Owning a gorgeous swimming pool can be a lifelong dream for many. Pools are a luxurious addition to any home, and it’s also a space to relax and unwind from daily stresses, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy the luxury lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
Chris Hayes, managing director of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA), tells us how to bring that holiday paradise home by designing and installing your own luxury swimming pool.
The design process
The first consideration when designing your swimming pool is whether you want an indoor or outdoor pool. This should be followed swiftly by asking yourself its primary purpose. Understanding your pool’s primary use and location will be instrumental in the design process.
For example, if the main requirement is to use the pool for exercise, then the length measurement is all-important (although a counter current unit, which generates a current or jet stream in your pool for you to swim against, can often be installed to reduce the size of the pool). If the pool is to be constructed inside a building, then the width is essential (as the width of the pool will either be determined by the width of the building if it already exists or will set out the width of a new build). When it comes to a new building, it’s important to note that the construction cost of the width of a building is much more expensive than the length due to the span over the void below.
For many, the normal shape of a swimming pool is rectangular, usually with proportions of 2:1 (length to width). This is ideal for exercise and provides a good visual balance and appearance. This isn’t set in stone, and depending on the space available, the length can be extended or the width reduced to suit your needs. Furthermore, as a rectangular pool is relatively simple to construct, it’s inevitably more cost-effective compared with curved structures, so it’s no surprise that it’s the most popular shape.
However, your choices are endless if you’d prefer something a little more creative. People have been known to choose something completely unique or personal, such as a pool in the shape of a guitar, grand piano, ‘figure of eight’, L-shaped, kidney-shaped, Y-shaped, kite-shaped, pools incorporating spas, fountains and waterfalls.
When considering the shape of your pool, think about how you want it to make you feel – as if you are in a glamourous Tuscan retreat, an infinity pool overlooking the New York skyline or a farmhouse spa in the Cotswolds. Do you want to include a Baja Shelf (think of it as a mezzanine floor so you can lounge in the shallow end) or a swim-up bar to enjoy a cocktail? Your beautiful new swimming pool must fit your property’s overall style, so broaden your creative thinking and consider the bigger picture.
Once you’ve decided on the foundations of your pool, further considerations must be made. For example, access, health and safety and then add-ons such as lighting, tiles, pathways, and even an outdoor shower or sunroom to really give your pool the WOW factor!
You’ll need to decide how many access points you’d like and whether you’d like steps down into the water. Steps are lovely to lounge on, but if your pool is primarily for exercising, ladders would be best as they take up less space. Consider who will be using the pool, what they will use it for and, if applicable, any special needs, as you may need to factor in handrails and consider the pool depth.
In terms of safety and usage, equipment may need to be factored in from the offset, and your chosen swimming pool company can advise on this. Planning these features from the beginning will ensure your pool looks as sleek and luxurious as possible, as adding features later can look clunky and out of place.
For that extra special touch, some people choose to illuminate their pool. While lighting around and outside the pool can look stunning, the real spectacle comes from lighting the water. This can only be achieved by having underwater lighting, and although it might not be cheap, the effect is incredible. Alternatively, fibre optics and small, spa-type lights are excellent for illuminating steps underwater or providing a light feature but not full illumination.
And don’t forget the flooring – do you want your pool flush with decking, concrete or tiles? Outdoor showers have had a resurgence in popularity in the last year, as sunrooms and outdoor buildings make a spectacle of the entire outside space, not just the swimming pool. And don’t forget furniture such as loungers (some can go on the Baja Shelf) or water-resistant bean bags and cushions for a more informal feel, umbrellas and sun protection, and greenery and landscaping.
If you’ve made the decision to start an at-home swimming pool project – congratulations! Next, you need inspiration, speak to the experts and research your options.
To safeguard your project, work with a SPATA member to construct your pool who can provide reassurance about their credentials and expertise. In addition, the specialist advice and assistance of a SPATA member in the design process can help you bring your ideas to life in a practical and cost-effective manner and streamline the project, ensuring that the timescales and budgets are met with the overall assurance of quality.
Some SPATA members are designers, and some undertake the whole project by offering Professional Indemnity insurance. SPATA members work to industry standards, so you are definitely covered for guaranteed quality. For design inspiration from SPATA award-winners, to learn more about SPATA and connect with one of its members, visit spata.co.uk.