By Caroline Thorpe
It is no longer all about chilling on an inflatable with a built-in drinks tray. “The international outlook on swimming pools has changed, with more of them now being used for exercise and wellness,” says Edward de Mallet Morgan, a partner at Knight Frank specialising in super-prime property. The coronavirus crisis has, of course, furthered the drive towards home-exercising.
Having the correctly shaped pool is essential. “A rectangular pool is more useful, or maybe a pool with a contraflow swimming jet, if [it is] not quite long enough for lengths,” says de Mallet Morgan. “The days of a newly built house having a kidney-shaped swimming pool are over. In fact, the wrong shaped pool may actually date a property and alter the feel of it.”
There is a rectangular pool at this private island home in Connecticut, which has four bedrooms and a price tag of $4.9m.
Make a splash
Everyone loves an Insta-ready pool. But designer Dale Sprigg, of Pool Environments in Texas, says the best pools make an impression on the ears as well as the eyes. He recommends incorporating “water features with a greater emphasis on the sound. More than just the visual of falling water, the right sound can have a large impact on the overall ambience”.
Sprigg also advises against overly deep pools. “Jumping into an eight foot deep-end can be a lot of fun, but...more time is usually spent in areas where standing is possible ([playing] volleyball, basketball, etc) as well as sitting on benches and lying down tanning.”
This six-bedroom villa in Sardinia, for sale for €18m, has a large, tiered swimming pool with waterfalls.
Make the pool house work harder
A well-designed pool house can play multiple roles, from marrying the main house to its environment to providing a space that can be used year round, thanks to features such as a gym.
“When designing our Pool House in Granada, we were in a remote landscape and the setting was rather barren except for a few olive trees,” says Roz Barr of Roz Barr Architects in London. “We used the new building and pool to mediate between the main house and the land, and the building settled into the landscape, respecting distinguished olive trees and the roof of the pool house became a vantage point from which to enjoy the extraordinary views of the Sierra Nevada.”
Barr’s design went beyond providing a place to towel off. “Pool houses are spaces to relax and entertain so [there is] the need for different types of seating...and possibly a bar and somewhere to grill,” she says. Other musts include changing rooms and a shower.
This six-bedroom home in Buckinghamshire, UK, is on the market for £3.95m. The outdoor pool is bordered by a converted annexe building which could double as a pool house.
Early adopters bemoaning the increased popularity of wild swimming can take their passion private by installing a natural swimming pond at home.
“You need more space around it [than a conventional swimming pool] and you need areas for planting and that has to be done carefully...It’s always quite fun to have something overhanging the water,” advises landscaper Jane Brockbank, whose creations include a London swimming pool with a natural timber jetty and spring meadow borders. Construction costs will probably outstrip those of chlorinated pools, she adds.
Swimmers can opt for one of two lakes at this six-bedroom house near Perth in Australia, which also has a 25m heated lap pool. It is on the market for A$2.49m ($1.62m).
Check the label
“Furniture by the pool should be supple yet strong, natural in appearance and completely resilient to the elements...such as chlorine water, sometimes sunlight, and also heavy rain or low temperatures,” says Chloé Sos, marketing director at international outdoor furniture firm Dedon.
She advises avoiding using fabrics that “have the risk of fading and moulding” and to look instead for materials that are high-quality acrylic, UV-resistant and treated to make them splash resistant. “It’s tiresome to carry the cushions inside whenever you fear rain,” she says.
Sos suggests using different shapes, tactile materials and bright colours. “By adding inviting furniture that is ideally versatile, the pool area can be turned into a playground for adults,” she says.
The deck of this five-bedroom home overlooking Baleia beach in São Paulo, Brazil, offers space for outdoor dining and relaxation. It is on the market for R$15m ($2.96m).
Photographs: Melinda Cross and Marilyn Christian of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty