Pool Talk: Our Pool Design Decisions

When we last talked about pools, we were talking about the basic design factors to take into consideration when designing a pool. The previous blog touched on basic pool sizes and costs, and listed factors that can drive that cost up or down (size, depth, shape, features…etc). If you haven’t read that, you can find it here.

Today, I want to hone in on the specifics of our personal pool design choices. This is strictly our opinion on certain features and does not rule that our decisions are best. Remember, when building ANYTHING, it is always about what works for YOU. What someone else has may look great, but if what you are designing isn’t tailored to your taste, space, and budget, you will never truly love it.

I aim to update this post as our pool designs become a reality, but for the time being, I have included our pool renderings designed by Pullium Pools to help visualize the direction we are wanting to head.

Pool Basics

Shape: Geometrical

We chose a geometrical, rectangular shape of our pool for a couple of reasons: I. this matches our house style best and II. this shape fits our overall yard most ideally. To be honest, I have never really been drawn to curvy pools and we are designing a modern transitional farmhouse that has clean, sharp, lines; white exterior; wood accents; and a black roof. For us, a curvy, rock-edged pool did not match the vision. Designing a rectangle pool also was vital if we wanted a pool cover.

Size: 34′ long X 15′ wide

This size was determined after measuring out how the pool would fit into our yard space. We have a “jutted” patio and wanted the pool shape to flow naturally with the lines of the house.


At the deepest points, the pool will be 7′ deep, and slope up to a 3′ large shallow end. Orignially, we wanted to include a deep “diving” end and a large shallow “game play” area, but having both did not fit into our budget. After questioning and envisioning ourselves in the space, we decided that a “cannonball” zone was the best fit for our budget. As much as I would love to be able to have a diving pool, they are not cheap. This is because the total cost of a pool is calculated based on the perimeter. When adding in a diving end, there has to be a certain slope out of that diving end, so the deeper the pool, the longer the pool thus increasing the cost.

Becuase we chose to omit the diving area, we opened up our budget to enable us to include other features we considered a higher priority.

Spa/Hot tub:

  • Outside pool
  • 6″ raised square/rectangle
  • 8 person comfortable capacity

Don’t worry-yes, there is a spa/hot tub! This design actually ended up giving us more trouble than the depth dilemma.

Originally, I wanted a flush entrance to the spa (I didn’t want to climb on top of stones to get into my spa). So we tried several design locations inside the pool perimeter but ultimately decided to place the spa slightly raised (6″) to the outside of the spa. Why? Pool cover. I’ll talk a little more about this in a couple sections down but the pool cover RULED our design choices. If we had the spa inside the pool, we would have had to roll it back to get to the spa when it was covered. This also was a factor if our spa (placed to the side) was flush- the pool cover wouldn’t be able to seal off the pool correctly.

Another reason we opted to raise the hot tub (barely, 6″ people) was to avoid cold water spillover into the hot water area. (Our designer told us we could have just put our least favorite couple on that side, which made me LOL, but we tend to like majority of the people we invite over). To compromise the raised spa (which will have a spillover) with the pool being flush and able to be covered, we have to include a “stepping stone” area or something similar to give our water a place to go. (See reference pic).

Fun Stuff: Features

Tanning Ledge: YEP

This was one of my top priorities when it came to the pool design. If you haven’t heard of one, these are extremely shallow areas/ledges (less than a foot deep) that usually have “bubble” fountains. These are PERFECT for babies and dogs to splash around and play in, and I love the idea of having low tanning chairs and sitting in the water reading my favorite book under an umbrella. Our tanning ledge will cover the end of the short end of pool adjacent to the spa, 15 feet long. This is perfect to space 4 chairs easily in the water.

Grotto: NAH

We chose not to include a grotto. Personally, I consider them a little too loud and every single one I have been under has some form of bug as a primary inhabitant. They also tend to build up some ick and are hard to clean. For us, this wasn’t something we wanted.


While we don’t have exact locations for this yet, fire bowls/fire pits are a must for our entertaining space. We love the ambiance a fire gives off, and both had this at the top of our “wants” list.

Pool Cover: Automatic

Adding in a pool cover will eat away any budget, but an auto pool cover adds a considerable amount. As I mentioned before, having this feature kinda ruled our design choices. This was a priority for several reasons the top ones being: we have tons of trees around the house, and we are open to adopting or fostering in the future. When taking in a child in the system, agencies are extremely strict regarding pool safety. You either have a pool cover on at all times when not in use, or you put up a pool fence.

I don’t want the eyesore of a pool fence, and we did not want to have to deal with the hassle of taking the cover on and off ourselves/ paying to hire someone to do this so an automatic cover was our best choice. These are most managable price wise when they are installed in a rectangular pool, and like I mentioned before, installing stepping stones to make up for the height difference in the spa/pool.

Slide/Diving Board: NAH

We chose not to include either of these as built in options. For us, we don’t have a diving end, and slides are wonderful for children until they grow out of them. We will probably compensate for this later by buying an inflatable/temporary slide that can be set up and taken down when not in use.

Pool House: MAYBE

This was another last-minute addition to our plans that altered our budget, which is still under debate depending on how our loan plays out at the end. Our options are either to put the pool equipment behind the master bedroom, in a pool house, or make a faux wall of sorts to hide the equiptment. As of right now, we are leaning towards a cheap fencing of sorts to hide the equiptment, and build a pool house sometime in the future.

So yes, that is the majority of our pool choices as of this moment. I hope to add in better photos once our rendering is complete. I highly recommend working with a designer at a reputable pool company. Their job is to help you nail down what will work best for you and your space (we spent almost 2 hours doing this, and we thought we had most of it figured out beforehand!) Don’t rush the process, and remember you are allowed to change your mind! This is your investment, and you are the one that has to live with the design, not anyone else! Do what works for you.

Talk soon

xx, Lanna

So you wanna build a pool? Here’s some things to think about first:

Hello, and welcome to my first blog post regarding some of our building journey! We have decided to go ahead and include our pool in our preliminary building budget for two reasons:

  1. We only want to do one lump loan with everything building-related included.
  2. Building the pool at the beginning of the build process cuts down on messes to clean up later. By building the pool in the preliminary building phase, we don’t have to worry about concrete trucks tearing up our driveway, landscaping, or any sprinkler systems we decide to put in place. I will put a disclaimer that thet pool company will not/cannot start on your pool until the exterior walls of a house are present. This was odd to me, but it has to do with city codes.

Obviously, including a pool into a new build budget isn’t in the cards for everyone, but I wanted to give a breakdown of what the process (and cost) of building a pool is in general. We are opting to put in a gunite pool, so I can only speak to numbers that we have been told based on this type of pool. I can write another blog post on why we chose gunite over vinyl lined later, but for now let’s talk budgeting.

Pool cost depends on a variety of variables, and each individual choice drives the total cost up or down.

Pool cost depends on a variety of variables, and each individual choice drives the cost up or down. Sadly, this is the answer you get to a lot of those “but how much does this cost” questions when it comes to designing or building ANYTHING, and a pool is no different. But I want to share some things to consider when designing your own pool based on the conversations we have had with professionals in order to nail down your ideal budget.

Hold on tight, we are about to talk some pretty hefty numbers. We were told that a standard, 22 foot long, retangle pool with no additional add ons prices start at $60,000. To add on a basic spa (hot tub), prices start at $15,000. This puts a small, basic pool project starting at $75,000. Pool cost is calculated based on the perimeter of the pool, so any abnormal shapes can easily make the cost increase.

Addtional factors that affect price:

  • Size of pool
  • Shape of pool
  • Depth of pool
  • Adding a spa (hot tub)
  • Masonry and Tile choices
  • Fire Features
  • Fountain systems
  • Decking
  • Interior finishing
  • Grotto additions
  • Pool Covers
  • Steps/Seating/Lounging Areas
  • Heating Systems
  • Landscaping
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So now that we have all that stuff out of the way, lets talk about how you can decide what kind of pool is best for you, your family, and your budget. For us, we oringinally wanted it all! Who doesn’t? Pinterest is a black hole where dreams live and reality is a facade that doesn’t exist. However, out in the real world, there is real money that (typically) has to be borrowed/paid back. And our “Pinterest Pool” was going to cost us at LEAST $150,000... hahahaha no thank you…

So how do you navigate what you really need in your pool? First, we wrote out a wants list of everything we wanted- even the crazy things. For us, we really thought we wanted a rectangle heated pool with a deep diving section, large shallow area for entertaining,tanning ledge, and spa; along with some other fun details like fire features. (Like I said, we wanted it ALL). So how to narrow it down?

We started to imagine using this pool and asked ourselves these questions:

  • What do we see ourselves doing in this space in 5 years?
  • What do we see our future (or current if that applies) children doing in this space in 5 years?
  • Do we entertain often?
    • If yes, how many people?
    • Are our guests athletic/enoy water games like volleyball or basketball?
  • What style fits our home?
    • Modern? (i think of these as geometrical, clean lined pools)
    • Traditional? (i think of these as curvy, rock pools)
  • What do we have space for?
    • Are we adding landscaping aroud the pool?
    • Do we need to leave space for additional entertaining/play areas?
Photo by Edneil Jocusol on Pexels.com

Once you have asked yourself these preliminary questions, stand in your space and mark out how big your “ideal” pool would be!

I’m such a visual person and measurements have 0 meaning in my mind if I can’t see it in person. Seeing what you have space for is a great way of getting a size idea down, and doesn’t leave you asking your pool designer “ughh how big is that?” during your meetings. You can always adjust the size if the price point isn’t right, but thise gives you and idea to go off of.

After we had done both these things, it was time to start whittling down our list. We seperately picked out our top 3 features we felt were important to us, and reconviened to compare. Thankfully, we weren’t too far off. What stumped us the most was the desire for a large shallow end or for a diving area, because we needed to make a choice since our budget wasn’t going to allow for both.

Ultimately, we decided on vetoing the diving end and replacing it with what our designer calls “the cannonball zone”. Basically, we have plenty of room for a shallow volleyball area before the grade of the pool will slope down to 6-7 ft (undecided yet, the deeper we go, the longer the pool and the higher the price).

We also decided to veto the deep end so that we could splurge on a automatic pool cover. This is a non-negotiable factor in our design because of the safety a cover offers (vital if we ever choose to foster/adopt in the future). These pool covers start around $15,000, so we did not have the room in our budget to have everything. I will cover more of our thought process on decisions we made in a later post, so stay tuned for those!

Ultimately, it comes down to what you will utilize the most for it’s cost. If it stretches your budget to the limit, will you really enjoy it? Choose what works for you, and your budget to get the most out of your pool!

Talk soon,

xx, Lanna