11 Luxury Pool Trends Making a Splash This Summer

In the world of luxury home design, the transition from Fall to Winter and Spring to Summer is an opportunity: to innovate, to reinvent, and to create new and extravagant ways to harness and enjoy the elements. In Austin, this proverbial dance with nature involves complementing and offsetting the sweltering Texas heat.

According to award-winning independent luxury pool designer Doug Smith, poolside is truly the best place to enjoy the summer high life. Besides serving as a centerpiece for home entertainment, these mini-oases provide a sense of relaxation, fun, and fitness for the whole family.

1. The Spool
A bit of an aqua novelty, the “spool” combines the best of both worlds. This hybrid spa + pool layout consists of one body of water divided into two distinct areas (usually connected by a spillover border). While the main body of the pool is ideal for a quick dip or short laps, the spa area allows for lounging and relaxing. According to Smith, the spool design has almost endless possible shapes; however, he prefers half-moon or free-form models. Added specialty features can include shallow ends, lounging benches, and wall jets.

2. Small Pools
You may think your home doesn’t allow for a luxury pool. But even if your yard has limited space or access, a pool isn’t out of the question. In fact, Smith is a strong believer in the merit of a small pool. Though the scope of waterflow in a small pool may be limited, the opportunity for luxury features is not. Small pools still provide space for recreation, relaxation, and entertainment.

3. Jump Rocks
Diving boards are ancient history. While this pool feature may have been considered standard in the past, today’s luxury clients nix the diving board in preference of “jump rocks.” These functional outcroppings blend in with the surrounding poolscape and only require about 6 feet of water depth…whereas diving boards require an annoyingly extreme water depth. Smith’s clients tend to gravitate towards the sleek, natural-looking platform that jump rocks provide. His particular style features a raised 3-foot rock ledge mortared on the side of the pool.

4. Sun Shelves
If your pool’s main function is to provide relaxation, a sun shelf might become an essential part of your summertime experience. These “loungers” or “play shelves” are the perfect place for your legless chaise lounges or splash areas for young children. Smith in particular is known for his luxury shelf design: close to the house, resembling a recessed cove or private bay. Plus, if your residence is home to a water-loving dog, Smith has been known to edge the shelf with scratch-resistant flagstone.

5. Controlled Waterflow
Luxury pools are as much about atmosphere as function. A controlled waterflow allows owners to harness the relaxing sights and sounds of the sparkling water: “bubblers” can be added to sun shelves to create small ripples; raised edges provide gorgeous mini-waterfalls; specialty valves allow residents to control the speed of waterflow. Overall, these additions give pool owners the opportunity to experience the sounds of anything from a gentle brook to a churning river.

6. LED Accent Lights
Why limit your pool to a daytime experience? LED accents create a novelty glow and enhance nighttime swimming. From the full rainbow to a soothing purple (Smith’s personal favorite), these underwater lights are available in a full spectrum of color and synchronized patterns. Smith shared that he likes to use two lights directed away from the home to create a distinct atmosphere.

7. Nature-like Rock Elements 
While some pools utilize mounds of rock to simulate waterfalls, Smith cringes at the thought of such an un-elegant model. Instead, he prefers a more subtle, nature-inspired look. His favorite models include a lead-in of angled boulders accented with flat stone spillways.

8. Sports Pools
While most of the features listed above provide ample ways to relax, some prefer to use their luxury pool in more recreational ways. Most pools utilize a standard gradient (which transitions evenly from shallow to deep). Unfortunately, this design is anything but conducive for a game of volleyball or water polo. Instead, sports pools feature an adjusted depth that allows for large play areas.

9. Knife Edges
Increasingly a classic feature on luxury pools, the border-defying “knife edge” is utilized in approximately 70% of home spas. Smith offers a new take on the classic: using “reverse knife edges”, this design includes four to five-foot edges on alternate sides of the pool.

10. Fire Accents
If you were under the impression that fire and water were mutually exclusive elements, you might be pleasantly surprised by Smith’s innovative combination of the two. His novelty design features two turrets topped with self-igniting “bowls” of fire, typically framing a wall of natural Cantera stone. And, if you’re more interested in functionality than novelty, a poolside fire pit might be the best way to enjoy a poolside summer night.

11. Quartzscapes®
Far more elegant than the standard concrete model, a quartzscape® interior pool finish features a micro-pebble, customizable crushed quartz surface. Available in a variety of shades, this specialized finish shimmers in the sunlight, adding an extra touch of luxury. Besides its refined appearance, quartzscape® interiors are durable and foot-friendly.

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