Pool Design Trends Guide: Ideas + Inspiration {PRO Tips}

Pool Design Trends Guide

Thinking of adding a pool next year? The pool building season heats up in January and summer is the time many homeowners start the process of picking designs. If you’ve decided to put a pool in, weighing your options (and budget) is the first step to your dream waterscape. Below are some of the hottest trends in pool design sure to show up in backyards next year.

pool design trends

1. More Water Features

Pool waterfalls and water fountains are showing up more and more in modern pool designs with adjustable water flow, pressure and height settings. Popular prospective pool owner requests include fountain bubblers, water sconces, and even grottos set behind waterfalls. Which water feature you choose depends on your taste and pool use, but there’s truly something for everyone from sheer water walls for entertainers to spraying jets for the kids. Many homeowners also ask for water features with LED lighting for extra drama and functionality.

Water Features

If you’re looking for a more natural look, cascades might be the ticket. Not quite a waterfall, a cascade is water running down a rock face, and dropping off into the pool. Boulders or steps can also be used to create cascades, which are often integrated with a raised spa, creating water overflowing down a rocky slope to the pool. For more water drama, go with a waterfall, which can achieve Niagara Falls vibes or more zen moods with a fine sheet of water (sheer descent) for quieter pool time.

Deck jets are set flush into the pool deck and can create different water stream sizes or patterns. Deck jets can also be fitted with LED lighting, to light the water’s arc at night.

Pool Design Ideas: Water Features

2. Fire Features

Something about incorporating fire and water into landscaping makes the backyard look more exciting. Some of the newest trends include adding fire bowls to pool designs to transform the space into something extraordinary. The newest pool designs now also integrate  the fire pit with the pool or a fountain complete with lighting for extra drama. Adding the element of several small fire features around a pool’s edge or into a decorative wall surrounding the water is also a trend being seen in upscale pool designs. Other fire features include volcano fire pits for tropical landscapes, cauldrons, and fire bowls. If you have the budget, you can really take fire features to the limit. Some designs feature fire elements that appear to float on water or rise out of the pool. For an extra cool touch, check out floating “islands” with fire pits in the center.

Swimming Pool Design Trends for 2015

3. Knife-Edge Pools

Also known as “Lautner” knife-edge pools, slot-edge pools, wet edge pools and perimeter pools, this type of pool has water that sits at the same level as the pool deck and flows into a slot edge at the pool’s perimeter to create a mirror-surface effect. Similar in look to infinity pools, knife-edge pools showing up more often in luxury pool applications. Because these designs are more complicated and require extensive knowledge of hydraulic systems and construction methods, choosing the right pool builder is key. As you’re vetting builders, be sure to ask if they have experience in Lautner-edge pool construction. These types of pool also require different maintenance and service protocols than standard pools.

4. Glass Tile

The hottest new tile trend for pools is glass tile because they lend a watery, iridescent look to the backyard. Glass tile can be installed in a band around the water line or – as is the case with some luxury pools – used to line the entire inside of the pool. Often considered more durable than other tile options like ceramic or porcelain, glass tile comes in wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. The most common types used in pools include 1″ x 1″ and 3/4″ x 3/4″ sizes in blue and grey. If you’re considering glass tile, consider where you’ll put it because it can be slippery is used on walking surfaces, or rough if used in areas where people lounge against walls in areas like hot tubs.

5. Sloped entries and ledges

Beach entry (or zero entry) pools are growing in popularity, A pool design where one of more of the pool’s sides gradually slopes into the water, a beach entry pool allows swimmers to enter the pool slowly. Sometimes chosen by pool owners to accommodate children, the elderly or disabled, beach entry pools also can mimic the look of a beach with sand, waterfalls, and other elements. Beach entries invite sunbathers, too, and provide a nice lounge space on hot days.

Ledges, or baja shelves are an alternative to beach entries or stairs. Set at a water depth of about one foot, ledges and shelves can fit a few lounge chairs for relaxing in water without complete submersion. Make sure your shelf has a hole for an umbrella pole and you’re all set.

If you’re considering adding a baja shelf to your pool design, you will need extra space in your yard and budget to accommodate it.

New Design Trends for Swimming Pools

6. Illusion Spas

Illusion spas mark a popular design trend where the spa is integrated into the pool and looks to be part of it. Appearing to actually “lift” out of the pool, illusion spas are built with the pool so you’ll need to know if you want one before pool construction begins.

7. LED Lighting

LED pool lighting is outpacing incandescent lights and is available in more than a dozen colors. Adding lighting accents to water features, stairs, and more is a popular way to up the amperage in backyard landscapes and homeowners are taking notice of LED’s energy-saving benefit, too. 

8. Aggregate Finishes

Aggregate materials used to finish pool interiors are high on the swimming pool trends list. Aggregate finishes are made with white or colored plaster mixed with small pieces of quartz, granite, river stones, or glass beads, and come in polished and exposed options. Polished aggregate finishes contain crushed colored stones, such as quartz, or marble, which are polished to create a smooth surface. Exposed aggregate finishes contain tiny river pebbles or glass beads and the finish is power washed after application to remove the top layer of concrete and expose the colored pebbles or glass beads.

Exposed aggregates add traction to the pool surface and come in various sizes and colors, which allows for a range of textures and color combinations.

Pebble-Tec, an exposed aggregate made with pebbles and seashells creates an especially beautiful and unique finish. Grays, blues, greens, and browns are popular colors, and if you’re worried about the roughness of the aggregate, you can ask for micropebbles. Whatever you choose, aggregates have proven to be more durable than plaster finishes, even if it’s more expensive up front.

9. Natural Decking Materials

Natural stones like travertine, limestone, and flagstone pavers are popular pool surround and outdoor patio materials. Most of these materials also have a natural finish for slip resistance around a swimming pool. Tumbled pavers are also being increasingly used to give pools a more natural look and offer good drainage at the same time. Artistic pavers in various colors are also very popular, and pool surfaces in aggregate materials like pebbles, quartz, and glass create stunning water illusions around the pool.
Wood decking around pools is also seeing a resurgence, and redwood, teak and cedar especially weather beautifully, although must still be treated with water-resistant sealers to prevent warping or rotting. 

Natural Swimming Pools

10. Natural Pools

Natural swimming pools are pools designed to blend into natural landscapes, and often resemble ponds or the swimming holes of your youth. Relying on plants instead of chlorine to clean the water, natural swimming pools are already quite popular in Europe and have begun to catch on in the U.S.

Perfect for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprints, or who crave a return to nature, natural swimming pools incorporate best in rustic, less modern landscapes.

trends pool deck

Just Remodeling, Not Building?

Typical remodels that can upgrade the look of your existing pool include replacing incandescent lights with color LED lighting and incorporating water such as bubblers, a waterfall or deck jets. Other upgrades include pool resurfacing and changing out the waterline tile.

design ideas pool deck

Your Turn…

With so many pool customization options available, you can make your pool fit your personal tastes now more than ever. And although a swimming pool is a great investment that will increase your property value, it can be expensive to build, so take your time defining exactly what you want. What are your favorite pool looks?

design trends: pool deck

Photos: Courtesy of Install-it-Direct, TotalHabitat.com and Houzz.