Sunken Lounge Inside Pool

suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Has anyone built one of these sunken lounges inside their pool? I'm thinking of building one. What should I be aware of? Any lessons learned or things you wish you knew before you got started? Are you happy with the outcome? Is it practical or does water keep coming into the area as swimmers swim close by? Any thoughts and guidance is appreciated.

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Brett S

Well-known member
Mar 15, 2019
709
Orlando
It looks stunning, but I feel like it would be incredibly impractical too. There is really no advantage to having that in the middle of your pool and it takes up so much space in the pool that it would seriously impact the usability of the pool.
 
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spd500

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2020
547
Houston, TX
Seems like it takes up the whole pool to me. I would much rather have a nice seating area on the pool deck personally, but that theater setup is really nice.

If you did want to do something like this you would definitely need to add a way to pump water out of it, maybe channel drains that go to a sump with a pump hooked up on a float switch.
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
That is absolutely gorgeous, but that is a sitting area that has a very cool water feature surrounding it. It is not a swimming pool with a very cool sitting area inside of it.

On a more practical note, you would not be able to use an automated cleaner. No kids (or rowdy adults) in the water while others were lounging on the couches. Serving food and drinks would be a balancing act. Etc.

This looks to be a very nice addition to a home that is well kept by a competent staff. One that can regularly clean the pool manually (you'd have to get in it to brush the sides!), and mop up the floor in the sitting area and dry off the seats with towels periodically, fluff the pillows, bring you food and drinks, climb up that structure to maintain the landscaping, etc. They'd also escort you to the real pool elsewhere on the grounds when you were ready for a swim...

I'm not jealous, I swear I'm not! ;)
 
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Dirk

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Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
Edit... came back to stare at that pic some more. It really is cool. But based on the little tiles in the water, I don't think that actually is a pool at all. It really is just a water feature (I was only half-joking before). It looks to be only 6 or 12 inches deep... That's not to say you couldn't build one that is deeper, but I already beat up on that idea...
 
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mlggator

Bronze Supporter
Jul 18, 2020
93
Carlsbad, CA
I looked up this pool on the internet. The area around the sunken area is not the pool, but more of a water feature. They do have a real pool and it is located behind the photographer for this picture. Here is a picture of a sunken area within a real pool that is showcased at one of the natural rock stores in my area. So it can be done and can be beautiful, but the cost is going sky high and I would weigh that against the practicality of it. I think for the money you are spending, there are a lot of more useful and just as cool features that you do.
But if you have the money and love it, go for it. It is an incredible statement piece.
 

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suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Hi all. Thanks for the replies. I should have clarified in my original post that that pic that I posted was just to socialize the concept of this sunken lounge, not to say that that is how big my pool would be. My pool would be much larger and this seating feature would just be a part of the bigger pool with an entire 15x30 or 20x30 pool area dedicated to swimming in addition to this seating feature being a part of it. So I would not just have this with a little water around it for the pool. I agree that that defeats the purpose of having a pool if this takes up 75% of the space. I also agree about the water seeping in (mine would be under a covered pavilion, so it would help some with the rain, but I would really need to put a cover over it regardless to keep most of the rain water out of it, in addition to adding channel drains, etc as spd500 mentioned above. It's a thought at present, not something I'm set on. But it's very unique and makes a great visual. But need to balance it out with practicality as well and see if the cost is worth it. I was just curious if someone here as built one so that I can learn from their experience.
 

suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Here is a sketch that I did to think through my design and how I would incorporate it in my backyard. Thinking of separating the seating area from the pool area with a rain curtain so that guests/kids stay "on the other side" of this seating area in the pool. Again, just an initial idea that I'm toying with and open to your feedback, thoughts, creative ideas and concerns. I should add that my drawing is NOT to scale. For example, there would be more space between the seating area and the barstools for the kitchen area. I just put this together quickly just to visualize the concept in my own backyard and to communicate the idea to the builders and get their input.
 

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JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,726
Prosper, TX (DFW)
Wow, that is stunning. It is certainly not the standard backyard pool, it looks like something you would see in a resort (with the staff to maintain it).

If you are really considering it, I would make sure you address the following:
- drainage within the sunken area
- I would make sure your "moat" area has proper circulation to avoid algae
- How are you going to clean the moat? This will likely be very manual.
- The rain curtain is cool, but from a practical standpoint, I would have concerns over it splashing into the sunken area especially during high winds. Also, while the intent is to form a barrier, I can also see it drawing people to swim under it, especially kids. That might cause additional splashing and defeat the purpose.
- Winterization. How will you handle winterization and would it take it 100% out of commission, or could you leave the sunken area uncovered?
- Lighting. You could really do a lot with lighting to make it pop at night including lighting in the moat and in the sunken area

Good luck. If you really do move forward, please post lots of pics during the construction and the finished product.
 

suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Thanks JJ for your input and ideas. Yes, it's not something I see every day, so it's definitely unique from that perspective, which I like. In discussions with builders on considerations and costs, so will decide once I have had more time to think through some of the things we are discussing here whether I will actually put it in or not.

- Moat circulation - not sure what equipment would help here. If anyone has any ideas, please post.
- Cleaning the moat - not sure if I can get the pool maintenance guy to do it. Will have to think this through.
- Rain curtain - I would have the option to switch if on and off of course, so on windy days, I would leave it off. I do agree that it might be a "draw" for kids to swim underneath it. Can't control every element :) so will have to see how best to prevent water from coming in, maybe raising the moat height from the rest of the pool. Although I like the flush look, it might not be practical, unless I can have the water sit a bit lower in the pool.
- Winterization - I would try and get some use out of this area with added electric heaters in the roof under the pavilion and kitchen area so even if the pool is not in use, I can still sit here. I would also have to get a custom tarp/cover for this area to keep rain out.
- Lighting - yes, lighting this area will make a huge difference at night and I have a lot of ideas on how I want to light this area - from a chandelier hanging down from the pavilion to LED lights in the seating area, fire bowls on either side of the seating as in my sketch, etc.

Maybe it won't work out this way, but I'm thinking there will be 2 "scenarios" of usage for this lounge. One is during the day when people are in "swim mode" and in shorts and bathing suits, so if some water does seep into the area, it's OK as people are bare feet or in slippers, etc in their swim suits and they won't mind a little water seeping in and getting drained out. The other scenario is me hosting a dinner with friends in the evening/night when it's not so much about swimming but having adults over to hang out in the area as I cook in the kitchen on the side. You don't see it in my sketch, but there is an additional seating area behind the pic that I posted and there will be a dining area there as well. So with the focus being on food and dining in the evening and little to no swimming during those events, the water is not choppy and seeping in, so you could sit inside this seating area and not worry about your clothes getting wet. I know it won't always work out that way, but that's what I'm thinking for now.

The real question is, how much additional cost will it add for the gunite guy to add this extra pool space and plumbing/drainage, how much for the patio guy to build out the seating and gas lines for fire pit, etc and then see if the "wow factor" of the visual and entertainment value will be worth the spend.

So lots to think through, but I sure love the look of it. :)
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
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Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
OK, I take it all back. BUILD IT. Sure, OK, I'll come over and hang when it's all done... ;)

I think if you built something like that, when guests first came upon it their jaws would drop. Mine would. It would be amazing. And I think you're on the right track in gathering ideas and opinions beforehand, so that it's executed well. The cleaning issue JJ and I mentioned will be something to address. It'll have to be manual. Or... I haven't heard great things about in-floor cleaning systems, but that might be something to consider for this pool, or at least the "mote." You have a suction-side or robot vac out in the main pool, with a step up to the mote to keep the vac out of that area, then use some sort of in-floor cleaning heads to blow debris off the floor and out of the mote, back into the pool, where the vac gets it (not sure that's possible, but something to think about). And as JJ also mentioned, you'd have to have enough returns and flow to drive the pool water around the mote, so that chlorine would be well circulated through it. That's doable. But you'll have to think about how to handle those access steps/blocks. Maybe more like bridges, or maybe on some sort of stilts, so that water can flow past them. They could become algae havens if not done correctly. And without creating some sort of entrapment hazard, of course (kids trying to swim under/past that area).

We've warned people here about placement of their pool, raised spa, outdoor kitchen, landscaping, etc. relative to each other and your primary vantage point when it comes to keeping an eye on folks in the water, especially the bottom. Like: move the spa because you're not going to be able to see past it to watch your kids. So that is something to keep in mind. With the sunken seating area and the "splash guard," you could be creating blind spots in the pool.

Kudos to you for thinking outside the box. We have a thread here where folks are contemplating how to build a giant rock structure. The comments ranged from "do it" to "don't do it" to "just don't make it gaudy." There's a fine line between creating something visually stunning and an eyesore. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say "don't do it" to your stunner, as long as you work through some of the challenges (which you're doing now). (y)
 

suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Thanks Dirk. Really appreciate all the guidance and input. I don't know the first thing about putting a pool in I'll admit. I never had a pool growing up. I'm educating myself on all the different facets by doing a lot of reading (especially articles on this site), which is why it's so great that this site exists and all of you are so helpful. Here are some more sketches showing it from different angles. Appreciate the insight into avoiding blind spots. That's something I will have to think through some more. My kitchen starts where the pool almost ends, so I don't think there will be too many blindspots here, but a great thing to think through, so I appreciate you bringing it up. As for access into this lounge, it would be via "stepping stones" or stilts as you see in the pic. I could make a small bridge, but everything adds cost and maybe keeping to stepping stones will minimize additional blind spots, although does make it a bit more hazardous for kids to step inside. I would have this area fenced in anyways (I haven't drawn out the fence in my sketches), so no kids would be allowed here without adult supervision. Also, the area between the pool edge and the moat edge would be minimal, mostly likely not an area with room enough for even little kids to swim around in, so hopefully we can keep the kids in the pool area and not in the water in this area.
 

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JJ_Tex

Bronze Supporter
Jul 17, 2019
1,726
Prosper, TX (DFW)
What is that circular thing to the side? Maybe a fountain of some sorts? Also is that a TV screen for projection on the far side of the pool?

The more I think about it, I think you are going to have challenges in the winter. In an abbreviated sense there are 2 ways to prep your pool for winter:

1. Winterize - This is typically done in northern states, but involves draining some of the water so that you can empty the pipes of water and cover the pool. Then the entire pool is covered.
2. Freeze protection - Typically done in southern states, but basically your pool remains operational through the winter. When it is going to freeze your automation has a temperature sensor and will run when the temps are close to freezing to keep water running through the pipes.

If you want to be able to use your sunken area in the winter, you would need a really customized cover. Alternatively, you can maybe have 2 separate bodies of water and close the pool area while keeping the moat operational. In TX, we fall into the Freeze Protection mode so there is no opening or closing of the pool and I'm not that familiar with #1 above. Hoping others will chime in that are more familiar with winterizing to see if there are any other options.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
Well, I'm over zealous when it comes to pool safety. When I look at the image of the McMansion that @mlggator posted, it's obviously great looking. But the first thing I see is the unprotected "well" that was created. My middle one would be using that entire inner walkway as his gunner platform, water-blasting anything that moved. He'd be running around that thing in circles. But that area is not like a normal deck, because behind where he is focusing on the pool is not the typical lawn or landscape, but rather a significant drop onto solid stone, with no handrail. That kind of drop would not be allowed for a "regular" deck (code-wise) but was overlooked for that pool feature. They've also got some submerged seats that could be a hazard to someone jumping from the inner walkway. Point being... you could end up creating some possible hazards. You can't make a pool 100% safe, but you gotta try to get as close as you can. I think dimensions would be critical. If you make your inner ledge wide enough, somebody with wet feet will walk on it. If the distance between that ledge and the outer deck is just so, folks will try to jump the water, or into the water, not sure which is worse. Etc. I don't know that you'll find any standards for this kind of stuff.

Picture a public pool. Big, rectangular box, light in color, lifeguard seats suspended way above, no where to hide, no where to get trapped, etc. The more "opposite" you get from that, the higher the possible risk (and the better it's going to look!!).

Just another aspect for you to ponder...
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,193
Central California
Sorry, ya got me going, now. Maybe it's not a mote, but more like a spillway. Tiled, not plastered, so that it can be in or out of the water. And just a few inches deep. Nobody could swim in it, or fall into it. Or get trapped in it anywhere. If someone stepped off it, from inner or outer ledge, they'd just drop a few inches. Guests on their way: you flip a pump switch and it fills with flowing water and spills into the main pool. End of the day: you turn it off and it all drains into the pool. No algae issues. Cleaning would be handled by the current while it was on. Or a broom while it was dry. No winterizing considerations. It'd look pretty much the same as a deeper version, maybe cooler because you'd see it moving, maybe hear it, too, which is a nice relaxing effect...

Then, if the pool was winterized, you could still use the sitting area. It'd be surrounded by a nice, tiled border, just dry in the winter.

Have no idea what problems that might introduce, or if any of that is possible, but there you go...
 
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suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Thanks JJ and Dirk. JJ, that circular thing is the hot tub. I have to raise it in my sketch as it's too low into the ground, but that area is where the hot tub will go. If there are no good options for winterizing and still using the area, I have to contemplate if it's still worth it for the months that I do get to use it or go for a more typical deck seating area design. And definitely agree on paying attention to pool safety as part of these considerations. All good things to think through and ponder.
 

suman

Member
Aug 22, 2020
24
Michigan
Dirk, I like the idea of keeping that area shallow and then there is a drop into pool area. The left side of the pool in my sketches would be shallow and the right side (by the kitchen) would be the deep end, so that might work since the seating area might be 2 feet deep or thereabouts, making it pretty safe even if someone jumped in. The seating area is on the side of the pool and not part of the main pool, so I can play with pool depth to match the depth of this seating area.
 
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darinclifton

Active member
Jun 2, 2019
34
St. Louis
Here is a sketch that I did to think through my design and how I would incorporate it in my backyard. Thinking of separating the seating area from the pool area with a rain curtain so that guests/kids stay "on the other side" of this seating area in the pool. Again, just an initial idea that I'm toying with and open to your feedback, thoughts, creative ideas and concerns. I should add that my drawing is NOT to scale. For example, there would be more space between the seating area and the barstools for the kitchen area. I just put this together quickly just to visualize the concept in my own backyard and to communicate the idea to the builders and get their input.
In regards to the rain curtain, maybe consider splitting into 2, make it more of a framing element to the pool from the seating area?