6 Essential Tips for Designing a Luxury-grade Swimming Pool

Things the Leisurely Homeowner Should Consider Before Building a Pool 

In our last blog post, our team of San Antonio interior designers and architects discussed luxury-grade swimming pool styles ranging from architectural pools to naturalistic pools to retro-inspired pools influenced by the photography of Slim Aarons. While it may be easy to pick a pool style, building a pool that functions with the flow of your backyard and matches the architectural style of your home and interior can pose a challenge. Our Texas-based designers share six essential tips for designing a luxury swimming pool to consider before you start building. Hint: details are everything! 

The Philadelphia Story’s Role in Luxury Pool Design 

When it comes to luxury design, details and quality materials are everything. In fact, luxury is rarely ostentatious when executed properly. A prime example is the Ardrossan Estate, a three-story, fifty-room Georgian Revival mansion designed by architect Horace Trumbauer for Philadelphia’s Montgomery family, whose socialite status would go on to inspire the film The Philadelphia Story. During the design process, the decorating firm was instructed that “everything was to be as plain as possible but of a quality unsurpassed,” cementing an approach to luxury as iconic as Katherine Hepburn’s dive into the famous pool. This pool features simple lines, but the sense of luxury is unmatched and would go on to inspire other luxury pools through the decades. 

The Philadelphia Story Pool

Axel Vervoordt Defines Luxury Pool Design and Finishes 

Today, Axel Vervoordt, a Belgian interior designer, antique dealer, and AD100 Hall of Fame member, continues a tradition of simplistic design anchored by quality materials for a luxury feel. He has famously designed for ultra-wealthy celebrities like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Bill Gates, Sting, and Calvin Klein. His aspirational pools feature minimalist lines, high-grade materials, and play with reflections of sightlines. The takeaway from his pool designs is to focus on the function and quality rather than adding unnecessary fluff.  

Minimal Indoor Pool

1. Decide Where to Build Your Pool

Before you decide on pool materials, it is essential to pick a spot to build your pool that will function well. A lack of flow will cheapen the pool space and experience, no matter the investment in quality finishes.  

Understanding Pool Zoning Laws

Consult with your architect to assess available space free from electrical lines and critical root zones restricted by city building codes. 

Positioning Your Pool for Easy Access and Flow 

Place your pool in a spot that allows for easy entertaining and functional access to essentials. For example, consider building an outdoor shower or pool house bath for easy accessibility. This will also eliminate the need for guests to run through the house, dripping water as they go. 

Creating an Indoor-outdoor Connection from the Pool to the Home 

Consider the connections from the pool space to the home interior. Make considerations about what decking materials will feel like on the feet and create surfaces that will prevent tracking grass and dirt into the house or pool. While grass surrounding a pool can be beautiful, a paved path should be available. 

2. Choosing Luxury Pool Decking 

For decking around the pool, consider the durability of the material, how it feels on the feet, and how it ties in with the home’s design.  

Wooden Decking  

Wooden decking around a pool can be an attractive option when properly executed. For example, teak wood provides durability, low maintenance, and beauty. Lower-grade alternatives like pine tend to splinter and split. 

Axel Vervoordt Swimming Pool

Natural Stone Pavers 

Natural stone decking will last for years and can be finished in various styles to achieve a contemporary or modern look. Opt for slip-resistant textured finishes to ensure safety as well as beauty. 

Natural Finish

Concrete Pavers and Grass 

Concrete pavers laid with grass in between create a geometrical look that brings a natural element to the pool’s edge while still offering practical deck coverage.  

3. Selecting Luxury Pool Coping 

Pool coping refers to the material that borders the edge of the pool. When selecting pool coping, make sure to choose a material that feels good to sit on and lean against when in the pool. Bullnose or straight edges would be a more comfortable option than a rough edge. 

Luxury Indoor Pool


Stone coping is a great option that will blend seamlessly with stone decking and offer a naturalistic feeling to the space.  


Bullnose brick is an excellent choice for traditionally styled pools. It can also bring a sense of formality to an outdoor space.  


Tile coping can bring in color and contrast to define the pool’s edge for a beautiful effect. Laying tile coping will depend on expert craftsmanship to create a smooth edge.  

4. Picking a Waterline Tile 

Waterline tiles border the pool’s perimeter and serve as a decorative element to enhance the water’s appearance and a practical component to protect the pool plaster from staining along the waterline. 

Pool Pavers from DK Studio

Complement the Home

One option for choosing a waterline tile is relating the material back to the home’s interior tile. This way, both the interior and exterior spaces will speak to each other and feel cohesive. 

Take Inspiration from Nature

Another option is to take inspiration from nature’s color palette and select a color like blue, green, or brown. Avoid colors like white, which will always look dirty, or red, which will create an uneasy feeling when applied to a pool. 

5. Choosing a Pool Plaster Color 

The pool plaster color will determine the color of your pool water. Like the lakes and beaches you visit, the color of the water will affect your backyard space’s mood and energy.  

Axel Vervoordt Pool from Architectural Digest

Classic Blue 

A classic light blue pool plaster will give off a traditional Hollywood pool vibe, signaling bright and sunny days ahead. 

Deep Green 

A deep green will feel lagoon-like and could be the perfect choice for a naturalistic-styled pool designed as a retreat for relaxation. 

6. Adding Finishing Pool Design Details and Structures 

Finally, adding finishing design details and pool structures will complete your luxury pool design. Start thinking about these details early to make sure they can be incorporated into the plans.  

Traditional Pool with English Country Inspired Pool House
Traditional Pool with English Country Inspired Pool House

Cabanas and Pool Houses 

Cabanas and pool houses offer the luxury of convenience. Having a pool house will provide guests with easy access to a bathroom, a space to get out of the sun, and even a spot for refreshments. Make sure to consult your designer to see if your backyard space can accommodate a pool house in addition to your desired pool size. 

Waterfall Features and Landscaping 

Waterfall features and landscaping round out the look of the pool. Make sure to match these with the overall appearance of the pool and home. Architectural pools would pair nicely with a contemporary water feature where naturalistic pools would look beautiful alongside rock formations and waterfalls. 

Are you looking to add a pool to your backyard? 

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