Renovation Story

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. :)

Kitchen Range Hood Options

Monday, February 9th, 2015

It’s decision time with the kitchen remodel, right now my mind is focused on the hood above the slide in range. Currently, the duct for ventilation sits where it did in the old kitchen when a micro hood cabinet lived there before. I’m not installing a microwave over the range in this kitchen, just a range hood (there is room for a microwave in the pantry area).

vent in kitchen


My original plan was to install a chimney range hood and tile similar to this.

blue glass tile backsplash stainless chimney hood


A sleek stainless steel chimney hood with tile that goes up to the ceiling is a contemporary look that makes the range a focal point. 

stainless chimney hood

studio m interiors

stainless chimney range hood white kitchen

barbra bright design 

stainless steel kitchen range hood

awad + koontz

I learned when we tried to remove the ceiling soffit was there is a water pipe sitting just about where the new vent would go for a chimney hood and a structural beam in the way. We could pay to move the pipe and route it through the beam to get the duct where it needs to go but that will cost a lot of money and take more time. It can be done but it will be a headache so I’m looking at other options.

vent above range

Plan B would be an under cabinet range hood. The styles vary and the options on the table include an exposed hood or a hidden one with a liner and power pack combo inside a custom wood shape that we would build. One style I’m contemplating is something like this with the hood extending out at an angle beyond the side cabinets.

under cabinet hood white kitchen

barbra bright design

white kitchen hidden under cabinet hood

degraw & dehaan architects


A square box is another design option, we have one similar to this in the kitchen at our California residence

white kitchen under cabinet range hood

better homes & gardens


The design I’m most drawn to is the flared or angled range hood box like these below which may work with a ducting reducer and it’s a manageable DIY project.

flared range hood

terra cotta properties

flared hood

style me pretty

 flared kitchen range hood bhg


A final idea is to have an exposed under cabinet range hood in the angled design or attached to a cabinet we could order, here are a few examples of those.

white kitchen exposed range hood

home adore

black cabinet doors black and white kitchen

jennifer worts design

 exposed under cabinet range hood

better homes & gardens

They all look so nice, I welcome your opinion, which style do you like best?