Big Ideas for 33 Small Pool Designs

On a small or narrow lot, where do you put the pool? With the challenge of density and less room to build, homes and properties are being reconfigured or just shrinking. Architects and builders can use vertical real estate—climbing up or digging down—to pack more living space onto a narrow lot. And everyone is rethinking the ever-popular swimming pool. For many, the answer is to go smaller. That way, you get the pleasures of a pool—exercise, refreshment, relaxation, an attractive water feature—without building a standard 20- x 40-foot in-ground model complete with pool house.

Smaller pools are popping up in unexpected places. Some are located in the front yard, as part of an enclosed entry courtyard, while others are off a wing of a house or wedged in a central courtyard patio area, surrounded by the rest of the house. In colder climates, small pools fit better than large ones when they’re built indoors. Most stay in the backyard, which may be smaller than the one in which you grew up. And some are more petite to allow other elements, like patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens be part of the landscape. 

They go by different names: spools, plunge pools, cocktail pools, and wading pools.

While it will take fewer materials and less time to complete a more diminutive pool, don’t think it will cut the cost of your project in half. Many small pools have water features and are a focal point, which requires attractive materials like stone and tile, designed and applied by an expert. If you’re determined to install a pool, consider the popular round stock tanks or above-grounds, which are sunken into or surrounded by decking.

Let’s take a look at 33 different small pool designs that feature homes and properties of varying sizes and styles.