A residential swimming pool with basic underwater lighting is like a blank canvas. It practically begs for a deck and area lighting design that elevates the merely attractive to a boutique resort feast for the senses. The guiding artistic principle is subtlety. We want to enhance the natural visual and tactile qualities a body of water offers not overwhelm them. Less is more.
That said, a pool area lighting design should recognize that a pool presents certain hazards, especially for small children, and so must provide for the safety of residents and guests. There are also opportunities to address other practical concerns, such as drawing light-seeking bugs away from the water and from seating, cooking, and dining areas. Thanks to LED technology an experienced designer can achieve this balance without trumpeting the compromise.
In-ground lighting is an example of the tools we use to reconcile aesthetic and practical goals. These fixtures can be embedded in decks to establish activity area boundaries and, when illuminating surrounding trees and shrubbery, provide gentle indirect lighting of the water. The low-voltage, cool fixtures are especially suited to high traffic areas, since they’re invulnerable to being kicked and stepped on, and also won’t injure bare feet.
Two types of overhead lighting provide the perfect counterpoint to in-ground. Under cap fixtures can be positioned to wash down the uprights of pergolas or nearby walls, creating a beautiful effect without revealing the source. Moonlighting is another overhead option. Fixtures mounted high in the branches of trees produce a mesmerizing dynamic display of moving shadows on the deck and water surface.
Lighting designs for pools should enable the homeowner to tailor the scene according to mood and use. A well thought out control system with dimmers can adjust the entire design for the experience of a moonlight swim on a moonless night, or any night. Pool parties can be lit to suit, or the barbecue and dining areas enveloped in an intimate bubble of soft illumination. Even in cold weather, the pool area can be enjoyed as an artscape from inside the house, all the more conveniently and fruitfully with a remote lighting control feature.
A residential swimming pool is a major investment for most homeowners. The financial Return On Investment (ROI) in terms of property value is not particularly good in comparison with other types of improvements and upgrades. This has two implications for lighting designs. First, a great outdoor lighting design featuring a pool is a powerful amplifier of perceived value and appeal. Second, the non-financial, quality of life ROI on a pool is greatly increased when the pool is an endless source of pleasure, day and night, winter and summer. Perfect illumination goes a long way toward making that happen. It’s the upgrade that says “Let me make you say wow!”.