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Style Magazine

Cool Pools

With scorching temps and long summers stretching well into September, a home swimming pool in the Sacramento Valley comes in second only to a powerful air conditioning system. And they’re not just an investment for your comfort, they can also be a smart investment for your home’s resale value. If you’re considering making a splash, keep reading for the hottest trends in pool design and things to know before taking the plunge.


With backyards shrinking throughout the years, especially in new developments, so are the pools. “We’re seeing less and less of the massive, deep pools that used to be a common find in your neighbor's backyard,” says Brianne Boon, sales and design consultant at MJ Pools & Spas ( In their place, cocktail (aka, plunge) pools have become popular, thanks to their smaller size. Cocktail pools are generally 10 feet by 20, or 12 feet by 25 and contain more seating space than a traditional pool, Boon tells us. Their small footprint and seating options make cocktail pools an excellent option for maximizing the usable space of a compact backyard. “These pools are more for low-key entertaining and cooling off on scorching summer days,” says Boon.


Homeowners are also choosing single-depth and sports-style pools, which buck tradition by embracing a single depth of four to five feet spanning the length of the pool rather than a shallow end that transitions to a deep end. “More customers are choosing to maximize the shallow areas where pool users spend most of their time in the water,” says Brandon Sabillo, co-owner of Cookie Cutter Pools (


Clean lines and simple design characterize the modern pool aesthetic. “More homeowners are choosing linear and rectangular pools with raised wall sheer descent water features, unlike more traditional pools with rounded edges and rock water features,” says Sabillo.


If you invest in a home pool, you might as well make it the only summertime destination you’ll need. That’s the prevailing thought putting upgraded features at the top of the trending list. Features like a Cabo shelf, color-changing LED lights, and water features create a resort-like experience at home. A Cabo shelf, also called a tanning ledge, is a shallow shelf at one end of the pool with a water depth between six to nine inches. As the name suggests, it’s prime tanning real estate, allowing you to catch some rays while keeping cool; it’s also the perfect spot for young swimmers to splash around. Color-changing LED lighting takes night swims and backyard hangs to another level. “They give your pool a whole new vibe at night, with the ability to control them from your phone,” says Sabillo. If road noise dampens your backyard ambiance, adding a water feature—like a sheer descent water feature—is a great option. Gurgling water drowns out neighborhood noise and creates a spa-like atmosphere. “Water features do not have to be an expensive upgrade either. A homeowner can add a simple bubbler (lit or unlit) in a Cabo bench for a reasonable cost,” says Boon.



• Keep permits in mind when setting a start date for your pool project, advises Boon. Permitting varies depending on the city and county you reside in, but the process typically takes anywhere from three to six weeks, she tells us. 

• Speaking of permits, you also want to keep them top-of-mind when discussing budget and selecting features with your pool contractor. “The cost of permits varies based on the cost and scope of the project, so a big pool with lots of high-end features, like rock waterfalls, fire bowls, and spas, are going to incur higher permit fees than a small cocktail pool,” says Boon. 

• Get multiple bids before choosing a pool contractor, advises Boon. And carefully review the details of each bid individually. “Not every ‘base pool’ includes the same items, and often it is the details that make the difference in the cost and quality of the product,” she warns.

• Invest in the quality of your pool materials. “Cost-cutting” options, like basic and white plaster, have hidden costs. “Although those products may be several thousand dollars less at the time, these lower quality products will only last a few years before they begin to stain, crack, and discolor. The "less expensive" features will end up costing you more in the long run,” says Boon. In comparison, she says aggregate products, if properly cared for, will last 10-15 years. Darker finishes and pebble finishes are more resilient over time, adds Sabillo. 


by Nelly Kislyanka

Top photo by Riley Lucchesi of Lucchesi. Second photo by Cecily Hastings of Inside Sacramento. Third photo by Matt and Gretchen Veerkamp. Fourth photo by Justin & Jennifer Nordanby. Fifth photo by [email protected], Bottom photo by Michael and Gayle Janssen.