Small changes can make a big difference when remodeling your pool area
Published June 14, 2012
You’ve decided that this year is the year to give your home a facelift, but in the midst of a home renovation, don’t forget to remodel your pool area. A pool remodel can make an impressive difference in your outdoor living space.
Renovating and adding new features to a pool is a popular home project. If you haven’t done much with your pool other than maintenance and upkeep, you will be amazed at the new features, materials and equipment that are available today. Even small changes will help you reap big benefits - in addition to money and energy saving upgrades; you might consider adding a spa area or outdoor kitchen.
Remember that complementing your home’s architectural design will beautify the landscape and add value to the investment of your home. There are endless possibilities for adding extras to make your pool design stand out. When you include additional features to your swimming pool area, you are enhancing and customizing yo ur backyard environment.
There are a number of water features that you can add to a swimming pool area that can enhance the entire backyard environment. A water feature allows you to enjoy the soothing sound and shimmering sight of falling water. These include waterfalls, fountain bubblers, deck jets and even waterslides.
Waterfalls - Add something extra to your pool area with a creative waterfall. Imagine a natural-stone waterfall made with stones collected from your region of the country with water cascading over them into your pool. Many companies also offer natural-looking artificial stone waterfalls for a fraction of the price of natural stones. Waterfalls are the perfect complement to lagoon-style or free form pools, and they also can add visual interest and beauty to more standard shapes. Add a full rock wall complete with cascading water to one end of your pool and enjoy the illusion of relaxing at the foot of a mountain. For a romantic extra, create a private rock cave hidden behind your new waterfall. Underwater seating ledges can make your cave even more appealing!
Fountain Bubblers - These features protrude upward like mini-geysers and are usually built into a pool’s shallow sun ledge. They are extremely popular with kids, look great with most pools and are fairly inexpensive.
Deck jets - Create a great look as they shoot streams of water from the deck to the pool, but they must be placed properly to perform well. You can get more dramatic with laminar jets, which produce a solid stream of bubble-free water, and add color by illuminating them with fiber-optics. To prevent water from splashing onto walkways and other areas, wind sensors can be installed to shut off the jets when winds go over 5 mph.
Water Slides - A swimming pool waterslide integrated into the pool landscape gives you the feel of a water park in your backyard! With endless fun for children and adults, a water slide is the ultimate addition to any pool. Modern swimming pool slides come in a variety of sizes. Some provide a straight, quick drop into the swimming pool, while others offer a gentle curve to the left or right. There are even slides that are longer and spin into corkscrew turns. It's possible to build slides into other pool features such as rocks and landscaping. Any pool slide must drop into water deep enough to be safe for the swimmer. Many waterslides require professional installation to meet safety guidelines established by municipal building codes.
A fire feature tends to be one of the most popular outdoor additional to a swimming pool area. Fireplaces and fire pits require the coordination of several key elements – masonry, gas and plumbing, and stonework. Here are a few options to consider:
A fire pit is one of the most common fire features and has become a standard backyard installation. Fire pits can range from 3’ wide to as much as 6’ or greater. Usually at a height of 12”, these are all custom-built to the owners and landscape designer’s specifications. The fire pit can be wood burning or setup for natural gas or propane. A wood fire pit makes for a great evening, but requires cleanup, so, most homeowners tend to prefer the quick and easy gas setup. Fire pits have become popular because of their ability to be the center point of an evening of fun, with everyone sitting and talking around the fire pit.
A fireplace is the best way to make a statement in any backyard landscaping or pool project. This gorgeous focal feature can take on the design and feel of the house, backyard, or patio. A fireplace is more of a daily focal feature but as the night cools off, it becomes the center of the party. The fireplace sets on the edge of the patio, whereas the fire pit sits in the center. With that being said, the fireplace can allow more patio space for landscape projects.
A well-lit pool with an interesting lighting design is a must-have extra for your pool that makes it even more appealing. When planning your lighting design, take your yard, landscape and pool size and design into consideration to highlight the best features. The shape of the pool is a notable factor, as curvilinear pools require more land analysis than rectangular ones. The color of the pool's interior finish also influences lighting decisions. For instance, how will the color rendering of the lamp be represented? Also, take into account the texture of the pool's interior. Different lighting sources can produce a variety of shadow effects based on the nature of the surface material, which can sometimes highlight subtle imperfections.
Fiber Optic and LED Lighting - Fiber optics employ end-emitting or side-emitting fiber-optic cables, transmitting light from a remotely located high-intensity discharge light box. Side-emitting fiber-optic lighting can be installed in the wall of the pool or under the pool's coping. Fiber-optic applications can generate a soft and uniform lighting effect. End-emitting fiber-optic cables can be strategically placed throughout the pool's bottom to fashion whimsical points of light in patterns that resemble constellations. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are another emergent technology in outdoor illumination and are now available in submerged lighting. LEDs are like tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electric circuit. Many pool owners choose them over incandescent bulbs because they neither get hot nor do they have a filament to burn out.
Uplighting - Soft uplighting adds a touch of class to any setting. Consider creating a wall of light using a series of visually appealing trees. The trees do not need to be on the edge of the property, they may be relatively close to the pool deck, thereby narrowing the view to the immediate area. A general rule of thumb is that the brightest lighting should be the most distant.
Paths and Steps - Path lighting is a much smaller version of downlighting. This popular fixture treatment displays streams of light along walkways, steps and beds. Be careful not to overuse path lights - less is more. While it is important to light steps and walkways, remember that not all walkways will be used at night. Another way to light stairs is via step lights. They can be built-in during the creation of walls and stairs or surface mounted after construction. For surface-mounted fixtures, consider using deck lights similar to those mounted on the posts of wooden decks.
You can also make a significant change with the addition of a few luxury extras. A popular feature that many homeowners are choosing to add to their swimming pool designs are beach entries. These graduated zero-edge entries slope into the pool just like the sandy beach of a lake or ocean. This pool extra typically requires more area, but the gradual merging of dry and wet entertainment space is quite beautiful. As an extension of a beach-entry, a shallow beach or wet patio can be an ideal place to relax, read a book and enjoy the water. It also provides an excellent place to let well-supervised children enjoy the water. The water in the raised areas will be warmer because the water volume is much less in the beach areas than in the pool. A great idea is to also add a warm waterfall to this area, which will create the sensation of a warm shower while relaxing.
If your pool is set on sloping ground, a vanishing edge can add to the appeal of the pool. A vanishing, or infinity edge, has at least one side that is at the level of the pool's water. As the water runs over the edge, the pool appears to be floating on air. Water splashes over the edge into a catch basin below, where it recycles into the pool again. It's possible to create a waterfall outside the infinity edge to add even more to the appearance of the pool. Because each vanishing-edge pool is totally different, they cost more to design and build than a basic swimming pool.
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