A Pool for All Four Seasons

A backyard entertainment space in Toronto brings resort living 365.

At night, a trio of fire elements adds sparkle to the pool’s water. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

The ultimate dream of cold-climate residents is to keep the spirit of summer alive all year long. There’s no better way to chill out than by splashing around in the backyard swimming pool when temperatures plunge and there’s a fresh blanket of shivery snow on the ground.

That’s why the family-owned Toronto, Canadian-based design/build pool company Gib-San Pools recently created the first four-season poolscape, which features not only a swimming pool but also a cabana and fire pit, in its half-century history.

The four-season cabana, which resembles a cottage or a cabin, is made of Canadian Douglas fir and has panoramic folding doors that open to the outdoors. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

“Gib-San has jumped into the 12-month pool season, much like our American cousins to the south,” says Gib-San owner Ed Gibbs.

The project, in an exclusive neighborhood in suburban Toronto, was designed by Gib-San COO Peter Friis as an opulent outdoor entertainment center for the owners and their two young-adult, live-in children.

The cabana, which is set up like an outdoor living room, features a limestone fireplace and heated floors. In the summer, there’s air conditioning. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

Friis envisioned the backyard, which at 110 feet by 175 feet is twice the size of a typical city lot, as an extension of the main home, a new residence in a French-country style.

“Each component of the entertainment center is like a room within a room,” Gibbs says, adding that the design team studied color, texture, flow and trends as well as wind and sun patterns to determine the placement of each amenity. “And the indoor and outdoor spaces flow into one another.”

The tour de force is the endless-summer pool, whose concrete walls and floor are heated hydronically.

The concrete pool is insulated and heated for year-round use. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

“It’s the same technology used for heated floors in homes, walkways and driveways,” Gibbs says, adding that the pool gets additional warmth from a dedicated boiler and a hydraulic automatic cover.

The pool, which is entered via long steps with shallow treads inspired by the elegantly sleek designs of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was sited so the sun’s rays play upon its multi-color blue-grey 1-inch by 2-inch glass mosaic tiles. It’s finished with Pebble Tec Brilliance and surrounded by a deck made of Canadian ash wood and Indiana limestone.

The multicolor blue-grey mosaic tile that defines the trio of torches matches that of the pool. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

“The Pebble Tec, which is round pebbles from New Zealand, makes it looks like a natural beach,” Gibbs says. “It blends with the tile colors; the pool looks like it’s filled with crystal-clear, sparkling bottled water.”

An in-floor cleaning system and ozone and UV sanitation components, coupled with an automatic chemical feeder, make it virtually maintenance free, a true luxury for year-round use.

The fire pit, a place of quiet contemplation, is tucked into the back of the house. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

The four-seasons cabana, which is 17 feet by 25 feet and fronted by panoramic folding doors, is designed to be in the same style as the home. Made of Canadian Douglas fir, it contains a kitchen, a bathroom, a bar, a limestone fireplace, a sound system and a television set. It has heated floors, a heating system and air conditioning.

“The pool house is one room, ideal for chatting,” Gibbs says. “The clients requested an outdoor eating area, therefore, we positioned the design so that the table would be located in the shade during dinner time.”

The endless-summer poolscape, which is designed like rooms within a house, features a pool, a cabana and a fire pit. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

The fire pit, where the owners sit and sip, is designed to be a quiet spot for relaxation and conversation.

“It’s tucked behind the back of the house for privacy,” Gibbs says. “It’s the perfect place for what I call ‘unplugging.'”

Gibbs says that the design makes it an ideal space for the family members to enjoy time together while still pursuing individual activities.

Gibbs, whose company has designed and built projects not only throughout Canada but also for clients in the Middle East, the Caribbean, the South of France and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, sees four-season pools like the one built in Toronto as the future of the industry.

The decking around the pool is made of Canadian ash, a hard, dense wood. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

“Typically, people in Toronto only get to enjoy their pools five months out of the year,” he says. “But pools have become a sizable investment – it’s not unusual to spend C$100,000 for the pool alone — so people want to get the maximum use out of it.”

He adds that Canadian homeowners see year-round backyard living as an economically viable and a more convenient alternative to owning a vacation cottage or cabin at the lake.

“That tradition has become cost prohibitive – in terms of money as well as travel time,” he says.

“Having a pool in the backyard that can be used every day of the year allows people to maximize their enjoyment with family and friends and easily incorporate health and wellness into their lifestyle.”
Ed Gibbs, Owner Gib-Sann

An at-home resort also offers entertaining flexibility.

“You can, for instance, go out with a group of people to play golf in the afternoon then bring them back home for a swim,” he says. “They can leave at their leisure, alleviating the pressure of a full weekend commitment. You can’t do that if they have driven a couple of hours to get to your lake house.”

Gibbs says that as soon as he suggested it, the Toronto homeowners fell in love with the idea of an endless summer.

Gibbs says the family members are “delighted” that they are spending so much time in their aquatic oasis.

The pool makes an elegant entrance with stairs inspired by the designs of iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Jeff McNeill/McNeill Photography

Just as he intended, they are plunging into the pool every day.

“Now that’s refreshing,” he says. “Purchasing a swimming pool puts Canadian and American workers to work and improves our economies. Ninety-five percent of our pool construction resources and supplies are sourced and built by Canadians and American’s. That’s cool, eh?!”

Gib-San Pool and Landscape Creations

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