pool anthony laney

Rethink traditional swimming pools with pandemic-induced installation delays


With the population making better use of their homes, the pool has been one of the most in-demand amenities during the last year.

Those consumers who owned pools early last year were especially thankful to have one, valuing that amenity above all others – except home offices, which it tied with – in 2020, according to Luxury Portfolio International’s late 2020 report, The Modern Luxury Home: Reimagined. Both designers and real estate agents alike have reported a surge in popularity for the pool.

“Everybody wants a pool down here. If you don’t have a pool already, the pool contractors are so backed up,” said Laurie Zoerb, Realtor at John R. Wood, about her Naples, Florida market. ”I just sold my neighbor’s house – he’s a year out before he can even get a pool and a contractor.”

Lap it up

Beyond this backlog for pools, another challenge for urban residents is the lack of space for a traditional pool.

Anthony Laney, partner and architect at Laney LA, frequently works in highly populated Manhattan Beach, California. Pools are often requested, but backyards can be limiting in space.

To combat this, Mr. Laney will install a jet system for swimming laps within a pool that is only about 20 feet – a third of the size of a traditional pool.

Mr. Laney’s more fascinating solution was a project in which he created the Disappearing Pool with various floor levels ranging from both a deep and shallow pool, up to a sports court and, finally, a level entertainment area. To do this, the floor of the pool rises and lowers at the click of a button.

“The Disappearing Pool was highly influenced by our need to save space and have both a yard and a pool,” Mr. Laney said.

“Just as the dining room is now the office, spaces no longer have a stationary nametag — they need to perform multiple uses,” he said.

Expanding on the former, Mr. Laney recently worked on a yard with a side-by-side hot and cold plunge tubs, for additional wellness benefits.

Hot water

Keeping in mind the delay for pool installation, it may be better for some to entirely reconsider the backyard. There are a number of other water features that consumers can include for a similar effect.

For one, water features – waterfalls and water walls – add the visual and audible appeal of water, according to Mr. Laney. Elements such as this provide a serene or meditative quality to the outdoor space.

Spas, too, are a clear choice and can be enjoyed by families and adults. The added benefit is that they can be enjoyed from smaller exterior spaces, such as balconies or courtyards.

The versatility of the hot tub allows homeowners to envision the space as either a serene environment, reminiscent of a day at the spa by surrounding it with natural elements and plants, or as an entertainment space with a complementing music systems and lights.

Expanding on the former, Mr. Laney recently worked on a yard with a side-by-side hot and cold plunge tubs, for additional wellness benefits.

Beyond water features, you can pass the time waiting for a pool by investing in other corners of your outdoor space.

Outdoor living and dining rooms are among the easiest to quickly set up, using high-end furniture and decor.

Other projects to focus on may be an outdoor kitchen or bar, or, rather, a garden, which can come in many forms, ranging from growing vegetables to rose or Zen gardens.

outdoor theater
Lush vegetation helps create an intimate outdoor theater in Bedford, New York.

Alternatively, consumers can replicate this New York home’s backyard and create interior amenities outdoors, such as a movie theater.

OF COURSE, it is worth the wait for those determined to have a pool. In the meantime, homeowners should consider investing in other outdoor amenities.

Despite the pool being a must-have for many, its similar counterpart, the spa, often gets the most attention in the day-to-day. That may be the route to go, keeping delays in mind with pool installations.

“It’s frankly the hot tub that gets the most used,” Mr. Laney said. “In some projects, we only install the spa, and they can go anywhere – on roofs, courtyards or balconies.”

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