Fun in the sun: For a Greenwich client, Lang Pools in Norwalk designed and installed this black anvil Gunite outdoor waterfall spa overlooking Long Island Sound. — Swimm Pools photo

This is not your grandma’s pool. While the typical backyard pool years ago was a plain rectangle — simple in form and look — today’s pool is sleek and usually custom-made. Shape choices are nearly limitless, and with options ranging from adjoined hot tubs to adding waterfalls and fountains and colorful lighting, the family pool now boasts all the bells and whistles.

“Pools are a wonderful addition to your backyard,” explains Chris Lang, owner of Lang Pools in Norwalk. “Why go on vacation when you can go on your vacation in your backyard and enjoy time with friends and families?”

“We are building pools for families that are tech-savvy and want convenience,” says Nick Vitiello, owner of In2blue Design in Norwalk. “Homeowners can open their personalized pool app to control LED lighting, or the pool or spa temperature right from their fingertips.” – In2blue Design photo

“We are building pools for families that are tech-savvy and want convenience at their fingertips,” says Nick Vitiello, owner of In2blue Design in Norwalk. “Our pools are completely automated so that you can control the various features at the touch of a fingertip.” People can open their personalized pool app to control LED lighting, pool or spa temperature, or any of the other various pool or landscaping features they might have that are integrated into the system, he adds.

“We are also seeing a demand for pools that use less chemicals,” Vitiello observes. “With the use of ultraviolet light, which kills 99% of the pathogens in water, we can reduce the need for traditional sanitizers to disinfect. That, along with the installation of salt water chlorinating systems, results in a virtually chlorine-free pool.”

As pools grow more technologically complex, aesthetics are evolving, too. Lang states that customers are favoring simple elegance in their pools. “Dark interiors are increasingly popular,” he notes. “It’s a more contemporary, clean and artistic look.” For pool surrounds, the simplicity of grass, instead of pavers, cannot be overstated. “Everybody loves a rectangular pool with a wide coping [of grass],” Lang says. “Don’t even worry about putting a patio in, just plant green grass. The contrast with the cool water is a sleek, artistic composition.”

The pool is the starting point and the design branches off from there, contends Nicole Pleasants, manager of Swimm Pools Inc. in Darien, creating individual spaces that flow seamlessly together through the use of patios, sitting walls, plantings, and furniture. — Swimm pools photo

There is also a move away from traditional stone materials such as bluestone or flagstone  toward more contemporary materials, such as precast concrete pavers, porcelain tile, and exotic sustainable woods like ipe, Vitiello adds. Also trending are aggregate interior pool finishes, as opposed to traditional smooth plaster, he says.

“Everything is custom now. We aren’t doing many ‘typical’ jobs anymore. We are creating outdoor living spaces that work with the family’s needs and wants,” reports Nicole Pleasants, manager of Swimm Pools Inc. in Darien. “It’s really about creating a usable outdoor living space which is an extension of your home. And with the short seasons we experience, our customers want to get the most out of their backyard while they can.”

The pool is the starting point and the design branches off from there, Pleasants says, creating individual spaces that flow seamlessly together through the use of patios, sitting walls, plantings, and furniture. “If the family is big on entertaining, custom outdoor kitchens have become a must-have, and they offer all that an indoor kitchen can, but outdoors. Another trend we are seeing is custom-built fire pits and fireplaces, along with outdoor sectionals, sofas, and lounge chairs,” Pleasants explains.

Vitiello agrees, adding that customers want the transition between indoor living space and outdoor entertaining area to be seamless. “Outdoor kitchens, shade structures, and fire pits make the pool environment complete,” he says.

For this Orange, Conn.-based client, Lang Pools in Norwalk created a 20’ x 40’ rectangular Gunite pool with four deck jets, bluestone coping, and an overflow spa. — Lang Pools photo

Automatic safety covers are another trend, Pleasants notes. Many pool owners purchase pools with automatic pool covers that can be closed with the turn of a key, making the pool inaccessible. A cover also makes the pool more energy-efficient by reducing heat loss and pool water evaporation.

Gunite pools with bluestone may represent the high end of the spectrum when it comes to pools but there are a variety of options, including vinyl liners, to achieve a high-end look without breaking the bank. Pools are a great way to increase the enjoyment of your backyard and can provide an everyday “staycation.”