Your Dream Outdoor Living Space
Follow the trends to transform your backyard
By Merry Wise
Trends in swimming pools, spas and the entire outdoor living scene have changed. What used to be considered “just a backyard” has been transforming to an outdoor room space for total enjoyment. From sophisticated sleek to wooded retreat, the trends in design, updates in technology and a plethora of spectacular new materials now combine to create a complete experience.
Zen is in. One of the most elegant trends in pool and spa design is the minimalist, mirrored effect of still water that appears to slip silently into a surrounding deck or vanish over an edge. These effects can be achieved in a number of ways — from a raised perimeter with the water sheeting down on all sides, to a flat “wetted edge” effect achieved with water slipping into a slot into the deck into piping that is hidden under the deck.
There are some edgy ways to incorporate a spa into this design as well — the spa can appear to float within the pool, or the wetted edge can continue over to the spa and around the edge of the spa. Simple materials in dark or muted colors usually complement this look best, keeping the theme neutral and classy.
However, a completely different ambience can take your outdoor fun space from zen to zowie with water movement! When space for a pool is not an issue, especially in a country place, some families are opting for their own lazy river water park right in their own backyard! Waterfalls, grottoes, elaborate slides, caves and even rope swings add to the fun of a personal water park.
Misting systems add to the atmosphere of a rustic design. And adding fire features elevate the wow factor at night! Whether tucked into waterfalls or added as a cozy fire pit surrounded by seating, fire and water together are magic.
Another trend is a bridge across the pool, and this can be fitted with a rain shower splashing water down from hidden piping with tiny holes on either side of the bridge. A pool and spa emphasizing the movement of water, and the joy of moving in water, definitely creates a fun and satisfying environment!
Some homes lend themselves best to classic styles, but even these have updates that can be more exciting with newer special water effects. Laminar fountains lend themselves especially well to these pools. A laminar water feature is usually placed at the corners of the pool and shoots a narrow arch of water into the center of the pool, often meeting in the middle from all four corners. These now have color changing light effects that can be gorgeous at night. Other classic sheer descent fountains, bubbler fountains and water cascading down a stepped fountain or from a high columnar arch add the right touch to the classic pool, and all can now be fitted with the light effects. Fire bowls are another dramatic effect to update the classic pool design.
The choices of materials and addition of outdoor kitchens, outdoor television sets, game areas and al fresco dining arrangements also completely transform the standard backyard into the outdoor room. Glass tile in lush colors — some that glow in the dark and special pebble interior materials for pools and spas — add both beauty and durability to today’s pools. Decking materials run a wide gamut to create just the right effect for the trend you wish to create.
With the wide variety of cooking accoutrements available now for outdoor use, you may find yourself cooking in your regular kitchen less and less and enjoying the outdoors more and more! Everything from BBQ grills to pizza ovens has become standard for today’s summer kitchen, which in our climate becomes a good year-round investment. Elegant outdoor furniture completes the comfort zone, and now a wide variety of game trends are available. One clever addition is an outdoor billiards table that converts to a dining table! Some even convert to ping pong tables.
But one of the most innovative changes in the backyard environment is the electronic equipment available for “touch of a button” convenience. You can monitor the pool operation and condition while away on vaction, or turn on the spa to be ready for a relaxing evening when the car pulls into the driveway. Similar electronics are available for the other equipment, lighting, etc., around the yard.
The ideal times to create the backyard environment of your dreams, utilizing as many of the trends as your imagination and budget can incorporate, are the fall and winter months. Designers, craftsmen and builders are able to devote their full attention to your project, and you can take your time and truly create an outdoor paradise.
So, picture yourself in the pool of your dreams, and get started making that dream a reality, surrounding it with a space to make your backyard into a trendsetter!