A couple in Yarmouth Port trades in their vegetable garden for a chance at some family fun in the sun by installing a luxurious pool and other entertainment amenities.By Laurie Higgins | Photography by Amber Jane Barricman
After years of fighting the deer and other animals that regularly raided their vegetable garden, Craig and Nicole Whitten, owners of Whitten Landscaping in South Yarmouth, decided to give up on vegetables and put a pool in their backyard. Their main motivation was to create a fun place for their two daughters to swim without having to go to the beach every day. They also have plenty of family in the area and wanted an outdoor entertainment area that will eventually include a pool house and outdoor kitchen surrounded by natural stone walls.
High style; low maintenance
The Whittens own close to four acres bordering a beautiful tidal marsh in Yarmouth Port. Their lot has quite a steep slope, so they designed a three tier landscaping plan with multiple staircases from the house that lead down to the grassy level area that comprises their formal backyard.
An elegant center staircase made from harvest wheat travertine stone is the centerpiece that ties the house to the custom pool area below. For a nice pop of contrasting color the centers of the landings have blue mist granite and there’s a New England fieldstone base to the stairs. The travertine is laid in a London pattern that continues on to surround the pool and includes two seating areas.
“Travertine is a good choice because even though it is expensive, it’s cool to the touch,” Craig Whitten says. “It could be 100 degrees out and the travertine would feel cool. So you’re not going to find yourself running across it with your feet burning.”
The seating areas have a combination of Adirondack-style and lounge chairs made from AZEK, an environmentally friendly PVC composite lumber that is easy to maintain. At the far end of the pool a ten foot custom stone fire pit with an electric ignition fired by natural gas offers another seating area for summer evenings. Large pottery urns filled with annuals add color and beauty.
Cape Cod Fence Company of South Yarmouth installed the easy care Gilpin black aluminum fencing that surrounds the pool area. The Whittens chose the fencing because it is durable and long lasting. Similar fencing that they installed in the side yard six years ago still looks brand new.
Just add salt
The star of the show is the 48 by 20 foot multi-level salt water pool. The pool has three steps down to an 18 inch deep landing, perfect for those who don’t want to swim but would like to relax in a blow up chair. The next level is three feet, then four feet and the pool is six feet deep at the far end.
“We thought it would be good for games like volley ball because the taller people can be on a deeper level and the shorter ones can be in the shallow end,” Nicole Whitten says.
They chose a pattern called Blue Marble for the liner because they liked the Italian feel it lent to the pool. Six jets spray into the pool to create a beautiful fountain effect. The kids also enjoy playing under them. The pool has dual lights with a veritable rainbow of color choices, such as sunset hues or red and blue for the Fourth of July.
“The whole system is remote, from the lights to the sprinklers, to the robotic cleaner,” Craig Whitten says. “The system is ScreenLogic, which means that it can be controlled from your iPad or your iPhone from anywhere in the world. We could be at work and say, ‘Hey, let’s turn the pool up,’ and open the cover and turn on the lights so that by the time we get back home, everything is ready to go.”
Safety features were important to the Whittens, and they included several upgrades with that in mind. The deep end of the pool has two bottom filters, so that if a swimmer’s hair gets caught in one, the pump immediately notices and switches to the other filter, releasing the swimmer. The rounded bullnose edge of the pool ensures that bathing suits don’t get snagged and tender skin isn’t scraped going in or out.
“The automatic pool cover is another safety feature,” Whitten says. “It not only conserves heat, but when you close it, it’s peace of mind. A family of four can walk right across without any problem. We chose that option because we didn’t want to do alarms. We wanted to be able to close it up at night and know that it’s safe and secure.”
The pool mechanics are all top notch as well. They chose a Sta-Rite natural gas heating system, which heats up very quickly. The other systems are all made by Pentair.
“The slope of the lot actually worked out in this case, because there’s another six foot drop,” Nicole Whitten says. “The cleaner and the filters and all the loud things are down below so when you’re out here, you can’t hear them.”