Renovation Story

To Waterfall or Not To Waterfall

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Yesterday I returned from a quick trip to visit the folks in Las Vegas and check on the progress of the fixer upper, things are moving along in the kitchen, I found my dream backsplash and the fabricators I hired came out to make the template for the new countertops. I finally made a decision on the solid surface, I envisioned white quartz from the start so I’ll be working with Caesarstone in Pure White, it will be so beautiful when complete, I’ll share that next month.

Meanwhile I have a decision to make on the edge of the peninsula and whether I should add a waterfall edge or not, here’s a quick iPhone pic I took this week (see actual colors of the cabinets and another view of the peninsula here.)

kitchen counter template

I have the choice between a classic horizontal surface that ends here or I could have it drop down to the floor with a waterfall edge. The style of this kitchen will be more contemporary so a waterfall could look amazing – it would be striking to look at you enter the kitchen, and would have a return where two counter stools sit on the other side.

I’m torn for reasons shared below, but first a look at some waterfall edges to collectively drool over.

marble waterfall island countertop

space architects and planners

waterfall island edge in kitchen

blansfield builders

marble waterfall countertop edge

style at home

marble waterfall edge dark cabinets

john maniscalo architecture

waterfall edge island marble countertop

chelsea atelier

waterfall edge kitchen island

rosemount kitchens

kitchen countertop waterfall island edge

style at home

Here is the look of Caesarstone quartz on islands with a waterfall edge, I die they’re so purty.

pure white quartz waterfall edge


waterfall edge island caesarstone

And on a straight peninsula.

waterfall edge caesarstone

images via Caesarstone

I lean toward the waterfall edge since 1) it’s awesome and 2) it will hide that contrast between the blue/gray cabinet and pony wall. I lean against it because of the angle of the peninsula, I’m not 100% convinced it will look right since it will only be on this one side and it requires a return. Personally I prefer the look of a waterfall edge when the look is two sided and symmetrical on an island. Also are waterfall edges trendy? Will we still be loving them in 10 years, or are they a new classic?  What say you?

A Much Prettier Pool

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

It feels a little braggy to talk about a pool makeover because not everyone can relate. Bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, those kinds of spaces we all have so it feels completely natural to blog about them with all of you. But we happened to purchase a house last year in a desert climate and in Las Vegas, a house with a pool is not only common, but desirable for many. As you know we’ve been fixing up the house since July of last year, and the pool was yet another thing to add to the list of major makeovers. 

When we started our search for a fixer upper we weren’t looking for one with a pool in the yard, just a house with "space to put one in if we wanted" – at the time we didn’t know enough about the major cost of installing a new pool. We were under contract on another house without one, but then we did the research. Modern fiberglass pools are nice but basic models start at $40K. And installing an in ground pool? Yikes, we were looking at prices between $50-70K or more. Pool sticker shock set in and it didn’t pencil out to invest in a home without one. We realized it was smarter to narrow our search to a house with a pool than one without.

So we bought this house that has a pool but it was in awful condition. We ended up getting a bigger reduction on the original contract price because of the condition of the pool after the inspection. We knew it would be costly to redo it but the reduction in purchase price justified the added expense of a pool remodel.

When we bought the house, this 20+ year old pool and spa had been neglected for many years, so much so it was unsafe to even swim in it. Imagine that burgundy tile all the way around, dingy, cloudy, and chipped in various places.

pool repair

But I’m happy to share that just this week the crew we hired put the finishing touches on the tile and plaster and we couldn’t be more pleased with the gorgeous tile and fresh new look.

new pool tile


waterfall from the spa

Choosing pool tile is tricky, there is so much to consider: color, style, price, etc. And it’s SO permanent it’s one of those things you want to get right. I was going for a more contemporary look like what’s happening on the interior, and something that was not plain or boring. I loved the idea of a geometric pattern and in teal blue. I was introduced to NPT Pool by our contractor since he could get us a discount and found a pattern in their line that appealed to me, one that looked really nice on the tiered levels of this pool’s design. The geometric you see is the Moonbeam pattern in "Ocean Green" which is truly a teal blue.

pool and spa remodel

I continued the same geometric tile on the raised palm tree planters on either side of the yard, and chose a simpler 3×3" field tile for the steps and inside the spa to complement the bolder geometric.

pool steps and spa

The process was so interesting, this is our first house with a pool we’ve ever invested in so we were curious about all the remodel steps involved. Obviously hiring a reliable contractor is the first step.

Short story: I took pictures of the pool after it was emptied on our last visit, and those pictures showed more detail of the crumbling old plaster, you could pick it off the steps and pool bottom with just your fingers, it was so bad. There was just ½" of water in the very bottom of the pool and I was leaning over to pick up something when my old phone fell out of my pocket down the steps in the deep end (shockingly didn’t break) but then slid in slow motion into the ½" of water and DIED from water damage. I had not backed up those pictures but trust me when I say the old plaster was like crumbling dried cake, it would fall apart with the tiniest bit of pressure.

Over the course of two weeks I’d get pictures of the progress, here is one where they’ve chipped out the old plaster down to the gunite and have installed but not grouted the new tile.

empty pool new tile

Here’s another with the guys adding the new layers of plaster to the pool after the tile was grouted: 

new plaster in pool

Before it was filled up again I walked around inside, the steps reminded me of Santorini, smooth white with flecks of blue.

diamond tiles on steps

The plaster takes a full month to cure but we got clearance to swim in it in a few weeks when we’re back for spring break working on the kitchen remodel. Here is Dale our contractor, very proud of his handiwork. Email me if you want his contact info, he also services the pool weekly (chlorine and cleaning).

dale pool remodel

The total cost for the project was $11,500 (*gasp, I know*) but far less than a new pool install would cost and necessary if and when we sell the home. It included the labor for the old tile removal and installation of the new; the labor for chipping out the old plaster to the original gunite and filling in with new plaster; 110 square feet of 6×6" geometric, 3×3" and 1×1" field tile, grout and thinset; a new whisper quiet filter, pump, and heater; and pool deck repair that was crumbling in a few places. The block wall repair between the spa and pool was a separate expense we paid for last year.

The rear yard is not huge, the pool eats up most of the backyard but the side yard has a really nice wide area where there is a covering and lawn (not shown), we will add some furniture back here later in the season to create an outdoor seating/entertaining zone.

covered outdoor area

Look for that later this summer. :)