Are you ready to stop dreaming about creating a personal oasis in your outdoor space and make it happen? These 5 spectacular add-ons and build-ins are virtually guaranteed to turn even the drabbest backyard into a resort-quality retreat:

1. Swim-Up Bar with a Sunken Patio

With this design option, there’s no reason for anyone to feel left out of the party just because they can’t bear to get out of the pool. A strategically placed bar allows everyone to enjoy a cool, refreshing drink and a little conversation poolside by integrating underwater seating on one side and a sunken patio on the other. Don’t forget an extra-large market umbrella for shade; it will keep your guests and bartender just as cool as that clear, blue water while it adds to the festive atmosphere.

This sleek, contemporary design option is a smart way to use a rolling landscape to your advantage, but it’s also possible to create a dual-purpose bar on even the most level space with a little excavation and sturdy retaining walls. To stay safe, use break-resistant drinkware.

2. Grottos and Shaded Caves

On the hottest summer days, even the coolest pool water isn’t a match for the unrelenting heat of the sun. Update your pool with a natural-looking grotto complete with a cascading waterfall for a relaxing retreat that will calm your mind while it provides welcome relief from the high temperatures.

Grottos vary from small, cave-like recesses that can shade one or two people from the sun to full caverns with multiple entrances, dramatic lighting and convenient ledges. These areas can provide complete privacy and an exotic atmosphere in addition to protection from the sun.

The most attractive grottos have a natural, seamless appearance that blends in perfectly with the surrounding environment. If your pool area doesn’t incorporate natural or natural-looking stone, you can create this design feature using poured concrete with rock facing paired with complementary boulders and greenery.

3. A Multi-Functional Outdoor Living Space

With today’s modern amenities, there’s absolutely no reason to ever take the party inside. Weather-proof outdoor furniture and carpeting is every bit as attractive and comfortable as anything designed for indoor use, and you can complete your poolside entertainment area with a retractable high-definition TV so that no one has to make a choice between catching the big game or spending time with friends and family around the pool. Position the screen just right and you won’t even have to get out of the pool to view the action.

On cool days or nights, take the chill off with a poolside fireplace or build a fully integrated seating area with a fire pit that extends out into the pool for cozy chats or some quiet contemplation. Even if it’s too cold to swim, this type of add-on allows you to take full advantage of your new outdoor living space.

4. Protective Domes and Enclosures

The clear ceilings and screened walls used in modern pool enclosures protect swimmers from insects and rain without taking away from the natural beauty of a thoughtfully landscaped pool area so that you can fully enjoy your pool even when the weather isn’t picture perfect. Pool enclosure designs range from permanent screened-in structures to fully retractable glass that can turn your outdoor pool into an indoor recreational area at the flip of a switch.

In addition to increasing the time you can use your pool, domes and enclosures protect finishes and prevent leaves and other debris from falling or blowing into the pool to keep your water cleaner and cut down on the time it takes to complete routine maintenance.

5. Waterpark-Quality Slides

Bars, fire pits and grottos are great for the adults, but let’s not forget the young and the young at heart. Nothing’s more fun than sliding into the pool, especially when you consider the many features that are now available. Today’s options deliver waterpark-quality experiences to backyard pools with attractive slides that appear to be carved out of the landscape.

Some of the most sought-after features include free-flowing water inside the slide to reduce friction, waterfalls that drench the slider and curves and drops to add excitement. With carefully-planned lighting, thoughtful placement and a sophisticated design, a waterslide will tempt the biggest thrill seekers in your group while adding to the visual appeal of your modern pool area.

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