Pool Design that Grows with your Family

A backyard pool is an easy way to take your outdoor space to the next level all summer long, but what design features make your pool timeless in appeal and function?

It’s an exciting time when you’re considering adding a pool to your backyard. You’re thinking of all the fun and benefits ahead from fitness to entertaining your children, family and friends and of course, the aesthetic appeal (and value) it will add to your outdoors.

Whilst there’s no shortage of pool inspiration out there, there are many design features to consider to ensure your pool caters for every age and purpose you’ll need.

From catering for young children who can’t swim who’ll grow into teenagers lounging in a spa or adults relaxing in the pool’s champagne shelf, we’ll cover off the top design features you need to consider for your pool design.

The Real Dads of Melbourne holiday home pool in Rye. Steps into the pool with modern steel pool fence
Oversized entry steps are an equally important feature for children (and grown ups) to gradually work your way into and out of the pool.Darin Bradbury, Director, Mint Pool & Landscape Design

Underwater Bench Seating

With young children, pool safety is everything. To encourage water confidence and provide a safe retreat for children to play and learn to swim, underwater bench seats and shallow areas are a great design feature.

Bench seating often works best when located at the side of a pool, allowing swimmers plenty of uninterrupted space to swim laps. Running a bench seat along the entire length of the long side of the pool means that the little ones always have an easy way to exit the deep end of the pool and also encourage them to move into the deeper areas safely.

Oversized entry steps are an equally important feature for children (and grown ups) to gradually work your way into and out of the pool.

Underwater Bench Seating at Frankston project - modern luxury pool design
Champagne shelf in pool

The Champagne Shelf

These are just bench seats in your pool of course but who can resist a catchy name? Colloquially known as the Champagne Shelf these are the seating areas around the perimeter of your pool that are typically 600mm deep. Which, as it turns out, is exactly the perfect depth for you to rest your arms and a glass of Veuve Clicquot. How convenient is that? As much as you may want to have the ability to sit and have a drink everywhere in the pool, it's best to locate these seated spaces near social areas (such as the alfresco or spa) or, if you're lucky enough to have one, an amazing view.

The spa

We always do a bit of a spiel about spas to our clients. Being pool owners ourselves and evaluating how our clients use their pools over the years, we can tell you that a spa, although a pricey addition, will maximise the use of your pool area more than anything else. A pool is a big investment so it makes sense to get the most out of that investment that you can. Due to its smaller size, a spa can be heated quickly and used all year round, even in the depths of winter.

Teenagers in particular use the pool for more lounging and chatting. They’re usually drawn to a spa setting for its convenient and cosy bench seating. Most modern pools include provision for a spa and often, they’re the most used feature of the pool.

Sporty teens (and adults) will also appreciate the warm hydrotherapy benefits of a spa to soak their tired muscles.

So that's just some of the practical considerations. Here's some tips to make your pool LOOK amazing too.

Black tiled 360 degree raised circular spa

Game Play

As kids grow and more and more of their friends are around to enjoy the pool, there is a 100% chance that pool games and water sports will be taking place. Wherever kids can stand with their heads above the water is where they tend to gravitate, meaning the angle between the shallow end and the deep end needs to maximise the middle depth space. Or you could choose a ‘sports pool’ design which have a shallow area on each end of the pool, and the middle is slightly deeper. We will often recommend to our clients that they maximise the width of their pool to provide space for ball games and jumping in from the sides. The more width you have, the less you'll be stressed about them hitting their heads on the side of the pool.

Large swimming pool for swimming and play
Champagne shelf pool bench seating
Pendant Heater
Bench seating in pool

Pool coping and paving

The paving sets the scene for your pool. Get this part right and your pool will be almost guaranteed to look good. Choose neutral colours with not too much variation. Some subtle colour variation is great but highly detailed paving will look busy. The biggest mistake people make with paving is that they choose paving based on a sample piece but you have to think of paving holistically as a mass product. The sum is greater than the parts. The paving isn't the feature of the landscape. It's there to unify all of the areas surrounding the pool so it doesn't need to stand out in its own right.

Pool tiles

There are now more colours than ever to choose from. Pool tile selection is tough. Tile samples are almost useless when trying to gauge how a tile will look when it has water over it. The light blue colour of water influences the pool tile and this is even more prominent with lighter colour tiles. White tiles for instance will result in a very light blue pool giving you a sophisticated, resort style look. Darker coloured tiles will still be influenced by the blue water but less so. On bright sunny days the water will look blueish but on overcast days the pool tile colour will dominate. Like I said, it's tough to choose pool tiles. The best advice we can give clients is to try to find photos of the pool tile in-situ.

Pool coping in grey tile
Close up of pool tile
Pool coping and tiling
Real dads of Melbourne pool tile