Bye-bye Summer Quarantine Blues, Hello Backyard-Pool Paradise

by Stephanie Mirah

Three DMV pool installers’ tips on how to design your backyard paradise.

Photo Credit Jimi Smith for Colao & Peter

During last year’s cold winter months, as families planned summer trips to far-flung getaways, no one could have predicted the season would be punctuated by stay-at-home orders stemming from a global pandemic. As Washingtonians wait for the COVID-19 curve to flatten, summer will most likely mean trying to stay cool within the confines of the District. Rather than despair about the exotic vacations that could have been, take time to consider installing a pool for a respite and retreat in your own backyard.

We chatted with three pool installers serving the DMV area – Town & Country Pools, Inc., Lewis Aquatech and Colao & Peter, Luxury Outdoor Living – to answer all of our pressing questions about the design process. As you consider taking the plunge into creating a backyard oasis, remember the unanimous tip from all three businesses: the options for your pool design are endless.

Photo Credit Jimi Smith for Colao & Peter

WL: What are up-and-coming and popular design and pool accessories homeowners should consider? 

Town & Country Pools Inc.: There are so many options, but what comes to mind is a classic rectangle with an auto cover, especially if you are in an area with a lot of trees or have young children. Other options include:

  • Vanishing Edge, also known as an Infinity Edge
  • Tanning Ledge, also known as a Baja Shelf 
  • Raised spa
  • Waterfalls
  • Automation – you can operate it from your phone. So you can turn the spa on and it will be ready for you when you get home.

Lewis Aquatech: We want a pool to be functional, obviously we want it to be a recreational space, but the fact of the matter is that it’s looked at more than it’s used, and that’s not a bad thing, so its got to be a piece of architecture. Up-and-coming trends for water architecture would be a “wet edge,” which means the water-level is all the way at the top of the deck, so the water levels are a very glass-like reflective piece of art and it’s beautiful to look at. You could also do custom tile and custom colors to make the water look Tahoma blue or Mediterranean Midnight.

Colao & Peter: Many of the items we incorporate in pool designs have been available for a long time, but we have seen a shift in demand to “resort-style” pools that have more features that you would see in luxury destinations. This means clients are looking for nicer paving materials, water and fire features and lighting effects. From a technology perceptive, advance in automation from smart devises has allowed for full control of all exterior features, which means, from the touch of a button, an outdoor space can be transformed into the WOW-effect many of our clients seek. 

We want a pool to be functional but the fact of the matter is that it’s looked at more than it’s used…so it has to be a piece of architecture.”

Photo Courtesy of Terri Mason from Town and Country, Inc.

WL: What are the options for those who have small backyards in the DMV area? 

Town & Country Pools Inc.: If a pool size can fit within the counties required setbacks, we can dig it.  Just this year we have built 2 pools in Georgetown, and we used a skid steer to dig the pool because of such narrow access.

Lewis Aquatech: If it’s a small and confined yard, it’s not about options. It’s about what do we do space-specific to make it really functional, depending on the economics. There are designs where the pool is the pool, and then when you want it to become a terrace, you can push a button and a hydraulic floor raises and the pool goes away. It becomes what they call a high deck. 

Colao & Peter: We have been building a lot of smaller pools that are about 10 x 20 or so in the DMV. That’s enough to feel like you have a pool and not just a big hot tub but can be built in many smaller lots. There are also some stunning prefabricated pools that most clients don’t know about. They are made out of stainless steel or copper and are completely customizable with all the features of a unit pool. We can also integrate them in hardscape and are a good solution for smaller lots.

Photo Credit Jimi Smith for Colao & Peter

WL: How can homeowners make statements with their pool design? 

Town & Country Pools Inc.: I think one of the biggest statements is if their design style just flows from their home into their backyard.  Of course, you can do big bold statements with the hardscape and landscape, big boulders with waterfalls, sunken fire pits in the pool, slides, deck jets, lazy rivers, or even just the selection of deck, coping, tile and interior finish can make a statement.

Lewis Aquatech: Typically, it would be a perimeter overflow, like a “wet edge” with all glass tiles throughout the floors and walls so it’s a rich, elegant finish. And then they would have a bunch of different elements in the backyard that are size appropriate, whether it’s an open-air pavilion, a movie theater, a sitting place with a fire pit or a jacuzzi. 

Colao & Peter: We view the pool as not only a pool but also a water feature which can be enjoyed all day and night. If you add water movement from a water feature or spa, lighting, and beautiful backdrops (walls or plantings), you end up spending a little more but you also get more return on your investment because it becomes a source of beauty that you can enjoy even when not using the pool.

We’re hearing a lot of clients during COVID say: ‘I never want to be stuck again without having a space where my kids can enjoy our home.’”

A “wet-edge” pool. Photo Courtesy of Don Gwiz for Lewis Aquatech

WL: What else should homeowners consider when getting a pool? Any additional tips?

Town & Country Pools Inc.: The biggest tip is not all pool companies are the same in terms of how they write their contracts so when getting your quotes, I would suggest getting your top two to do an apples to apples comparison on each other’s quotes and make your decision. Also, something to consider is we are a pool company that doesn’t build pools for the masses, our team supervises every phase of the construction process to make sure the end product is exactly how the client dreamed it so it will be their haven for years and generations to come.

Lewis Aquatech: I can tell you it’s a very busy industry. People do want to stay home a lot and people do want to have the creature comforts. People do want to create that resort in their backyard. We’re hearing a lot of clients during COVID say: ‘I never want to be stuck again without having a space where my kids can enjoy our home.’ Whether the community pools are closed or we aren’t going to travel to Orlando this year, it becomes a space they can retreat to and that’s what it’s all about.

Photo Courtesy of Don Gwiz for Lewis Aquatech

Colao & Peter: The biggest mistake is allowing a pool salesman and not a landscape architect design your pool. The pool is the most visible piece of the landscape/hardscape but may not be the most used. There are so many things to consider that are often missed by pool companies just trying to sell the product. We take a holistic view of the outdoor space. We make sure everything relates to each other, we look at the sun’s direction, seating areas, outdoor structures and views from the house.


  1. Consider investing in a “wet-edge” pool, an up-and-coming design with a sleek finish. 
  2. Automate your pool so you can control the settings from anywhere on your smartphone.
  3. Beyond its use recreationally, a pool should be thought of as a piece of architecture.
  4. Not all pool companies are the same, get your top two quotes and then compare.
  5. The options for pool design are endless!

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