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This Year’s Top Pool Design Trends

2021 Pool Design Trends

The number one trend in pool designs today is… anything goes! If you want your version of a resort-style pool, or wish to adopt the tiny pool craze to outfit a smaller niche, you can. Advancements in pool design and manufacturing give dimension to your wildest dreams about elevating your outdoor space.

Rectangular or kidney-shaped pools are still very much a mainstay of pool construction. The rectangular ones that feature diving boards and slides may well suit the people who are using the pool, which is key. This structure should be built for your unique needs.

Kidney-shaped pools have long been a favorite as they tend to fit in nicely while the “indented side” provides the ideal area to add loungers and umbrellas without taking up extra backyard space. Conventional concepts aside, there are some exciting new ideas to consider!

Shallow and Sleek

According to Elle Décor, “narrow, shallow, and sleek” are the latest must-haves in pool design. This interesting concept shies away from elaborate grottos and yes, even diving boards. The overall dimensions are also slimmer.

Elle Décor says, “Faux grottoes, cascading waterfalls, amoeba-​shaped outlines, corkscrew waterslides, and athletically sprung diving boards — pool design has long been a fertile font of hedonistic experimentation. But the latest trend in upscale pools reveals a different impulse: a back-to-simplicity, less-is-more desire to create watery retreats that position the pool as a beautiful, integral part of a home’s architecture or a cohesive element of the larger landscape.”

The advantages of these pools being shallower is that they create more of a social gathering spot where people can simply wade or sit and socialize in furniture that’s only slightly submerged. Broad steps that span the width also provide a grand entrance into the aquatic section of your entertainment area.

Additionally, when you take the diving board out of the equation, there’s no need for a deep end. Elle Décor considers this option better for the environment. Since you require less water to fill these pools, there’s a lot less water that needs to be heated. What’s also nice is that with a smaller footprint, your pool takes up less space leaving more room for other structures as well as whatever hardscaping and softscaping features you’d like to install.

Infinity Edges and Plaster Finishes

This design device hasn’t gone anywhere yet as there is such beauty in its perceived simplicity. Of infinity edges, decorator Kelly Behun says, “It blurs the boundaries between where the pool ends, and the sky begins. It’s lovely feeling like you’re hovering out there.”

While not every yard has the capacity to accommodate this profile that showcases spectacular views from your yard, plaster pools allow custom designs and a fabulous finish for reflective beauty that gives your pool personality.

Cocktail Pools

In keeping with the less is more trend, these water-infused havens are an interesting choice. According to Aqua Pool, “If you’d like a place to relax and cool down on a hot day, but you have limited space for a full-sized pool, a cocktail pool may offer the perfect solution. One of the hottest new pool design trends, cocktail pools are small, compact pools — generally less than 400 square feet — that can fit into smaller or irregularly shaped backyards. In addition, cocktail pools tend to be less expensive and more eco-friendly than full-sized varieties.”

This scaled down solution doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the amenities however! Consult with your pool pro about adding jets and heaters to give the duality of a spa, fire bowls for an enticing visual, and custom seating.

Rain Curtains and Dark Interiors

These features may seem the stuff of a scary movie on a stormy night. But actually, they create the ideal vibe whether beneath sunny or starry skies!

From the folks at Gibson Family Pools, rain curtains (also called water curtains or rain descents) are a “fantastic trend that features a solid curtain of water cascading into your pool. This waterfall-like effect is not only visually appealing, but the sound of running water is also incredibly calming and can enhance the tranquility of your sanctuary.”

For an even more dramatic effect, darker interior colors lend to an inviting, lagoon-like appearance. A shadowy gray, a deeper navy, and even a black interior makes smaller pools appear deeper. These colors also tend to absorb and hold heat more effectively, making your pool easier to heat and therefore more energy efficient. It’s amazing how little touches can add such vivid nuance.

If installing a rain curtain isn’t in the budget, consider placing a collection of standalone fountains at key places around your pool’s perimeter to boost the tranquil spa effect of your space. Those sounds of silence certainly set the relaxation mood.

Spas and Lighting

In keeping with the trend toward streamlining, note that while spas (like fountains!) can be standalone, incorporating their bubbling goodness into the overall pool design makes for a seamless display. They need only be separated by a single wall to divide the cooling refreshment of the pool from the healing waters of the spa.

And in more ambiance, to offset those darker pool interiors and add a unique atmosphere to your alfresco retreat, LED lighting is one of the best gifts you could give yourself and your pool.

This is also another trend with staying power! Whether built in to the pool itself, strung from trees, defining your lanai, or realized as floating orbs on the pool’s surface, your lighting design is as much a safety device as it is an aesthetic one.

What’s also great is that newer lighting like this has the benefit of remote-control access so you can set your own stage at the touch of a button or an app! The incredible cost effectiveness of this option over more traditional lighting certainly makes it an even more attractive solution.


Speaking of remote-control access, you don’t have to be a technophile to love the benefits of smart pools! They make life just that much easier and help ensure your pool’s maintenance is done on time.

Whether from a mobile phone or another smart gadget you can run the world:

  • Manage the pool pumps
  • Control your lighting’s intensity and timing
  • Run your filters
  • Retract or unfurl awnings and pool covers
  • Get functionality alerts
  • Detect if objects or people are in the water (excellent for parents or pet owners)
  • Regulate temperatures
  • Activate self-cleaning systems
  • Improve circulation and distribution of chemicals and heat
  • Prepare the spa for your arrival home

So go ahead! Scope out those resorts and replicate those amenities! With modern pool designs and installation techniques, you can build the backyard nirvana that’s just right for you and your family.

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves all the advances in pool designs and amenities. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.