Freeform and Kidney Shaped Swimming Pool Designs

Backyard Swimming Pool
Chiyacat / Getty Images

The first kidney-shaped swimming pool was designed by landscape architect Thomas Church in 1948 for the Donnell family's 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.

  • 01 of 04

    Donnell Free-Form Swimming Pool in Sonoma

    Donnell swimming pool at Thomas church
    Mori C

    The freeform swimming pool was the first of its kind when it was built in 1948 in Sonoma, California. More than 60 years later, it still wows visitors.

    Although not a true kidney-shaped pool, this freeform-style swimming pool was a sensation when it was designed for the Donnell family in 1948. Featured in home and design magazines and books, the pool was designed by noted landscape architect Thomas Church, along with landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

    Interestingly, the swimming pool, patio, and garden were built before the house was erected. The Donnell family chose a favorite spot in Sonoma on top of a hill overlooking San Francisco Bay, where they frequently gathered for picnics and family parties.

    While considered freeform, the boomerang shape (or kidney) consists of two shapes set at 45-degree angles. The island-situated sculpture in the middle of the pool was created by Adaline Kent. The house, garden, and swimming pool continues to be a popular attraction on garden and architecture tours.​

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Brick-Lined Kidney Shape

    Brick-lined kidney shape
    The Association for Pool and Spa Professionals

    An overhead shot reveals without a doubt that this is a kidney-shaped swimming pool. Outlining it with bricks further emphasizes its kidney shape and provides a nice contrast with the concrete walkway. The built-in spa, which is elevated from the pool, is designed in an octagonal shape.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Kidney-Shaped Spa

    Kidney-shaped spa
    The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals

    Continuing the freeform lines of the bigger pool, this kidney-shaped spa is different enough from most hot tubs without going overboard. Too many curves and a too-complicated shape on a small pool or body of water can defeat the purpose of why it's there in the first place.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Kidney Shape With Elevations

    Kidney shape with elevations
    The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals

    This clever design incorporates a kidney-shaped pool onto a sloping piece of land. The kidney form retains its shape, even at different elevations. It doesn't appear that one part of the pool is necessarily deeper than the other. With the positioning of the built-in seating, this pool no doubt takes advantage of the view offered from the hillside vantage point.

    The pool appears to have jets, which indicates this pool is used for warmth, relaxation and entertaining. Two separate pathways lead from different parts of the house to the pool.