Plan the Right Pool for Your Living Style
Consider Many Options Before Making Your Backyard Investment
By Merry Wise
Planning a custom swimming pool and/or spa for your specific environment and living style is similar to planning your home and fashion styles — you want to analyze how you plan to use it as much as how you want it to look. Just as people choose fashion to suit different activities, different design considerations for your custom pool will be based on what activities you and your family enjoy.
Of course, safety is your first consideration. Proper enclosures and constant supervision are a must to ensure the safety of children, pets and wildlife that may go near the pool. Many specialty safety products are available, including water alarms, laser technologies, safety covers and personal accessories such as life jackets and pool floats.
Next, you begin considering all the other aspects of your pool’s design. Think about the current ages of your family members, and plan for the future as your family grows and changes. Think about how many years you plan to stay in your home, and plan the pool to be as suitable to your future situation as your present one.
Are you a young family with growing children? How many children? How many relatives, friends and neighbors might you be entertaining in the pool? Are you a family with teenagers? Are you an older couple building a pool primarily for the grandkids to enjoy when they visit? Is your family primarily adults who will be doing more sophisticated entertaining? Or will your pool just be a relaxing getaway for you as an individual or couple?
These parameters will mostly affect the size, configuration and materials you select, as well as addition of items such as a spa, slide, diving board, shallow kiddie area, tanning bench, etc.
Ask yourself what features might provide the most enjoyment for your individual needs, such as whether your family will use the pool primarily for exercise, sports activities such as volleyball or basketball, entertaining adult friends and parties for kids or teens.
After you’ve considered the family uses and activities, next you will want to carefully analyze the custom features you can add to a basic pool to perfect it for maximum function and fun. This would include selection of equipment, high-tech additions that can make the pool easy to operate and maintain, and visual design elements that create the wow factor you might wish for.
The average pool size is 16 feet by 32 feet, or about 20,000 gallons of pool water. If you have a large site, big family, lots of teenagers, want a diving pool, or plan to have big pool parties, you may want to design a larger pool. For safety reasons, if you choose to have a diving board, you need a length of at least 20 feet just for the deep end diving-well area of the pool. If you have a smaller site, or don’t have divers in the family, you could opt for a shallower “play pool” design, with a smaller overall size. Most families find themselves spending more time in the shallow water, and for many, this type of pool is the better choice.
If your family enjoys volleyball, a good choice is a pool designed with a shallow end at each end and the deeper part in the middle and equipped with built-in anchors for a durable volleyball net. Many other quality games are available, including basketball and badminton.
If your family will use the pool for a vigorous fitness program, then a lap pool might fit your style. Obviously a pool can be designed in a long, slender configuration, but sometimes the site is not really suitable for a long lap design. This issue can be easily solved in several ways. First, a swim jet can be fitted into the end of any size pool — even a large spa — and then equipped with a very powerful pump that allows you to “swim in place” against its strong current. Portable stationary swimmers also allow you to swim in place with straps that attach to your body and to the deck.
The maintenance factor is also an important consideration when equipping your pool. An automatic pool cleaner or in-floor cleaning system is as essential to most people as a dishwasher in the kitchen. Pool design, plumbing characteristics, proper equipment size and choice of sanitizing method and equipment also are important. With the right selections, your pool will be a pleasure to maintain.
Adding a spa and heater to the pool is a great way to create your very own relaxing “resort” right in your own backyard. A spa is great for entertaining, especially for teenagers who love to chill out and visit with their friends. And best of all, you know exactly where they are!
The latest in technology will add to your enjoyment of your pool. Equip it with an automatic controller, and with a few keystrokes on your smartphone while you’re out, you can arrive home to a soothing bubbling spa, hot and ready to enjoy. You can also program splashing waterfalls or color-changing lights.
If you want a pool with all the wow factors that will impress your guests and create an elegant ambience for parties, the design choices and unique details you can add are unlimited.
If a natural ambience is your style, it can be created with rock waterfalls, lush plantings and the lagoon look. Make sure, though, that such a setting blends properly with your home style and doesn’t look drastically out of place. Fresh additions to the natural look are fire features and fire pits. Add a misting fog system for a mystical jungle experience.
If you have a very contemporary home, the Zen look may suit your design with its clean, simple lines, vanishing edges, the “wetted edge” where water appears to merge with the surrounding deck, spas that appear to “float” in the pool, and fire features and spectacular tile selections as well.
Some homes will call for a more classic pool design, with columns, statuary, and sheer descent and laminar water features, often with light suffusing the water.
Every year, the choices of materials available to create beautiful pools in every style get more varied, especially tile and deck materials and interior finishes.
In addition to the pool itself, many homeowners are creating entire outdoor living areas, including fireplaces, televisions, summer kitchens, pergolas and gazebos, with complementary landscaping.
Whatever the size and shape, whether simple or elaborate, there is a pool for everyone and every style of outdoor living!