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 Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

In addition to awarding Best Restaurant honors this year, our Independent Restaurant Review Panel also voted to recognize six chefs for their contributions to Pittsburgh’s culinary community in 2015.
Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

Citizen Artist: Vanessa German

German blends a collage of community activism and soul-searching artistry.
PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

PittGirl to Wooers: ‘Not Today Satan, Not Today’

It only takes one person, one jagoff, one childish, attention-seeking, discourteous jerk to send a woo through PNC Park.
Daytripping: Canonsburg is a City of Antiques

Daytripping: Canonsburg is a City of Antiques

Nearby Canonsburg is a rare find for antiques collectors.
U.S. Open at Oakmont: Will The Town Finally Be a Player?

U.S. Open at Oakmont: Will The Town Finally Be a Player?

The U.S. Open is returning to Oakmont — and unlike previous tournaments, this one could make the community a vital part of the action.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

5 Reasons PyroFest Will Light Up Your Memorial Day Weekend

PyroFest will also include live music, food, a Kids Zone and more.

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
Richard DeShantz Plans Two New Restaurants at Salt of the Earth Building

Richard DeShantz Plans Two New Restaurants at Salt of the Earth Building

DeShantz owns three other Pittsburgh restaurants and is about to open a fourth.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Highmark Stadium Pub Wants Your Attention

Highmark Stadium Pub Wants Your Attention

The in-house tavern at the Riverhounds' home stadium is now welcoming guests during weekdays. But is it worth a dedicated stop?

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Resurrected Penguins Writing Their Story Their Way

Resurrected Penguins Writing Their Story Their Way

These Penguins have been downright unrecognizable, individually and collectively, on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Flip the Switch: Industrial-Style Lighting Made in Pittsburgh

Flip the Switch: Industrial-Style Lighting Made in Pittsburgh

An electrician by trade, designer Thomas Verscharen creates custom lighting out of repurposed pieces.

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.
The X-Men Would've Done Better in Wonderland

The X-Men Would've Done Better in Wonderland

Reviews of "X-Men: Apocalypse," "Alice Through the Looking Glass," "A Bigger Splash" and "Love and Friendship."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Get with the (Wedding) Program

Get with the (Wedding) Program

Have you ever considered making programs for your wedding guests? If not, think again and get creative.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
A Tiny House that's Big on Energy Savings

A Tiny House that's Big on Energy Savings

Spread out across the city for these upcoming events, including a “Tiny House” exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center displayed by the FIY Network.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Duquesne University to Host Small Business Networking Event

Duquesne University to Host Small Business Networking Event

The event will connect hundreds of small business managers and owners and provide useful information to help them take their enterprises to the next level.

Comments