A pool on a slope: On a tough site, building an irresistible spot to swim

  • LEAVE A COMMENT
Photo: Paul Whicheloe Photo: Paul Whicheloe

When Carl and Khabira Wise spoke to us for this story, it was late afternoon and they were sitting in their pool. “We normally have pool time around 4 o’clock,” says Khabira. That’s a routine the couple has quickly established just this year, in the brand-new pool that was just installed behind their Barboursville home.

They weren’t certain they’d add a pool when they bought the house a few years ago, but even as they completed a major interior renovation, “we talked about it in a wistful way,” says Khabira. “The house had this large southern grassy slope that seemed to be crying out for it.”

A southern grassy slope provided the perfect spot for these Barboursville homeowners' pool—but it wasn't without a struggle. The slope made siting difficult. "In a yard that steep, considerable thought needs to go into the landscaping and how it will settle into the gardens," says contractor Justin Pincham. Photo: Paul Whicheloe
A southern grassy slope provided the perfect spot for these Barboursville homeowners’ pool—but it wasn’t without a struggle. The slope made siting difficult. “In a yard that steep, considerable thought needs to go into the landscaping and how it will settle into the gardens,” says contractor Justin Pincham. Photo: Paul Whicheloe

It seemed an obvious notion, but planning this pool required a large team. First of all, siting was a little tricky, given the slope. “There’s a substantial terracing system below the pool,” says Justin Pincham of Halcyon Construction, the project’s general contractor. “In a yard that steep, considerable thought needs to go into the landscaping and how it will settle into the gardens.” He even consulted geo-engineer Underhill Engineering to make sure the terraces would hold up over time.

Width-wise, the pool needed to slide in between the driveway and the septic system. With size and shape determined, the Wises turned to Augusta Aquatics for design and installation of the pool itself. A “sun shelf” near the steps makes a great place for kids to play, while the Wises prefer the deep water for exercise.

Granite tile forms the coping around the pool’s top edge, and the pool has a black pebble finish, darker than the traditional light-blue color. “It’s more of a lagoon effect,” says Khabira. Carl adds, “It reflects the sky. Aesthetically it’s much nicer.”

A minimal concrete deck surrounds the water—“just as wide as we needed it to be for a chair,” says Khabira—and flows into a wall and steps leading up to the patio.

One way to cut down on pool chores: An automatic pool cover, which keeps in the heat, keeps out the rain (which disrupts pool chemistry) and cuts down on debris and evaporation. There are other benefits, too. “We went around and around about fencing it in and there were no easy solutions,” says Khabira. “But we found out the county and our insurance would sign off with the automatic cover.”

The Wises’ project had one more fun touch—an outdoor shower, tucked under the house’s outdoor steps. Carl had stubbed out the plumbing during the initial renovation phase, and Halcyon finished off the shower as “a slightly luxe beach shower,” says Pincham. Mahogany planks form the shower walls, but its most luxurious touch is probably the mountain view.

“Having the pool is such a treasure and a pleasure,” says Khabira. “I’m a gardener, outside working all day, and at 3 or 4 o’clock I get to strip off that sweaty stuff and jump in the pool for an hour. It really makes the place.”

A southern grassy slope provided the perfect spot
for these Barboursville homeowners’ pool—but it wasn’t without struggle. The slope made siting difficult. “In a yard that steep, considerable thought needs to go into the landscaping and how it will settle into the gardens,” says contractor Justin Pincham.

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy