I’m a sucker for a beautiful pool. Not because I love to swim per se. Rather, it is because I find water generally to be really therapeutic. Although I have never personally owned a pool, I have designed a few over the years. I subscribe to the belief that if a pool is designed and constructed well, and has proper regard to its surroundings, then it will be a wonderful and welcome addition to the home. Over time, I’ve been pinning photos of lots of gorgeous pools on my Pinterest board and today I have gone through and picked five of what I consider to be some of the best private residential swimming pools. If you have the space and can afford to, then go ahead and put a pool in. I just might put one in myself one day!
Lovelace pool and garden, Santa Barbara designed by Isabelle Greene
Designed over 35 years ago, this natural looking lap pool set in a woodland garden, was shaped around the drip lines of surrounding oak trees. My first memory of seeing this pool was in a print magazine long before the internet gained traction. More recently, the pool featured in a segment on Isabelle Greene in Women in the Dirt – a movie showcasing the groundbreaking work of seven female landscape architects. The artfully arranged boulder edge, lovely planting and dark interior of this pool, all set within a beautiful natural oak-studded woodland garden, ensures it looks just as refreshing and stunning today.
Own pool and garden, Maryland designed by the late great James van Sweden
Renowned for his planting schemes, van Sweden’s pool is simple and elegant. Timber surrounding the pool and the designer’s trademark plantings of native species, such as coneflowers and blue stem grass, set it off beautifully. I particularly love the bronze snake sculpture by Ray Kaskey that cleverly doubles as a handrail.
Photo: Claire Takacs
Pool, pool house and garden, Connecticut designed by SPAN Architecture with landscape design by Rutherford Associates.
Here we have a stunning pool, pool house with koi pond, hot tub and exterior stone fireplace – all surrounded by a restrained natural landscape. I absolutely love the combination of bluestone terracing and timber surrounding the pool. The pool house with changing room, shower, dining and sitting areas, is not too shabby either!
Photos: Francois Dischinger
Villa CP, Girona pool designed by Zest Architecture
With a trend towards natural filtration methods, this pool combines the use of plants and gravel to filter the water, proving that natural pools can also be contemporary and modern at the same time. Again, I love the use of timber and stone hard landscaping combined with a soft, natural planting palette.
Photo: Jesus Granada
Philip Johnson’s Beck House – pool designed by Reed Hilderbrand
Lastly I have chosen a very simple pool designed by Reed Hilderbrand for the restoration of Philip Johnson’s monumental Beck House and gardens. Restrained and elegant with a limited material palette, the change of levels combining grass and stone provide just the right amount of interest.
Increasingly, these days, we are seeing a trend towards chemical-free natural pools similar to the one designed by Zest Architecture. Skimmers and pumps circulate water through a planted portion (regeneration zone) separated from the main swimming area by a wall slightly below the water’s surface. Plants and rocks filter out contaminants and use nutrients from the water as food which helps prevent algae. Although healthier for swimmers and the environment alike, obviously a natural pool isn’t for everyone. For starters, they tend to be larger than your normal pool in order to accommodate the regeneration zone. They also tend to require greater maintenance. That said, with our changing mindsets alongside advances in technology, I am sure we will continue to see greater numbers of stunning natural pools. Definitely a blog post there for down the track.