Pools and Spas That Make a Splash

In-ground pools surrounded by handsome patios, sun-drenched decks, and lush landscapes invite swimmers and sunbathers to gather. Check out these fabulous swimming holes designed with entertaining and relaxation in mind.

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    Added Amenities

    Traffic flows easily between this home, screen porch, and deck to the spacious patio surrounding a blue-tiled pool. A roofed loggia provides a covered area for grilling, dining, and reading poolside on a rainy day. A spa tub encased in stacked stones, which deepen the colors of the stone-paved patios, stands out as a counterpoint to the pool area's lighter, shimmering surfaces.

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    Tropical Paradise

    Surrounded by exotic palms, a pergola-capped seating area, and a simple tiled deck, this pool appears to be one with the landscape. Dense vines grow across the pergola to enhance the structure's shade-producing qualities. The foliage and tile colors complement the pool's blue-tiled interior, which mirrors sea and sky hues.

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    All-Inclusive Resort

    Sun-lit seats, a shaded bench, a fireside dining area, and a kids' tree house unite to supply "staycation" enjoyment in this recreational haven anchored by an inviting pool. Flagstones partner with bulky boulders to enhance the bench wall and water-spilling spa and link the constructed pond with its natural surroundings.

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    A Place to Shelter

    Long stone-tiled steps provide an easy and noteworthy entry into this lovely pool, served by an equally fetching pool house. The pool house boasts a tin roof that extends over the pool deck to create a protected dining area and support rambling vines that blend the structure into its woodland setting. A row of hooks and a bench create a towel-holding area intended for drying off and slipping on flip-flops.

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    Charming Accents

    Use fabrics and plantings to soften the straight planes and hard surfaces associated with in-ground swimming pools. This pergola-capped cabana takes on casbah-like character thanks to zebra-stripe draperies that can be opened or closed on a whim. Clipped conical hedges rising from planter boxes create attractive perimeters in sync with the area's formal style.

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    Tips for Decorating Your Deck

    Make your deck as comfortable and stylish as an indoor living room with these favorite decorating ideas.

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    One with Nature

    Peace reigns when a swimming pool nestles naturally into its setting. Thanks to mature plantings, an unconventional shape, and a rustic deck built from irregular blue stones, this pool looks and feels like a naturally occurring pond, albeit one that is conveniently served by a patio and a pool house.

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    Location Matters

    Most homeowners place pools and poolside patios adjacent to the house, but it might pay to place your pool farther afield. Although a door opens to this pool from the home's lower level, the swimming area sits below the home's main outdoor entertaining areas. The pool's placement, as well as the stone retaining wall, buffers noise associated with frolicking swimmers.

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    Interior Comforts

    Amplify the usage of your pool and its surroundings by carrying furnished-room amenities outside. Slipcovers stitched from durable outdoor fabric dress lounge chairs, furniture facing the fireplace, and chairs in the covered dining area to create breezy groupings that pop against verdant backdrops. Try quick-dry white cottons if you're on a tight budget. The curtains on the cabana draw close when a changing room is required and to cozy up after dark.

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    Secluded Paradise

    This narrow lap pool detailed with aqua and navy tiles rises to Olympiad status thanks to its natural companions. Fences planted with low-light and drought-tolerant plants create living walls that beautify the perimeter and promote a sense of privacy. Cushy furnishings, accented with pillows inspired by the colors of the pool tile and chartreuse foliage, stand ready for postswim relaxing.

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    Hospitality Station

    Fabulous swimming pool? Check. Adjacent spa? Check. Fire pits aplenty? Check. And don't forget the outdoor kitchen, dining area, media room, and shaded lounge. Thanks to thoughtful planning, this hospitable outdoor area hosts swimming efforts, spa pleasures, and interior-space convenience. These take-it-outside great-rooms are best suited to continually warm regions but offer plenty of inspiration for a swimming pool with areas and furnishings that accommodate an array of entertaining functions.

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    Continental Bent

    Take inspiration from your home's architecture when designing a backyard pool. Here, a plainly profiled pool with a limestone-tiled deck sits amid a clipped lawn and reflects a country French attitude that echoes the architectural style of the home. The pool deck visually references vertical columns that support a roof that shades a patio area connecting to the home and guesthouse.

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    Take a Seat

    Cushioned built-in benches align along this pool's perimeter to energize the view and handle a crowd. Crafted from concrete and coated in plaster, the banquette seats (as well as the wall behind) suit this home's Spanish architecture and its tropical locale. Tablelike formations jut outward between the benches to hold glasses, books, and potted plants.

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    Bonus Ideas

    A pool can be more than just a place to swim. Add a fountain that circulates water to provide soothing sounds and peaceful rhythms that enhance relaxation. Raise the pool deck to accentuate the pool's silhouette and to provide extra seating when a party's on tap.

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    Marvelous Mix

    Well-designed pools include lounging areas that accommodate both those who like basking in the sun and those who prefer to kick back in the shade. Defined by a raised deck, this sitting area is set in front of a tall privacy hedge and beneath a towering tree that provide shade at varying times of day. Large stone pavers set in a sea of gravel and like-color steps supply noteworthy egress to the pool.

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    Desert Love Song

    Native stone, a brick wall, and an infinity edge forge a perfect union between this peaceable pool and its desert locale. To master a similar blend, use stones, plants, and building materials that naturally occur in your area, giving your pool a sense of place.

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    Mediterranean Melody

    Instead of making the pool a backyard focal point, these homeowners downplayed its presence so the landscape suited their French-inspired home. Mediterranean-style plantings envelop the pool in pleasing colors, leafy textures, and clipped forms. Only a short span of bluestone provides entrance into the pool; the stone is a continuation of a small patio that partners with lush lawn to accommodate poolside seating.

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    True Character

    A novel notion makes for a standout swimming pool. Narrow driftwood-stained boards fashion a sweeping pool deck perfectly in tune with this home's New England architecture. Wood's advantages over stone and tile? The deck material is softer underfoot, can be custom colored, and offers a neutral alternative to limestone or concrete decks.

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    Changing-Room Style

    Even a small building adds to the fun of having a pool. Install a bathroom, a small kitchen, or even just a couple of changing rooms, and make it a structure you'll enjoy looking at whenever you're entertaining or using the pool area.

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    Open Enclosure

    An open pergola creates a feeling of enclosure without blocking the warmth of the sun or views of the stars. Plantings above and around the pergola increase the privacy. Be careful to choose species that don't drop leaves and berries or attract birds -- all of which can mess up the spa and deck area.

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    Year-Round Use

    If a pool house seems like too much of an investment for a seasonal-use structure, give it the size and strength to serve as guest quarters year-round. This columned version includes a bedroom, bath, living area, and kitchenette.

  • Next Slideshow Pool Tour: Backyard-Turned-Paradise

    Pool Tour: Backyard-Turned-Paradise

    Discover a basic backyard turned tropical getaway -- complete with a pool, outdoor kitchen, and guesthouse -- and get great ideas for designing and outfitting your pool.
    Begin Slideshow »
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