Ideas for designing and decorating your pool patio

By Kimberlee Courtney

Elegant Pool Patio Design

Photo courtesy of Pamela Self Landscape Architecture, Ltd.

The patio is an essential part of the poolscape and defines how you enjoy your time outdoors. Patios can be used for a variety of poolside activities, including sunbathing, dining, socializing, relaxing, and more. It’s important that your pool’s patio design matches your lifestyle, as well as complements the style of your swimming pool and your home.

Take a look at the featured pool patio designs below to gather ideas for creating your ideal poolside living space.



Sun Deck

Swimming Pool with Sun Deck Patio
Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, Ltd.

A sun deck patio is designed for simple poolside relaxation. It’s a place to cool off, unwind, and enjoy the sunshine after taking a dip in the pool. Located along the perimeter of the swimming pool, a sun deck can resemble the look and feel of a luxurious hotel or resort when lined with rows of stylish outdoor chaise lounges.

Pool with In-Pool Sun Deck
Photo courtesy of Shawn Tailbot Photography; Designed by Skip Phillips, Questar Pools & Spas, Inc; Built by Valley Pool and Spa

An in-pool sun deck, or tanning shelf, is another patio design ideal for poolside lounging. A tanning shelf is a large shallow area, typically 5 – 8 inches deep, situated at the entry of the pool. It can span the entire width of the pool or just a small section. 





Bistro Patio

A bistro patio is a great design for smaller backyards or for those desiring a quiet space to relax and enjoy the view.

Swimming Pool with Bistro Patio
Photo courtesy of Aquatech Society: Aquatech Pools by CHI

This small patio design consists of a bistro table and two chairs and can be part of the pool area or detached by a small pathway, as shown in the picture above.

Pool with Bistro Patio Set and Firepit
Photo courtesy of Rugged Class Waterfalls & Pools; Photography by Stephen K. Wolfe

While a bistro patio design is ideal for pool areas with limited space, it also works well in larger environs. The poolscape above features three separate bistro patio areas.  Each nook offers a different view of the surrounding landscape and establishes a more intimate atmosphere. A firepit adds a cozy touch for summer nights spent al fresco.



Garden Oasis

Desert Pool Garden Oasis
Photo courtesy of Dolphin Pools & Spas

An alternative to the conversation-style patio design is a garden oasis. The focus of this design is to enhance the pool’s natural setting. Seating areas are kept to a minimum and, instead, lush plantings and natural materials inhabit the space. A garden oasis design often lends an away-from-home feeling.

Natural Pool with Waterfall
Photo courtesy of Blue Haven Pools & Spas

By enclosing the pool in colorful blossoms and flourishing greenery, the patio becomes a serene escape where you can let your worries fade away. The addition of a water feature, such as a waterfall or bubbling fountain, provides the tranquil sound of cascading water to sooth your soul.


Formal Swimming Pool Design
Photo courtesy of Artistic Pools, Inc.

Even the simplest of pool patios can be turned into a garden oasis with the use of containers or decorative planters. The beautiful planters flanking this formal pool design add visual interest and help anchor the space.  



Covered Patio

A covered patio allows you to lay out by the pool, but without getting too much sun. It offers a comfortable outdoor living space, especially for pools situated further from the home.

Swimming Pool with Covered Patio
Photo courtesy of Master Pools Builder: Pool Builders, Inc.; Photography by Kevin Ford

From a curtained cabana to a wooden pergola to a custom-designed pavilion like the one pictured above, a covered patio can be a place to relax, entertain, or enjoy the shade.

Swimming Pool with Loggia
Photo courtesy of Janice Parker Landscape Design; Photo by Neil Landino

The poolside loggia (above), comprised of a pergola framed by two stone structures, offers sunbathers a cool escape from the heat. The fieldstone cabana on the right provides a convenient area to change and features outdoor showers on the exterior wall.



Outdoor Room

Outdoor room patio designs bring the comfort and conveniences of your favorite indoor room right to your poolscape. An outdoor living room becomes the prime spot for socializing with family and friends.

 Outdoor Living Room Patio Design
Photo courtesy of Walnut Hill Landscape Company; Photo by Michael Prokopchak

Deep-seating patio furniture and a custom fireplace are essential to the design of this cozy indoor-outdoor type of setting.

Outdoor Dining Room Patio Design
David Tisherman’s Visuals, Inc.; Photo courtesy of ©Costea Photography

An outdoor dining room is paramount for pool owners who regularly enjoy dining al fresco on the patio. The key element to a successful outdoor room is an outdoor dining set with a table large enough to accommodate family members as well as guests during outdoor parties. 

Pool and Outdoor Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Mark Scott Associates

An outdoor kitchen will further enhance the design of an outdoor dining room and make carrying food to the table as easy as pie. The gourmet outdoor kitchen pictured above also includes an outdoor TV for guests to enjoy as they stop by the swim-up bar adjoining the kitchen area.



Backyard Retreat

The ultimate in poolside living, a backyard retreat patio design can encompass several—or all—outdoor activities, from lounging in the sun to dining al fresco to entertaining friends.

Beautiful Backyard Retreat with Pool
Photo courtesy of Lewis Aquatech Pools; Photography by © 2011 Judy Davis/ Hoachlander Davis Photography, LLC

Multiple seating and lounging areas coexist in this beautiful backyard retreat designed for relaxing and entertaining around the swimming pool. Notice how the landscaping helps divide the patio into separate areas while unifying the overall design. 

In designing your pool and patio, it’s important to consider your lifestyle needs: Do you prefer an elaborate resort for family fun and large parties or a simple backyard haven for relaxation and casual gatherings with family and friends?

Backyard Resort Swimming Pool and Patio
Photo courtesy of Concord Pools and Spas; Project Designer, David Cerniglia

This grand poolside environment can easily accommodate a number of guests for a summer barbecue, yet feels intimate when just the family is around.