Pisa Pearl glass tiles in by Lunada Bay; photograph by Zack Benson

Using Color to Make a Poolscape Pop

Color, whether it’s an elaborate many-hued mosaic design or the subtle shade of a surround, is one of the key elements that makes the poolscape so special.

The correct color in the right place adds aesthetic and emotional value. 

We’ve asked manufacturers and designers for tips on making the poolscape pop.


When it comes to popular poolscape colors, it’s all about the green and blue hues.

“Everything plays off the mix of blue and water,” says Ray Corral, the founder of Mosaicist, the Miami, Florida, company that plans, designs, manufactures, and installs glass mosaics in swimming pools around the world. “The water always introduces a bluish cast. The only way to make the color prominent is overlapping with medium-tone blues or medium greens. They are very rich.”

Mosaicist’s Sea Marine tiles shimmer in a project by Danny Wang’s DW Design Build. Photograph by Jimi Smith

The company offers all-glass tiles in a variety of finishes, including translucent, smalti enamel, matte, and iridescent, each of which creates a different effect.

The most requested color, Sea Marine, is a navy blue that Corral describes as “rich, dark, and deep.”

Deep Forest, a dark green tile, is the second most popular color, followed by Zealand, which was inspired by the natural green Bali stone so popular in luxury resorts.

“Glass tile is much more enduring than stone,” Corral says. “It’s vitreous and doesn’t change color over time.”

In a project by Ryan Hughes Design Build, Mosaicist’s Deep Forest glass tiles clad the pool. Photograph by Mosaicist

Although many Mosaicist clients choose a single color of tile for cladding the interior of the pool, some 40 percent decide to incorporate mosaic centerpieces or even full-pool mosaic murals into the design.

“People want more out of their pools than swimming,” Corral says, adding that Mosaicist specializes in custom mosaic art works. “We decorate bodies of water to become architectural art pieces.”

To showcase such artwork, the pool generally is clad in a solid dark color that lightens around the design.

“The colors in the design depend on a lot of factors, including the direction of the sun and the design of the pool,” Corral says. “We also often create a coordinating mural for the cabana’s outside kitchen backsplash.”


Lunada Bay Tile

The traditional poolscape color choices – the iconic blues and greens – are being watered down to polite pastels as people turn their backyards into soothing sanctuaries.

“People, because of the pandemic, are taking a new approach to the landscape in general,” says Feras Irikat, director of design and marketing for Lunada Bay Tile, based in Harbor City, California. “It’s not just an entertaining space; it’s their sanctuary.”

Pastel sages, rusts, greys, terra-cottas, and softer blues and greens are trending.

Lunada Bay designs and manufactures handcrafted glass, ceramic, and concrete tiles that are suitable for outdoor use and are made to be mixed and matched, which is exactly what poolscape designers are doing. 

“Our glass tiles, which are the only ones we make that are submersible, are used to clad inside the pools, and the other materials are used in areas surrounding the pool,” he says. “People are getting adventurous with tile selections because their goal is to create something that reflects their personalities, and all of our materials are designed to be integrated together to create unique projects.”

Most people, he adds, choose a mosaic blend of three to four colors for the pool, which gives “more pop because there’s more movement, especially since they are handcrafted.”

The company also does custom graphics and other in-pool murals upon request.

The glass tiles come in a variety of shapes. In addition to the classic 1-inch squares, which are the most popular, Lunada Bay offers waves, hexagons, 2-inch and 3-inch rectangles, penny-rounds, and many other unique mosaic shapes.

Along with pastels, black-bottom pools remain another popular choice, Irikat says, “because they create a mirror surface that expands the space and reflects the natural organic environment. Highlighting the natural environment is a sure way to create a Zen environment, the sanctuary the clients are looking for.”


Premier Pools & Spas of Sacramento

A monochromatic background sets the stage for adding color accents in strategic areas of the poolscape that can create a relaxing yet stimulating fun-in-the-sun mood.

The monochromatic color scheme of construction materials such as stone and tile becomes a neutral backdrop for a pool by Premier Pools & Spas of Sacramento. Photograph by Jovan Valdez

Lance Irby, sales manager for the design/build company Premier Pools & Spas of Sacramento, likes to pair the earth tones of commonplace construction materials and typical residential architecture with pops of color to make projects stand out.

“The blue tones for me are truly soothing, they’re not loud, which is ideal because people come to the pool and backyard to decompress,” he says, adding that although most clients prefer relaxing hues and color schemes, some like bolder color choices to create visual contrast or focal points of emphasis. “Typically, the pool area is defined by stone, cementitious materials, tiles, and plaster. With the exception of tile and sometimes plasters, stone and hardscapes tend to have a limited monochromatic color palette. You can always introduce additional color to accentuate the pool environment within the project’s furnishings and plantings. Landscaping is the unsung hero of a successful design. The color possibilities implemented in the landscaping phase are so important to a cohesive finished space.”

Color, as illustrated by this project by Premier Pools & Spas of Sacramento, adds visual interest and elevates the emotional mood of the people who are using the poolscape. Photograph by Jovan Valdez

Color choice is of prime importance because it not only changes the appearance of the project, but it also alters the mood and affects our brain chemistry. “Literally,” he says, “it determines how people feel emotionally within a space.”


Pebble Technology International

Blends of blues are by far the most popular color choice, but the exact hue of blue varies, according to industry leader Pebble Technology International, maker of pool finishes and manufacturer of high-end, artisan glass tile.

PebbleTec’s Lightstreams glass tiles – Renaissance II Collection, Turquoise and Steel Blue – play with the light and water to stunning effect. 

“Nationally, homeowners continue to prefer tile colors that blend with, rather than contrast to, the pool water color,” says Kari Paulson, the Scottsdale, Arizona company’s vice president of marketing. 

She notes that the preferred color of the water – and the color of the tile – varies by U.S. geographic region. 

“In Los Angeles, for instance, homeowners are increasingly requesting black-bottom pools, while dark blues are most popular in the Northeast,” she says. “In contrast, in Las Vegas, Florida, and Texas, where heat is a concern, cooler and lighter colors are preferred.”

Rondo Pools & Spas used PebbleSheen Arctic White pool finish (with Shimmering Sea, a blend of abalone and mother-of-pearl shells) in this project in Phoenix.

PebbleTec’s Lightstreams artisan glass tiles, which feature multi-color iridescence on one side and saturated solid color on the other and whose hues range from peacock blues and teals to golds and bronzes, bring an added dimension to the poolscape color wheel.

 “They capture light in extraordinary ways,” Paulson says, noting that they are permeated with color throughout and twice-fired for durability. “And they give a touch of unique, upscale elegance to every pool.”

 The bevy of blues have come into their own as pools with clean, straight lines and lighter surrounding colors are trending. “Light travertine, salt decks, and light-colored pavers and decking are favorite options,” she says.


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