—Creating a palette for features and elements
Henry Ford once said you can have any color car you want, so long as it’s black.
Swimming pools were once that way too, confined mostly to white plaster and blue waterline tile.
Thankfully, those days of limited choices are long gone—forever replaced by spectrums of color and material options for creating a stylish backyard retreat.
The joy of building or renovating a swimming pool encompasses an intricate dance of design, color, and imagination—and you are the choreographer. Each choice made in the process holds the power to transform a simple backyard into a mesmerizing oasis.
From the serene blues that mirror the sky, to tiles that glint with iridescent gold under the sun, every detail tells a story of taste, style, and architectural harmony.
The possibilities are limitless with much to consider. When you regard the pool in context with the entire setting, you might be surprised at how many places and the different ways you can use color to enhance the setting’s visual and emotional impact.
It’s a process that deserves careful consideration.
Swimming pool colors: painting dreams and setting moods
The first step is identifying your overall color palette—the set of colors you will use throughout the design. When considering color choices from this broad perspective, it helps to dream a little.
Imagine standing at the edge of a pool shimmering in deep azure, reminiscent of the Mediterranean Sea. The color of the pool and the elements surrounding it establish the tone for the entire space; they become the canvas where the setting comes alive.
The color helps transport you to a place of pleasure and tranquility. Opting for lighter shades of blue and white imparts a serene and sunny feel, think the Greek Isles.
On the other hand, darker tones might be used to evoke the deep greens and verdant indulgence of Tahiti or other tropical destinations.
Seeking a modern pool design aesthetic? Colors like aquamarine or teal can introduce a contemporary flair, making a bold statement that captivates the senses.
On one end of the color spectrum, you have dark colors. These are often used in tropical-style pools to create an inviting sense of depth. Darker colors also support highly reflective surfaces that mirror and amplify the surrounding landscape and architecture.
But say you live in a desert environment. The perfect palette might involve lighter earth tones and desert-blossom colors inspired by the arid landscape and widely used in contemporary architecture.
Across the spectrum, your color choices are vast and potentially highly detailed!
Tile and mosaics: elegance and intrigue
Narrowing your focus to specific design elements, tiles are the jewels of the pool, lending it character and charm.
With their intricate patterns and radiant colors, tile transform the pool's interior with bold swathes of color.
Stone, porcelain, ceramic, and glass tile has a particularly dramatic impact on the emotional tone and aesthetic appeal of the pool and overall setting.
Tile can narrate tales of ancient civilizations, with patterns reminiscent of Roman or Turkish baths. Or, they can embrace modern geometric pool designs that resonate with contemporary architecture.
A particularly impressive place to use colorful tile is on elevated spas. The exterior of the structure provides a large backdrop to embellish for a head-turning attraction. The same goes for the spa’s dam wall and spillway.
If the pool has any raised bond beam (part of its wall that extends above the water’s surface), this is another excellent area to highlight some shimmering tile.
You also have the option to add a dash of playful colors with an affordable, ready-made pool mosaic. Pick from an array of sea creatures or symbols ranging from a Fleur de Lys to a sports team logo.
Whether it's the timeless allure of cobalt blue tiles reflecting the sky or iridescent glass shimmering in the sunlight, tiles deliver tactile and visual delight.
The choice here isn't merely about aesthetics; it's also about crafting an experience.
Plaster: The foundation of your pool’s palette
Beneath the sparkling waters lies the marcite plaster, quartz, or pebble interior finish.
The material used serves as a foundational element that not only determines the pool's texture but also influences the hue of its water.
Color options range from traditional white to shades of black or gray to blues, greens, and an array of earth tones. A handful of pools out there are even plastered in red!
The interior surface color dramatically alters the water's appearance. It can turn the water into a virtual mirror reflecting the sky or fostering a mysterious, lagoon-like ambiance.
Or, you can choose traditional white plaster. When filled with water, a pool plastered in white generates the classic blue color often associated with pools.
Whatever part of the color wheel you land on for the interior surface matters: A well-chosen one will complement the surrounding landscape and harmonize with the pool's architecture to create a cohesive, captivating environment.
Pool lighting: exploring color keys
The advent of LED lighting has dramatically expanded the use of color in swimming pool and spa lighting, as well as the landscaping.
With the touch of a screen, click on an app, or even a voice command, complete chromatic freedom is yours. Depending on the LED system, you can have virtually any color you want
With today’s convenient pool automation systems, you can program colors to change from moment to moment.
Some systems allow you to adjust the speed at which the colors change as well as the intensity levels. Others allow you to have one color for your spa and another for the pool.
Better yet, you can also produce a backyard visual performance with LED “light shows.” These pre-programmed sequences feature dozens or hundreds of colors in a dynamic sequence at varying speeds.
For example, you could have red, white, and blue for Independence Day, fast-moving green, yellow, and purples for Mardi Gras, or slow-transitioning blues and whites to create a soothing ambiance.
Hardscape: sculpting the surroundings
The hardscape around the pool—meaning the patio decking, steps, walls, pathways, pilasters, and planters—serves as the stage upon which the chromatic spectacle further unfolds.
Materials such as natural stone, concrete paver stones, stamped concrete, or wood decking set the tone for the pool area's tactile and visual ambiance.
A rustic stone pathway might evoke a Mediterranean villa, while sleek, polished concrete speaks of modern luxury.
Hardscape choices should resonate with the pool's architectural style, ensuring a seamless transition between water and land.
Pool coping is a key hardscape element that deserves special attention. This material along the perimeter defines the edge of the pool, creating a transition between the water’s surface and surrounding hardscape and landscape.
Bold-colored coping will make the edge stand out, drawing attention to the pool shape. More subtle colored coping will more gently meld the pool with its surroundings.
In many cases, the colors of stone and concrete are somewhat muted in contrast to other elements such as tile or the interior finish.
However, some decorative concrete can be very brightly colored, and certain varieties of flagstone boast deep colors.
Nonetheless, a hardscape is essential in creating an inviting and balanced visual experience.
Umbrellas: shades of comfort and style
Umbrellas around a swimming pool are not only functional accessories, they're statements of style that deliver comfort. Even better, among options for pool shade features, umbrellas are also the most affordable.
Whether it's a sleek, cantilevered design providing shade for loungers or a whimsical, tasseled umbrella adding a touch of bohemian flair, the right umbrella elevates the poolside experience.
Colorful fabrics inject vibrancy and personality into any backyard. You could also go with neutral earth tones that evoke a sense of repose and serenity.
The choice of umbrella should harmonize with the pool's aesthetics, creating a cohesive and inviting space for relaxation and enjoyment—all while you escape the sun’s blistering heat and UV rays.
Patio furniture: seating and dining in style
Furniture also transcends utility to become an integral part of the pool's design narrative.
Choosing outdoor furniture and accessories provides an array of opportunities to bring vivacious colors and patterns into the setting.
Whether it's chic loungers for sunbathing, cozy pool cabanas for intimate gatherings, or elegant dining sets for alfresco meals, furniture choices reflect the owner's lifestyle and taste.
Materials such as teak, wicker, or wrought iron offer distinct aesthetics, each contributing to the pool area's overall ambiance.
Cushions and fabrics provide opportunities for color coordination, allowing for playful contrasts or harmonious blends.
Architectural style and theme: crafting cohesion
Above all, the selection of swimming pool colors, tile, plaster, hardscape, umbrellas, and furniture should align with the pool's architectural style and overarching theme.
By maintaining consistency in design elements and color palettes, you and your designer/builder will craft a harmonious and immersive environment that transcends the ordinary, transforming your pool and surroundings into a breathtaking work of art.
WaterShapes is an online publication focused on the design, engineering and construction of recreational and decorative bodies of water.