WaterworksPublished on May 10, 2010


On a gloriously hot and sunny day, a home with a beautiful pool is a winner!

 In fact, two very experienced Ottawa realtors agree that the perfect pool can be a bonus feature that will appeal to all summer swimmers, toe dippers and water gazers alike. But the key is to think outside the basic, garden-variety, swimming pool box.

Marilyn Wilson, a top sales representative with Royal LePage Performance Realty, specializes in the luxury home market and reports an increased interest in high-end, custom pools. "I've been showing luxury properties for twenty years and backyard pools used to get mixed reactions. Today, I have more clients who expect a luxury home to include a well-designed pool that is fully landscaped and integrated to function as an extension of the house."

The emphasis is on high quality, in-ground pool construction with value-added features such as waterfall jets, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, heaters and incorporated hot tubs. Additionally, Marilyn sees a trend that favours style as much as function, with aesthetically pleasing pool designs that satisfy all the senses. "Many people simply enjoying being around water and want to create a tranquil, outdoor living space that feels like a private resort."

Describing her own pool as anchored to the house by a large stone terrace with all the bells and whistles, Marilyn says that it's important to place a pool in a gorgeous setting with beautiful gardens, stonework and patios to increase the resale value of a home. Extensive garden and pool lighting is another beneficial element that prolongs evening enjoyment.

Living in Kanata Lakes with a family of three kids, Royal LePage Team Realtor John Jenkins understands how invaluable a pool can be to people with busy lives. "It's a big lifestyle factor. Not everyone has time to go away at the weekend, so a pool with all the accessories is like having a backyard cottage."

A pool alarm, fence and locks are essential safety features for the Jenkins family. His must-have list includes a heater so that even on a cool or cloudy day, the little-ones are happy to jump right in. A hot tub helps to attract adults and tempts teenagers to hang out at home with their friends.

Another advantage of contemporary pools is that maintenance is far easier, notes Jenkins. This, he says, combined with the availability of environmentally-friendly salt-water pools, patio heaters and a wide range of outdoor living conveniences, is making them more popular with certain homebuyers.

Installing a pool was a priority for Grant McDonald, Carol Devenny and their 17-year-old son Braden, when they moved into their Rockcliffe Park home almost four years ago. "Every time we move, I build a pool," laughs Grant, who adds that he got it right the third time with a salt-water pool in a natural oasis that is fully loaded for maximum family use, big parties and professional entertaining.

Designed by landscape architect Stephen Armstrong and constructed by Benson Pools, the gunite pool was formed from concrete for durability and to customize the shape and size, which is roughly 19x38 feet. A special plaster finish shimmers with dramatic colour on sunny days and the family love the "resort feel" of the look and texture. Keeping the pool depth to around five feet is great for playing water-polo and eliminates the diving factor.

Other custom features include swim-out steps and an underwater bench for sitting in the pool partially submerged. Two hand-carved, stone waterfalls provide a stunning visual along with soothing white noise, and the pool also has automated colour-changing lights. Grant is particularly pleased with the salt-water chlorination system: "It's amazingly easy to maintain and swimmers comment on the noticeably 'silky' feel to the water."

Bordered by elegant gardens with a unique sculpture, a covered stone patio, and a custom-built change room, the pool blends into a natural landscape. Throw in multiple backyard lighting options, an integrated indoor/outdoor sound system and a hot tub with an iPod hook-up, and it's easy to see why the outdoor space is a haven for the family.

An intimate, urban-style pool is just as precious to a young family in Westboro. The homebuyers were attracted to the Zen-like feel of the peaceful backyard and lovely stone pool when they bought the house. It offers them and their two children, aged two and three, an easy escape with a sense of calm amidst the active city neighbourhood.

At approximately 15-feet long, the narrow L-shaped pool is definitely not for serious lap swimmers. It's more of a glamorous dipping pool, ideally suited to splashing toddlers and playing adults, or for sitting on the raised stone ledge with dangling legs. Swim-out steps with a lower ledge around the pool's interior help make it even more child-friendly. Being relatively shallow, at about four feet, it's less expensive to crank up the heat. That makes it more inviting for the kids and extends the season.

With a sitting ledge and four jets at one end of the pool, plus mood-enhancing pool lights, it quickly becomes the parents' very own "celebrity hot tub." Making the pool the focus of their backyard summer fun, the parents enjoy creating an environment that their kids love and where they are happy to host casual get-togethers.

Pools today, with all the accessories, are no longer just for swimming. They are proving to be an attractive lifestyle feature for a wide range of homeowners in a variety of locations who want to play and relax at home. With so many different designs and construction choices available, people are discovering that cool pools are hot!


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