Your Guide to Mid-Century Modern Pools
Whether you're in the process of buying a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs, South Florida or anywhere in between, you might also be facing the prospect of a swimming pool. Of course, there are plenty of pros and cons of having a swimming pool, regardless of the style. If your home already has a swimming pool, or if you're thinking about adding one, then find out how to ensure that it matches your mid-century style and is in keeping with the era, design and architecture of your home.
Should Your Mid-Century Home Have a Pool at All?
For some homeowners, commitment to authenticity is the most important priority. You might, for example, come across a wonderful mid-century modern home with a pool. But if the house was built in 1955 and the pool is an addition from the 1990s, then it might not be something you're interested in keeping.
Of course, the number one rule is always this: Make your home (and your landscaping!) your own. If you like the look of the pool, embrace it! But if you don't think an existing swimming pool is adding to the overall look of your home, you aren't obligated to keep it.
An example of this is the Eppstein House, a Frank Lloyd Wright design in Galesburg, Michigan. The new owners filled in the pool because it was not original and not in keeping with Frank Lloyd Wright's original vision for the property.
In these cases, the right choice might be to fill in or remove the swimming pool. There are a number of creative ways to do this. The costs of removing or filling in a swimming pool can be substantial. The average cost of extracting an inground swimming pool is anywhere from $9,000 to $19,000. Filling in a swimming pool will be cheaper, usually costing around $7,000. With the right landscaping, you can make it look like the swimming pool was never there at all.
Can You Bring Back a Filled-In MCM Swimming Pool?
In some cases, a previous homeowner may have filled in an attractive, original, mid-century modern swimming pool. The bad news is that bringing that pool back to life can be a serious challenge. The good news is that it can be done, albeit for a price.
The biggest difficulty with revitalizing a filled-in swimming pool is that you won't know the full extent of the pool's damage until the digging is complete. The worst-case scenario might be that the shell of the inground pool is severely damaged and needs to be replaced. Fortunately, that is rarely the case. Most of the time, a new lining or plastering will be enough to bring the mid-century swimming pool back to life.
Keep in mind that virtually all filled-in swimming pools will have some intentional holes in them. This is required as a way to reduce hydrostatic pressure so the pool's shell doesn't pop out of the ground over time.
If at all possible, do some research in advance to find out the size, depth and volume of the swimming pool. It's very likely included on either original plans or subsequent property documents through your local city or county.
The costs of revitalizing a filled-in swimming pool are comparable to starting new and installing a brand new pool. While some pools can be salvaged, you'll still have the costs of new plumbing and excavation, at the very least. If it can give you the mid-century pool of your dreams, however, then it may well be worth the expense!
What are the Best Mid-Century Modern Swimming Pool Designs?
You might be starting with a blank slate, in which case you can choose the mid-century pool that best meets your style and preferences. If you're hoping for a distinctly MCM pool, there are a few tried and true options to consider.
Long Rectangular Pool: Think MCM homes in the Hollywood Hills. If you're trying to take advantage of a stunning view, then a long and thin pool lets you soak in the scenery without a big footprint. Pools can draw your eye outward to the view or act to elongate the structure itself. This shape is also ideal for those who want to try to swim laps.
Kidney-Shaped Pool: This might be the pool shape most closely associated with mid-century modern design. It is instantly recognizable, retro and a great choice in a traditional backyard.
Multi-Level Pool: Another way to embrace mid-century style in your pool is by opting for multiple levels. You might have a deep end and a shallow end, or you could raise one side of the pool as more of a splash pad. This adds visual interest and makes it a fantastic hang-out spot for all ages, although it may not be ideal for serious swimmers.
Pools That Embrace the Design of Your Home: When you look for pool inspiration, look no further than your own home. Think about the style and architecture of the residence, and draw on that for your pool's design. You might also be inspired by existing landscaping. If your home was built by a prolific architect, see if any other similar homes have a swimming pool. You can see what styles and designs work with similar properties to get ideas for your own mid-century modern pool. The pool below is curved to match the circular home by William Wesley Peters just outside of Taliesin West.
Turning a Traditional Swimming Pool Into an MCM Masterpiece
You don't have to rebuild an entire swimming pool just to give it some MCM style. There are plenty of ways to revitalize an existing pool and ensure that it fits the aesthetic of your entire property.
It's important to think about safety. Many original mid-century modern pools didn't need fencing, gates or any other safety additions. Many pools might be grandfathered in, but new pools will certainly need some safety considerations. If you don't love the look of a fenced-in swimming pool, you may be able to fence the entire backyard instead.
If you're in Florida, then you might have the ubiquitous "pool in a cage," a swimming pool completely surrounded by netting or mosquito nets. While these so-called Florida pools have some benefits, they may not fit your idea of an MCM pool. Fortunately, they can be removed, and you can still enjoy the benefits of a pool. If shade is a concern, then a pergola or other shade structure could be a more aesthetically pleasing alternative.
Some other ways to add MCM flair to your existing swimming pool include:
• Rocks, cacti and other MCM landscaping options
• Patches of astroturf if you're going for a seriously retro look
• Pops of color in the outdoor furniture or planters
• Retro lighting options that set the scene for sunset cocktail parties
• Mid-century outdoor furniture like a Salterini Tete-a-Tete Chair & Table Set or Bertoia Diamond Chairs