Pool Houses

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Extending Outdoor Season with a Pool House

Happily, as of this writing, there’s lots of summer left to enjoy. But as August rolls closer to September, school children aren’t the only ones dreading the end of summer. Adults and kids alike do not want the carefree feelings of outdoor living to end.

One way to ensure outdoor living continues long into fall (and begins again in early spring) is with a well-appointed pool house. Indeed, when the owners of a very large property on Long Island’s North Shore asked The Deck and Patio Company to plan a new destination pool area, one key element they wanted was a comfortable space for family and entertaining activities.

Also, the pool area was to be a distance from their main house, so, in addition to wanting a place to relax ‘bug-free,’ they wanted the ability to cook by the pool.

To be certain our team at Deck and Patio gave them everything they wanted in the pool house design, our team consulted with an architect familiar to us. This collaborative effort inspired a building that is in keeping with their main home’s overall elegance. In fact, it was their home which inspired the pool house’s reverse gable.

 

The pool house boasts:

two 20-by-20-rooms: one great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet is a cozy haven when nights become cooler — comfortably extending the outdoor season.;

the other is a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides where they can enjoy warmer nights by the pool without pesky insects.

Deck and Patio also worked with a reputable lighting firm to create the stunning nighttime scenes.

 

The complete plan included:

•800-square-foot pool house with a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom

•elegant Travertine patio

•50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool (approximate),

•spillover spa, waterfalls,

•outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade,

•outdoor shower.

 

Initially, this comprehensive plan came in way over budget for the clients. They declined our bid and sought estimates elsewhere. We were thrilled when they came back to us, because, in the end, they loved our ideas.

Their judgment must have been right, since the completed project won an International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a 2009 Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

With concrete wall and a vinyl liner, the approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool offers a spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall. The free-form pool is surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio.

 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

The pool house’s outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance.

 

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

At night, the destination pool area is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

 

Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

Pulling out all the stops of an organ increases the sound so an audience can hear everything — every grand sound, in all its lovely variations.

You might say that the two Long Island homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade also “pulled out all the stops” to orchestrate a wonderful experience in outdoor living. Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub (Bullfrog Spa) wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature (which they can enjoy on the upper patio, from the house and poolside) be extremely eco-friendly. For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.”

To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the lower-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with Bullfrog’s enviable massage jets — their patented JetPaks.

 

One last thought. The Waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property.

 

How To Be Confident In Backyard Design Plans

Sometimes even having a reputation as a top notch landscape design/build firm isn’t enough. For, while these Deck and Patio clients were enthusiastic about our design ideas, not being able to picture how it all would look when it was finished concerned them.

This was understandable. We weren’t being hired to simply tidy up their yard. They were looking for a backyard retreat that included a pool with spillover spa, dramatic pool surround, pool house and bar area and attractive landscaping — all in a contemporary design that fitted their style.

3D Landscape Design Plan

3D Landscape Design Plan

“However, our design team had an easy solution,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “We completed a 3D digital animation of the entire project using a special computer program. This permitted them to view every part of the retreat from any angle they wished. Once they saw what it all would look like, they were eager to go forward.”

Dave adds that having this computer program allowed us to document changes during the project — thereby giving the clients confidence that any alterations would appear as expected.

“A major part of their retreat was a custom-designed pool house, with all the amenities of a home. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers that are reminiscent of old-time European plazas; but we laid them in a random pattern that complemented the lines of the geometric pool.”

Outside the pool house is a custom 25-foot-wide pergola that enhances their ability to entertain in comfort. Providing shade while sitting at the bar or in lounge chairs, it is also a beautiful architectural piece that adds drama to the space.

The project was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.

“The award, although given to us, was as much the clients’ as ours,” says Dave. They contributed and participated at every level.”

 

 Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

The main feature in this award-winning project was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. Deck and Patio’s carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project. From the 25-foot-long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch.

 

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

The raised spa, topped with the same Cambridge Ledgestone pavers used on the patio, spills over through a rectangular cutout that echoes the pool’s overall geometric design.

 

 

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

As the clients step out of the pool house, they walk under a 25-foot-wide shade pergola making this space ideal for entertaining; there is also a handsome bar area, fitted with a sink and all the components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages.

 

 

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

A major part of the project was this custom-designed pool house, complete with a bathroom, changing room, and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view overlooking the pool.

 

Pergolas: When Throwing a Little Shade is a Good Thing

Perhaps it’s our cold winters. Or our great shorelines, rivers and lakes. Whatever the reason, in the northeast we love summer sun. We revel in sunny water sports, sunbathing, barbecues, etc. Yet, while enjoying the outdoors, there are times when we look for an escape from the sun and are grateful for something that will throw us a little shade.

A shade umbrella can often fit the bill. But unless you have a bank of them, or are seated together at a dining table, they are really only good for one person and they don’t offer the architectural beauty of a built structure. Cabanas and pavilions offer substantial and roomy breaks from the sun, but these may require permits and considerable planning to design/build.

It’s not surprising, then, that many find the simplest solution for some shade is the elegant pergola. “Pergolas are considered decorative or ornamental, so they rarely require permits,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And their construction is fairly straightforward, especially when using a prefabricated kit.

“While we do build a lot of pavilions and cabanas, etc., just as frequently, clients opt for the less complicated pergola. Occasionally, those that already have a cabana or pavilion want a little extra shade thrown in another outdoor area.”

unspecifiedDeck and Patio has found that clients also love the pergola’s open design. “Whether it’s made of vinyl, cedar, or fiberglass, etc., the structure allows for refreshing cross currents of air, yet is elegant enough to frame a picture-perfect outdoor sitting/gathering area,” adds Stockwell. “Plus, because of their simple design, you can expand them to fit pretty much any size space.”

What Exactly Defines a Pergola?

A pergola is constructed with open rafters at the top and is supported by posts. It’s usually of simple, durable construction and is free standing.

# 5“We find the two most popular pergola materials are vinyl and cedar,” says Stockwell. “Vinyl is usually white or cream in tone. Both are resistant to weather, rot and insects, although vinyl is completely immune to such deterioration.”

In the end, some clients prefer the handsome look of wood, and find they don’t mind periodic refinishing, which is necessary with natural wood structures (even cedar will require occasional staining and a sealant, otherwise its color will change over time). While others want a maintenance-free structure and choose vinyl.”

According to Stockwell, when deciding where you will place the pergola, consider where you will want shade most often — e.g., over a new outdoor bar, seating area, or barbecue. Then, so as to capture the right amount of shade from the pergola’s rafters, take note how the sun passes over your yard before deciding where to position it all, and at what angle, etc.

 

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

In addition to defining space elegantly, a pergola provides lots of shade if it is positioned well. Here, it crowns a handsome bar with stone facade with openings for two sheer descent waterfalls.

 

Pillared Pergola:

Pillared Pergola:

This pergola was built long and wide to shade a comfortable outdoor sitting area that includes a fire pit. It was positioned adjacent to a dining area shaded by a large umbrella. At the right time of day, the shade cast by the pergola’s rafters looks almost like a carpet — perfect for an outdoor sitting area.

 

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

This dramatic outdoor bar area is also a swim-up bar with in-pool bar stools. Its U shape turns into a patio-bar nestled underneath a handsome pergola. With striking white columns the pergola offers architectural drama as well as sufficient shade amid the day’s bright sunshine.

 

Pergola with Vines:

Pergola with Vines:

While creating a patio using permeable Techo-Bloc pavers that capture rainwater for the yard’s water features and landscape irrigation, the clients also wanted a large pergola. In doing all this, we were careful to protect their property’s 30-year-old-grape vine. The finished patio’s peaceful scene gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

The expansive pergola adorned with trailing plantings and vines offers lots of shade for outdoor dining. The new seat wall makes it easy for crowd-entertaining, providing extra sitting room within the pergola’s shade.

 

 

 

In-ground Swimming Pool Trends: What’s Making a Splash?

Talk about making a splash with beautiful backyard escapes! Swimmingpool.com recently highlighted some of the hottest trends in swimming pool design under such sub-headings as: “Attached Hot Tubs,” “Hardscapes,” “Geometric Design,” and “Go Big at Home.”

We can attest to much of the specifics of their post. As Long Island swimming pool designers and builders, we’ve been including many of these amenities for some time. Here’s some examples of how Deck and Patio has incorporated these trends into swimming pools we’ve done for a few of our savvy clients:

 

Attached Hot Tubs:

Attached Hot Tubs:

According to Swimmingpool.com, a growing trend is to “make the hot tub appear ‘invisible’ in the design.” These spa beauties are often placed with walkways or steps as you see here.

For these clients, an up-to-date style wasn’t the only inspiration for the design. With three young children, safety had become a major concern and they also wanted an automatic pool cover. Designing a geometric pool with a built-in spill-over spa recessed inside the pool allowed us to give them one automatic cover for both bodies of water. In addition, special automation allows them to isolate the spa and heat only the spa water.

 

 

Raised Spas:

Raised Spas:

In order to better view a beautiful pool when in the spa, another trend covered under Attached Hot Tubs is elevating spas “above” the pools. Indeed, we proved this a stunning choice for an existing pool by installing a portable Bullfrog Spa with a beautiful natural stone raised above the pool.

Special plumbing was added to regulate the new spa’s sheer descent water feature: water spills from the fire bowl into the hot tub; in turn, spa water flows out into the pool for a beautiful hot springs/Roman pool effect, and, of course, you have the perfect vantage point to enjoy the pool.

 

 

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

Sometimes, only elegance will do. One of the trends listed for pool hardscapes is Travertine and we have used it for some of our clients such as in this pool surround. Cool even in the heat of summer, Travertine is a type of limestone and is quite different from marble or granite. In climates such as the Northeast, with our freeze/thaw conditions, we’ve found that where Travertine is quarried determines how practical it is. More vital Travertine info.

 

 

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Free-form has been popular for a long time, and frankly still is, but there is a trend back to the geometric design. Here the striking geometric pool, with sheer descent waterfalls, is surrounded by a stunning patio in complementary random geometric patterns.

The steps at the far end of the pool — part of a natural retaining wall of boulders and plantings — lead to a delightful landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid.

 

 

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Under Swimmingpool.com’s trend “Go Big at Home” doesn’t mean building huge pools necessarily, but this trend is for incorporating ever more custom pool features. Here for drama you see a high waterfall spilling over a romantic grotto with spa inside. A gazebo with outdoor great room, elegant patio surround for entertaining and sunbathing, and lush colorful landscaping are just some of this backyard oasis’ amenities.

 

 

Destination Backyard Retreat Makes a Splash

The owners of a very large property on Long Island’s North Shore asked The Deck and Patio Company to plan a new destination pool large enough for volleyball. Also, because the pool area would be a distance from the house, they wanted the ability to cook by the pool, as well as have a place to relax — bug free.

Deck and Patio’s plan included:

  • 50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool (approximate),
  • spillover spa, waterfalls,
  • 800-square-foot pool house with a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom
  • elegant Travertine patio, and
  • outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade
  • outdoor shower.

However, our comprehensive plan came in way over budget for the clients. They declined our bid and sought estimates elsewhere. We were thrilled when they came back to us, because, in the end, they loved our ideas. Their judgment must have been right, since the completed project won a 2010 International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a 2009 Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).

When designing the pool house, our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Their collaborative effort inspired a building that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance,which inspired the reverse gable.

Bill Renter also worked with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives to create the stunning nighttime scenes.

 

Pool House:

Pool House:

This pool house boasts two 20-by-20-rooms: one great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet; the other is a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides where they can enjoy nights by the pool without pesky insects.

 

 

Destination Pool

Destination Pool:

At night, the destination pool area is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

Pool House

Pool House:

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Vinyl Pool:

Vinyl Pool:

With concrete wall and a vinyl liner, the approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool offers a spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall.

 

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen:

The outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance.