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Omaha Magazine

A Well Planned Pool Paradise

Jun 21, 2023 04:26PM ● By Michelle Horst
thyme and theory michelle horst home july august 2023

Photo by Mandy McGregor.

The “Dog Days of Summer.” When I hear that phrase, I think about barbecuing with family and friends and lying by the pool, enjoying the sun and the season’s relaxed vibe. So, before we bought the lot for our new-build home, we identified the design elements we wanted for our ideal backyard, including a pool. 

Above all, we knew we wanted to create a resort feel, like walking out of a hotel suite and right to the edge of the water. We planned our pool to sit close to the house, just one step down from the patio area. And we chose an 18-foot by 44-foot rectangular lap-style pool, wide enough to be a sports pool for playing volleyball or basketball with friends, and at most 48 inches deep to be friendly to all ages.

Recreating the lazy resort style, we added a 6-foot sundeck area on the poolside closest to the house. Today this area gets the most use, as it’s perfect for toddlers to splash around in while still being close to the bigger kids playing in the deeper areas. Someday, I will use the sundeck for laying out…when I’m not on constant lifeguard duty. But until then, I'll enjoy the little ones giggling and splashing to their hearts' content.

We also chose a saltwater pool over a chlorine pool, mainly for the health benefits. Saltwater pools use fewer harsh chemicals, making the water gentler on skin and hair. My kids, unfortunately, were ‘blessed’ with my sensitive skin, and we knew we'd be in the pool most days, so this was an important factor. Another benefit is that the saltwater would require less maintenance. The one downfall for us was that it would require more money upfront for the equipment. Still, it would pay for itself over the years. 

If you have been following my Thyme & Theory articles, you know my love for the beach and being on the water. So, when it came to the design scheme for the pool and landscape, I wanted to incorporate a beach feel.  

 We chose a vinyl pool liner (which holds up well in Nebraska’s weather) in the Crystal Quartz colorway pattern, a light-colored liner with blue speckles that keeps things very bright and airy. I kept the plants around the pool pretty basic, choosing a variety of ornamental grasses and hydrangeas, and used 2- to 3-inch beach pebbles instead of mulch to give a tropical feel. 

The type and size of the pool furniture was an important design element we considered early in the design phase. 

The concrete decking needed to be wide enough to allow guests to walk easily between the pool and the furniture, and the seating needed to be practical as well as plentiful. We settled on four oversized teak loungers placed along one long side, and four sling chairs at the pool’s far end. 
Although aesthetics are important, safety was our primary focus. We needed to make sure our small children (and uninvited 'guests') were not getting into the pool unsupervised. To manage that risk, we added an automatic retractable pool cover that locks, which allows us to limit pool access when not in use. The auto-cover is marketed as being strong enough to support a whole family walking across, which gives us peace of mind. It also helps keep bugs, dirt, tree pollen, or anything else floating on the wind from landing in the water.

Many times, I get asked what I would do differently if I were to build the pool again. The No. 1 thing I would change would be to add a laminar fountain or two, which would pull double-duty as a visual design element and a means of aerating the pool, reducing the number of chemicals needed.

All this writing about the pool has me thinking—it’s time to grab a lemonade and head out for a quick dip before the kids return from summer camp. 

Happy Dog Days! 

For more information and photos, follow Horst @ThymeandTheory on Instragram

Photo by Mandy McGregor.


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