Backyard Pool designed by Ed Hollander with Hamptons-inspired design and landscaping

April 24, 2023

Our Backyard Pool: The Inspiration & Where To Start

Hi, friends! Can you believe summer is right around the corner? 

Summer is by far my favorite season. I absolutely love all the time we spent enjoying summer activities with family and friends.  Beach days and backyard parties are a couple of my favorite things about summertime.  But, here in Richmond, Virginia, it can get pretty hot.  Dave and I always knew we wanted to put in a backyard pool, and we finally did it! This will be our first full season with the pool installed.  While it took a whole year to transform our backyard into our dream space, it was completely worth it! We not only added the pool but also reworked our kids’ play area and added more landscaping.  

So, while much overdue, we are finally sharing with y’all the entire pool building process – from our pool inspo to the technical details to the pool installation cost.  We’ll also break down the things we would do the same (and differently!) the next time around.  To kick off this blog series, I thought we would start with an overview of the pool building process and share our pool inspo photos. 

Let’s dive in! Pun intended, thank you very much.

What are the steps to building a pool in your backyard?

In all honesty, the pool building process is a long one!  If you are considering building a backyard pool, the first step would be to get started right away with contacting local pool companies for estimates.  Most pool builders are booked out almost a year in advance – that was definitely the case for us.  Finding the right pool company is as simple as Googling “pool builders near me” to find reputable companies in your area.  I would suggest comparing online reviews through Google and Facebook.  Then narrow down your top few companies to get pool installation cost estimates.

If you are like me, then the design aesthetic for your pool is a top priority.  I had honestly been collecting pool inspo photos on Pinterest for years.  Having a general idea of the look you want is essential before meeting with potential pool builders.  As you are sorting through your pool inspiration photos, make a note of the little details that you like.  As always, “the devil is in the details.”  Be prepared to point out those details to the builders as those are the details that can significantly shift the cost of building a pool.  For example, share specific materials that you might like to use on the pool deck.  Discuss different options for the type of pool you want.  Do you want a vinyl liner or gunite pool? There is no harm in having a list of ideas and questions. 

Once you receive your estimates and make the decision on the pool company that is right for you, the fun begins.  I mean, it really is fun.  But, be warned that the process can be pretty long and maybe a little grueling at times.  Decision fatigue will set in.  Just keep your eye on the prize (= a cool spot to relax and play on those hot summer days). It will all be worth it in the end!

With your pool company in place, they will take the reins and follow their steps for pool installation.  While companies may vary on their exact process, here are the general steps to building a pool:

  • Finalize layout and design (they might need to survey the land).
  • Obtain necessary permits.
  • Excavate the land (AKA dig a big hole!).
  • Install the footings/concrete base.
  • Put in the liner (if applicable).
  • Install plumbing & electrical (while continuing to obtain permits and complete required inspections).
  • Add hardscaping.
  • Plant landscaping.

You can see all the details of our pool installation process in my Instagram highlights. 

Now let’s move on to the fun part…the design inspiration!

Our Pool Design Inspiration

Looking back, it’s so funny to me how little my general taste has changed over the years! I started saving pool inspiration photos over 10 years ago.  Dreams, right?  But when I started saving photos for our actual pool reality, I realized that I was saving some of the exact same photos as I did way back when.  I couldn’t believe it!

As with all my home and interior design projects, my favorite thing to do is to mix traditional elements with modern sleek lines. So when I began searching for “backyard pool inspo” I asked myself “what areas of the country tend to have the style I have in my mind?”. One of the first places that came to mind was the Hamptons. I am immediately drawn to the simple pool design and fresh landscaping you see with pools in the Hamptons.  

What is a Hamptons Style Pool?

When I think of pools in the Hamptons, I think of a rectangular pool that often has a deep ledge or “sundeck” for lounging.  It’s actually a simple pool design that is classic and effortless but never fails to look a bit upscale and elegant.  Perhaps another defining characteristic of a Hamptons style pool is the hardscaping around it.  You typically see sleek bluestone, flagstone or limestone for the pool deck with rock featured as the landscape ledging.  The landscaping of the Hamptons is also pretty distinct with delicate, flowy flowers like hydrangeas, lavender and iceberg roses.

Nearly all my pool inspo photos have the Hamptons vibe. I recognized that I am drawn to a certain designer’s look.  Renowned landscape architect Ed Hollander and his designs became the main source of inspiration for our backyard pool, hardscaping and landscaping.

Backyard Pool Inspo Photos I Love

Hollander Design

What I Love: What don’t I love? The color of the pool is striking next to the gray pool deck. And the landscaping adds the perfect amount of color. It’s like the perfect earrings to a beautiful dress. I kept coming back to this photo again and again so I knew there was a lot about this that I wanted to recreate. I knew that I wanted to recreate the colors of the pool and the pool deck especially.

Hamptons-style pool with Iceberg roses in landscape design by Ed Hollander
Hollander Design

What I Love: The roses are striking. They have kind of a wildness to them that I think really compliments the clean lines and otherwise pretty structured space. I think with all good design it’s about balance. You don’t want too much of any one element. There is a traditional and timelessness in the architecture of the home, a sleekness in the pool deck and furniture, and rich texture in the landscaping.

Backyard pool by Ed Hollander with Pool House and Hamptons-style design
Hollander Design

What I Love: This photo really got me thinking about the corners of the pool. It’s so important to have those 90 degree angles to achieve that modern look. It also made me think about the logistics of the hot tub. We originally were going to make the hot tub sit above ground but having the hot tub in ground really was a common theme between all my inspo photos. I considered building it into the pool in the corner but for technical reasons we built ours to the side like shown here.

Backyard pool with privacy hedge, iceberg roses and limelight hydrangeas by Ed Hollander
Hollander Design

What I Love: 

You will notice none of these photos have ladders of any kind which I LOVE. That is certainly an element of the modern design that elevates the space. But for code you have to have egresses on both sides. We incorporated a ledge in the deep in and in the shallow end we have a sun ledge like you see above.

Backyard Pool and Hot Tub with Hamptons-inspired style and pink roses in landscape design from William Pitt Real Estate
William Pitt Real Estate

What I Love: I saw this on Instagram and just loved how these roses really elevated the space. This was the inspiration for the landscaping we added.

I hope this post has given you a little more insight into what it takes to install a pool.  We definitely learned a lot through the process and will share some of the things we might have done differently.  Overall, our backyard transformation was exactly what I wanted, and I love it. And I think the finished design resembles our inspiration quite well!

In the next post of the series, we’ll dig into the technical details of our backyard pool – dimensions, materials and design features we knew we wanted to include.  We’ll also share progress photos and a little more about the different steps in the pool installation process. 

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  1. Many thanks for bringing such valuable insights on your
    blog. Your approach to showing the intricacies of photography turns your posts
    a delight to read. It’s clear that considerable skill and dedication is poured
    into your work, making it a valuable resource for photography enthusiasts like me.

    Continue the excellent work, and thank you for expanding our knowledge of
    photography. Kindly, Anja

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