What were they thinking?
Our home in Vilamarxant, Valencia, is on a plot of about 3000 square metres. Mostly filled with orchards full of fruit trees but it also has a large swimming pool with an expansive pool deck. The pool is situated up high. Many pools in this area are on the highest part of the plot, so when you drain the pool it floods the orchards and feeds the trees. Pretty clever!
It gets hot here. Very hot. You'd think people would allow for shade, as you simply fry in the sun. But not on our pool deck. It consists of nothing but tiles, except for a weird area in the back. This space was lower than the actual pool and the deck on the side, covered with... what exactly? Maybe a green carpet (maybe artificial grass from the 70s?), held down with tiles. It wasn't very pretty... or functional. What were they thinking indeed.
Our neighbours tell me they would see the previous owners run up the stairs, go for a dip, and then run down the stairs again to shelter in the safety of the shade of our undercover terrace at the house. Surely there's a better way to enjoy a swim in summer?
Valencian street art
Valencia is known for its street art. Uber cool graffiti artworks that you can find anywhere in the city. Also in Vilamarxant! I knew immediately I wanted to do something with that. We spoke to the owner of the local paint shop and asked her if she knew anyone who'd be interested. It turned out a friend of her son was a talented graduate of fine arts, graffiti and tattoo artist. We asked Omar to come around and he immediately was excited about the project. I don't want to cramp anyone's creative style and only gave him 3 rules:
No primary colours
Be inspired by nature
Other than that I said: surprise us! And so he did!
Graffiti art is quite the process!
And I quite enjoyed watching it! I wish I could create something from scratch like that. Hubby and I had already prepped the wall, and removed all the loose bits of plaster. Then the boys (Omar brought a mate) painted the wall white before starting with their outline. So interesting to see an artwork slowly take shape. See below for an impression of the whole process.
The vision behind this artwork are two migrating birds (hubby and me) that fly South from the big city to the sunny pastures of the country side.
Then to the actual deck....
In the meantime we got started with the deck. You must know that in Spain we live on rustic land. This means, among other things, that you cannot build any fixed structures. So this made us limited with what we could do. No concrete foundations, or buildings permanently fixed to the ground. Also the fact that this area is a little hard to reach added some difficulty (primarily for hubby, who's had to carry truck loads (literally) of concrete and sand up the stairs).
Together with our neighbour José, who is a) lovely, b) a plumber and c) can do pretty much anything else on top of that, we created the border of our deck and the pillars for our pergola. Because the number one priority was shade. I had chosen a beautiful simple, black pergola from Leroy Merlin, that would frame the graffiti artwork just perfectly.
Tonnes and tonnes of sand
Once the borders were done, we had to fill the area to make it level with the pool. And wow, did we underestimate the amount of sand required or what? The little camion had to come back three times with tonnes and tonnes of sand to fill up this space. And carrying it up the stairs in 40 degrees of heat is no mean feat! All in all, it took a little longer than we anticipated but we got there in the end.
Decking or grass?
Originally I had my heart set on a wooden deck. However, this would have required a concrete slab, or another type of semi fixed structure, which we wouldn't get a permit for. So we decided to go for grass. Artificial I might add, because it would have been impossible to keep real grass alive in that area. Plus, I like fake turf. It's comfy underfoot, easy to maintain, and always looks good. I am happy that circumstances led us to use grass, because the different textures really add to the look and feel of the pool deck. The hardest thing was to get the sand underneath solid and level, for the grass to have a neat finish.
Building the pergola
Building the pergola was a piece of cake after all that. Well, easy for me to say as I just watched, but hubby and José said that in comparison to the sand and concrete, this was like a game of scrabble. It took a few hours and it was up. Holy moly, that was quite the transformation, all in just one morning! And we had shade!!
Now for the finishing touches
We didn't cover the entire area with grass. It wasn't really necessary, plus that would required triple the amount of tonnes of sand and concrete to be carried up. What we did have, however, was gorgeous logs of tree trunk of the pine we removed from another part of the garden. This pine was about to fall onto the house. With a trunk of (let me hazard a guess) 30 metres high, this provided us with substantial raw material to do something nice with!
We decided to turn it into an art feature in front of the graffiti wall. Or a kids playground. Or feline intruder hunting ground. All depending on who you ask (my kids or the dog). It adds interest, layering and texture and looks absolutely fabulous. We filled the areas in between the trunks with pebbles to finish the look.
Even though the grass is comfy to sit on, of course I went hunting for the perfect outdoor lounge. And I found it! This wooden beauty from Bauhaus completes the look. The large low table is perfect for wine and nibbles while enjoying the view of the pool, the orange groves and the mountain ranges in the distance. I've added some basket solar lights to complete the look.
Enjoying the shade!
I couldn't be happier with how the pool deck turned out. Now both sides of the pool boast a view to die for and we can spend all day out there, as there is enough shade to protect us from the sun on the hottest parts of the day. There is no need to run up and down the stairs anymore, you can comfortably laze around upstairs too.
And while I am lounging, I let my eyes land on the about 100 square metre of tiled terrace on the right of the pool... which doesn't have a purpose yet.... what shall I do there? Yoga area? Bar? Spa? Fire pit? Suggestions anyone???
Hope you enjoyed reading about this makeover. Tell me what you think of it?