Am I Building a House or a Pool?

Jul 8, 2013

I've never built a house before, but I used to be a salesperson at one time for a homebuilder. I was about 20 years old and I'm surprised anyone took me seriously, lol. Guess what my favorite part was? It was helping people choose their finishes, of course. Couples made me a little nervous when they would get into these huge arguments about countertop colors. The wife would want blue and the husband green (this was Florida in the 90s). She would say something along the lines of, "What do you care since you only walk in the kitchen to grab a beer?" He would say, "Well, you should stay out of the kitchen since you can't cook anyway." It could get uncomfortable to say the least and it happened with almost every couple. I'm not kidding! I would quietly put a few selections together of a cabinet, backsplash, and countertop to redirect their thoughts. I also didn't want to inform them that if they chose blue sapphire countertops they would have to pay for them up front in case they decided to back out of the contract. What new buyer would go for those?! Sometimes I'd drive them to a house in the neighborhood to see the combination in person. Then, they had their "aha" moment. It's also called an epiphany, Oprah. ;)

Fast forward to...a lot later. I bet you were adding up my age when I wrote that I was 20 in the 90s. I'll save you the math. I'm 36, but we'll just say 29 from here on out. Anyway, we never built a house ourselves so choosing finishes has never been a problem. Well, my husband usually lets me do what I want when we remodel. I can't tell you how many times he's looked at me like I have two heads when I describe what we're going to do, but builds what I ask anyway. Oh, and it was all his idea in the end, of course. I thought building a pool would be easy in comparison. Hahaha! This is one project my husband has a lot of input about and I'm not very confident in outdoor design to say the least. We are now that arguing couple with the pool builder in the middle. My husband tells him one thing and then when he tells me I say, "No way!"

We knew from the beginning that we would build the typical Texas pool, which means a freeform design with lots of rocks. Here is one from our local MLS.

I'm not crazy about a lot of typical Texas designs when it comes to homes, but pool builders here have their designs nailed. Most of the pools I've added to my Houzz ideabooks are in Texas. Actually, there are a ton of them from my own suburb. I recognize them from the MLS since I stalk it on a regular basis. Oh, and then I pin my favorites to Pinterest for the world to see. If you are my neighbor and you decide to sell your house, don't be surprised to find your house all over Pinterest, via me. :)

So, we had to decide between the rock waterfall and the stacked stone rock wall. I wanted the waterfall and my husband wanted the rock wall. You agreed with me that the waterfall was the way to go in another post. My husband now concedes that the waterfall is better. Thanks for weighing in and proving me right!

The next hurdle was the fire pits on either side of the waterfall. I thought it was an unnecessary expense. We may have two months of the year that we could actually use them. And, I hate being cold so I'm sure I'll be wrapped in five blankets and still shaking like a wet Chihuahua when it's only 50 degrees outside. But, I agreed with him on these out of guilt for nixing his outdoor kitchen.

Okay, he was right about the fire pits. These are cool. I'm imagining a couple of Adirondack chairs behind them and making smores with the kids. The concrete decking won't extend this far, so I'm thinking about laying huge pieces of flagstone back here on top of the grass we're going to put down.

We both agreed that we prefer stamped concrete from the beginning, so that was easy. Well, there are a million colors, patterns, and textures to choose from. Ahhhh! The hours I logged on the computer looking at pools have not been in vain. I came across this picture of stamped concrete and paused.

This is a beautiful pool, but the design of the stamped concrete is just too busy with the flagstone. The styles are not cohesive either. This stamped design belongs on a more formal pool, not a freeform lagoon-style. This is why we decided to go with a texture instead of a stamp.

Here's the sample. It's a little dirty, but so is everything out here!

I like that the texture is large so it doesn't appear busy. I'm hoping it will look like this picture when it's finished.
Stamped concrete
Or, this one.


The color isn't as yellow as this one. It's more of a neutral tan, which I like since our house is gray.

I have to admit I was really shocked when I saw the color of the rocks. I had asked the pool builder to pick out brown rocks with a bit of gray that have no peach/orange in them. That was my only request. This is what I got.

There's a lot of peach in these rocks. The pool builder said it wasn't what he requested, but that we could put a wet look sealer on these rocks to make them appear more brown. I may or may not have sprayed these down with a water hose to see what they look like wet, and to see how the waterfall worked. Very nice, by the way! I know it's a little nerdy, but it did make me feel better. It turns out Oklahoma Wister, which is what we used for the flagstone coping, has been known to disintegrate over time from saltwater pools according to the peeps on GardenWeb's pool forum. It's recommended to seal these every 3-5 years to prevent erosion. Good to know! I love GardenWeb. I was addicted to the kitchen forum during my remodel and learned so much. I wish I had thought to look for a pool forum before we started ours. So, getting these rocks sealed won't just make them look better, but it will help prevent erosion, too.

We also had to pick a tile for the pool. I knew I wanted something to match the coping, but when the tile samples were brought out the stone wasn't delivered yet. The pool builder picked out the tile since he knew what it would look like. He did a great job.

Sorry, for the awkward close-up.

The hardest decision has been the pool color. This could be a post buy itself, but if you aren't interested in pools I didn't want to inundate you with pool posts. I have to admit that I haven't even been thinking about interiors lately. When I see a house on the internet, I immediately skip to the exterior pictures for pool and landscaping ideas. I'm obsessed. I think I've spent hours looking at pictures, mostly to try and figure out what Pebble Tec/Pebble Sheen finish the homeowner used. By the way, Pebble Tec is the larger rock and pebble sheen is the smaller rocks.

Not only are these samples super small, but the actual pool color will look nothing like these. Awesome, right? I looked at pictures online, but realized quickly that one person's Blue Granite will look nothing like another person's Blue Granite. I thought I had seen enough pictures of Caribbean Blue Pebble Tec to decide on that one even though I prefer the smaller rocks of Pebble Sheen, but I wanted to see one in person. It did not look like ANY of the pictures I saw online.

Here's what I thought it would look like.

RCS Pool & Spa | PebbleTec: Caribbean Blue

In person, it looked very dark and very green, similar to this one.
lagoon pools pictures | Royal Lagoon Pools - San Diego Custom Rock Pools
It's nice if you want a real lagoon look for your pool. There's just something about dark pool water that makes me nervous. Besides wanting to see the bottom clearly since I have three small kids, I also worry about snakes and other wildlife-y things that might be in there. I realized upon seeing that pool I had many more hours of photos to look through on the internet. I wanted something lighter and more blue, so my options were narrowed down. I finally decided Blue Granite or Aqua Blue would be the color. I really was leaning toward Blue Granite because of the pictures I saw online. Aqua Blue seemed a little too fake and electric blue in pictures.

Blue Granite

Do you see what I mean? I almost didn't go see the Aqua Blue because of pictures like these. I'm so glad I did now. Neither of these pictures looks anything like it does in person!
I don't know if this is really Blue Granite, but this is what it looks like in person.

It's pretty and very blue, but really dark. I know if the light hits it just right it does lighten up a bit, but it never did when I saw it since it was overcast that day. When I saw it the color was closer to what you see on the far side of the pool. I want pretty, light water all the time.
This really is an Aqua Blue pool and the most accurate color I've seen in a photo.
pebble sheen aqua blue pictures - Google Search
It's not electric blue at all. In the shade, it's almost a sapphire color. I can't believe I almost said I didn't want to see this one! We ended up choosing this one, of course.

We have finally made all the decisions. I had no idea there were so many choices. If you ever build a pool, do your homework first and stay available to see the progress. You do not want to go on vacation while it's being built or you might come home to something you didn't plan on and isn't able to be fixed.

I'm crossing my fingers that this is our final week of construction. The concrete will be started today and the Pebble Sheen will hopefully be done Thursday or Friday. If the Pebble Sheen doesn't get pushed back to next week, we'll be filling the pool with water this weekend!



  1. Ooh, all so beautiful! A world away from the little inflatable in our backyard at present!

  2. That's right, so many decisions but luckily it's almost done! I've never paid much attention to all those choices... The color of the floors, the water, waterfall no water fall! :) It's fun seeing the progress!

  3. OMG they are all SO beautiful, and your story about helping people cracked me up. I've seen a lot of tense moments between husband and wife myself - not fun!

  4. LOL, I just sent you a message asking how the pool was coming along! This was a great update. You had me laughing at the first paragraph about your first job and now you are that couple! I can understand why you are obsessed with exteriors right now, it's that time of year and you have such a big outdoor project going. It is looking so amazing. I love the colors you are picking out and I agree, that is the hardest part! So fun to follow along with your pool addition. Sharon

  5. I had no idea it was so complicated to put in a pool! It's going to be gorgeous when it's done.

  6. Any of those will do. They are all pretty much the definition of 'living large':) The real worry right now is where to build it, and where to get the heavy duty equipment needed to scoop that pool out into existence, heh.

  7. Pretty impressive. You are a very good builder and planner. I am looking forward to more of your work. I want to deal with house plans Philippines in the future and I think your works are inspiring for me to achieve my personal goal.