By Marc Luff and Dave Clark
Today’s backyards are a far cry from the kidney-shaped pools and concrete patios of our parents’ era. Advances in technology are bringing amazing new changes to swimming pool products and design, opening up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for backyard fun. The following is a look at some of today’s most popular trends.
Probably the most significant trend in recent years is the transition from free-flowing organic design to sleek modern design, and it seems to have happened overnight. Not long ago, curving random-shaped pools were the norm, but now the great majority of new pools are rectangular. The phrase often coined is “minimalist design.” Everyone seems to want clean lines and no busy patterns. Large simple tapestries of colour and texture are hugely popular as people move away from installing kidney-shaped pools or natural cottage-look backyards in favour of classic rectangular, contemporary, or all-out modern looks.
Outdoor living spaces
The trend towards outdoor living spaces has grown steadily to the point where people are now building complete lifestyle backyards. These generally include a pool with full landscaping, plus special features such as outdoor kitchens, living rooms, fire features, games area, and shade structures. Some even include a multi-room luxury cabana with a full entertainment system. The interest in healthy living has people going to great lengths to spend more time outdoors.
Some are choosing to make a significant investment in their backyard rather than travelling to a cottage. This allows them to spend more quality time with family and to enjoy the yard seven days a week. Another reason lifestyle backyards are popular is because entertaining at home can be more affordable and relaxing than going out to an expensive restaurant or club. Budget is always a key factor, but thanks to market innovation and competition, consumers now have a choice of good, better, or best for each backyard feature. For example, you can buy an out-of-the-box fire table for about $500 or a custom-designed and custom-built outdoor fireplace in natural stone for up to $12,000. Almost everything is available at every price level, so you may be surprised at how much you can get on a relatively modest budget.
Infinity pools, also called zero-edge or vanishing-edge pools, have been around for years and remain one of the ultimate status symbols for people who want the very best. It may be the dramatic vistas they produce, or the fact they cost more to build and maintain, but infinity pools keep their prestige. For those who want the look at a lower cost, a visual zero-edge pool uses an automatic water leveller to maintain the water level at the top of a glass end wall. This eliminates a number of costs including: building an overflow trough, finishing the trough in tile or stone, recirculation pumps, plumbing lines, heat loss from the continuous flow of water exposed to air, cleaning costs to remove debris from the trough, etc. A true infinity pool will cost more, but if you want the knife-edge horizon of a spill wall plus the drama and sound of flowing water, nothing beats the excitement of the real thing.