Pool Design Trends for 2013

Phillip VenoMuch like the latest trends in fashion, car design and the flavor of the month at the coffee shop, pool design trends are constantly changing. But it's a little funny how it works: Trends often develop out of a need to stray from a common theme. However, when someone comes up with an innovative idea, it's only a matter of time until everyone jumps onboard. And once again, the cycle continues as we look for what's new and different in the world. 

With this in mind, we can take a look at what was up and coming in 2012 to see where the industry is headed in 2013. Based on my experience working with clients, this is what I think will make a splash in 2013's pool design.   


Fire has been a source of wonder and amazement for the human spirit for thousands and thousands of years. We naturally gravitate towards its warmth and love the mood that its subtle glow offers in the evening. Over the last few years, companies like Grand Effects and Bobe have developed fire bowls that make fire features affordable and easy to operate with a simple push of a button. Burners can now be set among rock groupings or on pedestals around the pool — away from foot traffic, of course. 

When juxtaposed with water, a fire feature provides a beautiful contrast, not to mention a beautiful reflection after dark. And until only recently, fire features haven’t been widely used as a common design element; they were seen as unaffordable to the average consumer; a hassle to operate with frequent blowouts in windy conditions and costly, as those blowouts led to hundreds of dollars in wasted gas. Thanks to the new technology found on most manufactured units these days, you get automatic relights after a detected blowout, making worries of wasted gas and possible accidental detonation a thing of the past. 

Visually, fire offers the consumer a feature you won’t find on the average pool and can be attractively utilized on a freeform or a geometric pool. Expect to see a lot of it next year.


The era of the pond is over for us here in Texas. Don’t get me wrong: We still do quite a few freeform or “lagoon pools,” but the numbers have dropped drastically in favor of a more detail-oriented geometric pool. Over the last 15 years, seven out of 10 pools were freeform in shape and customers were interested in stone waterfalls and other natural-looking water features. But as the years passed and everyone started getting freeform pools, waterfalls and exposed aggregate decking, things have veered in a new direction.

I’ve noticed in my meetings with prospective clients that people are going back to a geometric design platform. There are many reasons for this shift (designer influence, perhaps?) but ultimately, people want what is different — and the lagoon pool is no longer different. 

However, while we’ll see clean lines and classic elegance of geometric pools, the difference lies in an emphasis on material selection diversity. A well-designed geometric pool usually complements the architecture of the house and requires an attention to detail to really bring everything together. House corners and pool angle alignment are essential in creating that clean, well-planned architectural element desired in most custom pool builds. 

Light it Up

When people think about swimming pools, they think about laying out under golden rays of sunshine. For years, the idea of evening use rarely crossed a customer’s mind. However, the fact is that in most homes, the pool is often used as much in the evening as it is during the daytime. 

While people used to accept the standard 500 watt white light that came standard on swimming pools, the advent and efficieny of LED technology opened a new world of lighting possibilities to clients, and now more than ever, clients are considering the impact of lighting in the sum of the landscape/pool design. 

Whether it’s single standard niche LED unit or a system of multiple lights — such as the Fiberstar Pal Trio units, which can be strategically placed around the pool to maximize light coverage and add emphasis to water features — you can continue to see sales tick upward. Based on the number of LED units my company has utilized on jobs over the last two years, figuring in a differential and applying it to 2013, I project we will be using LED lighting options on almost 90 percent of our projects. 

When looking at the pros and cons of upgrading to LED technology, I believe the decision is clear and there is an option to fit almost any budget. So make sure to include lighting into your designs and don’t leave your homeowners in the dark when building their poolscape. 

Automatic for the People

Remember that time last winter when you had to walk out to your spa heater in your wet bathing suit in 32 degree weather? Wasn’t that awesome? Yeah, I didn’t think so — and your customer wouldn’t enjoy it either. Thankfully, we have some wonderfully innovative people in our industry working to make pool/spa automation as convenient and easy as possible. These “computers” are capable of performing a complex series of events within the pool system with just the push of a button, allowing the user to turn on his spa, pool lights, pation lights, water features and more, all from the comfort of his couch. No parka needed. 

We include full swimming pool automation on every single pool/spa combo we build. Very rarely does the consumer opt to pull this unit out of the project. In fact, just over the last year and a half, the introduction of the network protocol adapter has led to a huge surge in demand for pool automation via cellular technology. With the development of the protocol adapter, you have full control of your backyard from your iPhone or iPad from anywhere in the world — you can even set up live camera feeds of the swimming pool area. Pool automation has been a big seller for the last ten years but the last two years have involved incredible leaps and bounds in these system capabilities, which will prove to be a catalyst in overall market sales over the next year.  

There are always new and unique innovations coming and going in our industry, but it truly takes a product or idea of unique convenience and innovation to carve a lasting market niche.

We are in an exciting time of innovative advancements in our industry, and technology will be the fuel that powers the charge of product and design trends over the next year. 

What trends do you think will make it big in 2013? Share your ideas below.  

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