Backyard swimming pool designs have come a long way from the ubiquitous sky-blue rectangles dotting suburban flyover country for several decades past. These days, swimming pool ideas are all over the map and can vary as widely as the cost required of you to make one happen for home. Custom-designed swimming pools are increasingly common, and that even includes in-ground designs for small yards. A small swimming pool can range from a little plastic child’s toy or a popular above-ground metal stock tank to a creative original in-ground design of your own, and far beyond that. Your first step is to look at pictures online and read articles like this one to gather plenty of ideas.
With one exception, our list of 25 swimming pool ideas focuses on in-ground options for those looking to build a new in-ground pool from scratch or upgrade an existing in-ground pool. Most custom pool companies now include landscapers, designers and even architects. Some collaborate with other builders and contractors to create the pool of your dreams.
Remember the bottom line: Regardless of your budget and the space you have to work with, you have options. Here are 25 great ideas to get you started thinking more seriously about your own refreshing backyard swimming pool getaway and all its possibilities.
1. The stock tank
Originally intended for livestock, the humble, portable, galvanized metal tub, available at agricultural supply and feed stores in many shapes and sizes, has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, thanks to its above-ground, affordable, customizable DIY appeal and platforms like Instagram.
2. The classic rectangle
There’s a reason that a clean look with the classic straight lines of a rectangle has become known as the traditional look for a swimming pool. Rectangular pools are typically straightforward to build and maintain, so you’ll likely find this option to be on the lower end of the price scale (depending on other features, of course). If a rectangular pool is your preference, you can still customize it in many ways — think water features, lights, or a skin- and hair-friendly saltwater system, for instance.
3. The sleek and modern
Modern homes tend to incorporate modern pool designs, which often feature minimalism, glass panels, and dramatic lighting with high contrast and shadow. These sleek, modern pool designs pair well with outdoor living areas for an exclusive resort feel right at home.
4. The indoor experience
Some homeowners prefer the controlled climate of an indoor pool, and possibilities here are no less extensive. Many people elect to highlight indoor pools with natural light from windows and skylights. Some even build indoor/outdoor pools, enabling swimmers to access both sections.
5. The lap pool
For the exercise-minded who recognize swimming as the ultimate full-body routine, nothing beats a lap pool. Indoors or out, when considering where to place your lap pool (designers recommend at least a 34’ length), there are plenty of creative options.
6. The natural or pond-pool
Some prefer to be surrounded by greenery in natural spaces with trees, shrubs, bushes and gardens of flowering plants. Some pool owners take it a step further and build swimming ponds, which combine benefits of both while eliminating the need to cover the pool-pond in winter. Swimming ponds typically use different sanitizing and filtration systems than conventional swimming pools, so be prepared for extra cost and maintenance.
7. The historic restoration
With an eye on preservation, some homeowners elect to adhere to a home’s architectural style, keeping the original aesthetic intact throughout the property. Some pool companies specialize in preservation of antique swimming pools, but any reputable contractor should be amenable to this approach.
8. The pool/spa combo
It’s become more common to integrate a spa (sometimes known as a hot tub or jacuzzi) within a new in-ground pool design. Who wouldn’t like to enjoy both? A third option to consider is a wading pool that can accommodate furniture for lounging in the shallows with a cocktail.
9. The pool. The house. The pool house.
Any pool requires a degree of maintenance, so you’ll need a place to store related tools and equipment. You’re already designing your pool to fit well into your landscape and coordinate with your house. Why not design a matching pool house, too?
10. Stones, rocks and more
From relocated boulders, river rocks, sand pebbles and custom concrete to locally sourced limestone, granite, sandstone and bluestone, the hard surfaces in and around your new, custom-designed pool are near limitless. Let flagstone, synthetic coral, mortar and pavers pave the way.
11. Backyard water park
If you love waterslides, waterfalls and even wave pools, there are custom pool professionals available who can accommodate your passion to recreate at least some of the experience of attending your favorite waterpark, right in your own backyard. Dream big, and splash down.
12. Light up the experience
When you’re in the planning stages, don’t overlook the atmosphere of a well-lit pool and poolside area after dark, whether you plan to get wet after dinner or not. Incorporating tasteful lighting in and around your pool can make a bold impact.
13. Beach entry
Not every pool has steps. If you’d like a more beachy, gradual water entry, fear not: it can be done. Would you like to shuffle into a gently sloping section of slate or shale? Or is a plethora of river rock pebbles more your speed? If you can imagine it, pool professionals can create it.
14. Recycle, reuse, repurpose
Green home builders know that the greenest way to build is to take advantage of what’s already been manufactured before making anything more. Extend this approach to your new pool, and you’ll be surprised at what works well, from shipping containers to pieces of concrete sidewalks.
15. Consider the landscape
When you’re planning a pool design, think carefully about the natural landscape around your home and how best to incorporate it. Is it rocky or wooded? Are there tropical plants or open fields? Matching the look of your pool to the land it occupies just makes sense.
16. A view of the water from the water
For those lucky enough to live within view of a body of water like an ocean, river, lake or stream, preserving the view for everyone enjoying the pool is vital. Consider all vantage points from which a future lounger in your future pool might lounge, and don’t forget to incorporate the view!
17. Infinity pools
While you’re at it, think about extending that view infinitely. Infinity pools create stunning views by appearing to be edgeless. The effect for those in the water enjoying the view is as if the pool extends infinitely into the view beyond.
18. Fire pits and fireplaces
An increasingly popular feature in many a custom-designed backyard pool area, fire pits and fireplaces can be integrated into stone and rock landscape designs. It’s elemental. Fire features, contrasting with the water, create dramatic effects and take outdoor ambiance to new levels.
19. Indoor rooms, outdoors
If you live in the perfect climate for lounging around the pool a majority of the year, why not bring your dining room and kitchen outdoors, too? With outdoor access to a refrigerator, grill, bar and outdoor dining, you can extend your visit to your own backyard bliss indefinitely.
20. Fantastic fountains
Sometimes a pool that looks perfectly designed, even finished, might still seem like it’s missing something. Maybe you’re a few weeks into your first summer, soaking up the sun poolside, but you can’t shake the feeling. That little something to really liven things up? It could be a fountain.
21. Try a little tile
Trying to upgrade an older pool? Consider tile. From attractive, water-line accents to stunning mosaic designs along the bottom of the pool and even around it, tile offers a tremendous variety of color and texture in a durable, easy-to clean surface perfect for expressing your artistic side.
22. Build bridges
Like jumping into the pool? Why settle for a plain old diving board when you can build a bridge over the deep end and leap from either side to your heart’s content? Consider adding “floating” pavers – stepping stones that appear to float on the surface – for a unique look that’s interactive.
23. Patio plants
We mentioned the greenery around your new pool landscaping, but let’s take it in a few feet and look at patio plants. If you’re a fan of flowers, or even veggies, herbs, berries and vines, you can add fresh fragrances, vibrant colors and edible delights all around your new swimming pool.
24. Hop in from upstairs
Feeling adventurous? Ask about adding a slide to your pool from an upstairs balcony. On hotter days, when you’ve had enough and just can’t take it anymore, you can hop into the pool chute and chase your troubles away, just like that. Make sure you have an experienced contractor do the work.
25. Get funky
When selecting a shape for your pool, there are no rules. If the idea of a traditional, rectangular pool drives you nuts, forget it. New pools can be built in just about any shape, and all the water doesn’t even have to be in one place! A series of smaller pools can even be linked together.
Thanks for reading our list of 25 beautiful swimming pool ideas. While you’re still in the mood for home improvement, check out these backyard deck ideas on a budget. As you welcome the warmer months, you might also be interested in our outdoor home decorating ideas, and if you’re wondering whether home warranties cover pools, we have your answer.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.