It’s fun and exciting to dive into a beautiful pool, but it’s also fun and exciting to dive into the minds of the people who design those pools. We can imagine their dreams taking shape—and eventually see the coolest, splashiest, most innovative pool trends morph from ideas into reality for discerning homeowners.
“That trend of a more sophisticated, demanding client is certainly there,” says Michael Nantz, principal and founder of Elite Concepts, Inc.
We’ll take a sneak peek at some of those trends with the help the industry’s hottest designers.
Photo by Evan Porter Martin/Selective Designs
Selective Designs brings the water to eye level.
Living on the edge
“More modern designs. Simple, but stylish. Infinity edges, perimeter overflow pools,” are the biggest trends in the luxury pool industry, says Chris Cipriano, president of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping.
Perimeter overflow pools create the beautiful and calming illusion of water that is floating right to the edges of a pool, but actually spills over those edges. In many pools, the water spills into a catch basin that’s simply functional, or even hidden. But for Shane LeBlanc, CEO and traveling designer of Selective Designs, the overflow represents yet another way to create the pool of his clients’ dreams.
“What do you do with that catch basin? In this case, we’re trying to make them very cool,” he says. Instead of simply being functional places, LeBlanc is actually using those catch basins to create a lower level of the pool or patio itself, allowing the water from the upper part of the pool to be seen at eye level.
“You never look at water at eye level,” he says, but with these new pool designs, you can.
These multiple perimeter overflows and designing for that lower environment is “the new trend for me over the last year,” LeBlanc says. He might add another little patio within the catch basin or just outside of it or transform that perimeter overflow into a seating wall.
“I’m bringing them onto the water,” he says of his clients. “Their viewpoint doesn’t only have to be from the front of the house.”
He’s also creating different seating areas inside the pool, adding elements like sunken fire pits, and incorporating interesting spaces where you can see, hear, and be surrounded by water.
“It’s like you’re at the bottom of a waterfall,” LeBlanc says. “You’re getting two bangs for the buck.”
LeBlanc is also reimagining how the water actually flows over those edges by moving beyond just a slick piece of glass: If the water flows over a jagged surface it foams; if the surface is smooth, it will flow over quietly, but if it’s bumpy, it’ll be louder.
“The old school is kind of leaving,” LeBlanc says.
With that in mind is another trend: Movable pool floors, which can be raised or lowered and are useful for indoor pools, small backyards, or courtyard spaces, says Jamie Scott, co-owner of Group Works LLC.
Photo by Michael Nantz/Elite Concepts
Elite Concepts blends this pool design into the natural surroundings.
Going au naturel
“There continues to be a strong interest in trying to move away from chemicals in water,” says Scott, and for many people that means using less chlorine in the pool. Although Scott says that “chlorine has gotten a bad name,” people are coming up with other ways to treat pool water.
“Ozone and UV light are a coming trend,” he says. “They’re well established and are becoming more popular.”
Another alternative are natural pools, which are popular in Europe. In these pools, water is filtered through a carefully balanced mix of natural materials like plants and gravel, much like a pond or lake. Although the water in these natural pools is murkier than traditional pool water some people like that the system “uses nature to filter itself,” Scott says.
Going au naturel also extends to outdoor living in general, says Nantz. Instead of the pool and pool house being set apart from the main house, new pool designs are “creating a true, seamless, indoor/outdoor space with the existing home.”
“Clients are coming back from vacations with ideas they see at resorts,” says Cipriano. “Beautiful tropical landscaping around pool areas, swim-up seating, and plenty of entertaining areas with fire pits and luminous lighting.”
Photo by Florian Holzherr/Group Works LLC
Group Works LLC maximizes the view.
Light up your life
Although lighting has long been an integral part of pool design, Scott also says it’s traditionally lagged behind other innovations of the industry. For instance, LED lights have been in use for many years, but it’s only just recently that technology has allowed for dimmable LED underwater lights, he says.
James Carter, product and engineering manager for lighting at Hayward Pool Products, says that now more than ever, lighting is being considered in the overall strategic planning of the pool and is a focal point, rather than an afterthought.
“It changes the look of your pool,” he says, and smaller, more versatile, lower voltage lights are making pool lighting more interesting than ever, allowing for real synchronization in lighting for the hardscape, landscape, and the pool.
He says clients are also increasingly gravitating toward vividly colored lights in shades like sangria and violet, and lights that can change colors depending on the occasion, whether it’s a child’s birthday party, a romantic evening, or for the big game with your favorite team’s colors.
“It changes the look of your pool,” Carter says, and is so much more than utilitarian.
Photo by George Craig/Hayward Pool Products
Hayward Pool Products backyard automation systems.
Hot tech trends
We use our smartphones for banking, shopping, and even tracking our diets. Why not use them for controlling your, pool, too?
“The smart device that you use pretty much everywhere ends up being your pool controller,” says Greg Fournier, senior product manager of controls and backyard synergies for Hayward Pool Products.
That “ease of control through mobile devices” is getting better all the time, says Scott.
Not only is pool automation going mobile, it’s getting more intuitive, less time-consuming, and even more integrated with the automation of the rest of the house and backyard too, says Fournier. Pool owners can control the heater, lights, water features, landscape lights, backyard waterfall, or anything else that needs it, from a single interface and from a variety of devices.
“It’s really about controlling anything that is electrical,” Fournier says. “It’s really a backyard automation system.”
In addition, once a homeowner has found an ambiance setting that’s exactly the way they want it, they can save that “theme” by naming it and turn it back on exactly the same way later. For instance, if the music is at a certain volume, the waterfall going at 1,000 RPMs, three bubblers are on, the pool lights are on in blue, the landscape lights are on, the water temperature is perfect, and the spa light is on in pink, you won’t have to reset each of those elements individually to achieve the same overall effect later.
“You press one button, and all of the settings are on again,” Fournier says. Plus, pool owners can create and save a variety of different themes—perhaps “Romantic Saturday” or “Family BBQ”—from every imaginable combinations of settings.
“The control is really about taking your labor out of it,” Fournier says. “It’s about giving you access to your pool so that you’re not spending all of your time working on the pool. You’re spending all of your time enjoying the pool.”
And who knows where we’ll go from here?
“We’re really plugged into the future,” says Fournier.