Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pool Upgrades – Fun Ways to Create Style and Function


by Jennifer Adams

Summer is almost here and your pool is calling out to you! If you haven’t done anything to it in a while, it’s time to think about upgrades to not only the pool itself but the landscape and areas around it for better entertaining, safety and looks.

Here are some of the things I think about when planning a backyard entertaining area with a pool.

Upgrade the finishes! Turquoise or white are not the only colors for swimming pools. If you haven’t resurfaced your pool in 10 to 15 years, it may be due. If you’re seeing chips, cracks or other damage, it’s definitely time. Check with your pool professional for a thorough inspection or for more information.


New plaster finishes with aggregates including pebbles, quartz or crystals look more natural and blend better with the landscape. They may also last longer than paints or other types of plaster.

Tiles of ceramic, terra cotta or stone are also attractive for not only the deck but the pool itself. Again, the structure of the pool needs to be in good enough condition for the tile to adhere.  Choose a rough surface to prevent a slippery surface when wet.  Contrast the color like a border to help delineate the edge of the pool from the rest of the deck area.

Colors and materials should match or at least coordinate with your home to make the pool area and decks look integrated with the whole design rather than an afterthought. Pool edges may be made of the same stone as retaining walls or fireplaces and chimneys, plaster finishes can match the paint on the house if it’s an earthy color. If your house is colorful, go for naturalistic poolside finishes and accent with colorful tiles for a cohesive look that won’t overpower.


Add lighting around the pool as well as inside the pool itself. This is a chore for the professionals because of the electrical hazards. You can have the whole pool lined with colored lights for a festive and dramatic nighttime glow. Twinkling lights, changing colors or other effects can even be programmed by a computer for a magical quality.

Lighting around the deck should also be installed by professionals. Illuminate all steps and changes of level for safety, including the edge of the pool if it rises above the level of the ground.

Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces make beautiful counterpoints to water. Plus the flickering glow adds warmth and drama, as well as heat on chilly evenings. If you’re concerned about ashes landing in your pool or smoke, consider a natural gas or propane fire.

Furnish poolside seating areas similar to interior rooms. Of course the materials may be different, such as sturdy and chic fabrics by Sunbrella that can handle the elements. Their fabrics are so attractive and durable that sometimes I even use them indoors!

Woods should be finished to withstand the weather. Teak, in particular, is a sturdy wood often used in decking and outdoor furniture. For your furniture’s longest life, store, refinish and clean according to the manufacturers’ instructions, and protect the furniture indoors or covered during bad weather.

Recover or replace outdoor cushions to keep up with the latest trends and for a fresh look. If you purchased your furniture recently, chances are good that the vendor has replacement cushions in new colors.

For a social area, use a sofa, two or three chairs, a big coffee table and end tables so that everyone has a place to set their drinks. Chaise lounges are lovely for relaxing at the side of the pool, but aren’t very comfortable for sitting to talk unless they’re sturdy enough to act like a bench. You can even get an outdoor TV like this one from Frontgate for the ultimate exterior living room!

If you have a lot of space, add seating areas for variety, such as four armchairs around a coffee table. Add small end tables for drinks.

Add shade with a trellis, umbrella or a tree, so the outdoor seating area is cool when the sun is fierce. Shade part of the pool too, if you live in a very warm climate and enjoy swimming during the day.

Outdoor kitchens are extremely popular but can be expensive. If you’re planning one, include a sink and beverage center. A cheaper and more flexible option is a portable bar cart like this one from Frontgate which keeps drinks, ice and snacks on hand, and a gas grill lets you cook for a crowd. Your guests won’t be picky, as long as the food is good and the conversation is better.

What do you think? Send me pictures of your pool and what you’ve done. I’d love to see it!






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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 AM 

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