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Making a splash with outdoor swim space

If you think a backyard pool means a rectangular or kidney-shaped poolwith a blue liner, think again. Pools these days can be so much more.The design team is thrilled to see some exciting new trends emerging inthis area.


If you think a backyard pool means a rectangular or kidney-shaped pool with a blue liner, think again. Pools these days can be so much more. The design team is thrilled to see some exciting new trends emerging in this area.

Pools were often thought of as purely recreational space for swimming, floating, splashing, playing volleyball, performing cannonballs, and the like. They still are, but they can also be designed to look like natural pools so they fit seamlessly into the environment. They can be designed as a spa, with water jets, seating and temperature controls. They can be lap pools for cardiovascular fitness, and so much more.

Concrete in-ground pools remain expensive, starting around $50,000 for a small pool, (less for other types of liners) but we are finding that people seem to be more willing to spend their recreational dollars at home. After all, the regular drive to the cottage or the gas-guzzling flight to a tropical location will likely become more painful as the price of gas goes up.

And to tell the truth, nobody needs to feel as if they’re getting less. We’ve seen some gorgeous trends in pools —ones that will make the backyard an absolute pleasure to enjoy privately and with many appreciative visitors. These days, there are many ways to create magical places. You won’t ever want to leave your home!

One of the newest trends is a “negative edge” or infinity edge pool, with one edge that looks as if it is absent. In reality, the water flows over this edge into a basin, where it is re-circulated back into the pool.

The look is stunning in the right environment — such as looking out over a body of water or out from a high place with a vista. Another emerging look is “perimeter overflow” in which the water surface is flush with the decking or stonework surrounding the pool, flowing down invisibly into small basins at the pool’s edge. It looks as if a large reflective mirror has been artfully placed in your backyard and is absolutely stunning.

Fountains and waterfalls over stones add drama, set into a natural environment, as if the pool were put there by Mother Nature herself. Or you can opt for a contemporary look — say, a concrete support that sends water cascading into the pool in a perfectly smooth sheet of water. Either way, a water feature like this not only looks beautiful, the trickling or splashing sound provides a soothing background noise that masks urban noises.

Lighting can also add a special touch — from floating solar lights that feature shifting colours, to perimeter lighting, to underwater lighting to illuminate bubbling jets. Automated programmable music adds to the experience, from soothing spa sounds to a laid-back jazz evenings.

Exposed stone is also a gorgeous natural look, and concrete embedded with pebbles and stones can look natural as well.

Another emerging idea popular with families with children or elderly users is the sloped beach-like entrance, rather than steps or a ladder to enter the water. A shallow “wet-deck” type of pool is great for little ones, but also for adults who want to laze about on their loungers, half-submerged while they sip a cold one, or just nap. This sounds like a great backyard vacation to us!

 
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