Photography by Kathy Tran

Last summer, Marissa Mata spent several weeks traveling in France and Italy with her daughter and two adult nieces. Not only is globetrotting off limits this year, there’s no spending afternoons poolside at the Belmont Hotel or the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The prospect of spending the entire summer inside with a 6-year-old was too much to bear.

“I woke up from a depression nap and built this in a month,” she says.

Anyone who grew up in the country probably swam in a galvanized tub at some point. But do-it-yourself stock-tank pools have become all the rage in urban living since the pandemic.

By the time Mata started building hers in late May, she could only find two 8-foot stock tanks for sale in all of Texas. The closest was about 75 miles away in Glen Rose.

The tank itself cost about $300, but she spent hundreds more on landscaping rocks to level her yard.

The filter pump cost about $100. An O-ring that should cost a couple of dollars was impossible to find for a fair price. She wound up buying a $35 bundle containing stuff she didn’t need just for that $2 part.

She painted the outside of her tank white for the aesthetics, and she found a guy on an Oak Cliff Facebook page to build a deck for $2,000. The same job would’ve cost about $1,200 pre-pandemic, but short supplies of lumber drove the price up.

Last year, Mata renovated her kitchen around a pink Smeg refrigerator, and she carried her color scheme of millennial pink and blueprint blue to the backyard.

A playhouse kit purchased on eBay only came in brown, so she and her daughter spent a weekend painting it to match. Friends helped her build a fire pit with brick pavers. She used the outdoor furniture she already had, plus a few sun chairs and umbrellas ordered from Ikea. Inexpensive zinnias and begonias plus a few “struggle plants” purchased on clearance at the Lowe’s in Cockrell Hill fill out the landscape.

“It’s not a professional design job,” says Mata’s friend Heather Poile. “But it’s cute.”