In January we sat down and wrote a list of what we’d like to accomplish this year, one of our goals being to build a pool next to our house. Once we wrote down how to accomplish each goal, we realized that if we wanted a pool for summer we needed to start the swimming pool design and construction process real soon. I can confidently say we would not have a pool for these 100+ degree days right now had we not written out our dreams, goals, and intentions. We dreamt it, and now it’s here.
Pool Design Process
For the overall look and feel of the swimming pool design, our inspiration was based on natural bodies of water—to achieve this look we gravitated towards soft organic shapes and natural colors. We also looked to Fireclay Tile for handmade tiles (we used their tiles for our kitchen as well, check out the our story on their site!) that would extend the natural colors and textures beyond the shape of the pool, and mimic our beloved natural desert landscape.
Choosing a location
To start the design process, we first needed to decide on a location. Honestly this took us the longest to figure out, as most of our land was either hilly landscape or cactus garden. We ruled these areas out in our minds initially, but realized that a hill could become a part of the design rather than deter it. We ended up building the pool into the hill right outside of our sliding glass doors to our living room, making the swimming pool design both easily accessible and giving it the look of an infinity pool.
Swimming Pool Design: Choosing Your Size and Shape
When it came time to design our pool (we designed it ourselves), we allowed the hill that we were building into to dictate the size and structure of the pool design. You can see in the drawings that we did below that the lower half of the hill is above ground, while the upper half of the hill is flush with the ground. This gave us the opportunity to create a patio around the pool on the one side, and a short plaster wall on the other side to garden around.
We had about 22′ of open space on the hill, so we made the pool 14′ round, with 4′ of decking on either side. We knew we didn’t need a really large pool, and love the size of the 14′ round shape. It’s been great for hanging out with friends—if we’re not in the pool we naturally gather in a circular formation and are still close enough that we can hear and see each other.
For a natural to fit in with the surrounding landscape, we chose a colonial cream flagstone with alabaster grout for the decking. We love the organic lines that the flagstone offers to the round pool, encouraging the feel of a natural body of water. When using flagstone around a pool, make sure to use a water based penetrating sealer to seal the stone and to protect it from potential water damage.
Selecting Pool Tiles and Interior Finish
Our dream was for this pool to blend naturally with the surrounding desert landscape, so it was important to us to choose colors that would both blend with and accentuate the open desert landscape. We had so much fun sharing stories on Instagram as we got tile samples in from Fireclay Tile, and ended up choosing Milky Way and Sand Dune in their 6″ handmade triangle tiles. The triangle arrangement we chose was inspired by the contrast of sky and mountains seen while swimming in the pool itself. (A quick note on ordering pool tile from Fireclay Tile: Make sure to let them know that the tile is for a pool, and they’ll add a seal to the tile specific for pool use.)
For the interior of the pool we chose mini pebbles in a sand color. This color and texture has a couple of benefits for us here in the desert—one being that any sand that gets into the pool will be less apparent. The sand colored interior for this swimming pool design also gives the water a really beautiful natural blue-green color to it (the color we would imagine a natural body of water in the desert would look like, if it existed!).
Thank you to Fireclay Tile for providing the beautiful handmade tiles for our pool!
photos and pool design are by us (Sara Combs and Rich Combs)