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Pictures of Swimming Pool Designs and Shapes

Pictures of Popular Swimming Types: Form Usually Follows Function

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Swimming pools come in all shapes, sizes, styles and designs. Some are used for specific purposes, like lap pools for health and fitness, infinity pools to make a landscape architectural statement, novelty pools to express the owner's personality or interests, and naturalistic pools that blend in with the landscape.

 

Things that can dictate the shape of your pool: lot size and available space, lay of the land, budget, meeting safety codes, your home's architectural style, sun exposure, how you will use the pool and if you will include a spa. Here are the basic pool shapes, with variations within each category.

Rectilinear & Geometric Swimming Pools

Young man sitting by swimming pool dangling legs in water
Jens Lucking/Stone/Getty Images
Not counting the ancient pools of a few select kings and rulers in places like Babylon and Rome, the history of residential swimming pools pretty much began in Southern California. Starting in the mid-1930s, newsreels and magazine photos of movie stars posing by their swimming pools sparked a trend, which became more popular during the post-World War II housing boom. By 1947, there were 11,000 pools in the United States.

 

Most of these early pools were created in the classic rectangular form, which was aesthetically pleasing and also practical. As a source of exercise, the long, straight lines of a rectinlinear pool made sense for pool owners who wanted to swim laps. Reflection pools have also traditionally been rectilinear in shape.

The Oval or Round Pool Design

oval swimming pool - elliptical swimming pool shape
Illustration © Thom Taylor
Curvilinear shapes also got their start in the backyards of Hollywood's elite. In the 1930s, pool builder-to-the-stars Philip Ilsley created a round-bottomed pool frame that was filled through a hose with concrete. Stars -- and later, fans who could afford the pools -- loved the deviation from the standard rectilinear shapes. Photos of curvy pools with their famous curvy owners popped up in magazines, whetting the public's appetite even more for these backyard luxuries. A new kind of pool was born.

Kidney-Shaped Pool

Illustration © Thom Taylor

The first kidney-shaped swimming pool was designed by eminent landscape architect Thomas Church in 1948 for the Donnell family's Midcentury Modern home in Sonoma, California. Up until that time, most swimming pools were rectilinear in shape, for a straightforward lap-swimming experience. Church's biomorphic design was photographed for many magazines, making the kidney shape a popular choice for residential swimming pools.

The focal point of the Donnell landscape design is a sculpture by Adaline Kent, which serves as an island in the center of the kidney-shaped pool.

The Figure-8

Illustration © Thom Taylor

The Octogon

Illustration © Thom Taylor

Novelty or Custom-Shaped Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool Shape - Texas - Novelty Swimming Pool Shape - States - Pools Shaped Like States
Illustration by Thomas C. Taylor

L-Shaped Swimming Pool

Illustration © Thom Taylor

The Lazy L-Shaped Pool

Illustration © Thom Taylor

Classic Pool Designs

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