Swimming Pool Design

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Outdoor Swimming Pool Design

The Ultimate Guide to Swimming Pool Design in the UK. 

As one of the UK’s most renowned swimming pool designers, Compass Pools have the experience to create a stunning pool for you. We are an exclusive UK importer and distributor for Compass Ceramic Pools®, holding more than 30 years of experience in beautiful pool designs. 

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10 Questions to ask yourself First

  • Am I looking for an indoor or outdoor pool?
  • Am I looking to do training in the pool or is this just a splash pool?
  • Who will be using the pool, how old or tall are they? 
  • What style of building or garden design will I looking to tie in with? 
  • How much am I looking to spend on the Pool and how long will I be living in the house? 
  • How much maintenance do I want to do on the Pool? 
  • When will I be looking to use the Pool, year round or just seasonally? 
  • How much am I prepared to pay per month in running costs?
  • Are there any small children or animals likely to be around the pool?
  • Have you thought about what will be installed around the pool BBQ, Sun Loungers etc? 

This set of questions is the first thing one of our Pool Design Consultants will go through with you in order to narrow, down the shape, size, depth and options for your new pool.

If you would like to fast track this process why don’t you give them a call on 0333 4567 111

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Swimming pool design ideas

Our many years of working with homeowners across the country has given us an insight to be able to offer amazing pools that exceed your expectations. The majority of homeowners will only ever have one pool installed at their property in their lifetime – this means it is important that you should get it right and choose a pool that is stunning and adds value to your home.

We have a comprehensive swimming pool design guide to help you pick your perfect pool and our expert design team is happy to work with you on all aspects of the design and construction.

We offer designs for almost any kind of swimming pool, so whether you’re looking for an indoor installation or a stunning outdoor infinity pool, we can help.

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Request Brochure

Our free 45 page brochure contains a full pricelist, a pool building installation guide and details of your local installer. Complete our form below to get a free copy. N.B. We will not share your details with any 3rd parties.
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Our range of timeless swimming pool designs

Compass Pools is a team of highly experienced pool designers, and we have created a truly stunning range of pools that could each be perfect for your home and your requirements. Please browse through our range of nine amazing swimming pool design ideas that come in 27 different shapes and sizes. No matter what you are looking for we are always happy to talk through all the different options with you to help you select a swimming pool that is absolutely perfect for you.

All of our pool designs have been created for their mixture of form and function – they are made using patented ceramic composite pool technology, ensuring that they have superb quality, durability and longevity. We understand that your luxury pool is as much an investment in your property as anything else, so we ensure that our work is built to last. And additionally you can entirely customise our swimming pools to make them completely your own and help them fit in with the aesthetic of your property. We can offer a huge range of additional features from bespoke colour finishes and LED pool lights to deck jets and waterfalls.

Our designs can be installed both in existing buildings as indoor pools or outdoors in your garden. We are additionally happy to design a new building for your new pool to sit in. We work with you throughout the design process to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you wanted from the project.

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Contact us today

Would you like to learn more about our range of pool designs? The team at Compass Pools would be delighted to help. You can call us on 0333 4567 111 and an experience member of staff will be on hand to talk you through the available options. Alternatively you can email info@compass-pools.co.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Carbon Ceramic Technology

Compass Pools are constructed using Carbon Fibre & Ceramic for Stength and Insulation

20 Year Warranty

Supported by the best guarantees in the industry, Compass Pools Carbon Ceramic Shells have a 20 Year Warranty

Green Swimming

Compass Pools are the most energy efficient pool construction type, with ceramic insulators and variable speed pumps

What would you like to do now?

Find out more information?

Our 45 page free brochure contains:

  • Pool designs & ideas
  • A full pricelist
  • A swimming pool building installation guide
  • Details of your local installer

Request brochure

Get an accurate quote for your pool?

Get a personalised quote for your indoor or outdoor swimming pool sent direct to you from our Online Pool Calculator.

Start your quote

Learn more about owning a swimming pool?

Understand what’s involved in owning a swimming pool with this free guide by Spata.

Visit our South East Showroom

Our showroom located in West Sussex has a wide range of pools on display for you to see and test!

Get directions

Designing a swimming pool

Designing an outdoor or indoor swimming pool is an exciting project though it is also a challenging one, especially if this is your first pool design project. It is important to plan the project carefully considering all the technical issues involved from the outset. Getting it wrong at the start could prove costly overall.

There are many aspects to consider such as the kind of pool construction; its size, heating the water and, if indoor, the enclosure; ventilation and dehumidification; water treatment and many more. This article will help you begin your design process and get your initial ideas in line, but you are advised to talk with our design team to help you clarify your ideas. 

Firstly, we will look at some general considerations that apply to both indoor and outdoor pools, and then at features specific to either indoor or outdoor pools.

What size swimming pool do I need?

Choosing the right swimming pool size for you and your family is an important and often difficult decision and one you need to get right; once the pool has been constructed or manufactured, thee is no realistic way of changing its size.

Ask yourself who will be using the pool and how often they will use it. While most people think they would prefer a big pool, often they can get by with something a little smaller than think. If you want a pool for you and your children, then you are just as likely to enjoy an 8-metre pool as you are a 12-metre pool, and it will prove less expensive. It’s also important to consider the future. What about when your family grows and your children bring their children to around to enjoy your pool.

On the other hand, if your intention is more serious swimming, then you will need a larger pool, say 10 metres or even larger. Do you intend to do much entertaining around you pool? If you throw parties with lots of guests frequently then this is an argument for a larger pool. However, even at large events it is unusual for more than half your guests to be in the pool at the same time.

It also depends on your available space. If you have only a limited area, then you might consider a plunge pool. With options such as a swim jets and turbine streams a 4 metre by 3 mete plunge pool will provide you with all the exercise all you need.


Designing an outdoor swimming pool

Usually an outdoor pool is easier and cheaper to build than an indoor pool. First, we will look at the alternative types of outdoor pool, how to design a pool and surrounding area to blend harmoniously with your existing buildings and outdoor space, and safety aspects particularly with reference to pets and children.

Pool construction

Essentially there are three types of pool construction: concrete and tiles; liner pools; and pre-formed one-piece pools. Each has a range of benefits and limitations.

Concrete Pools

Constructed on site using a combination of steel and concrete, these offer a wide range of design options and can provide any pool size and shape you wish. The main problem with this type of pool is the length of time they can take to build. All the work must be carried out on site and severe weather can delay construction while also leading to potential quality issues. They require regular and often expensive maintenance. They are also susceptible to bacterial contamination and algal growth and they can be seriously damaged by any ground movement. Their major benefit is their wide-ranging design options.

Liner Pools

These use plastic panels or blockwork to create the shell, which is lined with a vinyl pool liner. While these are usually the lowest installation cost option, liners are susceptible to damage and require replacement every five to ten years, thus the lower initial cost masks the actual cost of long term ownership.

One-piece pools

These are fabricated off-site and delivered as a single piece after the ground has been prepared. They are simply lowered into the prepared hole, backfilled, filled with water and connected to the external equipment.

Various kinds of one-piece pools are available:

  • Fibreglass and polyester – The lowest cost option is fibreglass and polyester though they can be susceptible to a range of problems. Although they require little maintenance, the maximum water temperature that the fibreglass can tolerate is 28C and they are susceptible to osmotic ground water ingress which can lead to staining and ultimately failure of the shell.
  • Ceramic pools – Compass ceramic pools use a ceramic composite to produce pools that have much greater strength, rigidity, and thermal insulation than fibreglass and polyester pools. They also heat up much faster. The material prevents ground water and bacterial ingress, so chemical treatments are kept to a minimum.

Choosing your pool construction

Pool type

Relative cost



Best for



Long time to construct, susceptible to contamination, damaged by ground movement

Infinite range of design options

Design flexibility

Liner pools

Low to medium cost

Susceptible to damage, new liner required after 5 to 10 years

Low cost


One-piece Fibreglass

Lowest cost

Susceptible to ground water leakage and bacterial contamination

Quick to install

Budget and speed of installation

One-piece Ceramic

Medium cost

Finite number of design options

Quick to install, highly durable, good thermal properties, long lasting

Durability and aesthetics


Designing for Pool Safety

When there are pets and children in the household or likely to pay a visit, safety first must be an important consideration. While a pool cover will retain heat in your pool, save on your running costs, and keep out fallen leaves, it can also be an important safety feature.

Not all pool covers offer the same degree of safety; in fact, some designs are a safety hazard. It is not uncommon for children to drawn after crawling under a pool cover. There are three main kinds of pool covers:

  • Floating covers – usually constructed from blue foam or bubble sheeting, these literally float on the have been implicated in many fatal drownings.
  • Winter covers – used to keep the pool clean during the winter and are usually constructed of an open nylon mesh which is secured to the pool edges. Unfortunately, children can easily and often have crawled underneath them.
  • Safety covers – as well as retaining heat and keeping the pool clean these provide a high degree of pool safety. They are motorised and easy to operate by remote control. Typically, they consist of a PVC sheet that runs in tracks mounted along the poolside, or rigid slats that rest on a rail. They will support the weight of a person.  

You are strongly advised to include a safety cover in your pool design.

Swimming pool fencing

Swimming pool fencing is another safety feature you might consider. Today there are many attractive pool fence designs such as glass and chrome that will prevent children and pets from venturing unaccompanied to the pool side. Ideally the fencing should be a minimum of 1.2 metres in height and be supplied with a self-latching childproof gate.

Pool alarms

Various types of pool alarms are available. Examples are perimeter alarms that that uses a laser to detect whether a child or pet enters the immediate pool area; pressure alarms which detect when somebody enters the water; a gate alarms on your pool gate; and there are also wearable alarms for children.

Pool design safety feature checklist

Pool safety cover


Pool safety fencing


Pool alarm



Pool Design Surround Architecture

 A swimming pool is a major investment that will add value to your house, but it is important to ensure that it blends in with the architectural style of your existing dwelling to optimise its added value. For instance, old and period properties might suit a more traditional pool surround that induces a natural feeling with flowing lines; while a modern building is more likely to blend in with a modern pool surround with more angular furniture constructed from modern materials.

Remember, you are likely to spend more time relaxing on your pool surround than you will spend in the pool, so pay careful attention to it in the initial aspects of your design.


Infinity pools

Infinity pools have become a popular choice. With these water flows over the pool boundary so there is no visible pool edge; the eyeline merges with the natural background. Technically more challenging and subsequently more expensive than conventional pools, they work best when the background is a body of water such as the sea or a lake. When designing an infinity pool your first consideration should be the visual aspect of the pool edge, for instance will the pool blend harmoniously with the background?

If an infinity pool is right for your surrounding it may well be worth that additional investment as it is sure to add even more value to your home.

Sliding dome covers

A sliding dome cover means you can enjoy your pool at any time of the year. It will also reduce your running costs. During the cooler months you can retain water temperature while on warm days you can simply slide back the cover and enjoy the open air.

Planning permission

Usually you won’t need planning permission for your outdoor swimming pool; in most circumstances swimming pool installations are included in permitted development rights. There are circumstances under which permitted development does not apply, so we advise you to check with your local planning authority. Unless your property is listed, or located in a conservation area or a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, in which case specific rules apply, there should be no problem.

If you intend to house your pool in a permanent enclosure, then for planning purposes it is considered to be an indoor pool and specific planning rules and building regulations apply. These are outlined under Designing an Indoor Swimming Pool.

Pool lighting Design

Pool lighting is essential if you plan to use your pool at night. Adding lighting not only enhances the pleasure and usefulness of your pool, it is also an important safety feature. Similar considerations apply to those described under Lighting an Indoor Swimming Pool

Designing an indoor swimming  pool

With indoor pools you have two major options: install the pool into an existing building or build a new enclosure. Usually the lower cost option is to build a new enclosure. Although this might be counter-intuitive, the reason for this is you will almost certainly need to underpin your existing building and there may also be access problems to solve. If you are installing a one-piece pool you will need to be able to crane it into place.


If you intend to build a new construction, there is a wide range of permanent enclosures to choose from. It is important to ensure that your building harmonises with your existing property. General architectural guidelines apply, for instance a modern looking dwelling will harmonise better with a modern pool building, and a traditional dwelling is best matched with a similar style of pool enclosure.

If you are installing it into an existing living space, then it is vital that your design tones in with the rest of your architecture and interior design.  An indoor pool will be a major focus in any home, so make sure you design it a practical and aesthetically pleasing feature that you, your family, and friends will feel relaxed in.

Ventilation and dehumidification

Indoor swimming pools require adequate ventilation and dehumidification if you are to avoid condensation problems in your property. This is not something you can usually design yourself; it requires the advice of professional pool installers and ventilation experts.

Planning permission for indoor pools

If your swimming pool project includes a permanent enclosure, and you wish to avoid planning permission, then specific planning rules apply. For instance, the structure should be limited to one storey, the maximum height must not exceed 2.5 metres at the eaves, and the maximum height allowed is 4 metres with a pitched roof or 3 metres for other kind of roof construction. Additionally, you are not permitted to include verandas or balconies.

If your plans don’t adhere to these rules then you will need to apply for planning permission. However, even if they do, we recommend that you still check with your local planning authority. All indoor pools must conform with building regulations, specifically with Part L which covers wall and floor insulation. 

Lighting Design on an indoor swimming pool

It is worthwhile paying careful attention to lighting your pool. As well as lighting the enclosure, underwater lighting can truly enhance your enjoyment of your swimming pool. Today there are many options, though LED lighting is a popular choice as it is highly versatile and energy efficient. LED lighting systems can produce an almost infinite range of colours which can be controlled to create the perfect mood for the occasion and switch from a cool relaxing atmosphere to a party scene at the touch of a button.

You might also consider an underwater sound system to really optimise the ambiance of your new pool.

  • Peter Williams - Eastbourne, Sussex testimonial - featured imageCompass were great throughout the whole process of choosing a pool, ordering it, installing it and tweaking any slight changes since it was finished. It has now been in for a year and I swim every day before breakfast regardless of the weather, snow on the ground etc. We have recently had a pool house finished so I can go straight from the pool into the shower without having to dry first! I would thoroughly recommend Compass for the products they sell and for the service that they provide.

    Peter Williams / West Sussex /

  • There are two aspects to the company, the people and the product. I can't fault either of them. The people are friendly, expert and very helpful. Theirs is a premium product but worth it. The build quality is first rate and the operating system options can give you a package as sophisticated as you wish.

    David Clifford / Wales /