It’s summer and that means pool season! Well, just dig a hole and plop it in with a rectangle concrete deck! That seems to be the theory behind most pool installations, but like any quality addition to your home, design will make the pool area a special place to entertain friends and family.

It will have a personality of its own and complement the homes architecture or setting — or perhaps contrast it.  A well thought out design can actually save you money — you don’t need a 6-foot to 10-foot concrete pool deck around all sides of the pool — and make it more cozy.

Hints for creating the pool of your dreams:

  1. Find pictures of pools you like and do your homework before contacting contractors.
  2. Think about what you want to use the pool for (besides cooling off) — sports/games, swimming laps or just taking a plunge?
  3. Consider the basics: 
    • Water Filter — salt chlorine generator, standard manual chlorine or natural/bio filtered?
    • Constructed of (in order from least expensive to most expensive, so typically this is budget driven) — liner, fiberglass or gunite?
    • Shape —rectangle or freeform/organic
    • Size – the standard, most used sizes are 16-feet by 32-feet and 18-feet by 36-feet and 20-feet by 40-feet for rectangular pools and similar for organic shaped pools.
    • Depth — the depth will depend on the intentions of pool use.
    • Pool deck size — how many people will you be entertaining and how does it connect to your home and driveway?
  4. Materials: You’ll need to pick materials for the coping, pool deck and fence (required by law). The pool deck is the perfect opportunity to infuse character to the space.
  5. Accessories and details:
    • Cover — Automatic, solar, safety mesh or greenhouse like cover for year round usage.
    • Step Options: Acrylic fiberglass or steel step with vinyl over to match pool or beach entry.
    • Interior finish details and colors.
    • Sunshelf
    • Automatic cleaner
    • Diving board/rock or slides (gosh, I wish they could make slides more attractive!) — having a diving board will require a deeper and wider pool.
    • Spa/hot tub can be built in or separate
    • Water features, spills, spouts or waterfalls — or a grotto!
    • Energy efficient pump upgrade (a no brainer to save energy over time)
    • Heated — natural gas, propane or electric.
    • Lighting to bring the pool alive at night!
  6. Equipment location is also critical and a component you want to screen or completely hide from the pool area.
  7. And last, but certainly not least, hire a professional who has great references. They will know basic construction techniques and specifications, pay attention to drainage, elevations, accessibility and build a quality project to last. Make sure they include everything in their bid and ask about what isn’t included (often spoils and backfill and sometimes electrical, plumbing, etc., are additional). Ask what the maximum out of pocket expense will be because surprises in construction costs are no fun for anyone!

Andrea Wilson Mueller is a native Frankfortian and graduate of the University Of Kentucky College Of Design with a Bachelors of Arts in Design. She was raised in the horticulture industry by her dad and is the first and only APLD certified landscape designer in the state of Kentucky. She specializes in residential and commercial outdoor spaces of all sizes and styles with an ecological focus. Find out more at