Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The pool design process

I frequently receive emails about old posts of mine, asking what I ended up deciding to do about various design decisions that I blogged about.  As the weather started to turn warmer in May, I began to get a lot of pool related questions, mostly about what color I chose for the walls of my pool.

I must admit, selecting the pool color was a very big decision!  I had never really thought about the fact that the color of a pool needs to be selected.  I wasn’t too involved in the design decisions about the shape and size of the pool (I deferred to my designer, architect, and landscape architect), as my clear request was clean and simple and rectangular, but once the pool color discussions began, I went into full force investigation mode. 
Posting about the pool color decision last year was incredibly helpful to me (click here to see original post).  I had all sorts of great comments from readers, as well as numerous emails with the experiences of people who had built pools all around the country.  I even got an email from a reader who lived within 2 miles of me, and she invited me to see her pool, which was one of the colors we were considering.  I took her up on the offer, and seeing her pool was incredibly helpful!

We were also able to see a few pools that our pool company installed, which was also helpful.  Although it is nice to be able to see pictures online of various pool colors, nothing really beats seeing a pool color in person.

In the hopes that my pool research and eventual decisions might help someone else, here are some pictures of my pool and some information on the design process that was involved in creating the pool.

Here is the same view that I posted in the fall, but taken yesterday in full summer mode!  The trees in the back and the elevation of the lot (Atlanta is a very hilly place) create a feel of complete privacy.  The lot is fully fenced and the pool is fully contained, but the fence is hidden behind shrubs and along the back perimeter of the property.  Since our children are strong swimmers,  we did not have to create a fence around the immediate perimeter of the pool.

The pool furniture is from my in-laws’ old house – it is Brown Jordan from over 25 years ago.  When we replace in the next few years, we will get Brown Jordan again, but probably the java color with the sling material. The plan is to have four chaises, two on either side of the grassy path to the lower yard, as well as a round table with chairs.

Things That Inspire pool 2
Here is a closer picture of the pool, as seen from the outdoor room.  As mentioned previously, the selection of the pool color was incredibly difficult!  We were primarily considering Pebble Tec, which is a product that has a pebbly texture and covers the surface of the pool, and comes in a variety of colors.  It also lasts a very long time.  In Atlanta, Tahoe Blue Pebble Tec seems to be the most popular color, but it was darker than what we had in mind.  We also strongly considered Pebble Tec Caribbean Blue and Blue Lagoon, but neither of these were quite right.  For a brief period of time, we thought about doing a simple medium gray plaster for the pool surface, but decided against this.

Things That Inspire pool 6
Our architect had recently worked on a project in Florida where the homeowners selected French Grey in the Pebble Sheen product, which is an upgrade and is a bit more expensive.  It has a smoother surface than the Pebble Tec, which had an immediate appeal to my husband.  Our pool installer located one Pebble Sheen French Grey pool for us (it doesn’t seem to be that common in our area), and as soon as we saw it we knew it was the perfect color for our pool.  Here is a good picture of the steps to the pool, which shows the different colors that the Pebble Sheen French Grey takes on at different depths. It was a medium gray when it was installed, without water – and as seen on the first step, that’s how it appears in very shallow water. However, when there is water at greater depths (which is the majority of the pool), the color appears a beautiful and sophisticated blue – not a greeny blue, but a turquoise blue that is not too shocking or over the top.  

The Pebble Sheen French Grey works perfectly with everything else we have going on the exterior of the house and the back yard; it looks wonderful with the limestone coping and the blue stone pool decking, and when looking at the pool with the house, it looks great with the Vermont gray slate roof and the neutral color palette of the house. 

Many of the pictures of the pool look more intense than it is in real life, but when the sun shines on the pool it is definitely a pretty turquoise color.  Overall I would say that Pebble Sheen French Gray is a sophisticated but beautiful blue, and people always comment on it when they see it. We are VERY happy with it!

Things That Inspire pool 4
We decided to do an elevated spa with a waterfall feature, even though some on our design team felt that this design was a bit dated or cliché.  It seems that more people are doing spas that are at the same level as the pool.  None of these comments had any influence on our decision – it might be cliché to someone who designs pools, but to us the sound of the water and the elevated platform of the spa is what we had envisioned for the pool.  Although this is not a pool designed for diving, the elevated platform of the spa is perfect for kids who want to jump into the pool!  (By the way, none of these pictures are photoshopped – this is just how the pool looked when I took pictures with my camera - some of them make the pool look intensely blue!).

Overall, the pool has clean lines and a simple design.  The tile on the edge of the pool is a basic slate-like color that balances well with the color of the pool and the color of the limestone and bluestone.

Things That Inspire pool 5
I’m also frequently asked about the choice of pool decking.  I have always admired bluestone pool decking, both for its beauty and its color.  I can’t remember the specifics about the bluestone, but we did not do the thermal bluestone or the select (although I think the stair treads are thermal bluestone – thicker and more uniform in color – as they needed to be a consistent thickness).  The decking is regular bluestone with most of the really orange pieces culled out.  We wanted some amount of variation in the look of the bluestone, but did not want it predominantly orange.  And yes – bluestone does get very hot when it is in the sun.  We have found that if you spray it off with the hose it stays cooler for an hour or so, but mainly it is not a problem – we either wear flip flops or move quickly when it is at the peak of the sun time.  The limestone coping is actually quite useful as it does not get hot, so it is easy to jump to that and walk on the limestone.  The front of our house faces west, so by the late afternoon the sun is behind the house, and the bluestone cools off almost instantenously once it is not in direct sun. (By the way, I think this picture is a very accurate portrayal of French Grey Pebble Sheen color – it is not a strong vivid vibrant blue, but rather a sophisticated and slightly grayed blue).

I hope some of you found this helpful!  At the very least, it is nice to look at pool pictures when it is hot outside.  Email me any time if you have more questions – thingsthatinspire@gmail.com.

Things That Inspire Favorites: Cape Cod Metal Polishing Cloths

Things That Inspire Favorites: Oz Naturals Vitamin C Serum

Things That Inspire Favorites: Thera Breath Oral Rinse

QD collage

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here. 
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here. 
Twitter: @TTIBlog 
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ttiblog/ 
Visit my online store, Quatrefoil Designwww.quatrefoildesign.com 
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store. 


  1. You did a fabulous job! The pool looks amazing!

  2. Gorgeous pool, peaceful and pretty back yard. I would never take a vacation and just sit in my back yard enjoying it all!

    - Monica

  3. Happy y'all got a light colored bottom.

  4. Replies
    1. Things That InspireJune 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      It is a pear tree, although I don't think the pears are edible! They sure are pretty, though.

  5. This is absolutely perfect! I just showed it to my husband as we have discussed all of this this weekend! I'm also glad to see another post from you as they are always some of my favorites! I love your design style and wish you were here in Birmingham! I guess Atlanta is close enough! Perfect post and I sure loved seeing it!

    1. Things That InspireJune 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM

      Thanks, Carolyn! I am going to try to do at least one post a week...I go through phases with blogging, and am coming out of an 'isolationist' phase!

  6. Gorgeous pool and backyard. You did a fabulous job!

  7. Holly-
    You pool is absolutely beautiful. I love the color of the pool and the blue stone. I also love the elevated spa!
    You have impeccable taste.
    Thank you for sharing in such detail.

  8. Impeccable taste! What a lovely setting and thanks for sharing and enjoy!

  9. Hi Holly...nice to see you back in blogland. Your pool is spectacular, absolutely love every single thing about it from the manicured and clean lines to the color.....you have done a fabulous job!

  10. Well rest assured you just helped us. Our pool is currently being designed for our homes site plan. We too want a square pool that is simple and clean looking. We keep changing our minds on if we want a larger patio space as shown in your space, or a more simplistic approach by going around with limestone and then switching to grass for the space around the pool. We saw a great design that then used limestone to create a seperate patio space maybe ten feet away from the pool for the lounge chairs. It was so nice because it broke up the space with grass in between. I really appreciate seeing some of the color options. We have not made it to that part yet, so it was good to hear your opinions. Thank you. - Rob

    1. Things That InspireJune 26, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      Our landscape architect initially suggested grass around the pool, or on the far side - kind of like axel vervoordt's pool. However, with three kids and a dog, I didn't want to deal with mud and grass in the pool. Also, my landscape architect mentioned that clients who had grass around their entire pool often ended up putting in a hardscape as it is more functional!

      When we have had outdoor parties we set up round tables on the far side of the pool, and it is wonderful!

  11. Have chosen your color for a pool & in-ground hot tub.

    I choose the color outside, water poured on the samples, by taking away obviously wrong colors. Rather a fast process. Usually left with only 1 color. Sometimes 2. Then it takes some time.

    How are people using the space beside your jacuzzi? A lot of my clients have grandchildren & want the large tanning ledge. Most want a rectangular pool.

    Love all your choices.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  12. What a lovely pool and what a great idea for a post. We have an outdated 20+ year old pool. Back in the day there were very few choices. I love the softer more natural looking color!

  13. Your pool and landscaping are absolute perfection. I love the back view of your house! Please show us more pictures of your gorgeous new home!!!

  14. as a landscape designer i am enthralled with everything holly, it is sheer perfection.

    wish i knew about this when we re-did our pool, and yes, choosing the color was very difficult!

  15. Truly spectacular. Thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Soooo tranquil and gorgeous! Amazing job with all the decisions!

  17. As a fan of your site I was happy to read and see what you had finally decided for your pool. I remember the original post, it was one of my favorites simply for the beauty of the pool images you shared.


  18. I can just hear all the giggles and fun times being had in the pool, so much fun in the summer time!

  19. Dear Holly - Thanks for sharing your gorgeous pool with us!! Your home looks like a European country house. I love it!! And, the garden is just as stately and expansive. Congratulations.
    Cheers from DC,

  20. What a great pool and wonderful post- I love following all your selection method (you could pass for an engineer with all your detailed logic). I will dream that one day I will have such decisions to make but likely only if I win the lottery. In the meantime I will live vicariously through you and know who to call when I do win it.

    Now, since I have not been over to visit in a while, I must really go and see if you have posted photos INSIDE your house. It is so lovely - just perfect! :)

    xo Terri

  21. Love the pool and landscaping. I have bluestone coping and white travertine marble decking, so opposite of yours. I did a bluestone patio right off the house and holy moly is it hot. My pool is a grey and I don't think I would do that again. Just didn't give the "blue water" color I was hoping for. Live and learn and make very expensive mistakes.

  22. Oh what a beautiful pool, your home is stunning, I adore hydrangeas, I'm waiting for all my trees to grow for the shade they require.

  23. gorgeous. i love the color~ just beautiful~~!!!

  24. Have enjoyed looking at your photos and reading about color choices. My husband and I are in final phases of choosing a color for our pool. Living in northern Indiana, it is wise not to have a concrete pool. We will have a "liner". Now, I am pouring over different color options. I prefer the more natural look. Do you think that if we choose a "grey pebble" liner, that filled with water, the pool would take on a very mild shade of blue?

    1. I looked at some medium gray plaster pools, because I liked the color that the water appears. My sister has a medium gray plaster pool, and the blue is quite pretty. My club has a white plaster liner, and it looks like a crisp, refreshing, light blue. I think the gray tempers that a bit, making a richer blue.

  25. Thank you for sharing these great photos and the information on the We are putting in a pool right now and your post was helpful in the coping decision and I'm sure it will be helpful in a few weeks on the

    And thanks for sharing more views of the exterior of your home - it is beautiful! We are considering painting our brick and I would love your advice on the sheen of your paint. I've read that satin or eggshell stay cleaner but I'm not sure about the look of the sheen. What sheen did you use?


    1. Hi - when looking into painting brick, I read that the sheen is important - not too shiny, not too flat. However, the type of paint we used (mineral paint) has a very chalky appearance that our architect thought was perfect for our brick and our house. We like it a lot - it has not gotten dirty yet, although we have only been in since last September!

  26. Hi Holly,
    Great to have you back in blog land!!

    Your pool really turned out beautifully....the color, the shape, the bluestone surround. I'm guessing it's getting a lot of use this time of year!!

    xoxo Elizabeth

  27. This is such a beautiful pool. Congratulations. It is my dream pool!! I can only hope one day I have a space as lovely as this. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

  28. Hi Holly, your pool and home are gorgeous! I remember fondly your post about the decision process and love seeing how it turned out- so beautiful!! Love the color! and the spa with waterfall. What a wonderful haven for your family. Thanks for sharing.

  29. So glad I found this post (and your blog!). We are having French Gray Pebble Sheen installed tomorrow! It is a total leap of faith. I love all the pictures I've seen of it. Nobody in our area has it though. I'm so happy to find more pictures of this finish.

    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  30. I love this Holly! Do you know which company your pool tile came from? I love that it blends seamlessly with the coping and bluestone. Perhaps you have a grout that matches the coping?

    thanks! I'm working on a pool design and it is so hard to find great materials that work for my environment!

  31. I wanted to tell you thank you for sharing your pool process! We are in the middle of designing our pool and my husband and I were going back and fourth on what color of Pebble Sheen we wanted. I wanted a clean classic blue color. Not one too blue or too green. At first I was thinking of Irish Mist but afraid it would be too green. When I googled French Grey and your pool came up I was in love and SOLD on the color. Now to see if I can get hubby to agree. Thanx again!

  32. What is the depth of the pool? We'll start pool construction next month and I like french gray, but my pool will be 3.5'-5', so I'm not sure if that's the right color or we should go a bit darker. Thanks


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails