We finally did it. We took the plunge (no pun intended) and installed the in ground pool we’ve been wanting for seventeen years, since we left our first home. This has been quite a journey to say the least, but I’m so thrilled to finally be sharing our resort style pool and backyard with you. I shared a few details about this space a while ago, with before and progress pictures of our new pool and backyard, in this post, if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet.
Today, I’ll walk you through some of the details, challenges, restrictions and our decisions, all while trying to keep everything within our somewhat modest budget. No matter how you look at it, an in ground pool is a significant expense. I won’t be disclosing our costs with you today, but I will tell you that you can have a gorgeous in ground pool and yard without spending your entire life savings. We tried our best to stick to our budget – albeit with a few extras and upgrades – with the type of pool that we chose, the decking and landscaping. All while creating an upscale feel as much as possible. I’m not saying it’s inexpensive at all – there are always unforeseen costs and upgrades as well – but I am saying there are ways to create a dream space you love and keep it within a reasonable budget.
Read on for all the details, I hope you’ll love it as much as we do!
Affiliate links are provided throughout this post – see my full disclosure policy here. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. A special thank you to Cailini Coastal for all of our beautiful outdoor pillows.
WELCOME TO OUR RESORT STYLE POOL + BACKYARD OASIS!
I like to call this a resort style pool because of the sleek, modern style with flush inset stairs, and also because that was the feeling I wanted to capture in our backyard. We wanted an escape that takes you somewhere between an elegant island getaway and a chic Italian resort hotel to an upscale East Coast estate. One can dream, right?
That might sound like a tall order, but I wanted to create a look and feel in our backyard that’s transportive, restorative, relaxing and peaceful as soon as you step foot out here. And that’s exactly what you experience when you’re back here. On a smaller scale of course!
This has been a long time coming and a true labor of love, but through all the stress and dollars spent, we are so in love with how our new resort style pool turned out. Ok, it’s not as large or as elaborate as an island retreat, European resort or East Coast getaway, but it is definitely our bliss.
A new, sleek walkway laid with stone pavers, leads you from our driveway through part of our side yard, up to where our new pool is situated. It wraps around the house along the back, and takes you to our existing stone patio. It serves as the perfect transition and connection to the rest of our yard.
You can enter our pool deck area from the side yard walkway, where there’s a single gate, or from this side, which is off the existing patio, where there are double gates leading you in.
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You’re immediately greeted by our beautiful woven loungers and umbrellas to the left, beckoning you to sit back, relax and sip on a refreshing poolside drink. On the opposite end, our entertaining and conversation area is a favorite spot to gather.
Our backyard and entire property is surrounded by trees (yard and pool maintenance and cleaning is a tough one!), with no neighbors behind us, or on one side of our property.
There’s nothing like being out here to take in all the beautiful greenery and chirping birds. It’s my favorite place to be and we could not be happier that we finally went ahead and installed our beautiful new resort style pool.
OUR RESORT STYLE POOL: THE DECOR + DETAILS
I’d been on the hunt for the perfect loungers that were chic, affordable and have woven detailing that you’d find on a Nantucket estate.
I found these beauties on Amazon.ca for a steal and we truly love them. The closest thing I could find on Amazon.com are these chic loungers. If you’re looking for a similar style as an investment, these loungers are gorgeous and much more upscale.
We bought four of these beauties and love them! They are perfect for that East Coast vibe we wanted.
Placing loungers in a row, styled with side tables (we use our garden stools), chic fringe umbrellas, and striped towels, help create that oh so chic resort look right at home.
This green garden stool is an oldie and a favorite of mine. I love it out here on our pool deck – it adds personality, a unique touch to our space and lends itself to that chic vacation vibe I was after.
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I also love to either fold or roll our towels and place them at the end of each lounge chair when we have friends and family over for a swim to add to that resort feeling I want to create.
Our striped turkish towels with terry cloth backing are the perfect addition for our resort style pool. Unfortunately, only the small stripe is still available, but here is a similar style from this Etsy shop which has so many different kinds to choose from and the prices are fabulous.
We also love our new pillows from Cailini Coastal and how they elevate the look of our loungers, for more of that global escape feeling!
We bought two of these ‘molto chic’ umbrellas to help create the resort feel we were after…ready for the Italian Riviera, anyone?!
This base is 26.5 lbs and was the best bang for our buck, and I love the chic white!
Now, they elegantly grace our pool deck. I love the elegant and sophisticated island feel they bring to our yard. They pair perfectly with my beautiful Mama’s blue and white planter.
This stunning palm leaf ginger jar is one of my recent favorites! It is perfect anywhere I use it and adds a glamorous island feel to our new resort style pool.
At the end of our pool deck is some of our existing patio furniture that we’ve had for quite a few years. You may remember seeing these pieces when we updated our yard in this patio makeover post, and this patio refresh post.
You get the full view of our yard from over here. It’s a great spot to entertain around the fire table, sip some wine or Aperol Spritz, thanks to my cousin, Nikki, it’s my new favorite Italian drink!
Our gorgeous outdoor lumbar pillows from Cailini Coastal are the perfect compliment to our chic navy and white daybed, and create the perfect perch to relax and take it all in. These gorgeous bright blue pillows compliment our wingback chairs so beautifully too.
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THE CHALLENGES WITH DESIGNING + BUILDING OUR RESORT STYLE POOL
We encountered a number of issues with the grading of our property that we didn’t foresee when we started out, with quite a large slope from one side of the pool deck to the other.
We had to build a small retaining wall on one end, where the pool deck sits flush with our existing stone patio (and the yard starts sloping upward), and build up a garden on the other end to hide that it was almost two feet above the ground.
All the perennial plants you see, which are different varieties of Hostas, were transplanted here from the garden that was previously underneath our kitchen window.
We also planted some New Guinea Impatiens and Spike plants as fillers, which you’ll also find in our window boxes and pots throughout our property.
I always love to use large Majesty Palms around our yard as well, to create that lush, island style feel. Oscar de la Renta would love our resort style pool, ha!
Our garden is planted to the very furthest limit our septic system weeping field would allow for. This was another challenge we faced – our septic system takes up the entire side yard, so we could only install our pool right where it is to be able to have a large enough deck surrounding it.
The deck is poured concrete and is pushed to the the maximum on all sides, that municipal laws would allow, and also to avoid any potential damage to the septic system. We literally used every inch we could in this yard!
With a new federal safety law in place, we also had to fence the pool in completely with self closing, and self locking gates around the entire pool, that must not be attached to our home and also must be a minimum distance of four feet from the house, doors and windows as well.
The fence had to be installed on top of the concrete decking (because of the uneven grading), which makes the usable space a little smaller, by about a foot all the way around the pool deck.
To keep our costs low, we opted to leave our existing patio intact for now, to avoid having to completely dig it up, creating more construction. We plan to upgrade the pavers to match our new walkway, hopefully next year.
We placed the pool to the side for that reason, but also because we didn’t want a fence running across our backyard, or visible from our patio doors and living room.
What we do love about where we had to install our pool, is a sprawling backyard layout from one side to the other, starting with our gazebo, leading to our patio dining area (which used to also have a conversation area that’s now on the pool deck), which leads to our pool.
POOL DESIGN + BUILD CHALLENGES
Building a pool is no easy feat! Below is a recap of the challenges and restrictions we faced along the way.
- Our uneven property that forced us to build a small retaining wall on one side of our pool deck and create a sloping garden on the opposite side to hide the two foot difference from one end to the other.
- Laws that mandate a fence that surrounds the entire pool.
- To avoid seeing the fence run across the backyard, we installed the pool to the side of the patio. We have a septic system on far the side of the house and yard that created size constraints for the pool and deck. We installed a 10′ x 20′ pool, as this was the maximum size the remaining yard would allow.
- With a wooded lot, we opted to cut only two very large pine trees to minimize our costs. Had we installed the pool further back toward the trees, we would have had to cut more and also build a larger retaining wall. That would have been a very big expense. We opted to stick to our budget.
ADDITIONAL COSTS WHEN INSTALLING AN IN GROUND POOL
EXTRAS THAT ADD UP WHEN BUILDING OUR POOL
Expenses can add up fast! Below are unforeseen items that added to the cost, upgrades and the extras beyond the pool itself.
- The pool itself was about half of our total cost for this project. We did buy it on promotion which included the resort style stairs and heating system. At regular price, it would have been significantly more. It also included all of the materials, saltwater system and excavation.
- Pool permit from the city.
- Retaining wall on one corner of the pool.
- Extra landscaping and grading.
- With limited property access due to our grading and septic system, it forced us to pay extra for smaller machinery and plywood boards to lay over the septic system to avoid damage.
- A septic weeping field locator service.
- Tree and stump removal.
- Land surveyor drawings, mandated by the city, for a plan of the new pool design + yard layout, ensuring it meets city bylaws.
- A new certificate of location from the same land surveyor once the project is complete. Once submitted, the permit cost is refunded.
- Pool cover and installation for winter (those little brass circles on the deck are the anchors).
- Concrete pad for pool equipment.
- Fence to hide equipment – this is on the list for next year.
- Fence for the pool, mandated by federal law.
- Plants along the driveway to conceal cars – moved to next year’s list.
- Water brought in by truck to fill the pool, as mandated by the city.
- Electrician to install and hook up wiring for lighting, heating, saltwater and pump systems.
UPGRADES + EXTRAS
- We chose to upgrade our heating system, which is a must in our northern climate!
- Upgraded pump system that’s more energy efficient.
- While we saved on installing a poured concrete deck vs. stone tile or pavers, we splurged on enlarging it as much as we could.
- Square bullnose edge around the pool.
- Retaining wall and walkway.
- Update existing patio to match the new walkway – on the list for next year.
- Patio loungers, umbrellas and stands.
- Pool accessories – floats and towels.
- A smaller pool size, at 10′ x 20′.
- A vinyl liner pool.
- Poured concrete pool deck.
- Keeping our existing backyard layout.
- Keeping all of our existing furniture – we hope to replace some of it next year.
- No water features.
This spot is by far my favorite place to sit, relax and appreciate all of the incredible nature that surrounds us.
I love the view of the back of our home, especially at dusk, when the sky is shifting in color and the twinkle of evening lights are coming on as it gets dark. It truly is so peaceful and gives me so much gratitude.
As long as it’s not raining (we’ve had a lot this year!), you’ll find me out here, either working on my laptop, relaxing and floating in the pool, or simply being and just taking it all in.
It’s exactly that island escape -meets-Italian resort hotel-meets-East Coast estate feel I was looking for…
Thank you so much for reading with me, I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of our resort style pool and backyard, and I hope you were able to find some inspiration to create your own Island-Euro-American getaway. xo
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