From freeform and geometric to negative/vanishing edge, today's residential swimming pool designs offer a sleek, modern vibe for a variety of lifestyles and tastes. Plus, such features and amenities as natural stone and fun water features can help turn your backyard into a delightful, private oasis.

Also trending upward these days: artistic patio pavers that are 20 degrees cooler than colored concrete and 10 degrees cooler that Kool Deck, says Nicole Ragel, vice president of Patio Pools & Spas in Tucson.

“Fire and water wok pots are still very popular as well. We are building more and more lagoon benches with lounge chairs in the pools to be able to relax in the water,” she points out. For interior pool surfaces, Pebble Tec is the choice of 95 percent of Patio Pools' builds, outpacing the older, standard plaster interiors.

Geometric pools are also back in style, says Carlos Arzate, owner of Tucson-based Arzate Design Group. In addition, homeowners are becoming more open to design ideas that make a statement. Smaller, more functional bodies of water are in fashion and are much easier to maintain, although some folks are still building large pools, he notes.

“It’s important to listen carefully to what a client says they want and reconcile that against the size of their home, lot and pool area to make sure they are getting into something that makes sense,” Arzate explains.

There's an app, too!

Ragel notes that technology has come a long way, too, when it comes to automation. Controlling your pool from your phone is the way to go.

“If they can dream it, we can build it,” she says. “As a builder and a remodeler, we can add floor cleanings system to an older pool, change the depth or alter pool shape and resurface decking. Pretty much any option you would have if you were starting with a bare backyard.”

Homeowners today also understand that when they throw a pool party, not everyone wants to swim, so Arzate Design Group can integrate spaces inside a pool that can support a large number of loungers, thanks to the use of benches, extended step areas and lagoon spaces that allow guests to be in the water without taking a dip.

With larger plumbing and in-floor systems in today's pools, maintenance is much easier, but there is still no such thing as a hands-off pool, Arzate notes. Proper care will extend the life of the equipment far beyond the warranty period and, by extension, the life of all pool materials.

In addition, energy efficiency and residual costs of pool ownership are now part of all pool discussions, a marked shift from the old days where bigger was better, he points out.

“People understand that we live in the Sonoran Desert and therefore it is important to value the water. That is why our pool designs include a watershed management plan that helps homeowners recoup some of the precious resource that comes from the sky. We have even completed a few projects where the pool is sustained from harvested rain water and plumbed to the pool from a catchment system,” Arzate says.

Find what suits you

Pools built today are 30 percent more efficient than those made in the early 2000s, Arzate Design Group estimates, and material selection goes a long way toward mitigating the residual cost of pool ownership.

Average size pools being built these days are 9,000 to 11,000 gallons. “Yards are smaller and people don’t want to maintain a huge body of water. A smaller pool also leaves rooms in the budget for features like waterfalls, automation, and higher-end decking choices,” Ragel notes.

For Arzate, “it is a big deal in my book to build a family pool, a major accomplishment in a client's life no matter the scope and scale of the project, therefore it should be something that is not rushed into.” A design professional should operate as an advisor who provides data and allows you to make the value propositions based on your comfort level, he says.

Is a new pool or a pool remodel in your future? Be sure to do your homework, read reviews, get multiple bids and, most importantly, check with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors before moving forward with a professional for your project.

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