At long last I sat down for a few days (not kidding!) to share a full tour of our pool, cabana and courtyard. We started this project very early in 2020 and finished up October 2020. Honey dreamed of a backyard pool for 12.5 years. While it took me that entire time to warm up to the idea, now that its done I am in love. It has been an endless source of fun, happiness, entertainment, leisure and joy for our family.
Backyard Pool Tour
I shared this video tour last month. It is long, but shows every angle and detail.
Sharing all of these details felt like a daunting task! I figure we should start at the entrance, just like our guests do. We linked the backyard to the driveway by creating a pinestraw and mulch bed with stepping stones. We didn’t want to have to run a sprinkler over here for a small patch of grass and, almost a year in, this has worked beautifully. We installed the landscape lighting with the pool contractor at the very end of the process – like a cherry on top.
The Stay Awhile sign is Magnolia for Target and is attached with black zip ties.
The gate opens to what we call the courtyard. This is a great shot to see the overall layout and how we incorporated the existing porch to seamlessly work with the new spaces. The porch and fence gate both open to the courtyard. The cabana sits at the end of the pool deck adjacent to the courtyard. And then the pool basically runs the length of the porch.
We decided to invest in turf for this area for a few reasons. First, I didn’t relish the idea of grassy, muddy feet jumping into the pool. In addition to that, Honey didn’t want this one single patch of grass to maintain, water and care for. Finally, I wanted to be able to have a comfortable dining table out here without worrying about it killing the grass or having ants on my bare feet. While turf is pricey, we didn’t have too big of a spot and we figure over the course of a couple of years it will pay for itself.
Honey installed the string lights himself. They are truly the most charming thing I’ve ever seen and I adore them. There is absolutely nothing I’d rather do that sit out here relaxing with the family, chatting with friends or enjoying a meal under the twinkle lights. When he asked me my favorite part of the whole thing, I replied “the lights”. :-)
- We used 3 x 48″ strands for this space.
- He attached them to the house with white hooks.
- He attached the cords to the hooks with black zip ties.
- He used black electrical tape to bunch up the extra cord where two lines were connected. You can just see that below on part of the fireplace.
- We had the contractor install an outlet at the top corner of the cabana just for this purpose.
- We had the option to tie the lights into the outdoor lighting but it was expensive and we had to cut this project off somewhere. We use a remote outlet and it has worked seamlessly. We can turn them on and off from inside the house – it has great reach.
Towels and Hooks
If you’ve been around this blog for a while you’ll know that my entire home has a Southern coastal touch to the decor, despite the fact that I live in land-locked Atlanta. I continue the subtle theme out here by using dock cleats as towel hangers. We attached these to the back side of the porch fireplace and they have been SO convenient. The kids actually use them and this area gets full sun so towels dry quickly.
The towels were from Target but are no longer available.
Dining & Ping Pong Tables
We used the courtyard year round! The dining table seats 8 when chairs are pulled up to the end. (Ours was a floor sample but link below.) I loved the look of it, but mostly the size. I also like that the benches fully tuck up under the table because….
We also use it for ping pong!! We had this old ping pong topper for the pool table in the basement. The boys and their friends have been on a billiards bing so the ping pong topper was sadly sitting in the storage room. I cajoled Honey into painting it white and bringing it outside. He used some sort of weather proof exterior paint but we still try to bring it inside when we leave town or are expecting a week of rain. The entire family and ALL of the boys’ friends have spent hours here playing ping pong. It’s been such a fun addition! The topper is starting to show some wear so we have plans for something more permanent soon. Stay tuned.
I took these pictures with the giant flag for the Fourth hanging. Much of the year this is a solid white wall that we use to project movies!! In the height of quarantine last year we started doing movies under the stars for the boys and their friends. Well, it turns out we love it still. We project movies right here on the wall – no screen needed, although I’ve linked the one we have below – and pull the loungers from the pool over into the grass.
The last little bit of the courtyard to share is this gardenia bed. It was a genius addition by our contractor to camouflage the inground trash cans original to the house. Despite their best effort, they couldn’t’ get them out without compromising the house – they were actually part of our home’s foundation. He built a wall around them and filled it with the most delicious smelling gardenias, keeping in mind that we didn’t want anything tall that would interfere with movies. This wall has also become a great place to sit! There are often a crew of people sitting here watching ping pong!
Now, what I know you all actually came for… the pool!! I wanted something that would like it could have been original to our 1964 house in size and shape, with today’s finishes and luxuries of course. Every contractor we brought in here wanted to sell me a lagoon style free form pool. I was adamant that I wanted a beautiful, simple rectangle and we chose our contractor because he was willing to bring that to life!
Here is the view looking from the courtyard…
From the cabana…
And from the other corner…
I am happy to answer any and all questions, to the best of my ability. Here are the specs from our contract. I don’t know what some of this means, but including:
- Size 18×38
- Shallow end 3.5′ graduates to deep end of 8.5′
- Estimated 25,650 gallons
- Spa 7′ round finished with 6 jets; Split face ivory stack stone; 2×12 2″ bullnose for radius and coping
- Tanning ledge with 3 bubblers and 2 umbrella holders
- Waterline Tile is 6×6 CT BIM 65 Sea from Classic Pool Tile (I THINK!)
- Deck Tile 24×24 travertine in Ivory, laid on diagonal
- Coping 12×24, 2″ bullnose travertine in ivory
- Pebble Wet Edge Technologies Signature Matrix Aqua (with some prism matrix glass beads thrown in, per our contractor)
- Shotcrete, salt water, Jandy equipment & heater
- We did not need retaining walls and opted to just have the yard gently slope down from the pool deck on both sides. We did not landscape back there. Just put down pinestraw since we have so many pine trees.
While I drew out the overall design and layout of the backyard area, the whole family worked together to tweak it. For example, I wanted a large sun shelf. Honey wanted a large hot tub. The boys wanted a deep end. Thus, ended up with all of the above and a very tiny shallow end. :-)
The umbrellas were from Target and are unavailable. Funny story… I ordered them online during covid when I wasn’t going to stores. Well, the first one came, I opened the box and it was brown. I ordered another and the same thing. By umbrella number SIX, Honey took charge. He opened up the box and fully removed it. Sure enough, it was aqua. They all were. They came in a brown canvas bag. LOL.
You can find me here on this sun shelf almost every day after work and on the weekends. It has been a lovely spot for napping, reading, watching the kids and chatting with friends. The two chairs were a complete splurge, but after extensive research this was the brand to get. Elsa Belle also loves it. She seems to HATE water and limits her swimming to walking on the shelf.
Y’all know I love a good matchy-matchy decor item and the pool floats were no exception. These were inexpensive and have lasted all season with constant use.
At first I didn’t know what we would do with this little half moon bump at the end of the deck, but it was a lovely touch and I decided to keep it. Well, it has become such a nice spot to sit! Speaking of which, we have really enjoyed having seating at all ends of the pool because there is sun or shade at all times of the day, depending on where you choose to sit. This area feels like an escape in the middle of a hydrangea garden. Dreams really do come true… :-)
The lounge chairs were ALL found at the Frontgate Outlet Tip: If there is a catalog item you like and you have an outlet near you, there’s no need to stalk it! They keep a wait list by item. Over the course of the pool construction, I was able to get 6 chairs at a fraction of the retail price. All are in mint condition. They would call each time they had a set, I purchased over the phone and picked up at our convenience. I specifically wanted these because my bestie has them. :-) They have held up for her over many years and I knew how comfy they were. Also, I did not want to have to deal with lounger cushions. My own personal pool nightmare would be having to drag cushions in and out during every afternoon rain storm, and then store them somewhere when not in use.
Here you can see the remaining four chairs. This area gets sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.
When we have company, I put out the cute throw pillows and turkish towels (target, no longer available). My bestie always provides pool towels and sunscreen for her guests to use and I have loved that over the years! I knew I’d want to do the same when we put our pool in. We tell people – just bring yourself and your swim suit. :-)
The pillows and covers are from etsy. Since I wasn’t seeing Mother last year I ordered them. <3
Spa & Fire Pit
Our paperwork says the spa is 7′ but I swear it is bigger. I think Honey upped the size behind my back. :-) It very comfortably seats six. We used this thing ALL fall, winter and spring and it was amazing! Even when the pool was too cold to swim in (and it didn’t make sense to heat), we had the hot tub. In early spring, I’d just heat the hot tub to swimming temp and float around. Ha!
Behind the spa is a firepit. It’s almost not noticeable in many pictures and even in person. This was another space that was in constant use up until the dog days of summer. The teens, in particular, spent many nights out here!
The chairs are huge, comfy and heavy – they are very nicely made. I also invested in 4 blankets for the coldest nights and it was lovely to snuggle up under the stars by the fire. I got two tables to use for a bottle of wine, smores fixings, etc. The teens use them for additional seating.
I don’t have a “before” to share, but our contractor seamlessly tied in the basement entry. It was a mess before and we planned to leave it as is. He smartly advised us that we couldn’t get to the 95% mark and quit. The pool equipment is on a pad in the far right corner. The hose and stuff is on the left. Stairs are now a straight shot to the basement. There is a gross but functional bathroom down there, which is nice. I also have a drying rack inside the door to encourage teens to not leave wet towels all over creation. (That’s running 50/50 at best.)
The last area to share is the cabana! I really, really wanted this part of the project and we almost saved it for phase 2. Of course, you know how phase 2 goes… it never does. HA! The cabana has been used non-stop, year round and we are SO glad we did it.
I wanted this space to enjoy it, but also dreamed it up to be functional. The back cabana wall serves as both a fence and for a HUGE amount of privacy from the street. We needed a spot for his grills (for 12 years he had to back out his car and roll the grill out to the driveway. I finally sold him with the “giant” tv. :-)
I eyed the furniture out here all spring and we finally snatched it up during the July 4th sale last year. It is super comfy and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this space. The boys and their friends use it all weekend long, but during the week I frequently find somebody out here having a snack and watching tv. The palm print covers are sold out but I’ve linked the shop below. In the cooler months, I have plenty of blankets for all of the seating.
Honey built the table along the back wall. It was sized to be able to store large storage bins under! This is where I keep the chaise lounge pillows and tons of towels for the kids. The fabric skirting was repurposed from old drapes on the porch.
I absolutely loved the idea of swivel chairs here because they can face inside the cabana for conversation or tv watching OR they can turn to face the pool!
I love to bring the inside out and the cabana was no exception to that. Here are a few of the details…
The coffee table was the huge decor splurge! I fell in love with it at first sight, reminding me of a large piece of coral, and it is the one and only thing I own from Serena and Lily. The cute little fish was from Paris Market in Savannah. The rug was an outlet clearance find, but I’ve linked it full price below.
The candle sconces reminded me of shells and I purchased with a generous gift card from a client. They are no longer available in white but I’ve linked the other color. :-) Not wanting to burn down the cabana, I use battery powered, remote operated tapers. They aren’t perfect, but they are safe.
The clear geode box was the very first thing I purchased from the pool, when scoping out the Frontgate Outlet. I still love it! We use it to store remotes, koozies, matches, sunglasses and coasters.
We did two ceiling fans and a lantern for lighting. The light was old from John’s nursery and had been stored in the attic for a decade.
My bestie found the shelf at Target in what she calls “delightful blue”. :-) She knew it would be perfect for towels and storage. Honey put it on casters for me so we can roll it out onto the pool deck when a bunch of kids are over. Wire baskets store ping pong paddles and balls and sunscreen and goggles.
I wanted the furniture centered in the cabana. On the left side wall we left space to store the Big Green Egg, Blackstone (to right of egg… not really visible here) and trash can.
That resulted in some available space on the right side wall. We added a ledge right under the railing for extra bar seating! This has been absolutely perfect for kids and we also use it frequently for serving drinks and snacks. It’s a little too tall for the chairs, but the boys and their friends are big enough now that it works. I found the chairs cheapest on some random website, but the page is now down. Look alikes are linked below.
More hydrangeas line the far railing. We have truly loved this space! And, yes, we still use the porch too. There’s no TV there so it’s a quiet feeling area. I love to have my morning coffee there. We also enjoy most suppers on the porch since it is screened. We have fly bags in a few strategic places, which are a huge help, but a few pesky flies always seem to find our food anyway.
While it took me a year to share the pool reveal, I’ve shared a number of soirees and poolside gatherings!
Decorated for the Holidays
You can find my poolside holiday decor in these posts. I go all out for Christmas and the Fourth. I usually do my porch for Halloween but it felt weird last year, with the beautiful summery pool in the background. I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing this year.
Well, I think I’ve covered it all! Of course, if you have any questions, please ask. Thank you all for hanging in to the end of this long post. I wish I could have each and every one of you over for a swim! <3
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED