How to Create the Ultimate Fantasy Pool

See the fascinating before-and-after of this swimming pool build featuring waterfalls, a secret grotto, a raised tanning shelf and more.

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Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Pool, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Hearthstone Environments, www.hsenviro.com

Not Your Typical Backyard Pool

Designers Brad Renken and Chris Carter of Hearthstone Environments take you on a tour of a backyard swimming pool project that evolved into something much more creative and whimsical with unexpected amenities like waterfalls and a private grotto with dinosaur wall art.

The Art of Excavation

The challenge facing the designers for this project was creating a pool that blended in naturally with the uneven terrain and sloping backyard. They also designed a pool house/family room that connected two houses, creating one unique residence with a pool that spanned two lots. 

The Big Stakeout

The unique shape of the pool is outlined in stakes revealing the curves and borders that will spotlight specific amenities such as a fire pit or patio area for entertaining and sunbathing.

Steel Cage Skeleton

Most swimming pools need a strong, durable support system which is provided by a steel cage structure (pictured above) and covered by a concrete mortar mixture that serves as the hard outer shell. Think of it as the skeleton of the main pool body. 

Fleshing Out the Details

The wooden supports in the center are the beginnings of a structure that will be covered in a concrete mixture and form a faux rock grotto complete with waterfall.

Like Sculptor's Clay

The entire shape of the pool is created by applying concrete with the force of air to the inside and walls, ultimately forming the structure. In the final stages the pool interior will be covered with a waterproof finish (available in various colors) that also aids in the longevity of the materials.

Waterfall Basics

Plumbing details and water pipes are hidden but accessible during the construction of the pool grotto which will host a running creek of water across the roof that will cascade into the pool as a waterfall.

Round and Round

A worker concentrates on completing a surface area adjoining the pool which will be used for entertaining. In this case, a circular fire pit will be the main attraction of this pool patio area that is bordered by a circular wall. 

Beauty Stains

Making faux rocks look like the real thing is actually a painstakingly detailed process of hand staining the surface of each one.

Aqua Accents

The perfect finishing touch to the upper exterior border of the pool sides are mosaic glass tiles which give a unique texture and color to the overall design.

Coming Soon

This shot of the pool in the final stages of completion gives you a good idea of the different levels, intricate design and fun, quirky details before the water is turned on. 

Rest Station

Blending in naturally with the organic flow of the rock-themed pool landscape is a ledge/sitting area where swimmers can sunbathe, rest and enjoy an open view of their surroundings. The purple mosaic glass tile introduces a distinctive color accent into the mix. 

A Little Something Extra

A stacked stone column with subtle insert lighting adds a touch of whimsy and an architectural anchor to the corner of a raised shallow tanning shelf and spillway. The mini lighthouse also adds nighttime ambiance and helps illuminate the surrounding pool area.

The View from Here

From a different angle, you can glimpse the mini lighthouse from the previous photo, now decorated with a potted plant, and view the entrance to the private grotto. The running stream and waterfall that cascade down the front of the grotto can be turned on or off on a whim. 

Inner Beauty

The inside of the grotto is even more colorful than the exterior thanks to the use of a type of glass bead (BeadeCrete) which is added to the PebbleTec walls for a custom finish that captures light and reflects it back in shimmering patterns.

Private Hideaway

Here is the point of view from someone inside the pool grotto, looking out through the waterfall. The grotto area can hold up to five people sitting down with another two to three swimmers standing up inside.

Evidence of Dinosaurs

Adding a touch of mystery and playfulness to the pool design is a delightful detail which can only be glimpsed on the ceiling of the pool grotto. 

Liquid Playground

A view from the top of the grotto reveals a raised tanning shelf on the side, an entry point with steps into the main pool and the background pool house/family room which integrates two former houses into one large residence. 

Cool Corner

In this detail of one corner of the completed pool you can see the fire pit area, another entry point into the pool and a variety of exotic vegetation around the edges which provides privacy and a touch of nature. 

Blue Fire

Gas lines and a stainless steel gas burner are hidden under a circle of blue chips known as “fire glass,” pebble-like fragments which are used to retain and direct heat in fire pits.

Grotto Glory

Why settle for an ordinary backyard swimming pool when you can have one that is not only made for swim parties but also an architectural wonder that combines a grotto, waterfall and other natural features into one lovely design?