The Most Popular Swimming Pool Designs and Shapes

Pictures of Popular Swimming Types: Form Usually Follows Function

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,...MORE how you will use the pool and if you will include a spa. Here are the basic pool shapes, with variations within each category.

  • 01 of 08
    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,...MORE 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.

  • 02 of 08
    oval swimming pool
    Elipticals or ovals are a perennially favorite among pool shapes. 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...MORE born.

  • 03 of 08
    kidney shaped pool
    Illustration of kidney-shaped pool. 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...MORE Adaline Kent, which serves as an island in the center of the kidney-shaped pool.

  • 04 of 08

    The Figure-8

    figure 8 pool
    Figure-8-shaped pool. Thom Taylor

    It's pretty obvious: a figure-8-shaped pool resembles the number 8, with round or circular shapes on the ends and a narrower area in the middle, like an hourglass. The ends of this type of pool do not have to be the exact same size—one can be larger than the other. 

    A group of natural figure-8-shaped pools is at Sydney's Royal National Park in Australia. The Figure Eight Pools are located in the southern portion of the park, near Burning Palms Beach. The pools form near-perfect figure...MORE 8's on the coastal rock shelf. Although the platform and pools are hazardous to visit, pictures on social media have made the destination extremely popular. The site is safest to visit during low tide, but even then, there aren't any lifeguards to make rescues or ensure safety.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    The Octagon

    octagonal pool
    Octagonal-shaped pool. Thom Taylor

    A pool shaped with eight equal sides is an octagon, and is considered a more formal or classical shape.

  • 06 of 08

    Novelty or Custom-Shaped Swimming Pool

    Texas-shaped pool
    Texas-shaped swimming pool. Thomas C. Taylor

    Pools in the shape of objects or the map of a state are novelty shapes. Obviously, these are custom designs and are often have personal meaning or are something the owner strongly identifies with, like an instrument (violin or guitar), shamrock, or cat.

  • 07 of 08

    L-Shaped Swimming Pool

    L-shaped pool
    L-shaped swimming pool. Thom Taylor

    There are two types of L-shaped pools: the true-L, which resembles the actual letter "L", and a lazy L, which suggests the letter and makes a slight angle.

  • 08 of 08

    Classic Pool Designs

    picture of classical style pool
    Classical style pool made of fiberglass. APSP.org

    Classic pool shapes are variations of rectangular pools, and are called Grecian and Roman pools, They are both based on ancient pools and have a formal design.