Pool design trends of 2016

The Modernist art movement of the 19th and 20th  century brought art to the masses infused with the technological advancements of the industrial revolution.  The 70’s with the advent of mass production pool companies like Leisure Mutual Pools brought pools to the homes of the average punter. The standard quarter acre suburban block was fitted with the ubiquitous 9 x 4.5m , figure 8, free-form pool which adorned all those middle class homes fortunate enough to be so fitted.

I am nearer 50 than 40, and I remember them same as described from my childhood. I see them every time I go to quote a pool renovation job in Mt Eliza or Beaumaris – the quintessential 70 and 80’s middle class suburbs. Oversized backyards fitted with full size pools, rock waterfalls, clay brick pool surrounds and no pool fences.

Compared to modern pools, the contrast is as stark as some of the minimalist architectural principles so evident as I knock on the oversized front door of any newly designed home. On average the blocks are smaller, the homes at least twice the size, the building is fitted to nearly all of the property margins, but, undoubtedly everything is considered and built better. Well so I believe – I am so immersed in all the modern design trends which surely robs me of any objective vantage.

Don’t blindly follow trends

Its hard to pick a trend till its past – and I guess the difference between sound design principles and a trend is the ideas: utility. The idea of designing a home and the living areas within it to face north, with unabated spaces is brilliant and long since has it usurped the mere title of “trend”. Similarly designing an outdoor living area with a pool is an idea with the passage of time that will be rendered timeless – and a sound design principle.

To me the biggest design trend – no – design principle in modern pool design, is bringing the inside out. A well designed pool and outdoor entertaining area is a coveted space which ties in with our innate understanding of freedom and life, space and sun. 

So I guess what I am getting at is this: it is better to base your pool on design ideals and principals rather than trends.

Trends of 2016

Here are my top trends in 2016 in no particular order:

1. Timber baton screen walls

These screen walls are often used to hide unattractive pool surrounds such as old paling fences. They soften the fence line and add a natural ambience to modern pools.

2. Corten Steel artwork and panels for pool surround

corten steel

A lot of landscapers and pool designers have been using Corten steel as part of the pool fencing or as a sculptural element with artwork and patterns laser-cut in to it. Make sure you have some greenery near it though- it complements intense the rusty red colour.

3. Raised deep-end sundecks

These sun decks add an extra vertical dimension to the pool side, creating interest and a secondary focal point. They turn the poolside furniture a feature rather than an afterthought, so well chosen furniture is essential.

4. Pool edge planter boxes

Once plants have matured, pool edge planter boxes add an appropriate softness to the pool and fence line.

5. Metal Bollard Pool Fences

Although bollard style fences are more eye-catching than glass, a good pool designer can use this as an advantage. A common rule of design is that you need vertical elements as well as horizontal. Poolside areas often have a lot of horizontal, flat areas. These fences can break that up in an interesting way.  They also easily form nice curves and can reach higher than glass if necessary. 

Distilling the trends into principles

Picking the principle from the above isn’t easy but the overall trend is toward soft furnishing finishes in the pool and pool surround – a hard one to get right and the quintessential  “soft furnishing” plants and grass in many pool owners minds is the harbinger of doom and pool maintenance. Correctly placed and sourced plants is the solution to that fear, and when combined with a deft choice of fencing, decking and pool furniture, will provide a soft and inviting pool with little ongoing maintenance required.

Spotting a trend in each decade

70’s  – Deep end diving boards, pebble pool surround coping with tessellated water line tiles and wedding cake shallow end step entries. Overall pool shapes made-up of rectangles with sweeping radius corners.

80’s –  waterline rock ledges and water falls made from the coarse textures of honeycomb rocks. Clay brick pool copings. Deepend , internal swimouts and freeform shapes  – much like the resort style pools still built in United states.

90’s  – attached spas with no footwell, raised edge clay brick, bullnose pool copings and pebble pool interiors. A continuation of the coarse textures seen with the use of clay bricks , pebble linings and sleeper deck edges.

00’s  – Large format pool surround pavers,  first  – Terra Cotta tiles and then square style concrete pavers  as per the 500 x 500 pavers. Rectilinear pool shapes with square set corners, full length bench seats and full width step entries. Glass pool fences. Timber deck surrounds with large format boards.  Pools being located onto property boundaries to minimise fencing requirements. Infinity edge pools to take your breath away.  The use of smooth finish pebble linings  – like quartz. Square set pool coping profiles in place of rolled edge  – bullnose profiles.

10’s – Larger format stone coping – cheaply sourced from Chinese manufacturers, glass tiled pool interiors  – sourced from Chinese suppliers. Polished concrete pool surrounds.  Acrylic clear viewing windows.White tiled pool interiors and bluestone pool surrounds. Overhead pools built to defy your understanding and expectations of where and how you may build a pool.


That’s it for our trends this year. Don’t forget to try our online pool price calculator.