Cape Cod HOME Summer 2016

An edge on the competition

Cape Cod Home  /  Summer 2016 / ,

Writer: Lilly Lowe / Photographer: Paige Biviano 

Viola Associates discusses the installation of an infinity pool in Barnstable

Mike Tsotsis

Photograph by Paige Biviano

Mike Tsotsis’s stunning property overlooking Sandy Neck Beach and Barnstable Harbor in Barnstable Village is a lovely spot to watch the sun lazily vanishing into the deep blue ocean. Complementing the natural beauty visible from the yard is an equally magnificent infinity-edge saltwater pool that appears to simply fade into that same horizon where the sun’s last rays disappear.

Infinity pools—also called vanishing-, negative-, zero-, or disappearing-edge pools–turn the whole pool into a mirror for the scenery beyond. The pools are a specialty of Hyannis-based Viola Associates, which designed and installed Tsotsis’s pool.

Since starting out as a small irrigation business in 1984, Viola Associates has blossomed into a well-known company that serves customers Cape-wide as well as on the Islands and the South Shore. Viola builds 40 to 50 pools a year, and owner John Viola estimates that high-end infinity pools represent about 80 percent of the company’s business.

In an infinity pool, the edge that mysteriously blends into the horizon is created by water spilling over that edge into a trough, where it is collected and recycled back into the main pool. It’s crucial that the stone veneers, which are on this negative edge of the pool where the water spills over, are installed properly. “You have to make sure the veneers are level so the water spills evenly,” Viola says. “One of the biggest issues with infinity pools is the water can seep in through the border on the stone veneers, so proper waterproofing is essential.”

Another key to successful infinity pool installations, Viola adds, is having the right ratio of cement to sand; otherwise the pool tends to degrade more quickly. If water penetrates that cement-sand mix, Viola says it will freeze and the pool edge may start to fall apart.

An edge on the competition | Cape Cod HOME Summer 2016

Photograph by Paige Biviano

The design of this pool was about a three-week process involving Tsotsis, Viola, and another member of the Viola team. “I worked pretty extensively with John and his team in order to draft a pool that would capture the views of the ocean and the landscaping that we were doing in the backyard area,” Tsotsis says. “They were fabulous to work with. They never rushed us, they were cooperative, and they came up with some great ideas.”

When it came to the installation, the foundation of the pool presented a challenge. “The ground itself wasn’t very suitable for us to build a pool on,” Viola says. “We had to get the area compacted properly because the site was a lot of clay, and it was difficult to get the support we needed. We had to have a structural engineer come in and do a soil sample before we could build a big retaining wall to support the pool shell.”

Viola says a strong focus on quality is especially important when it comes to installing luxurious infinity pools, which have been popping up more frequently in backyards across the Cape. “Everything we do is quality first,” he says. “We try and make sure our numbers come in fairly close so that we’re still competitive with other companies, but the focus is on building quality pools.”

Quality and attention to detail were paramount elements starting with the design of the home, by Nicholaeff Architecture & Design of Osterville.

The entire backyard project at Tsotsis’s home took about a year, while the pool installation itself took about eight weeks to complete. The rectangular pool is equipped with a saltwater generator, which still uses chlorine but tends to distribute the chemical more evenly than an all-chlorine pool, Viola says.

Completed in June 2013, the pool measures 18 feet by 36 feet and is surrounded by a beautiful, multi-level Venetian granite patio in a blonde color with subtle hints of pink. With a wealth of seating options, the patio is a popular gathering spot for Tsotsis’s family in summer. “It’s very soothing and comfortable for us,” he says. “In the summertime it’s a focal social area for our kids when they come to visit. We love the area and the pool.”

A detail-oriented customer, Tsotsis says he had a clear vision of how he wanted the pool to look, and Viola masterfully brought that vision to life. “The final project is beautiful,” Tsotsis says. “We couldn’t be happier.”

Viola also provides pool maintenance, including openings and closings, weekly servicing, equipment repairs, and rehabilitation of existing pools, as well as irrigation system repairs and maintenance and landscape lighting maintenance.

Tsotsis gives Viola’s service department high marks as well. “They’ve always been there when they’re supposed to be there and gotten the job done,” he says. “We’ve recommended them to many of our neighbors and friends.”

Learn more about the company at

Lillian Lowe is a freelance writer and a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life Publications.

Lilly Lowe

Lilly Lowe lives in Boston where she works as a copywriter. She spends her free time with friends, family, the outdoors, and daydreaming about her next trip. She has written several articles for Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME and Cape Cod ART in recent years including profiles on local gardeners and a feature on Cape Cod Roller Derby.