Ye Olde Pool “Ain’t” What It Used TO Be

Backyards are no longer just that place with a net in the middle of a lawn for volley-ball or badminton.  The new back yard is the outdoor Mecca—with a place to lounge and relax after work, with all of the bells and whistles of a five-star resort.  The ultimate yard today has “outdoor” living rooms with comfortable cushioned furniture that is oblivious to the weather, a fireplace to keep cozy on cool nights, water features, a barbeque/grill and wet bar with wrap around seating, and of course for many, that big screen TV for watching favorite games and programs.  Almost nothing is too much!

 Just like us, old pools have their problems—a cracked surface, strange shapes, old deteriorated materials, and so much more.  So my husband and I have started the process of looking into remodeling our pool and there are oh so many choices and factors to consider—along of course with the cost.

 If we lived on a hilltop, we could have an infinity, or negative edge pool.  You get that continuous look with shimmering water flowing over the edge into infinity with one of these edgeless pools.  For this type of pool though, you definitely need to be on a hill and while I love this type of pool we don’t live on a hilltop, so this is not a choice.  In addition there are all sorts of lights and lighting systems that can be added to a pool to make it more dramatic and contribute to the mood of the outside entertaining area.

 Another option we have today is adding fountains and water spills.  Building up the edge of the rear of the pool with a wall of stacked stones with a planter behind it, and having 3-5 flat water spills spewing out of narrow slots on the wall.  Here again, if your backyard has a small up-slope, a designer can create a small water fall over rocks that sounds like a gurgling stream.   Are there disadvantages to this?  Please send me an email if you have a thought about this.

 Pool Edges and Interiors

We’ve also learned in talking to the pool remodel experts, that most of them prefer to install a pebble tech surface instead of using smooth plaster, and there are all sorts of colors and combinations to choose from.  The darker the surface of the pool, the more it will absorb light and heat—so what we used to call a lagoon style pool might with a dark surface might give you another couple of months of swimming without using a heater.  Additional materials include fiberglass, natural stone, glass mosaic, and even glass tile along with the more traditional ceramic tile.  I’ve talked to a couple of people who thought th pebbles are rough—what has your experience been?

 And what about the edge of the pool—a continuous pour of concrete for a “cantilevered” finish, or do we use a more traditional coping of bricks, natural stone or tile around the border. Any advice?

 Today there are many pools built with a baja shelf—an area of the pool that is built out with a shelf just a foot or so deep, where you might actually put some chairs and insert an umbrella for protection from the sun.  In addition, shelves can be built in multiple places on a pool to increase safety.


And how has safety improved?  Today, there are all kinds of safety nets and covers for pools, as well as alarms and fencing.   There are both portable and removable fencing as well as permanent.  Many people install alarms on doors that exit to the pool area, and there are also some alarms that sound off when an object of a certain weigh enters the water.


If the pool edge surface is rough, getting in and out of a pool or simply dangling our feet in the water can be uncomfortable.   It’s important to have a smooth surface on the edge of a pool, and yet you don’t want it to so slippery and someone will have difficulty getting out or holding on.  Some tile makers produce a coping that is easy for a person to hold onto.

 And then of course we have to decide what kind of a pool—with chlorine or a salt-water pool?  And what should we do about a heater?  A regular gas heater or can we possibly accommodate solar heat? 

 I’d love to hear any stories about your pool remodel or any feedback from you about what you have experienced or ideas to share.  Please email me at


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