Monday, July 25, 2011

Selecting the pool color

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After making hundreds and hundreds of decisions over the past two years, one of the last big decisions I have to make is what the pool color will be.  I never really thought about the fact that the color of the lining of a pool is something that needs to be selected, although of course I observed that some pools are light, some are dark, some are greenish, some blue, some gray, some black.

There are many factors that determine how a pool appears after it is finished – some are from the environment (the amount of sun or shade a pool receives, whether it is a sunny or cloudy day, the reflections from the structures and the sky above the pool, the amount of debris that might end up in the pool because of leaves and such); some are from the design of the pool (decking, coping, the material itself and the color of the material used on the bottom of the pool).  Regional preferences also come into play.  For example, my landscape architect told me that most of his Atlanta clients are currently liking darker pools - Pebbletec seems to be the surface of preference (a pebble surface that both protects the pool and determines its color), and Tahoe Blue or Black Pearl are the most popular colors among his clientele.  In other areas of the country, light pools with white bottoms (giving the pool a very light blue look) are more the norm.

Given that pools are on my mind, the August 2011 issue of Architectural Digest was a great read.  The theme of the magazine was summer getaways, so there were quite a few pools to look at and think about.  Many of the pools were simple in shape and style, which is my preference.  We are doing a very simple rectangular pool. 

The colors of the pools in the magazine covered the full spectrum, from a light blue pool from a house in Florida, to a dark pool in Belgium.  There was an infinity edge pool in St. Barts whose color was clearly selected to match the deeper colors of the Caribbean waters as closely as possible (image above).  Source.

Although I appreciate the sophistication and moodiness of this pool in its environment, it is not a look that I want for my own pool. Source.

Instead, I tend to like the happier, bluer colors – like the color of the pool that belongs to Hank Azaria.  I wonder if this is a plaster bottom pool, and if it is white or light gray? This might be a bit lighter than what I am going for, but the color is really beautiful.  Source.

This pool, with landscape design by LandPlus, has a pretty light color to it.  Alec from LandPlus told me that the pool bottom it is a white Pebblesheen, a material similar to Pebbletec but made with smaller pebbles (with the result being a smoother pool bottom).  Alas, Pebblesheen is more expensive than Pebbletec.

When I initially saved this picture, via Martha Stewart Living, I saved it for the beautiful environment, but now I am appreciating the picture anew because of the pretty blue color of the water.  It was probably photoshopped, though!

My sister’s pool, photographed in the shade of the morning, has a medium gray plaster bottom.  We are seriously thinking about doing a simple gray plaster surface to the pool, because of the smoothness and because we like the old world mottled look that is often characteristic of a gray plaster pool.

This pool, with landscape architecture by Howard Design Studio, looks like a great balance between blue and green.  Source.

When looking through the pictures in my files, I come back to this picture again and again – perhaps it is because it is so similar to our general design, with the outdoor room sharing a wall with the garage, and the simple rectangular pool is aligned with the centerpoint of the fireplace.  I also love the look of the bluestone combined with the crisp blue of the water.  The designer involved in the project, Carter Kay, told me that the bottom of the pool is gray, so I am assuming it is a simple medium gray plaster.  It is almost impossible to judge a pool color from an image, especially one that has been in a magazine (as the colors have probably been tweaked), but I like what I see in this image!

Another pool that captures my eye is this pool from Atlanta landscape architect Richard Anderson’s portolio (http://www.richardandersonla.com).  I wonder what material and color the bottom of this pool is – it’s a beautiful, natural looking blue, not too dark, not too light .  Given that this does not appear to be a magazine photo, the color is probably fairly true to real life.  Source.

I must make the decision this week.  Readers, if you have any pictures you could send me that look like the colors in these pools – and you know the color and/or materials – I would love to see them!  You can email me at thingsthatinspire@gmail.com.  Of course, seeing a pool in person is probably the best way to get the feel for a color and surface material, but none of the pools I have seen have really struck a chord with me.  Any recommendations, lessons learned, or tips would be wonderful.

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  1. I like the dark bottom pools. So mysterious! They get very hot in the sun. Will your pool have much sun?

  2. Oh, I wish I could help with this one. I don't have much experience with pools, but I love the ones that has a light blue to it. It feels more tropical, warm and clean.

    Wishing a very blessed week, Holly.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  3. The last one is my favorite.

  4. Holly what a pretty post and so refreshing looking coming off of this incredible heatwave! I personally favor light blues over dark or even med. blues. I like the way the contrast is with a lighter blue pool against the rich green of the grass and neighboring landscape. I also like light blue against stone and blue stone but I also would say that depending on what you are using for your surround does and could have some impact on the color of the water in the pool. Its many layers of details (as with a home) that all come together to create one beautiful cohesive look....no doubt in my mind you will create just that! Good luck:)

  5. i am thinking of the lightest turquoise.
    it will make your pool eternally the waters of the turquoise caribbean

  6. I adore the image with the outdoor room! Perfection Holly!


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  7. I like lighter bottomed pools. Mine is a very light gray and it looks so refreshing. I like to see what's in my pool very clearly. Although we've never had one, our pool builder said that the occasional snake in the pool is practically unavoidable in our area. With that...I made my decision.

  8. I have always loved the look of a black bottomed pool because the turquoise ones just seem contrived or fake. Water isn't that color when I fill my bath.
    I adore you choice of bluestone and can't wait to incorporate it into my outdoor areas someday.

  9. Are you planning a salt water or fresh water pool?

    A previous post nailed it - lighter is good to see the bottom especially if you live in an area with snakes and frogs.

  10. We are still dreaming of a pool so we can't give much advice. However, we love the light blues best. We can't wait to see your choice.
    Angela and Renee

  11. It depends on the specific site of course, but the pools I design are almost always charcoal. This allows for a beautiful blue as the reflection of the sky. There is no problem seeing the bottom. But I do not recommend a diving depth any more, anyway; there are just too many reports of serious accidents. Five feet is plenty for almost any safe pool activity.

  12. I like the mystery of a dark bottomed pool, but like swimming in a light one. I want to know that I've vaccuumed every last bit of dirt up, and that there are no critters in there, before jumping in. It's much harder to see salamanders in a dark bottomed pool. Beautiful images! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Holly, What a fun decision to be making. As a Southerner too, I know the weather you are dealing with so a pool would be heavenly. I just did a post on Friday of a few pools - not sure if they would help, but thought you may want to take a look. Can't wait to see what you choose!!

  14. What a wonderful dilemma! I love the bluest of the blue turquoise ones - like being in a tropical paradise. So inviting. You know, I have never had to think about this, but it sure does sound like a head scratcher. Are there any pools you can visit in person to see the choices? I think it is so hard to tell from a photo.

    xo Terri

  15. John Howard showed his lion fountain pool at Switch last fall. The crowd gasped in delight.

    I want y'all to get the safest pool possible. We had a tragedy in our neighborhood 10 years ago: an evening party, dark bottomed pool.

  16. I also like the lighter colored pools. While the dark bottoms are elegant, I love the refreshing look of blue. I'm afraid I'm not much help here. Although I mus add that while bluestone is my favorite look for a surround, it is very hot. Yet another thing to consider!,

  17. Holly I have a lighter blue pool but it is a sunken liner not gunite or pebble tech. So I am no help other than to say I think you are definitely going in the right direction. One thing to ask your pool guys is how hard is the texture going to be on little feet. My son has a gunite pool and the kids have to wear water shoes because it makes blisters on their little feet. That is one nice thing about a liner, nice and smooth. I really think you are going in the right direction. Kathysue

  18. I like the medium blues, but don't dark colored pools just feel cooler sometimes and with this Atlanta heat a dark pool seems more appealing to me right now!

  19. These pools are just divine! I remember when I had to pick my pool color and I didn't realize there were so many choices! I'm lucky that I love my not too dark and not too green aqua. Btw just found your blog and it's gorgeous and I am following!

  20. Your blog is full of blue with awesome photograph. great collection. I like the way the contrast is with a lighter blue pool against the rich green of the grass and neighboring landscape.

  21. I love the one you said you liked because the house is similar to what you are building. Tough choice with so many beautiful images. Can't wait to see what you select.

  22. We used dark charcoal grey, which over a few years has become lighter and mottled. Love it!

  23. Perfect timing to read this as we have a pool designer coming out Monday morning :) Looking forward to see your choices.

  24. Beautiful post and it makes you really stop and think "what do I want?" The lightest blues will look stunning even on cloudy days and that's what we like about a pool. That it does'nt change that much even with weather change, clouds and clear sunny days the pool continues to invite us in.

  25. Last 2 pools I've chosen colors for it was the French gray. Didn't look at colors I liked, took away all the colors unacceptable.

    Turning over the sample of 'the choice', both times, French gray.

    Was lucky to have days with partly cloudy so sun/shade could both be looked at from all views.

    Adore/love the pics you chose.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  26. torturous! Would love to jump in all of those beautiful pools this moment.

  27. I like this, it sounds like summer ;)

  28. Thanks Holly,

    I too am making the decision of pool color right now. I am in sunny Mexico. I love your sisters pool, can you send more pics?

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer!

    LOVE your blog.

  29. Sounds odd but our garden designer Paul Bangay (see images on PaulBangay.com) recommends green pools as likes them to blend mre - in particular with traditional homes - idea is to look more like ponds. He recommends little glass mosaic tiles which catch the light and sparkle. We are building too - and followed his advice. Pool yet to be filled but does look lovely so far :-)

  30. Nice post! It reminded me that I need to select a Florida Gem color for our pool. We've been remodeling our pool, if you're curious I've written about it here...http://designnsuch.wordpress.com/category/the-great-renovate/landscaping-pool/


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