There has been an unquenchable amount of curiosity about our Soake pool – and I get it, it’s not a normal pool. So I hope you are thirsty because today you’ll see and read about every detail. It’s here, installed and absolutely glorious, exceeding our expectations which were very high. We’ve used it almost daily since it’s been finished, and many, many nights, too. If you are in the market and want to know deeper details about the install and design process make sure to check out part #1 HERE). Today you’ll get the afters and all my thoughts, feelings, and anything I would have done differently.
We installed in February and had to finish all the landscaping around it before we could use it, but when June rolled around it was done and ready for us. And now that we’ve shot it it’s time to share it with you. Summer #1, Soake pool information coming at you. All your questions answered 🙂
But first a fun little teaser video for the full long form YouTube version! (Just wait for the short ad to play)
Why Did You Get A Soake Pool Instead Of A Big Normal Pool?
Yes, this is the main question and I’m happy to break it down. Our Soake pool is very special for the following reasons:
- We can use it year round. That’s right, it’s a pool in the summer and can be a hot tub in the winter. This was the only reason we even considered a pool – one that can be used year round.
- It’s a smaller physical footprint – should that be what you want. It’s filling a hole (ha) for a lot of us who either don’t have the real estate for a huge pool or don’t want to use the real estate for something so large that you might only use a few months of the year.
- It’s big enough for us to play in during the day and yet small enough to heat up quickly and efficiently to become a hot tub at night. Let that sink in a bit. This means that the kids (and us) can play during the day (temp stays between 75-85 degrees without heating because it’s so warm right now) and then should we want to say, have adults only, it heats up 10 degrees an hour. I honestly didn’t predict that we would be so obsessed with this pool. I thought this was more for our kids or the hot days that we want to cool off with friends between pickle ball sets. I’m dreaming of so many fall nighttime parties with friends and yes, even winter hot tub nights.
- It’s designed and built off-site – meaning you don’t need a pool contractor and it’s shipped to you on a truck. On it’s own it’s a simple, high-quality design and construction, and nails its main jobs (with really tasteful and stylish tile options). It’s not plug and play like a free standing hot tub – which I’ll get into later – but if you’re like me and designing a huge pool feels daunting (maybe because you’d make it so expensive like I do everything) it’s an excellent option.
- With a smaller footprint there is simply less risk and cost – A friend of mine was telling me horror stories of their huge pool – how long it takes/expensive it is to heat, how expensive it is to maintain, how when the pool doesn’t work neither does the hot tub, rendering the whole huge thing moot. He joked that he wants to farm Tilapia in it because it just sits there empty now that the kids are grown! They saw this and said they wished so bad that this is what they had. Smaller is just easier and more affordable to manage in every way.
How Big Is This Pool?
Our pool is 7′ wide and 13′ long, and the depth is around 60″ (water depth a bit lower). There are some other options that are smaller. I tell most people it’s like the size of a large living room rug, but there is nothing “kiddie” about it.
Do Kids Really Play In A Pool This Size?
Yes. Our kids are 7 and 9 and they love it, especially when friends are over. They can swim, but can also bop off the bottom and easily reach the sides. They can jump in (but obviously no diving). They are still supervised and can’t uncover it without us being out there, but point is it’s big enough for them to have a lot of fun. We’ve had eight kids in here, like a playpen, lol. We knew that we were getting a small pool, so it’s a different experience than a big one obviously. This has to make sense for you and it did to us.
Does It Have A Pool Cover?
Yes. We opted for the electric safety pool autocover which opens and closes with a toggle switch off the side of the pool house (too high for kids to reach for now). The cover itself is housed under the wood planks at the back of the pool. You can see it all in the video:) The electric one does cost substantially more, FYI, between $10-$12K depending on your installer. It’s wonderful and feels very safe.
What Type Of Pool Is It? Salt Or Chlorine?
This pool is saltwater but a saltwater pool actually is still a chlorine pool because you generate chlorine from the salt through the app (yes, there’s an app). That’s a common misconception with saltwater pools in general. It’s just that with a saltwater pool you keep the chlorine levels low which we love.
It also has jets, which are fun to sit next to when it’s warming up. One thing I didn’t think I would enjoy is that Brian changed the light color from the app on his phone while we were partying in there the other night, which was a fun little surprise. We also had glow in the dark pool balls so…
Can It Be A Cold Plunge In The Winter?
Yes, because if you don’t heat it and it’s cold outside it will drop to the outdoor temperature (they recommend it at 52 degrees Fahrenheit for an ideal cold plunge:)). We are likely not going to use it for that as we are getting a separate cold plunge and think we are going to use this more as a hot tub during the winter. But even in freezing climates, it’s totally fine to use all year long! Soake just recommends keeping the pool at 70° minimum during freeze temps and of course always keeping the water moving. If you’d rather not use it in the winter you would just drain and winterize like a traditional pool.
Do You Sit, Stand, Swim Or Float In this Pool?
All of the above. There is a step and a bench that three people could sit along, but since it’s under 5′ deep it’s easy to stand and it goes up to my neck (I’m 5’3″). It’s just way more fun to hang out in here than a big hot tub. Obviously, I also float around on floaties and read or hang out with friends. My whole team came up and we sat in here for two hours, all of us just on pool noodle hammocks and it was SO FUN.
Who Installs This Pool? Can You DIY This?
Unless you are extremely in the know on construction stuff (or a contractor yourself) you’ll need to hire out and have a contractor help you. We hired our landscape contractor to execute it because he’s done a lot of on-site hot tubs and water features. You need someone to book and manage the digging of the hole, back filling it, electricity, gas, filter, etc and then install the hardscape and pool cover. It comes on a flat bed, then gets craned in – all stuff you can manage if this is your wheelhouse. I was grateful that Dan’l was handling it all (he runs Northwest Native Landscapes which typically does landscaping but now that he’s done this once he’d be a great resource in Portland). So yes, you’d be paying a contractor and subcontractor in addition to the cost of the pool. Everything adds up in construction projects, which I always think is helpful to remind us all:) But you don’t need a pool contractor, just someone who understands mechanicals and has contacts with subcontractors.
How Long Does It Take To Order And Install A Soake Pool?
If you time it right and don’t have a ton of other landscape work, the install can be a matter of a couple months. Our project was huge, as we were doing the entire property at once, so we opted to drop it in during winter, with the idea to finish everything around spring so that the whole space could be done by summer. That worked and by June we were swimming pretty. If you are just carving out a spot for Soake and you aren’t doing a project of our scope it could go so much faster. For instance, if you had a large lawn near the back of your house, already flat that was easy to access for digging, trenching and craning, it could be pretty darn easy.
How Much Does A Soake Pool Cost?
They typically run $45-$48 (if the autocover is involved) and depending on what size you choose, tile and add ons, that price can go higher. This doesn’t include the hardscape, contractor/sub contractor fees. Oh, and shipping can add an additional $10k. If you are closer to New Hampshire (where the company is) it will be more like $2k, but far west like us in Portland, it’s more like $9k-$10k. However, IF they can get two on a truck going to your area, the shipping cost is shared. So depending on where you live it’s likely much more affordable and faster than a huge fancy pool, but again it’s not a cheap fiberglass product. It’s still a high quality, luxury product, and priced accordingly. So if what you are really wanting is a big old pool for kids to play in you might just want to get a big fiberglass pool (which I think are cheaper). We specifically wanted this year round product, so I reached out and negotiated a partnership, leveraging photography, video, marketing and PR services, which is a typical part of my business. We incurred all the labor costs of course, and now that I’ve experienced it for a summer I am so happy to say that this would be absolutely worth it.
What Would I Do Differently?
- If I could go back and do it all again I would have started the process earlier to avoid the rainy weather/mud which set us back. Had we ordered it in early summer (2022) to arrive and be installed in fall, we would have avoided the 30″ of mud that we encountered on the hill up to the pool area, (due to weeks of severe rains in the winter). The mud and hill combination made the install more difficult than it would have been any other season. We had to use a smaller crane to make the turn on our property and the smaller crane couldn’t crane it far enough from the bottom of the hill to plop it in. So typically you can crane over a house from the street – it’s pretty darn incredible.
- Our tumbled bluestone hardscape conducts so much heat that we can’t sit or walk on it on really hot days (in the afternoon). This isn’t Soake’s product, this is what we chose to work with our blue flagstone pathways. It’s VERY pretty, but y’all it holds so much heat. This is why we have three umbrellas to create shade not only for the kids in the pool, but so they can sit around it.
- I would choose a larger stone that could cover the pool cover motor. I didn’t know that the material needed to be 24″ deep and our stone wasn’t, so we had to make a game-day decision. The stone just didn’t come big enough (but I could have waited and shopped around to find something that integrated better). Dan’l and his team troubleshooted and built this wood cover which is very well done and works perfectly, but it’s really dark and more orange than I’d like. Now that it’s all done with a lot of other wooden elements, it bothers me so much less.
How Much Do You Love It?
WE LOVE IT SO MUCH. It’s simply wonderful and so perfect for our needs and wants. It checks more boxes than I thought possible, plus it’s really pretty to look at! It’s such a lovely, enjoyable visual feature and combined with the farm vibe, with the wild grasses and split rail, still feels appropriately understated. We love it so much and feel so grateful and thankful to live here.
It’s just so fun for the whole family and perhaps even the neighborhood. Since pools are way less of a thing here than they are in many other parts of the country we get to be the house that people gather at which makes us VERY HAPPY. After working so hard on this property for so long (with so many wonderful teams of people) I really want it to be enjoyed a lot, by many, for years and years. Especially those teenage years – “Hang out here!” says this large hot tub:)
Oh, and I know I didn’t really talk about the decor/furniture because it’s not the official styled reveal but I have to shout out those teak chaise loungers from Neighbor. We reached out to see if they were interested in gifting and man am I glad they were. We love them! They are so well built, cool without looking trendy, and just really comfortable. Highly recommend.
Don’t forget to watch the full dedicated video HERE where you can see our Soake pool in action. And if you have any questions we’ve asked a Soake customer service person to answer them in the comments.
*This post was brought to you in partnership with Soake Pools – a product I love and feel proud to share with my readers.
*Photos by Kaitlin Green