8 Pool Ideas That Will Make a Splash in Your Backyard

Ready for some fun in the sun that's fashionable, too? Consider giving your pool a design makeover.

It happens like clockwork: As soon as the temperature starts to rise—and those sunny days get a little longer—we immediately want to position ourselves next to the closest body of water we can find. If you are blessed with the pool, you don't have to trek to your nearest lake or pack your bags for an idyllic tropical vacation. All you need to do is step out to your backyard.

Since your pool is likely the most trafficked spot on your property during the dog days of summer, it should be an outdoor design priority. And you don't need to have an expensive, high-tech swimming space—think cascading waterfalls or infinity edges—to elevate your backyard's body of water. Your pool is packed with built-in design potential, and it's up to you to harness it.

Some backyard pool design ideas can be easily achieved: For example, consider adding an oversized umbrella or flanking its perimeter with stylish lounge chairs. However, there are plenty of other opportunities to give your pool area a full face-lift. Consider eye-catching tile, innovative fencing, and, yes, even paint.

pool with lounge chairs and gardens
Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

The good news is you don't have to look too far to make a splash. We tapped some of the interior design industry's top talent to share their very best pool decorating ideas, which run the gamut from simple to extravagant, offering something for every discerning dweller. No matter which pool decorating idea strikes your fancy, one thing's for sure: Wet and wild can be well-appointed, too.

1. Install Eye-Catching Tile

pool with black-and-white tile and umbrella
Avery Nicole Photography

If lining your pool with a layer of concrete feels drab, consider covering the top portion of its walls with a row of eye-catching tiles. Not only will these tiles give your watering hole flair, but their naturally smooth finish will protect little swimmers from scrapes and scratches. The best part? This pool design idea can be tailored to match your aesthetic. While bright colors and hypnotic mosaics might be perfect for the burgeoning bohemian, Nuela Designs kept it classic with a set of vertical, high-contrast tiles. "We created a chic, hotel-inspired black-and-white pool for our client," principal Lisa Diaz says.

2. Opt for an Oversized Umbrella

pool with oversized umbrella
Nicola Holland

Since UV rays are often reflected off water, spending too much time in the pool can be an open invitation for sunburn. Fortunately, Natalie Sullivan of This Sweet Life found the perfect solution; she added an oversized umbrella, which cleverly covers her pool in style. "Putting a large umbrella into our pool area was a must, as we have three young children. We wanted to create shade over the water so they could swim all year long while staying shaded," she says. "We have a large ledge in the pool where the children can splash, so we strategically placed the umbrella over this. It not only looks divine—it is so practical, too."

3. Renters, Install a Stock Tank

stock tank pool
Emerson Grey Designs

As Bri Moysa of Emerson Grey Designs proves, it is possible to add a pool to a rental property. Her secret? Creating a watering hole with a stock tank. Not only can this option be removed when you move out, but it can also be spruced up to match your design aesthetic. Here, Moysa spray-painted the stock tank black, added wooden steps and plants to its perimeter, and filled the pool with fun floats.

4. Try Surrounding Wood Flooring

pool with wooden flooring
Shelby Koch

Speaking of stock tanks, you can bring the look and feel of a sunken living room to your backyard by surrounding your watering hole with wooden planks. Though Harvey House's Shelby Koch technically gave this treatment to her hot tub, this deck-like structure will work just as well with a small above-ground pool. Complete the look with string lighting and ample seating—just as Koch did here.

5. Add a Cabana

bamboo pop-up pool cabana with daybed
Dana Gallagher

In case you didn't get the memo, cabanas aren't just for fancy beach clubs or resorts—and they don't have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Case in point? Our Bamboo Cabana, which we put together using a canvas tarp, bamboo poles, and zip ties. Surround yours with lush foliage for texture and tuck a weatherproof daybed inside for ample lounging. This way, you'll feel like you're nestled in your own idyllic oasis.

6. Turn Your Pool Floor Into a Mural

pool mural
Madeline Tolle

Calling all maximalists: For an easy, but impactful design trick, consider turning your pool's floor into a bonafide work of art. Here, Alex Proba got the job done with a fresh coat of paint and a visually dynamic floor mural. "A pool has two faces—with water and without," the creative says. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so commission a design that speaks to you and your space. (Just remember to hire trained artists and invest in formulas that can withstand salt water, chlorine, and UV rays!)

7. Try Transparent Fencing

clear fence around pool
Courtesy of Three Birds Renovation

If your backyard is frequented by woodland critters—be it deer, squirrels, or coyotes—installing a pool in the middle of your property can pose a problem. To mitigate this, take a cue from Three Birds Renovation and install transparent fencing around your pool to keep it safe and secured without sacrificing on style.

8. Buy and Use Furniture Strategically

pool with furniture
Getty Images

Since you're spending most of your summer weekends lounging poolside, shouldn't it be the center of attention? Turn your aquatic area into the focal point by choosing and positioning your furniture appropriately. "You want to always have good, comfortable seating. When you jump out of the pool you need a nice spot to lay down on to soak up some rays," shares Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs, who suggests decking out your space with ample seating, a fire pit, and a game area. "And don't forget some side tables for snacks and drinks next to the seating. It's always nice to sit and eat a little something while taking a pool break."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles