Here’s How You Can Optimize Your Home’s Activity Centers
How many times have you wished you had a home with a pool, spa, or gym? No more long drive, parking, crowds, or other people on the machines. The idea of a home gym keeps popping up – especially every New Year when those with resolutions crowd local gyms. How convenient would it be to be able to get up, workout, then head off to work without ever having to leave your home?
Following are some ideas for ways to stay healthy if you are in the process of shopping for a house plan for your new home. Remember that most plans can be modified to include a gym, spa, or even a basketball court.
These homes available at The Plan Collection (www.theplancollection.com) feature several ways to inspire a healthy lifestyle:
Because training and the equipment are constantly evolving, fitness enthusiasts are typically always adding equipment. Still, in the end, most people who invest in home gyms believe they are worth it – not just for convenience but for better health.
• You need to have enough vertical space to perform overhead-type exercises.
• Invest in a whiteboard for a training log to monitor progress.
• Get an inexpensive countdown timer to track rest intervals.
• Purchase adjustable dumbbells to perform a wide range of exercises.
This one-story mountain retreat (top) – a rustic Country style house plan – features a great exercise room (bottom, circled in red) in the walkout/daylight basement or lower level (Plan #161-1042).
Indoor Sports Court
Feel like shooting some hoops – any time of the day or night? You can build a basketball court into your new home like this floor plan (Plan #129-1032) from The Plan Collection, which features an indoor sports court on the lower level. These indoor courts are about 30 feet x35 feet with ceilings heights of a minimum of 17 feet. Many homeowners add a thin carpet to the walls and an industrial gym carpet on the floor to help reduce the noise. Court activities in these indoor gyms include basketball, volleyball, racquetball, gymnastics, golf, and dance.
Game Room and Bowling Alley
Basements make a great space for a game room. You can build a bowling alley right in your own home. This is another great way to get plenty of (fun) exercise, and you can also add a billiards table to shoot some pool – then add a large screen TV for sports, and it’s the ultimate man cave.
Swimming Pools and Spas
What’s your idea of a picture-perfect outdoor living space in your dream home?
Some homeowners may be a wraparound porch with a swing, hammock, and cushioned rocking chairs. Or it could be a covered rear deck featuring a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen fully equipped with a refrigerator, grill equipment, a dining table, comfortable seating, and a view of the scenery and the natural surroundings.
Then others think that their home’s outdoor living area is not complete without a swimming pool. So they “throw in” that element into the mix of amenities in their backyard to create the ideal hangout/entertainment space and summer “staycation” destination for family and friends.
While houses with pools are particularly sought-after in warm climate states like Arizona, Florida, Southern California, and Texas, they are also options in four-season areas of the country where swimming is part of the lifestyle of residents.
Looking for peace and quiet? You wouldn’t have to travel far if you lived in this 5-bedroom, 4,970-sq.-ft. Rustic style house. Just open the glass doors to the wonderful sight of a breathtaking pool in the backyard. It’s the perfect spot to unwind, take in the beauty of nature, and enjoy a quick dip (Plan #198-1094).
Pool Designs and Shapes
Years ago, in-ground pools were limited to rectangle and kidney shapes. These designs are still around but are not the only options today. There are now various interesting designs and shapes that can match the home’s architectural style and the pool’s surrounding landscape.
Just remember that choosing a design is as important as the planning and building process. Before you select the design, visualize the pool’s location in your backyard as well as the activities you want it for. You have to be certain that the design, location, and activities are in harmony with each other. Here are some of the diverse pool designs and shapes that can define your backyard retreat.
One of the most common and familiar designs, the rectangular pool, is used in Olympic swimming competitions, athletic venues, hotels, apartment buildings, etc. It is ideal for exercise purposes and doing laps.
Although often dismissed as boring, one cannot overlook the rectangle’s classic straight lines that never go out of style, working in many architectural plans.
Top: Surrounding tall trees and shrubbery highlight this timeless classic in a garden setting. The rectangular pool serves as an elegant and soothing oasis in a 2-story, 5-bedroom Mediterranean style home (Plan #195-1169). Bottom: This rectangular pool in a 2-bedroom, 3-bath luxury homes spells one-stop luxury, with its elevated hot tub connected to the main pool and helping to heat it with its overflow waterfall. However, what's unusual about this pool is that it is actually on the second floor of the house over the 3-car garage (Plan #195-1192).
Like the rectangle pool, the kidney shape is a popular design that can be incorporated with various home styles.
This graceful kidney-shaped pool includes a wide set of steps (at bottom right) for lounging and gradual entrance and an attached hot tub seen at the top right (Plan #106-1158).
Oval and circular pools are ideal for larger, open spaces and the preferred design for baby and children’s pools.
Top: While not ideal for lap swimming or serious exercise, around the pool like this one at a 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath single-story home is great for family relaxation and keeping a close eye on the kids as they enjoy the water. Bottom:The floor plan shows the patios and terrace surrounding the pool (conceived as a rectangle but executed as a round pool) and direct access from the private patio of the master suite (Plan #195-1162).
Starting with the L-shape, these pools use sharp angles and many geometric shapes like rectangles, squares, and triangles. They work well in contemporary or modern homes as well as in the desert or other Spartan environments.
A 1-story, 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath Contemporary style home features this very modern geometric pool with a hot top separated at left (Plan #116-1081).
Perhaps the most creative of the various shapes, freeform pools can be whatever shape or image works for the family and the designer. They have more curves or flowing lines and other design elements like cascading waterfalls and rocks. Freeform pools are often designed to look like a pond or lake.
With its curving lines and waterfall cascading down the mound of rocks, this amazing freeform pool is one of the spectacular features of a 2-story, 4-bedroom 4,873-sq.-ft. Georgian style home (Plan #195-1152).
Whatever your home’s architectural style – Modern, Traditional, European, Craftsman, Ranch, Rustic, or even Victorian – it can be designed with a pool. And whether the home is a luxury structure on a sprawling property or a simpler one on less square footage, you can create a backyard paradise with a well-planned blueprint for the pool and its location.
If the swimming pool has not been conceived by the house designer and at least placed in the home design as a concept, the key is to design it smartly and assimilate it into the overall look and ambiance of your home.
But before you even get to the design and shape stage, you have to spend time carefully planning every detail of the build. (Here’s more information on adding a pool to your home.) Check out these special features and backyard pool ideas you may want to include to maximize your family’s enjoyment:
Outdoor kitchen/grill area
Accessible storage space for pool supplies
Plenty of entertainment space
Pool house/cabana (with a bathroom). When the pool is not in use in the winter months, the pool house can double as an off-season storage space for pool and patio supplies and accessories.
This fabulous 2-story, 5-bedroom, 3.5-bath European style home incorporates special features that make the outdoor space an ideal summer spot. There’s a spectacular pool, a covered rear patio, lounge area, outdoor cooking, dining, and entertainment area (Plan #193-1095).
Yes, You Should!
Aside from the obvious fun, enjoyable get-togethers, games, and convenience of a pool in the backyard, there are other benefits to having a home with a pool.
Let’s start with the aesthetic value. A pool – especially one that is smartly designed and well-equipped with special amenities – is an attractive focal point of any home.
A pool has a lot of health benefits. It can be used to build strength and stamina or relieve physical and mental stress, and it provides a way for low-impact exercise and aqua therapy.
There are social benefits as well. As an outdoor entertainment center, a pool allows the family to interact with each other and friends in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
A pool provides a convenient and desirable location for parties and get-togethers.
Then there are the unforgettable memories of the good times and laughs shared with family – especially if you use your home as a staycation destination – friends and neighbors.
And depending on where you live, a pool can add market value to a home. If you live in Arizona, California, or Florida, you can expect added value at resale: According to the National Association of Realtors, an in-ground pool adds about 7.7 percent more in value to the home’s market value. In colder climates, such as Minnesota, however, a pool may add no value at all.
Before you decide to include a pool like this one, which sits in the backyard of a 5-bedroom, 6.5-bath luxury home, in your dream house plans, carefully consider the pros and cons – of which there is a number on each side (Plan #153-2088).
No, You Shouldn’t!
On the flip side, there are also some disadvantages to think of – if your home is designed with a swimming pool:
Maintenance cos s can add up when you consider the expenses of chemicals, filters, regular pool cleaning, labor, and inevitable repair. Experts note that most pools need resurfacing every 10 years or so – with the cost at $4,500.
Home insurance costs can be higher. Pools increase the liability risk of a homeowner.
Safety is a big concern. In Florida, The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act requires that the pool be fenced either with a fence around the backyard or around the pool itself. Many other states have similar laws. Children can drown. According to SafeKids, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4.
Higher utility bills – if you have to heat the pool
In some areas of the country, property taxes will increase if a pool is added.
Keep an open mind when presented with some of the disadvantages of a home with a pool. You can find ways to lower your bills and make life easier for you when it comes to maintenance issues – testing the water, cleaning the pool, checking filters, etc. Today, there are new technologies at your fingertips to help with maintenance details. For example, you can use automated pool maintenance to handle those details.
There are cost-effective heating options and repair services that can help lower utility bills when it comes to heating costs.
Ultimately, your love for a quiet and peaceful retreat provided by the wonderful pool in your home will outweigh the inconveniences.
Thanks to improved technologies and ventilation these days, you can enjoy exercising in the water year-round, no matter where you live. Today’s indoor pools have fabulous spa amenities and luxury furnishings. You can get a workout and relieve the stress in the comfort of your own home.