Freeform Pool Design Ideas, Inspiration & Considerations

Written by Michael Dean
June 6, 2023

freeform swimming pool

Are you interested in a freeform swimming pool? You’re not alone. Freeform pools have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades, and for a good reason – they are a beautiful pool design concept. The freeform pool design is meant to mimic a natural body of water and blend in with its surroundings, contributing to a more peaceful and natural backyard landscape. There are a ton of ways to approach freeform design, so I’ll walk through some examples, benefits of freeform pools, some watch-outs, and finish out with some installation tips. Ready? Let’s get started.

Main Benefits

Let’s kick off with the primary benefits of choosing a freeform pool versus a basic rectangle or L-shaped design.

Natural Look

In my opinion, the biggest benefit of a freeform pool is the natural feel that it brings versus a traditional shape. The freeform design can really blend into the surrounding landscaping in your backyard, or if your pool is close to another body of water or other natural feature, the pool doesn’t overtake the natural beauty of mother nature.

Design Flexibility

The second significant benefit of freeform pools is the overall design flexibility. It doesn’t matter what shape your backyard is, how much space you’re working with, or whatever other wacky requirements you have – a freeform design is a blank canvas, and you can make just about anything work.

More Landscaping Opportunities

Lastly, freeform pools give you more natural landscaping opportunities at various focal points around the pool. The curves of the pool edges produce natural archipelagos into the pool water which are great opportunities for greenery or rock features that help make the pool feel more intimate and natural.

Watch Outs

The only major downside of building a freeform swimming pool is the extra cost that might come along with it. Depending on the size and complexity of your design, it could cost a few thousand dollars more than a traditional rectangular or L-shaped pool. Before starting construction, make sure to talk with your pool builder about a cost estimate.

Types of Freeform Pools

Today, freeform pools can be made from any major pool material: concrete, fiberglass, or a vinyl liner.

Concrete pools are the most expensive option but also the best quality and have the most flexibility in design. The pool shell is formed with shotcrete or gunite application (sprayed concrete to encase the rebar below and form the shell), which allows for a lot of creativity regarding shapes and features within the pool. You can also apply many different color and texture mixtures in the plaster poured on top of the shell for a beautiful finish.

Fiberglass freeform pools sit right in the middle for cost – not as expensive as concrete pools, but not as cheap as vinyl-lined pools. After you settle on your design, the fiberglass shell is made offsite, shipped to your home, and lowered into the pool area where your builder digs out. Fiberglass has some customization options for features and colors, but not as much as concrete.

Vinyl-lined freeform pools are the last option, the least expensive, and the least durable. Vinyl liners are prone to tearing and need replacing more often than pool plaster or fiberglass pool shells.

Alright, let’s get into some design examples.

Freeform Pool Design Ideas

freeform pool with bullnose coping

Here’s a freeform swimming pool I built a while ago that has simple and elegant bullnose coping around it. A beautiful view, too!

freeform pool with spa and scupper

Here are a few common features that go great with a freeform pool design – a spa on one end and a small shelf on the other to put some lounge chairs. I also built a scupper in the middle of the stone wall on the backside of the pool.

garden inspired swimming pool

I mentioned earlier that the natural curves of the pool present great opportunities to highlight landscaping – this pool I built a few years ago is a great example.

I built this swimming pool a few years ago and love the fluidity of the design. It feels like a natural spring next to the waterway.

simple freeform pool

Here is an example of a wonderful backyard pool I built with a spa and spillover. This design is similar to one of the first freeform designs ever conceived, the kidney-shaped pool.

large hotel swimming pool

Freeform pools can also be huge! Here is a big commercial pool I built for a hotel several years ago.

unique freeform pool

Freeform can be anything non-traditional – here is one of my swimming pools that is almost a square, but has unique curves on the left-hand side for the spa and tanning ledge.

freeform pool with fountain in spa

This freeform pool I build has a unique spa in one corner with a fountain and spillover. You can’t see it in this photo, but the pool overlooks a great view.

freeform pool with rock structure

This pool I built is the epitome of freeform edges. Basic features, but a unique shape.

half moon shaped pool

This half-moon-shaped pool I built for a client overlooks a beautiful water landscape.

freeform pool with subtle edges

I wanted to make the freeform edges incredibly subtle in this pool. The coping contrast with the wood deck gives the pool a beach wave feel.

garden inspired swimming pool

One of my favorite freeform pools with new landscaping around it.

Installing a Freeform Pool

If you’re thinking about building a freeform pool, this is definitely a design concept that you should voice to your pool builder early in your planning process with them. Give as much detail as you can on the feel of the pool, what landscaping you potentially want to highlight, features like a spa or waterfall, and any other water features.

Freeform Pool Cost

As a design concept, freeform pools are not necessarily more expensive than a traditional rectangle or L-shaped pool if they are the same size and complexity. However, most homeowners who want a custom freeform pool generally want more features, large rocks and landscaping, and other elements that will increase the overall price of the pool. The average cost of an inground pool in the U.S. is about $37,000, but freeform pools typically index higher than that average for those reasons.

Need Help Building Your Pool?

I offer design consulting services to help you build your ideal pool. I'll work with your contractor, create build-ready designs and specs, and much more.

That’s about it for freeform design. If you want to compare freeform pools to other designs, head to my pool shapes article. Have questions? Let me know; always happy to help in any way I can.

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