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Design

Our Soake Pool Review (And Reveal) – Can A Small Pool Really Be This Great?

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)

Soake Pool

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Blue Floatie | Pink Floatie

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.

Umbrella | Chaise Lounger | Lumbar Pillow | Towel | Side Table

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.

Chair | Pillow | Towel | Blue Floatie

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

My Suit | My Shorts (Old Free People)

*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

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Bec
7 months ago

It’s all so very lovely!

Joy
7 months ago

Love, love, love it!! 🙂

KT
7 months ago

Amazing! Fiberglass pools are not a cheap product though!

7 months ago
Reply to  KT

Hi KT! These pools are precast concrete, hand-tiled! Feel free to reach out to us through our website to learn more about the differences between our pools and fiberglass pools!

PK
7 months ago

Love love love!

Sierra
7 months ago

Was the crane part of the delivery cost? What do you think the all in cost was including the soake, plumbing gas, trenching, fence and immediate surrounding hard scape? Thanks!

7 months ago
Reply to  Sierra

Hi Sierra, we are happy to estimate delivery costs in your local area! We ship our pools all over the country! Head to our website where you can submit a form and receive more details from us!

Rae
7 months ago
Reply to  Sasha Mulcahey

Hi Sasha! Is there any information that you can provide about a range of all-in costs, like in Sierra’s question, not just delivery? I’d like to understand what a range of costs might be for the pool, delivery, and install combined before I submit an inquiry through your website, just to have a better sense of whether this might be worth pursuing for me. In the post Emily notes that the pools themselves are $45-48k, not including delivery, install, water and gas, housing mechanicals, pool cover, landscaping, etc. This makes me think that all-in costs could be ~$100k. Am I understanding this correctly? Thanks!

Steph
7 months ago
Reply to  Rae

Hi! I got pretty down the rabbit hole with soake this year and my cost in virginia with a contractor all in was over $150k. We didn’t end up doing it for other reasons but they were lovely to work with, but I felt like the contractor cost was far too high. Hope that helps!

Rae
7 months ago
Reply to  Steph

Super helpful! Thanks so much for sharing and it’s useful to hear about your experience. It really seems like contractor work has doubled/tripled in price in the last few years — oof!

Lindsay
7 months ago

It’s beautiful. To the customer service rep — do these come in any longer lengths than what Emily got? I love the small footprint but would want to be able to swim a little bit as an adult — even just 5 strokes before I had to turn around.

7 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay

Hi Lindsay – thanks for your comment! We have a great static swim system that you can purchase with our pool packages. Feel free to contact us through our website to learn more. We can share videos of the system and a few testimonials of clients who love our static swim!

Lindsay
7 months ago
Reply to  Soake Pools

Oh interesting! Had never thought of using a strap to hold me in place. 🙂 I had only seen Endless Pools and did not like the clunky design of their products. Soake is much nicer to look at.

7 months ago

I love this! Have been looking at these and ModPools for a Londo Lodge pool/hot tub situation… This turned out so pretty.

🥰 Rusty
7 months ago

It’s so good! I thought I’d bever want a pool afain after my last house- all the cleaning, etc, but this size is so fun! 💓
There’s a b.i.g. trend in Australia at the moment, around plunge pools that are essentially metal tanks/cattlewater troughs . They’re often i stalled half sunken, half above ground, with a few steps up in order to get in. Not really attractive IMO. This is much better!! 👍
You’re installing a separate cold llunge???? Wot?!?
I have 2 wine barrel halves as planters and have had them in the past. 💥Hot Tips:
1. seal the outside with clear oil.
2. Make sure you have several, big drainage holes drilled through the base before planting.
3. Screw the metal bands to the wooden strakes so they don’t slip down as the wood shrinks.
4. Raise it off the ground for drainage (especially in Portland with all the rain) and raise of the ground (even on old bricks or terracotta feet). All these things ensure your barrel planter lasts @15+ years.
.
The whole Soake pool atmosphere says FUN TO BE HAD HERE! 😃

Erin
7 months ago

Want one!

Lavern Savannah
7 months ago

nice one

Jen Foster
7 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing so many issues regarding your backyard development. This Soake pool seems ideal for your location and others. I love your practical choices regarding the 2 separate back porches; different but practical stairs and see though black railings. I really appreciate the time and energy you spend analyzing use of space, materials, labor, longevity and cost. I see so many contractors add on porches so small or unshaded nobody will ever use after an extra 10-20k. The sport court looks great and everything else adds to the view; no complaints here about large cement pad. FYI I paid more to tint cement curbing so it would blend into the mulch and it all faded within one year; in case you consider painting yours ( I really don’t recommend). Enjoy time with kids and fiends. Beautiful renovation; really cohesive designs and details.

Shannon
7 months ago

just beautiful, love how you styled it to blend in to the farm vibe.

Liz
7 months ago

It turned out just beautiful!! What about the pool equipment and maintenance? I’d love to know more about all of that. Thanks so much!

7 months ago
Reply to  Liz

Hi Liz – thanks for your comment! Feel free to contact us through our website. Our pools are low maintenance, salt water systems. We use an app on your phone to control the temperature you’d like to enjoy. We have the ability to use our pools as cold plunges as well. We’d love to chat through what you are looking to achieve!

Christa
7 months ago

Looks amazing! I would love to know all the details on costs and time for this. The cost to install a standard in ground pool in California is now running well over $100k, not to mention the state water scarcity. This seems like a most excellent solution for many homes.

7 months ago
Reply to  Christa

Hi Christa – Happy to hear you are considering a plunge pool! We’d love to hear more about your project and where in CA you are located. Feel free to contact us through the form on our website and we can share costs with you! Our pools run at a 4-6 week lead time with about week to deliver – we also have quick-ship pools available now!

Stephanie
7 months ago

I love this so much. This is my dream pool. I love how understated it is.

I’d be curious to know how about heating in the winter–will you heat it every day or just when you know you want to use it? Is it heated with gas or electric, and do you have a rough sense of how much that will add to your monthly utility bill?

Thank you so much! This is just perfection.

7 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Hi Stephanie – thank you for your lovely comment! We suggest heating the pool to the hot tub temperatures when you are using it and keeping the temperature at a minimum of 70 degrees in the winter when not in use. We have natural gas, propane and electric heaters. We’d love to chat with you about your project! Feel free to contact us through our website and a consultant can run through average utility costs!

Deborah
7 months ago

I love the look of the smaller pool in the garden/yard, it looks more like a water feature than a sport feature! It looks lovely in the landscape and so useful for your family life!! Really love how it turned out!
It also reminds me of my paternal grandparents small suburban Tucson home where my grandfather built a decorative rectangular fish pond (similar looking to the attached Soake pool with the walls providing seating) that us kids loved to feed and watch.
I would love something similar someday. I do have a natural looking in the ground water feature at the base of small incline in my backyard.

Soake Pool - 1499245113.jpg
Deborah
7 months ago
Reply to  Deborah

This is my current small pond/water feature, it’s at the base of a small embankment in my backyard. It’s made from a soft pond liner, I dug out the shape and depth I wanted about 15 years ago. It needed to be deep to protect the goldfish from raccoons, but they get eaten even with my Fish Fortress 🙁

I used to buy “feeder” goldfish (so sad that that is their lot in life) and tell them to be alert and careful to avoid the predators so they can live happy lives in my pond! But, no fish have lived beyond a month and none for last few years as I have been ill and had my cockatoo and cats to care for.

I love having a water feature! A Soake Pool would be a dream feature someday at a different home.

Pond 7-1-18_7280.jpg
7 months ago
Reply to  Deborah

Hi Deborah – thank you for your comment! Whether the plunge pool is enjoyed with a soothing waterfall, or utilizing our static swim system for a good workout – we love that our clients want to add a body of water to their everyday lives! Using a temperature controlled plunge pool has great health benefits, all year-round. You can find many of the benefits on our website. Your grandparents fish pond sounds lovely!

Cici Haus
7 months ago

This is awesome! We want to put a hot tub in, but were thinking about something more built-in like this. We don’t have a super accessible yard though. A crane is the only option?

7 months ago
Reply to  Cici Haus

Hi Cici! Thanks for your comment. We can discuss crane or other alternate installation methods with you through a site review with one of our consultants. We do have many crane partners and can see if we have one in your area. Contact us through the form submission on our website and we can further discuss!

Marty
7 months ago

It looks so lovely and inviting! Definitely a great addition. Two questions, it says $45-$48, I am guessing the K was forgotten and it’s 45-48K or is this per foot or something — please clarify the pricing. And, is the cute small building next to it a pool house? Would love to hear about what looks like an outbuilding next to it. Thanks!

7 months ago
Reply to  Marty

Hi Marty – you are correct! The pricing is approximately $45k-48k, you can reach out to Soake Pools through our website to view our full price list – there are a few different options!

Kate
7 months ago
Reply to  Marty

I don’t think she’s shown photos of the inside of the pool house, but I think in another post she said that they built the little pool house to hide the pool mechanics which are behind the pool house! If you watch her YouTube video linked in the post, you can see the mechanics at the 2:46 mark.

Kate
7 months ago
Reply to  Marty

Here’s the post where she mentions the pool house: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/farmhouse-landscaping-exterior-update.

SARAH
7 months ago

This turned out so dreamy! I’m so impressed with how the landscape design makes this work on a farm. And the Soake pool stonework looks fancy fancy.

7 months ago

Wow. What a nice Pool. its looking so beautiful. I want a pool in my house like this.

Sarah S
7 months ago

OMG So Smart to have wheels on the umbrella stands!!

7 months ago

I looked at Soake Pools a while ago, but because the water depth is less than 5 feet, I decided their product would probably not meet my needs— I use a pool for deep water aerobics and don’t want to have my toes scrape the bottom, although the 7×13 size is plenty for my needs. Even another 3-6 inches would do the trick, but $150K is too much to invest and risk if the pool did not actually meet my needs! Also, how do you clean this pool, and does the cover ever get clogged with leaves and debris? My only pool site options (we live in woods) all have tall trees too nearby to avoid some leaf fall and that are not going to be taken down for a pool. I had thought of having a pavilion built over a small pool to protect it from tree debris.

7 months ago

Great pool. Where are the pump and heater housed? Did you buy those separately?

Kate
7 months ago
Reply to  Tracy

They’re behind her pool house! In her YouTube video linked in the post, you can see the mechanics at the 2:46 mark.

7 months ago

Hi Emily,
Beautiful work (as always)! I know Sooake is answering comments but this one is specifically for you: What are the dimensions of the full patio area that the pool is set within? I like it because there is a nice amount of room for chairs and patio furniture, etc. and I’m just trying to get a sense of the allowance you gave for those items to fit comfortably. Everything feels very proportional <3

Johnnyfitness
7 months ago

Where did you put mechanicals?

Kate
7 months ago
Reply to  Johnnyfitness

They’re behind the pool house! If you watch her YouTube video linked in the post, you can see the mechanics at the 2:46 mark.