hedge on the back side, or use artificial turf and checkerboard your decking. If you love big potted flowers, make sure you add drips for those pots.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.