Which residential pool style is right for your home?

Back of a residential home with an infinity pool

Photo courtesy of Patrick Brickman

As you embark on the exciting journey of adding a custom pool to your property, the first decision you’ll face is selecting the style and shape. With various options, finding the perfect fit for your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences is essential. In this guide, we’ll explore four main styles—elevated pools, inground pools, plunge pools and infinity pools—and dive into key considerations for choosing yours.

Comparing Pool Styles

Like their owners, every home has its unique style and needs. As the Lowcountry’s premier custom pool builder, we have developed a keen sense for uniting fashion with function to create pools that satisfy in all regards. 

1. Elevated Pool

Elevated pools are great options for homes raised above grade where a homeowner wants the pool area to be at the same finish elevation as their residence. These pools are designed with consideration for the use of the surrounding pool area. While the pool is the main focal point, it’s equally important to consider gatherings around the pool that will occur. 

Depending on the scope of work, the space is realized through collaboration with a team of design-build professionals, including your Aqua Blue Pools professional, structural and civil engineers, architect, landscape architect and general contractor. 

Elevated pools offer breathtaking scenes, especially if your home overlooks marsh or waterfront views, and elevate any outdoor setting. These pools provide swimmers and sunbathers with a unique experience and perspective.


  • Panoramic Views: An elevated pool provides breathtaking panoramic views, allowing swimmers to enjoy the surrounding landscape or cityscape. This elevated perspective enhances the overall swimming experience, creating a visually stunning and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Architectural Aesthetics: An elevated pool can contribute to the overall architectural aesthetics of the house. It becomes a striking focal point and adds a unique design element to the property, enhancing its visual appeal and making it stand out, transforming your outdoor area into a luxurious retreat. 
  • Cooling Effect: Elevated pools can benefit from natural breezes, especially if the house is located in an area with good wind flow. This can create a natural cooling effect around the pool, making it more comfortable to be outdoors in the heat of the Lowcountry’s summers.

Due to their unique design and construction requirements, elevated pools require construction considerations not needed for traditional inground pools. This includes determining the look and material used for the structure’s exterior wall – stucco, stone, brick, paneling, etc.  

Elevated pools are higher in cost due to these additional requirements: engineer evaluations, soil tests, pool area railings required by building safety codes and pool supports, i.e., block wall foundation and piers.

2. Inground Pool

Inground pools are popular for their versatility, design flexibility and seamless integration with your landscape. These pools can be customized to fit your property’s unique layout and create an inviting environment that encourages relaxation and recreation.


  • Highly Customizable: Inground pools offer endless design possibilities. You can choose the perfect shape and size that complements your property’s layout and style.
  • Complementary to Landscaping: These pools easily blend with your landscaping, allowing for beautiful garden features and poolside aesthetics.
  • Various Material Choices: While Aqua Blue Pools specializes solely in custom, high-quality concrete gunite pools, you can select from other various types, such as fiberglass and vinyl-lined, based on your preferences and budget.
  • Permitting and Approval Processes: The permitting and approval processes for in-ground pools can be more streamlined and standardized compared to above-grade pools. Elevated pools might need additional engineering assessments and approvals by local municipalities.
  • Structural Complexity: When comparing inground pools to elevated pools, above-grade pools often involve more complex structural elements, such as supporting frameworks, elevated platforms and additional bracing. In-ground pools generally have a simpler structural design.

Due to the excavation process, some may think that inground pools are too expensive or take longer to build. But this is simply not the case! In-ground pools typically require less extensive site preparation. Excavating the ground for an in-ground pool is more straightforward than the structural requirements, construction, and groundwork needed to build a pool above grade.  

Your pool designer can provide expert advice and assist in coordinating who to bring in for your specific project needs.

3. Plunge Pool

Plunge pools are compact, shallow pools perfect for relaxation and cooling off. They’re an excellent choice if you have limited space in your yard and can bring a luxury pool experience to any property or outdoor space.


  • Ideal for Small Properties: Plunge pools are designed for homes with limited yard space.
  • Easier Maintenance: With a smaller surface area, plunge pools are more manageable in terms of cleaning and maintenance.
  • Versatile Use: While small in size, the plunge pool style offers up big options and is versatile in its use for hydrotherapy, relaxation and even water fitness.
  • Quick Installation: Plunge pools can be installed in a quicker time frame, offering a speedier transformation to your outdoor area.

Considering a plunge pool for your home? First, think about how you plan to use the pool. Due to their small size, plunge pools are not suited for swimming laps or water sports and are not ideal for large gatherings. They are, however, ideal for offering a peaceful space to cool down on a hot Southern day. 

Hydrotherapy jets can be added to any size pool, but they really pack a punch in plunge pools.  These water features, combined with water temperature controls, can provide various health benefits. The cold water can promote circulation, reduce muscle inflammation and accelerate recovery after intense physical activity. On the other hand, warm water can help relax muscles and relieve stress. While you cannot swim laps in a plunge pool, you can opt for adding a swim resistance system to the pool. 

These tiny pools can serve multiple purposes – fitness, therapy, relaxation or simply unwinding at the end of each day. 

4. Infinity Pool

Infinity pools, also known as vanishing-edge or negative-edge pools, create differing illusions. Whatever you call this pool style, the illusions differ based on its backdrop. The pool water can seemingly extend infinitely into the horizon of another natural body of water (infinity edge), or the pool’s water can appear to drop off the pool’s edge (disappearing edge).

In the Lowcountry, these pools are often found in luxury settings and homes with scenic beachfront, marsh or harbor views. Infinity pools offer a serene, visually captivating experience that provides the most stunning illusions of all swimming pool styles.


  • Aesthetic Excellence: Infinity pools are renowned for their breathtaking visual impact, creating a remarkable focal point in your outdoor space.
  • Perfect for Properties with an Elevated View: These pools are especially suited for properties with scenic views, as the vanishing edge appears to disappear into the horizon.
  • Dramatic Visual Impact: The water seemingly spills over the edge, creating a captivating and serene experience.

Like elevated pools, infinity pools are raised or partially raised and incur a higher construction cost than prior pool styles in this article. Infinity pool designs are intricate, requiring precise engineering and hydraulics to ensure the pool operates correctly. 

Not all properties can accommodate an infinity pool due to space constraints and site characteristics. However, their effects are stunning when they can be achieved. Looking for local examples? You can dive into our work (literally) at these Lowcountry resorts: The Sandcastle and Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Pool Shapes: Freeform vs. Geometric

When it comes to pool designs, freeform pools offer a picturesque, organic appeal. They take inspiration from nature’s meandering lagoons and ponds, crafting a laid-back and inviting ambiance. Freeform pools are ideal for informal settings, nature-inspired landscapes and creating a family-friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

On the other hand, geometric pools present a striking contrast with their precise lines and well-defined shapes. Perfect for modern and minimalist settings, they add a touch of structured elegance and formality to your surroundings. Geometric pools are an excellent choice for those seeking a contemporary and organized aesthetic.

Choosing the Right Pool for You

Whether you opt for an elevated pool with breathtaking views or a sleek inground design, your choice will define your property’s personality. These key considerations will help you choose between the enticing pool styles listed above.

  1. What is my budget for this project?
  2. How will my land affect or limit the pool’s design and build?
  3. What will the pool’s intended use be?
  4. What design features are most important? What will look best with my existing space?
  5. Have I consulted with a professional pool designer?

If you answered no to this last question, we are here to help you through the process! With more than 30 years of experience, Aqua Blue Pools makes custom pool design simple and enjoyable, too!

Elevate your environment with Aqua Blue Pools!

Discover luxury in your backyard with an oasis of your own. As the Lowcountry’s premier custom pool builder, Aqua Blue Pools is ready to help you realize the pool of your dreams. Since 1991, our team has built pools in a range of styles for residential and commercial clients in South Carolina. We are proud to work closely with our clients to create and execute impressive custom projects built to last. Contact us today to begin planning your oasis!


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