Great fashion appears effortless, and so too does a great coastal pool. Its refined lines and placid surface hide great depths of planning, engineering and features. It’s complicated to create, but super easy to enjoy.

Unlike fashion, however, pool trends take a while to percolate, with cutting-edge projects requiring a year or longer for completion. In the world of luxury pools – where each new project is highly customized – fresh design twists come in successive, visually provoking waves.

Already, 2017 is seeing a move away from the elaborate and the overt towards sleek, contemporary oases that communicate subtle sophistication. Here, industry experts discuss this trend and more, revealing what’s on the horizon for coastal pool perfection.


Alka Pools 

Photo courtesy of Master Pools Guild



The Master Pools Guild represents some of the top pool designers and builders in the U.S., but its members also hail internationally. “It’s always exciting to see what’s on-trend in different areas of the world,” says Special Projects Manager Teri Wiltshire.

“At the start of each year, we poll our 100-plus membership and compile a list of the top observed trends,” adds Wiltshire. “One that’s been present for a while and is again overwhelmingly popular is clean, crisp, geometric design.”

The infinity feature has been in use for decades now, and has contributed greatly to the clean-lined trend. But designers are continually upping the creative ante with new techniques. One dramatic example is the elevated perimeter overflow, where the entire pool vessel rises out of the ground, allowing water to spill over on all four sides.

Edge technique is key to a polished end result that harmonizes with its coastal setting. “It’s a very modern look, when a vanishing edge blends seamlessly with the horizon; aesthetically, it’s absolutely stunning,” says Wiltshire.

Other ways that industry leaders are infusing geometric pools with visual drama include wrapping them around the corner of a home, abutting them against the glass wall of a living space or even cantilevering them off the edge of a building or property.

Extending the pool season is a promising glimpse into the future. “We continue to see more and more homeowners, even in the Northeast, keeping their pools open and heated through the winter,” says Wiltshire.



Photo by Javier Gonzalez



Another notable residential pool trend features knife-edge perimeter overflows, according to Bill Drakeley, principal of Drakeley Pool Company, located in Bethlehem, Conn.

 “Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift toward more organic coastal architecture and the idea of a ‘continuation of space,’ ” he says.

 “Clients want their outdoor spaces to relate to their natural surroundings, enhancing rather than distracting,” he adds. “This follows the architectural style of John Lautner, a disciple and protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright.”

 The Lautner knife-edge perimeter-overflow is a design where the water appears to float on the surrounding pool decking. “It’s a stunning detail that understandably garners a ‘wow’ reaction,” says Drakeley.


Photo courtesy of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa



Since 1998, Genesis has offered quality programs for industry professionals, continually advancing residential watershaping through education and inspiration.

Genesis University courses run the gamut from landscape design to pool construction, and its prestigious Society of Watershape Designers (SWD) denotes industry leaders.

Just 16 individuals have achieved the SWD top certification level, SWD Master, which recognizes not only work excellence but also professionalism, ethics and business acumen. SWD members are always evolving pool design and fostering new trends, with remarkable results.

According to SWD Master Paolo Benedetti of Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa in Calif., glass tile is popular now, and is here to stay long-term. “We’ve seen an explosion in requests; it’s the hottest thing right now,” he says.

Mosaics with small, three-quarter-inch tiles create a glimmering, shimmery effect, while installs with larger tiles are usually monochromatic. “With our knowledge of color theory, light and physics,” he continues, “designers can play with glass tiles to generate some really interesting effects, like pool water that appears red or purple.”


Photo courtesy of Red Rock Pools and Spas 


Use of acrylic panels is on the rise, notes Benedetti. Acrylic has certain drawbacks, including a magnifying effect when looking into the pool, and the potential to show structural parts like lights that would normally be out of sight. It is preferable for applications when a pool abuts a living space.

“It’s a cool effect for a bar or games room, for example, to have a window showing the people swimming by,” says Benedetti.

SWD Master Rick Chafey of Red Rock Pools and Spas in Arizona agrees that more modern, geometric designs are highly sought after right now.

“They often take considerably more expertise and precision to accomplish but, when complete, create some of the most amazing visual experiences and illusions,” he says.

The availability of smaller lighting options and LED is allowing for unique effects, adds Chafey, while Baja shelves and play-depth sections for kids are being favored over deeper scenarios.

“A lot of clients mentally picture swimming in their pool, but in reality, people tend to hang out on the stairs, just like at a resort,” concurs Kate Wiseman, MLA, Genesis instructor and principal of Sage Outdoor Designs in Calif.

“If your fantasy is to be knee-deep in water with a cocktail, then you don’t want three-quarters of your pool to be deep and rarely used,” she says.


Photo courtesy of Sage Outdoor Designs 



“Outdoor living is becoming more prominent and in demand, and we are taking the indoors out,” says SWD Master Michael Nantz, principal of Elite Concepts Inc., based in Dallas, Texas.

One way to infuse a pool area with indoor amenities is by adding a pool house or pavilion, a definite ongoing trend, notes Nantz. “These range from a shelter for the barbeque grill to more elaborate air-conditioned structures with a bathroom, kitchen and guest quarters.

“Gyms are a common request,” he continues. “Some are just for a bench and free weights, others include treadmills and elliptical machines.”

Outdoor theaters are gaining momentum, adds Nantz, who has mounted big screens – 9 by 16 feet, for example – on posts adjacent to a pool.

“Sound is another key element; my clients want the same total surround that they have inside. Strategically placed speakers can create a magical outdoor movie experience,” he says.


Photos courtesy of Elite Concepts Inc. and Pentair



The nonprofit National Swimming Pool Foundation, based in Colorado Springs, promotes healthier living through aquatic activity. To Development Director Lauren Stack, a pool offers more than just relaxation; its health benefits are well documented and applicable to all ages.

“Just being in water up to your neck is very beneficial and increases blood flow. It’s even better if you layer exercise on top of it,” explains Stack.

Besides more strenuous laps, underwater treadmills and resistance currents allow for low-impact walking, she notes.

And don’t forget little ones: “Our research shows that teaching a child to swim before age five not only reduces the risk of drowning, but also fosters a love of water that lasts a lifetime.”


Photo courtesy of Hayward



There are smart phones, smart homes – and smart pools. Pool automation has been around for years, but manufacturers are continually refining their systems for easier upgrades and more intuitive navigation.

Leading pool equipment manufacturer Hayward offers OmniLogic, which can control all aspects of a pool’s function, from chemicals to heat to water features, from an app on a smart phone or tablet.

“You can control not just the pool but the entire backyard lighting system. It also connects with most home automation systems like Nest,” explains Marketing Director Jeremy Jones. “Busy homeowners don’t want multiple apps for their home.”

Even better, family members can save their favorite settings, creating themes for parties or quiet evenings at home. And the system is modular: expansion hardware easily incorporates a new water feature or landscape lighting.

Hayward’s smart technologies go beyond just OmniLogic. Its TriVac pool cleaner automatically cleans the bottom as well as skims the surface; its salt chlorination systems provide more comfortable, convenient and affordable sanitization; and its TriStar variable speed pump saves massively on operating costs.

“Our objective is to make the pool experience less complicated and as enjoyable as possible,” summarizes Jones.

Another global leader in pool equipment, Pentair recently unveiled ScreenLogic 2, which works with its automation systems to adjust sanitization, lighting and heat easily from a phone, tablet, Apple Watch or Amazon products like Echo, Dot and Fire TV.

 “There’s definitely a convenience and coolness factor to asking Alexa to manage and get status about your pool, no matter where you are in the world,” says David MacCallum, Pentair’s Senior Product Manager – Automation & Acu-Trol.

 Efficiency is always on Pentair’s priority list, which is why its new heaters with direct-fire titanium heat exchangers offer 96 percent thermal efficiency.

 “That’s the highest rating ever achieved,” says Azur Dzindo, Pentair Product Manager – Heaters and Latin America. “This high-tech metallurgy resists water chemistry corrosion while reducing energy expenses and carbon footprint.”


Image Credits: Photograph by Michael Duerinckx.