Water Works

An elaborate waterfall and pool in Wexford make a splash every day of the year.



Once a simple expanse of green grass, this Wexford backyard now has all the drama of a tropical resort.

Photos by Tom Blodgett

Few homeowners attempt to take on a project as elaborate as Aaron and Lauren Salko’s. Their sloping backyard in Wexford, once a simple expanse of green grass, is now home to a spectacular waterfall and pool.

The details read like an ad for a Caribbean resort: A wading pool that comfortably seats six rests at the top of the structure. That elevated pool feeds into a waterfall that drops down 12 feet, flowing past a 10-person hot tub with jets. The waterfall lands in the huge main swimming pool. And behind the waterfall, seating is built into the walls to create a relaxing, private space.

Although the entire structure is made from expertly carved cement, that cement was stained with a variety of acids to create eight different shades of gray, simulating natural rock. At one end of the pool, marble plaster was used to create a beach-style entry.

Saltwater fills the pools, and a faux-rock deck surrounds the entire structure. A cement bar was built around a window at the back of the Salkos’ house, so drinks can be served through the window of their indoor bar to the outdoor pool bar.
As you might have guessed, construction wasn’t easy: The project took more than two years of effort and cost a considerable amount of money. But the Salkos are more than satisfied with the final product and are still somewhat amazed that they’ve created something so stunning.

It really does feel like a resort, Aaron says. He adds that when he and Lauren show photos of the pool to friends, they’re asked which retreat they visited.

Lauren is equally delighted: “It’s a whole new outdoor living space,” she says. “And it’s so peaceful.”

Despite Pittsburgh’s climate, the Salkos use their yard year-round. Even on cold winter nights, they sit in the hot tub, which can run even after the pool is closed for the season.
 

How They Did It


The project began during fall 2008. “We searched for almost a year to try to find somebody in this area—or even in the state—that could actually do what we were looking to do,” Aaron says.

Several contractors told the couple “You can’t do this, you can’t do that,” Lauren says. But when they met Tom Blodgett, of World Class Pools, they got a different response. “He took the image that was in our heads,” she says, and built it exactly.

Blodgett worked closely with the natural shape of their property, so the end result seems organic even though it’s entirely man-made. He covered the future pool area with a huge work tent so that he could work year-round. “During the nighttime, he’d be out there welding,” Aaron says, “and there’d be an explosion of fireworks inside the tent.”

The primary work was finished in May 2010, but one final project remains for this summer: completing the custom-carved “fire dining table.” Now complete and working, it looks like a huge tree stump with a free-form gas fire pit in the middle, Aaron says. It’s perfect for outdoor dining in summer and will serve as an outdoor fireplace during colder months.

The couple’s daughter, who’s almost 2 years old, adores the pool, and they’re already envisioning that she and her friends will spend their summers swimming. Friends and family visit often, and summer getaways now happen right in the Salkos’ backyard.

“I’m from New Jersey, and I miss the beach and the ocean and the Jersey shore,” Lauren says. “I joke around with my husband that this is his way of keeping me here all summer long. Now that we have this, there’s no reason to leave!”

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Downtown Restaurant Owners Win Big

Downtown Restaurant Owners Win Big

Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group are among the regional winners of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino of Cure and Morcilla organized the event, which featured celebrated chefs from DC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

The restaurant and bar in Oakland welcomes college students and locals alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Bucs' Biggest Problem Easier to Identify than Solve

Bucs' Biggest Problem Easier to Identify than Solve

As the Pirates try to climb out of a demoralizing slump, one factor has emerged as the team's biggest shortcoming.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Vintage signs can add a pop of personality to your decor.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Reviews of "The Conjuring 2," "Warcraft," "Maggie's Plan," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Noah’s Ark Nuptials: One Couple’s Kennywood Wedding

Noah’s Ark Nuptials: One Couple’s Kennywood Wedding

The restoration of the iconic Noah’s Ark whale entrance came just in time to be the backdrop for this Pittsburgh couple’s wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Purple Reign: PPG Paints Unveils 2017 Color of the Year

Purple Reign: PPG Paints Unveils 2017 Color of the Year

Violet Verbena’s grey-purple tones are playful, elegant and calming. Plus, get the history behind some of Pittsburgh's architectural wonders.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

The camp is a collaboration between two area universities and is open to students entering grades 9-12.

Comments