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DESIGN : Splashy Remodels : Old pools are undergoing face lifts that include reshaping and adding tiles, fountains and spas.

August 11, 1995|BARBARA BRONSON GRAY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Barbara Bronson Gray writes regularly for The Times

The pools David Hockney immortalized in his oil paintings of the '60s--bold expanses of concrete, little landscaping and a prominent diving board--are slowly being remodeled for a whole new look.

Some homeowners are capitalizing on quake damage, redesigning while repairing serious concrete and plaster cracks. Others just want to transform their 30- or 40-year-old pools into something more inviting.

Remodels can involve everything from stripping the pool down to the gunite and giving it an entirely new shape, to removing diving boards, changing the coping (the material used to edge the pool) and decking, getting new tile and brick and adding spas, cascades, waterfalls and planters.

In Northridge, last year's quake caused serious cracks in William and Kathy Weinstein's 20-year-old pool deck. For about $25,000, they added steps in the decking, following the slope of the property; moved pool equipment off to the less visible side; replastered and changed the tile from brown to green, and redid the coping and concrete. They also added a planter at the far side, with a fountain that spills into the pool below.

Kathy Weinstein didn't know what she wanted when she started the process, but asked the pool contractor's designer to work up possibilities. "It was hard for me to envision the concrete they were proposing--I saw just a 2-foot-by-2-foot sample--but I crossed my fingers, and now I like it," said Weinstein, whose pool remodel was just completed.

Ray Faz, managing officer of Catalina Pools in Northridge, says the urge to remodel is re-energizing the pool business, hit hard a few years ago by the recession.

For those interested in a simple face lift--new tile and plaster--the price ranges from $8,000 to $12,000, Faz said. More comprehensive projects that involve new decking, steps, spas and landscaping run more than $20,000.

"All it takes is money," said Dennis Wisby, owner of Allstate Pools and Spas in Westlake Village. Most remodelers improve the aesthetics and add built-in pool cleaners and new pool motors and filters, he said.

To totally redesign a dated pool, some owners invest thousands of dollars in changing its shape, Wisby said. Some spend $6,000 to $7,000 to replace shallow-end steps with concrete sloping entries to resemble beach sand.

Cheryl Lantz in Encino used to hate sitting in her back yard, looking at a 20-by-40-foot pool of cracked concrete. Now, after remodeling, pinkish concrete blends with new brick coping, shiny blue tile and a spa that cascades to the pool. Almost all the landscaping was changed to add new plants, shrubs and flowers.

"It's like getting a brand-new back yard," Lantz said.

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What's Cool in Pools

* Bull-nosed brick coping

* Textured, colored concrete

* Spas

* Lush landscaping, grass

* Cascades and waterfalls

* Lap pools (just five feet deep and narrow)

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