Swimming pool design has changed in recent years, just as home building has.  Gone are the heydays of the 70s and 80s where a quarter acre block with a small home and big backyard was standard, in which a freeform pool could be built with full perimeter paving – and usually no fence!   The trend of the last decade towards larger homes on smaller blocks with full boundary fencing has altered the way outdoor spaces are being used; the area available to build a swimming pool is far more compressed than ever before. 

What this means for pool builders and landscape designers is that they’ve had to get clever about how to maximise the space so that pools can be built along property and building boundaries.  New planning regulations and advances in construction methods have had a positive impact on the way a pool can be incorporated into a modern home.

When you think ‘pool’ you think ‘lifestyle’. So when considering a swimming pool for your new home you must not only consider practical things such as the size and filtration system of the pool itself but also how the pool integrates into the rest of the home and what goes around the pool that will contribute to your desired lifestyle.
Regardless of whether you are dreaming of a sleek lap pool with bubbling water features or a bustling fun zone for the neighbourhood kids, there are a number of things that should be contemplated before you start digging that hole: the position or aspect of the pool, the design details, and the entertaining areas surrounding the pool.

Position of the pool 

When choosing the best position for your pool, consider the following:
  • If your block is small, build against the property boundary so you can use the existing fence as part of your pool fence.
  • There’s no need to take up your entire backyard with the pool. Maintain room for other ‘zones’ in your backyard – play equipment, outdoor kitchen, a vegie garden.
  • Consider the aspect carefully. North and west is best – you don’t generally put a pool in east or south as they are too cold. You want to be able to optimize the sunshine and warmest weather.
  • Build the pool in an area most visible from your living space – you can keep an eye on the kids or view the pool as a showpiece.
  • Reduce the size of the area around the pool, particularly if you are in the southern states of Australia and won’t be using your pool year round.  There’s no need to fit chairs and a table within the pool fence area.
  • Modern cleaning systems mean you don’t have to walk around the entire pool to scoop out the leaves – single or double-sided access is enough. 

Design details of your pool 

The key to designing a pool is to make it feel like an extension of your home.  Look at the architecture and replicate these features in your pool – straight lines and right-angled corners for a modern home, rounded edges and sweeping classic shapes for a period home. 
The materials you use are also very important.  Try to balance hard and soft finishes – timber and stone plus greenery.  Current trends suggest large format tiling and paving.  Be mindful of using light coloured paving outdoors however, as they discolour easily and don’t wear as well as darker finishes.  A light coloured pool interior and dark coloured paving works well.
The number one factor determining how often you use the pool is water temperature.  Irrespective of the heating method you use, the larger the pool the more expensive and difficult it is to heat, so consider the size of your pool carefully.

Pool surrounds 

If you have children, they are the ones most likely to use the pool.  Think about what you need to do to make the pool safe and accessible as well as aesthetically pleasing. 
You will need a comfortable viewing position close to the pool – a covered al fresco, a lounge room, or gazebo.  Are you big entertainers? Can you incorporate the pool into your outdoor kitchen or living space? Or are you more interested in a quiet relaxation zone with a fireplace? The Sovereign 50 on display in Glen Waverley,VIC (pictured above) offers a great example of a pergola or sunlounge area seamlessly integrated with the pool and rest of the home. 
There should be a logical progression so you can transition from the house to the pool. Ideally the exit point from the house should be located near the pool fence gate and the pool steps near the gate so that there’s continuity for seamless use.

You should aim to integrate the pool into the backyard as much as possible.  Use the existing slopes by raising an edge or incorporating a viewing area into the pool.  Alternatively you can use a horizon or negative edge, or possibly a retaining wall or raised planter along the pool edge. 
Above all, your pool should reflect your lifestyle and appear as if it has always been part of the landscape – not added as an afterthought.