Pool Guide 2009: Make a splash with a variety of styles from which to choose
What you enjoy most about your pool: "It's an oasis, a tranquil place to kick back and relax. I can see it from every window in the house."

Features you would add, change or omit: "Nothing. I love it the way it is."

Build it yourself

Since 1988, Rick and Lisa Surphlis of DeLand have been building houses, living in them for a while, then selling and starting over again.

"This is our third pool, but it's the first one we've built ourselves," says Lisa, a graphic designer with Universal Orlando, who also has a residential contractor's license. Her husband is the owner of Creative Design, a cabinetry business in DeLand.

"We figured if we could build a house, we could build a pool — although there has been a learning curve," says Lisa, who did the design work and pulled the pool permit.

With guidance from a pool-contractor friend, they hired subcontractors to dig the pool and install the rebar work, gunite lining, plumbing, wiring, paving, stonework and outdoor kitchen. Rick built the bar, embedding thousands of copper BB pellets in its resin-covered surface.

The entire pool enclosure has become a favorite hangout of the couple, their teenage son and their friends.

Pool company: Built by homeowners.

Features: Hot tub, water spouts, pavers, natural materials that blend with wooded yard, summer kitchen with bar.

Cost: $60,000.

What you enjoy most about your pool: "It feels like a natural body of water at a secluded private resort. It looks awesome at night. It has made the house a complete package."

Features you would add, change or omit: Will add a fire pit.

A showpiece

For Heather McCormack, it was love at first sight. The moment she spotted the multicolored Italian glass tiles, she knew they would be the perfect accent for the pool she and her husband, Sean, were building at their Windermere home.

She was right. A low wall covered in the tiny, iridescent tiles forms a striking backdrop to the pool, which was designed to echo the angles of the house — and fit into the home's narrow side yard. A privacy screen set with opaque plastic "windows" helps isolate the pool area from the neighboring property.

Heather, the owner of a consulting business for biomedical research, and Sean, a sergeant with the D.A.R.E. program at the Orange County Sheriff's Office, use the 33-foot length of the pool for swimming laps. They play volleyball in the deep end and splash with their daughters, ages 6 and 1, in the wide, shallow "beach" area at the opposite end.

"Our older daughter loves to have 'dive-in movies' with her friends on summer nights. We put a movie on the projector — the screen is about 10-by-15 feet — and they can swim and watch a movie at the same time. But the best seat is in the hot tub," says Heather.

Even their dogs, a great Dane and a Labrador, enjoy being near the pool, she says.

Pool company: Bella Pools, Orlando.

Features: Automated salt system, custom Pebble Tec color, shallow "beach" area, water spout, Italian glass tiles, free-standing hot tub, projection TV with wireless outdoor speakers.

Cost: Approximately $90,000.