When it comes to pool designs, anything is possible. Construction technology is constantly evolving, allowing pool builders to create masterpieces that were once considered impossible. Today, builders are not only skilled in the art of fashioning beach entries, vanishing edges, and perimeter overflows, but they are also developing new techniques that will become tomorrow’s norm. The only limitations are imagination and what a terrain can handle—although some builders seem to defy the laws of physics! The following is a selection of pool designs that reflect a few of the many shapes and styles that are popular choices with homeowners. We asked experienced pool builders to comment on what makes each design special and how each one is used to craft an amazing poolscape.
Michael Moore, President
Clients who choose this type of pool typically prefer to swim laps at home, instead of at the local gym, or they train for athletic events. A long, slim, rectangular shape is what most people associate with lap pools, and many clients choose to include swim lanes and ropes down the center in order to create a training atmosphere.
Nearly all backyards can accommodate a lap pool, but length is limited to the size of the yard. For smaller lots, homeowners can put in a 10-foot pool and include swim jets so no turn-around is necessary. Most include shallow and deep ends, with the shallow end being deep enough to handle a swimmer’s arm length. On this particular project, we included an upper pool so the kids can enjoy water games, while the adults can relax either in the pool or the hot tub.
Photo courtesy of Morehead Pools
Trey Marshall, Principal
Aquatic Artists, Inc.
The decision to build a multilevel pool is mainly dictated by the site. Usually, this design is used to mask substantial changes in elevation; however, sometimes clients are looking to cover up an unsightly view or gain privacy from a neighboring yard. A multilevel pool is easily incorporated into a property with a home that has an open patio and steps or a pathway leading down to a walk-out basement. You essentially end up with two pools that can be connected by a stream or waterfall. On one project, we were even able to create a seating area in the middle of the connecting water feature.
Large water features and a rustic or tropical look pair well with this design. Lighting will enhance the water features, creating a stunning effect at night, and landscaping softens the edges of different-sized stones, which are well-suited to this design.
Photo courtesy of Aquatic Artists, Inc.
James D. Atlas, Principal
Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.
Generally speaking, an outdoor environment should carry the interior and exterior themes of the house throughout the backyard. Therefore, the ideal setting for a contemporary pool is a property with a modern-style home, although a modern aesthetic can still be incorporated into a variety of settings. As long as the designer is mindful of the setting and can echo certain elements from the interior and exterior of the house, this design will blend beautifully.
A contemporary pool usually includes traditional geometric shapes, consistent patterns, and clean, sleek-looking materials, such as smooth stone, glass tile, and pavers or stones of uniform dimensions. In addition, deck materials should be free of pits or irregularities. These elements are not critical, however, as long as the design maintains balance and symmetry. Steps, benches, and other means of ingress/egress should also be symmetrical, and all water features must be incorporated subtly and tastefully.
Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.
Daniel J. Bridges, President and Owner
AQUA Pools & Spas
Homeowners often choose vanishing-edge pools to enhance a breathtaking view or particular focal point on their property, and to create a spectacular setting where they can gather and entertain. A vanishing-edge design can go with almost any type of architecture and backyard theme. The builder must consider the movement of the water to achieve the still and serene effect while the feature is on. However, the lighting, finish materials, and additional water features are dictated only by the owner’s preference, as many choices look great with this design.
Though vanishing-edge pools look natural in almost any setting, they work best in yards that are elevated or have a slope. In level areas like Maryland, the best locations are properties with waterfront views. The engineering and design of this type of pool is critical. When properly designed and installed, vanishing edges look effortless, but the design and engineering for this effect is critical.
Photo courtesy of AQUA Pools & Spas
Michael Manley, President
Champagne Pools & Spas, an Aquatech Builder
There are several ways to achieve the tropical or natural lagoon look. Where a traditional or formal pool will have straight lines, the lagoon will be curved and freeform. Also, the materials will be different. From the beam to the waterline to larger waterfalls and grottos, tropical-style pools use a significant amount of stone or faux rockwork to create that natural look. If the clients want a paver deck, we’ll usually point them toward a more rugged texture so that it all blends together. The design can also include multiple planting areas near the edge of the pool to complete the tropical look.
This style of pool works well in basically any type of backyard. It is especially popular for families with children. If the homeowners are looking for a way to entertain the kids, a tropical lagoon with a waterslide and waterfall grotto is the perfect fit.
Photo courtesy of Champagne Pools & Spas
David Gatti, Co-owner/CEO
P.O.P.S. Landscaping (a San Juan dealer)
Freeform pools are perfect chameleons: they adapt their charms to whatever setting they inhabit. Naturalistic in shape, this design is well-suited for a backyard oasis design, complete with rock and waterfall embellishments; however, with the addition of contemporary spillovers, steps, shelves, and slides, this type of pool can just as easily fit into a modern setting.
Freeform pools can be constructed from concrete, vinyl, or fiberglass, but when done in fiberglass, any type of home or location—especially one on a sloped, confined lot—can benefit from a number of customization options. Because fiberglass pools offer many solid surface finishes, it is easy to be creative with a freeform pool by incorporating decorative waterline tile, stone edging, coping, and other amenities to achieve a desired effect. Every kind of decking looks good with it, too, including those crafted from concrete, stone, and pavers.
Photo courtesy of San Juan Products
Rick Legnon, President
Rancho Cordova, Calif.
While this type of design is aesthetically-driven, it can also be the solution to a problem. When a property faces a majestic view, like mountains or a lake, and has some sort of elevation, it has the best possible application for a vanishing edge. But when it also overlooks an unappealing scene, a privacy barrier may be needed—that’s where a perimeter overflow comes to the rescue. By creating a block that replicates the sleek good looks of granite, the designer raised the pool and created both a privacy barrier and contemporary work of art.
Perimeter overflows often utilize dark interior finishes and are particularly suited to homes with columns and archways that can mimic the geometric shapes of a perimeter overflow pool or spa. The purpose of this type of design is to create an illusion, as if the water is floating without walls. It allows for some very creative effects. For example, when incorporated into a multilevel pool, a designer can create a hidden spa that stays below the waterline until the user presses a button to reduce the water level, thus seemingly raising the hidden spa.
Photo courtesy of Advanced Pools