We’ve all fallen in love with the perfect swimming pool while on vacation and wished we could recreate it at home. As homeowners look to create spa-style sanctuaries, many are designing bespoke pools for their properties, with the help of expert architects and designers. Here are six questions to ask if you’re considering doing the same, along with some inspirational examples.
1. What are your lifestyle priorities?
Your pool should be designed to fit in with your lifestyle, so ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve from a pool redesign. Is it to make your morning exercise routine more appealing? To provide a play area for your children? Or perhaps it's simply to create an area to host summer gatherings.
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Joan Miquel Seguí, owner of the eponymous Mallorca-based architecture firm, explains: “Often we work with families who want the pool to be visible from the kitchen, so they can keep an eye on children, while people who enjoy entertaining will prioritize an area for a barbecue or sun lounging. All these things should be taken into account from the beginning.”
2. Chlorine or all natural?
Water-filtration systems are another important factor to consider at the outset of your project. Salt water and chlorinated pools each use completely different filtration systems, so you need to make that decision before proceeding with any major work.
For 30 years, Austria-based Biotop has created natural pool designs with a swimming zone and a separate area where plants act as a natural filter. “The great advantage is that you can avoid using chlorine,” says managing and technical director Peter Petrich. “These designs don’t need to be kept covered and can be enjoyed all year round as a design feature.”
3. Which features do you want to include?
“Automation is now a big feature in pool design. Smart pools don’t just activate the pool cover, temperature, and cleaning systems, but can also include color-changing mood lighting, music, and even fountains and waterfalls, says Mikhail Chin, senior architect for OBMI, a Cayman Islands-based design outfit.
The possibilities don't stop there. “In our designs we have also integrated ‘lounging ledges’—a shallow area in the pool about eight to 10 inches (20 to 25cm) deep that can be used for relaxation and sunbathing,” says Chin. “Within this trend, floating cabanas within pools are also popular—often nestled along the edge of the pool, they appear to float on the surface.”
Some families with children also like to incorporate fun elements such as a rock waterfall or hidden grotto, while adults may like the idea of an infinity hot tub that appears to flow into the main pool. Something else to consider from the beginning is a pool’s depth. Traditional pools with a shallow and deep end are increasingly being replaced by single-depth options of around 1.4 meters (4.6ft), which allow people to swim comfortably but also to walk and talk if that is what they prefer.
4. Design: How much and what style?
UK-based Craig Bragdy Design creates ceramic designs for pools that sit just below the water line. He’s previously created a sand effect for beach-entry pools, colorful Art Deco designs, and even reproduced a Gustav Klimt artwork on the bottom of one pool.
Chin has reported a rise in customers requesting darker pool colors instead of the more common blue to create a more dramatic, contemporary look. However, Craig Bragdy Design's managing director Shon Powell has some advice when it comes to choosing unusual colors and designs. “Remember to be careful with color. Anything featuring browns can look muddy, while red can be equally unappealing,” he explains.
5. Do you want to go beyond infinity?
For many, the infinity pool has been the last word in style and sophistication, but recently it has been given a makeover. Brian Pinkett, a partner at Los Angeles-based Landry Design Group, says: “In some recent projects, we've given infinity pools a twist, making the infinity edge wall entirely of glass so you can see the view through the water as well.”
According to architect Seguí, zero-edge pools are also a popular option. Lying flush against the deck, with water flowing into a recess below, they can give the impression of a sheet of glass when the sun touches them and can look very still and serene.
6. Have you considered the finishing touches?
Bear in mind that your architect should work with you to ensure that your new pool sits well within the landscape of your garden or grounds. A great architect should also be able to suggest any other elements you may need—such as a pool house or decking—and ensure they fit perfectly with the design of your home.
These four properties in Spain, California, Idaho, and Florida all come fitted with exceptional bespoke swimming pools.
La Eliana, Valencia, SpainThis modern intelligent house designed with a home automation system is set in one of the most exclusive developments in La Eliana. "This luxury villa has intelligent interior and exterior design, and features many bespoke fittings, including a magnificent garden and an outstanding designer swimming pool,” observes José Ribes, CEO of Rimontgó, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region.
Del Dios Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California, USA
A stunning estate embracing acres of Valencia orange groves, Del Dios Ranch includes a lake and equestrian facilities. Noted architect Fred Briggs crafted the prominent home, which is distinguished by soaring, vaulted ceilings. "Del Dios Ranch is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to own a rare 50-acre (20-hectare) parcel with a one-of-a-kind glass, redwood, and poured-concrete estate compound,” says Linda Sansone, realtor and listing agent at Willis Allen, the exclusive affiliate of Chrisite’s International Real Estate in the region. “The estate includes a unique indoor pool and entertaining pavilion, as well as a six-stall barn, pastures, guesthouse, tennis court, and fruit orchard.”
East Fork River Estate, Ketchum, Idaho, USA
This five-bedroom property and two-bedroom guesthouse has extensive outdoor facilities in addition to a media room, wine cellar, main floor master bedroom, two offices, game room, den, and an outdoor covered fireplace. "This amazing estate property with tennis court and swimming pool is located on the East Fork of the Big Wood River. Overlooking the river, this pool is in a magical setting with incredible stargazing after dark,” says Suzanne Williams, owner of Sun Valley Real Estate, LLC, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region.
Mandalay, Sanibel, Florida, USA
Set on silver sands with a private beachfront, Mandalay lies on an unspoiled barrier island with spectacular sunset vistas of the Gulf of Mexico—and a secluded terrace overlooking its generously proportioned outdoor pool. "This uniquely designed property boasts stunning architecture, views, and amenities offered from the private confines of a prized location,” says Rick Moeser, Executive Director at Christie's International Real Estate.