Sharing the inspiration images I used to gather pool decor ideas
for our yard this summer – and what I decided to avoid
based on something I saw in a Hamptons listing photo
We’re officially halfway through summer, and we’ve been making an effort to really enjoy our yard and create functional and comfortable outdoor living areas this year. I hope you’re enjoying the more frequent posts – there’s a lot to cover as far as outdoor improvements and I’m trying to get them to you in a relevant timeline before our minds get all set for cozy, crisp fall weather. I expect I’ll slow down to once a week or so in the fall with other projects around the house.
Local shore rentals booked up earlier than usual and we’re not comfortable with plane travel just yet, so our summer plans are low-key: staycationing (as we did this past week, hence the break), save for a few day trips to the shore. We’re also still sticking to keeping it outdoors since our youngest is still waiting for full vaccine coverage and I’m not risking getting COVID after half of us needed inhalers when we caught a local batch of FAUXVID in May – everyone was very sick for a week plus.
Since we’re investing in our outdoor living areas, staycationing makes sense anyway and gives us a chance to fully enjoy local attractions, our yard and pool – which is a lot more relaxing after we were finally able to get the kids swim lessons this summer. And, I’m relieved we’re not going anywhere and spending a ton of money now that we’re officially in the recession nobody saw coming (that’s sarcasm, if you’re new here. Welcome!).
Today I’m sharing inspiration that helped me to hone my vision for our yard and figure out what pool decor I like – take a look at the old pool furniture we’ve been barely using with no time to lounge poolside with little kids, and see the pool specs in my backyard intro. We have a terraced backyard with a mixture of bluestone, pebbled concrete, wooden and stone retaining walls, a staircase, post and rail fenced perimeters creating outdoor rooms of sorts.
The pool has a concrete deck with terracotta coping (tile that borders the top of the pool edge) and cobalt blue waterline tiles (these run under the coping, where the top of the water aka waterline hits).
I did a quick 20 second Instagram reel (video*) with the same pics if you’d like a quick overview.
The various materials all work really well together, with the exception of the blue waterline tile. It’s highlighted by the essentially complementary terra cotta coping. That means they’re close to opposite each other on the color wheel. So when adjacent, they emphasize each other in contrast, and look even stronger than they would on their own.
It’s just got a Spanish/Mediterranean vibe that doesn’t jive with the rest of the house for me. It’s a very traditional cape cod and the only Mediterranean flair it features is my partial Italian lineage. Everything else in the yard is designed to blend into the nature of the surroundings. I think if the blue waterline were to be replaced the coping wouldn’t bother me anymore. We may switch it eventually when the pool needs to be re-plastered, but we’ll have to see if it’s worth the money. We’re getting quotes for general maintenance this summer to know what to expect.
I’d love to go in a romantic, formal garden direction over time like this, which is basically my dream pool:
But this is not my pool. I’d like to try to incorporate elements over time, as long as it’s not looking stuffy or our of place with our yard. It will take some hunting to find concrete sculptures and secondhand painted iron scroll seating – which is aplenty on FB marketplace and craigslist around here, you just have to be ready to nab them.
This year, however, the focus is on getting some comfortable pool seating. Ideally it would be several chaises, and new umbrellas.
*on that note, I’m trying to figure out this newfangled thing called instagram. Give me a follow if you want to see me
struggling to excel figure out how to use it to best create some fun engagement that will complement the blog – which I’m planning to keep at the forefront over social.
Our Pool Isn’t Trendy (or at least on trend now)
Our terracotta coping is just decidedly not trending, so I haven’t found any images that really mirror how to add onto what I’m starting with and help me gather pool decor ideas. I’d guess the choices previous homeowners made probably were when they put in new coping. But that was a long time ago.
With the terracotta coping and sandy colored concrete pool deck, we’re starting with a lot of warm tones and undertones by our pool. Everything for the most part, except the cool bluestone by pool and some Belgian block bordering it (forgot to mention Belgian block above!) and garden beds. But, even the bluestone patio has some tiles with warmer undertones mixed in. So it all coordinates.
The problem finding inspo or any obvious pool decor ideas at all? Cool tones are definitely “in”. Concrete coping with a blueish cast is around everyone’s rectangular pools on the ‘Gram and Pinterest. Sleek steps and tanning ledges with sharp edges span their entire widths. Waterline tiles in these sleek new pools blend in seamlessly with the pool itself.
Iron furniture is an obvious choice with these pools. Anything goes really, since it’s such a blank slate.
We, on the other hand, have a lima bean pool with an orange-leaning-red border, and complementary blue tiles.
Not complaining – we love our pool! It just made this a relatively quick, limited search with a goal of narrowing down materials and a palette and left the decisions about working with the terra cotta and cobalt up to me.
It’s okay, I can handle a challenge.
To strategize I ended up collecting pictures of pools that have a mixture of similar materials in the hardscaping, and noted what furniture and textile choices were selected to help round out how different materials could work together in our yard. Basically looking for how to bring the space together with the right color relationships and with things I like in it. So, like my primary bedroom design process (reveal here, updates coming soon!), these aren’t pictures I’m trying to emulate literally – I’m not tearing up the yard. Except for some drainage improvements!
The backdrop of our pool is a hemlock hedge, woods, and flame grass, so I kept the search verdant, and kept an eye out for terracotta/orangey tones and warm hardscaping.
Okay. Time to share the pool decor ideas I’m incorporating in our poolscape. Shall we…dive in?
Nope, I’m not apologizing for that.
Pool Decor Ideas & Inspiration from the Hamptons
The best search results I found for pool decor ideas came from an aspirational query: “Hamptons pool inspiration.” Because Hamptonites and I have similar tastes, obviously. And they have the money to hire professionals, get it looking perfect, and garner magazine coverage for the rest of us to admire and learn from. Pinterest allows us all to learn from the masters.
Call it trickle-down design, if you will.
Let’s take a look at what works in a few really dream pools, shall we?
Above, there’s cool concrete coping, but a brick border surrounding fieldstone, warm concrete fountain, and terracotta pots bring in warmth. If you look closely in the shadowed foreground, you can see they went with teak chippendale furniture.
I’m not so into the collected container garden look/maintenance, but I think a few potted plants around the pool could add some appeal. I love the look of planters at the edges of rectangular pools, but incorporating them around ours will take some thought. I’ve considered them on either side of the ledge. How do you think the plants fare with splashing? If you’ve got intel or plant recommendations, please let me know!
White is an obvious textile choice to tie in with these materials. Teak and wrought iron furniture are the seating materials of choice I’m drawn to most.
It would appear that almost all umbrellas are white in the Hamptons. How do they keep them clean?
Right, they have people for that.
I love that hydrangea tree above. I’ve seen a few around locally, so I have hopes I can incorporate some into our landscaping. The folks above decided to depart from peer pressure and have a light tan umbrella at their party that appears to require…white attire….
Right. Moving along…
This next one’s in California but 100% New England vibes. They dare to have…wait for it…
Maybe they don’t have wildlife or pollen? Those nooks and crannies would be flourishing here.
They rounded out their only-possible-in California seating area with warm wicker, black rattan with lime cushions (interesting), peach and palm leaf pillows, and white chippendale railings.
I’d love a chippendale accent somewhere. Perhaps a bench or two.
Interior designer Timothy Whealon picked taupe umbrellas next to his deciduous backdrop – smart man.
Womp womp, more cool concrete or fieldstone so not a great inspiration pic for our pool. But I really like the taupe and the brown cabana stripes. I’m guessing these are weathered teak chaises, and they’re mixed with coordinating warm rattan side tables, concrete planters and…elephants!
Next up: an inviting row of seafoam green cabana stripe chaises. I really love black iron furniture, but it’s the wrong choice with our pool deck and the looming risk of Mediterranean creep. I’m hoping to incorporate black nearby but not directly juxtaposed with it.
I’m hoping to be able to fit four chaises by our pool – one for each member of our nuclear family. Also, I want chaises with arms for when I can (someday maybe) read while the kids swim, and the full sun by the pool will create some scorching surfaces that would make us avoid iron armrests.
But aren’t these lovely? My best guess is they’re from the Summer Classics Provence collection (😍😍😍😍 but $$$$ – actually, the McGee iron-look stuff at Target is a knock-off, FYI).
I’m not ruling out bringing in seafoam green somewhere. It’s trendy right now but also timeless, for me. I think it’s a fairly neutral accent color as it hearkens to verdigris patina on copper. It would play off the terracotta nicely, methinks. But I also think I need some warmth to tie in the terracotta and not draw attention to the blue. It will all depend on what furniture we find.
Dinky photo up next, sorry – it’s from an older Arch Digest article probably back when blue and red outdoor hardscaping were more trendy – but the cobalt blue pool liner and brick steps are the closest I’ve found to our pool hardscape palette.
No iron in sight. Just concrete and wood, with what looks to be a bright concrete pool deck.
A Final Materials Direction
So, I was able to solidify my furniture materials and palette: wooden or wood-look chaises, rattan somewhere, concrete tables, maybe some black or iron accents.
…And some textile to use on cushions that works with the terra cotta.
I will share a moodboard with selections, and share the very many textiles I wanted for the pool area and where I landed.
One Last Inspiration House & a Dirty Little Hamptons Secret
I just now as I was wrapping up sharing these pool decor ideas I came across the exterior of a project by Bunny Williams, further validating my choices. No harm in seeking more information for validation when you’re investing in something. Landscape architect Edmund Hollander (portfolio here) is responsible for the grounds. I’m not sure who made the outdoor furnishings/textile decisions between the two of them.
It’s located – you guessed it – in the Hamptons. This one has a lot to love, and really echoes what our yard can potentially be.
Limelight hydrangeas border the pool area. The chaise cushions are a light blue, which I’ve pretty much ruled out for our yard because I don’t want to encourage our blue waterline to…I don’t know, jump out of the pool to pal around with other blue accents and take over the yard? HA
The blue and white does look very classic, but it’s not feeling right for our yard.
Once I get furniture in place I’ll make a call as to what to colors to bring in to keep that waterline in check.
More teak furniture, concrete planters and tables, white ceramic garden stools round out an adjacent poolside lounge area…
And plenty of options aside from poolside lounging are on the property, including en plein air dining with a table umbrella, covered dining for eating en plein air in less-than-fair weather – do they have that in the Hamptons?
And of course, those white umbrellas that the Hamptons just won’t quit.
Somebody forgot to photoshop this next one. What’s that I see?
(Jaws approaching music plays as the horror intensifies)
Let’s zoom in on those inviting streaks of pollen and mildew, shall we?
DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN
Nothing like laying back under shadows cast by nature’s grime. It probably even adds a few SPF points if you’re at the right angle!
Sigh. I wish it weren’t so. I do so love white umbrellas against a treeline.
But hey, if you’re feeling low during these times of economic uncertainty, just remember: the grass isn’t always greener, but the umbrellas are.
Now that we’ve debunked the facade of the appeal of white umbrellas, let’s take one last look at this place.
Pink cushions on bronze furniture are pictured on another seating area on the property, this time a lounge set that looks to be dark aluminum with a tinge of bronze in the finish. I’ve been contemplating boldly patterned lumbars on our chaises, but am having a hard time finding outdoor fabric in the motif I have in mind. SPOILER ALERT: pink is not out of the realm of possibilities. Not that you’ll believe I didn’t get the idea from Bunny and Edmund at this point. Whatever 😏 I have furniture and umbrella canopies that I need to see in person before deciding.
Looks like Bunny/and or Edmund – Bunmund? Bunmund.- decided on a retractable awning here. I wish we could see that extended, I’d love to see one done well by design professionals. We’re sticking with umbrellas for the foreseeable future but an awning would make a lot of sense over our kitchen patio.
And last but certainly not least: I absolutely love that black trellis. Did you catch it in view above, behind the pool chaises?
I really like the idea of replacing our post and rail gates with more decorative ones in painted finishes, potentially with trellises where it works. But this year, the focus is on getting furniture and getting outside into the yard as much as possible!
Seeing how Bunmund set this property up has got me thinking about a for-now plan for our little bluestone patio off the kitchen. To lounge, or dine al-fresco?
Coming soon will be more details on my furniture and textile picks and a mood board for the pool/outdoor furniture overall. Also, a scintillating tale of drainage improvements.
What’s that old saying? Right. When life gives you standing water and a wet crawlspace, make a bluestone patio with a fire table.
C’est tout for today. I hope you gleaned some inspiration from these pool decor ideas I’ve shared!