If you’re building a vinyl or gunite inground pool, talk to your local builder about adding custom built-ins to your pool design. The flexibility of gunite pools gives you the most options for customization and creativity, so be sure to talk with your builder about your ideas early in the pool-planning process. Here are some ideas:
If you’re looking for more oomph than standard steps and ladders can offer, you have a lot of options. Steps can be built into a corner, or can span a much larger area, creating a multi-tiered oasis for sitting and splashing. Another choice to consider is the beach entry — a gentle, sloping walk-in entry that feels like walking into the ocean. Beach entries can take up a lot of space, so, depending on the size of your pool, a combination of the two may be ideal.
Built-in underwater benches and chairs offer a cool, relaxing spot to sit a while, and can be outfitted with hydrotherapy jets for added enjoyment. Pair with an in-water table, and you’ve got and ideal place for reading, snacking and playing games — just be sure to build a table that is umbrella-compatible so you can keep this area shady and comfortable.
Tanning ledges are typically about 6 inches deep and built into the perimeter of your pool. Also called a “Baja Bench”, they provide a large, shallow area where toddlers can play, and where everyone else can relax or tan.
A grotto is an imitation cave built onto the side of your pool. They can be built out of natural boulders, but are usually created from artificial rock — and are at their best when tucked away behind a waterfall. When combined with an underwater bench, a grotto makes a magical water fort for kids — or a romantic hiding place for adults.
Swim-up bars are typically built with underwater seating, and are a popular addition with those who do a lot of entertaining. How you incorporate one depends a lot on your overall poolscape. You can build a swim-up bar that’s surrounded by water and strictly for swimmers. Or, you can build it along the pool edge to be used by people both in and out of the pool — these are usually built adjacent to, or in conjunction with, a sunken patio bar.