One of the greatest increases in demand we’ve seen with residential construction and renovations lately have been in outdoor living spaces.

At James River Construction (JRC)

Summer is coming to an end, which makes it the perfect time to start planning for pool season.

It may seem counterintuitive to start thinking about pool installations and outdoor upgrades just as the summer season comes to a close, but it’s actually the best time of year to do so. Most people realize in early spring that they want to put in a pool, update the pool they have, or improve their outdoor space with hardscaping or structures. But by then, lead times can be several months out, meaning your yard may spend most of the summer under construction.

To get ahead of the rush, start planning your outdoor escape this fall. Begin by researching ideas, creating Pinterest or Houzz boards, or even cutting images out of magazines. Then get really clear about what exactly it is you want to do. Talk to your family about what you all want out of the outdoor space you have, and what ideas make the most sense. Once you have an idea of the general concept, it’s time to start talking to construction and pool professionals.

Depending on the kind of work you want done, you may need to reach out to a few different types of companies. For instance, some construction companies may not handle pool installation for clients, but they can refer them to companies they’ve partnered with in the past, and can help them plan for structural and hardscape additions around their pools. Some pool companies handle hardscaping and landscaping, while others don’t. Most pool companies however do not handle pool house construction and will refer you to a licensed contractor. Whatever company or companies you choose to provide a quote, make sure you research their online reviews or status with the Better Business Bureau. Ask around your neighborhood, especially if you know someone has recently had work done in their yard. A first-hand account is the best review you can get.

Pool houses, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and patios are great ways to enjoy your pool and backyard even more, so read on for some inspiration.


The perfect pool house provides reprieve from the sun while still being a part of the party.

Pool houses can do much more than store pumps, chemicals and floats. A well-designed pool house can elevate the whole pool experience. If it’s going to be near the pool, why not have it do double duty as a covered place to relax? A covered, open-air patio space gives you reprieve from the sun while still being a part of the party.

Want some shade without completely blocking the sun? Consider a terrace adjacent to your pool house for filtered sunlight and a designated conversation area.

This open-air porch looks out over the pool, so groups and conversations can be separated while still keeping an eye on each other.


One of the best things you can do for yourself as a pool owner is to construct an outdoor bathroom in your pool house. The convenience is a critical part of enjoying your outdoor space, and a small shower is great for swimmers to rinse off under before and after getting in the pool.

This pool house bathroom is as convenient as it is cute. It’s also a great place for towel storage.

When designing your outdoor bathroom, remember to look at materials that are durable, weather and water resistant. Tile or ipe wood flooring are great options, and all cabinetry and plumbing should be rated for outdoors if it’s going to have any weather exposure. A good design/build team can help you choose the best materials for the job.


Kitchen islands have become as much a serving and dining area as they are a workspace and if you have room for both purposes, even better. If space is limited, choose chairs or bar stools that can be stored completely under the kitchen island so they’re out of the way when not in use.

This built-in outdoor fire pit gazes out over an elegant pool and landscape. Our clients are able to sit and enjoy their fountain water feature year-round. It also provides additional seating around the pool all year long.


Creating an outdoor (or indoor) kitchen near your pool is a great way to make the space more enjoyable, and to make sure that everyone gets to enjoy it – whether they’re grilling burgers or mixing drinks. We’ve seen clients do both fully outdoor kitchens, covered outdoor kitchens or full kitchenettes inside pool houses.

Level up your pool house with a full-service kitchenette for easy food and drink service.

This outdoor kitchen has the perfect pool view and bar seating so even the chef can be a part of the party.