“Twenty years ago, the idea was to create an enormous pool,” says Bart O’Connell of Landmark Pools. “Today it’s more important to focus on what’s going on around the pool. That includes outdoor bars and kitchens, seating areas and ﬁre features—everything that adds to the entertainment value of the outdoor space.”
MARGARITAS AT THE OUTDOOR BAR Top of everyone’s list seems to be the custom outdoor bar. The newest craze is the swim-up bar, fashioned after the fabulous resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. Imagine sipping your favorite libation while staying cool sitting on a bar stool in the water. It’s the ultimate luxury. “Swim-up bar designs can range from the simple to the extravagant,” says Ryan Hughes of Ryan Hughes DesignBuild. Popular features include granite countertops on the bar, spa benches instead of stools, and the addition of pergolas, stone columns, patio pavers and
ﬁreplaces or ﬁre features in the bar area to make entertaining friends and family even more fun. “A popular effect is to position the swim bar near an inﬁnity, spillover edge on the pool,” says Hughes. “People love to lean or perch on it, especially if there’s a great view. It’s almost like being inside of a water feature.” “One of the most important considerations for a swim-up bar is to get the elevation correct during the design process,” says Hughes. The key is to make sure the countertop is the right height so the people in the pool can look eye level and converse, eat and drink with people who are standing on the other side on dry land. Multi-level bars as part of an entertainment area are also in demand, says Hughes. They offer a countertop height, which is perfect for party platters and snacks, while a bar height is nice for people to lean against or place their drinks on. “A multi-level design gives you the best of both worlds,” says Hughes.
Left: Resort-style outdoor living designed by Ryan Hughes Design/Build. Above: Landmark Pools has created a beautiful swim-up bar shaded by a pergola.