Although this collection of images comes from the 1960s (and a couple years either side), most — if not all — would be perfectly at home in a modern-day backyard.
PS: If you’re in the mood for something really different, be sure to see the quarry converted into a pool!
A 1960s in-ground pool with dining island
Don’t miss the fixed underwater barstools around the table!
Dramatic boat-shaped pool in a modernist backyard
The 60s-style allure of in-ground swimming pools
No longer is the swimming pool merely a place to swim. Some of the newest pools ramble through the garden as freely as miniature lakes — and like lakes, are an integral part of the landscape.
Some pools are the nuclei of outdoor party centers crowned by charming pavilions, where you can find shelter from the sun, change your clothes, or whip up a meal.
Most exciting are the pools that incorporate underwater works of art as enchanting to swim over as a coral bed.
MORE: See the Kennedy family pool house at Hickory Hill, where Bobby’s kids grew up (1970)
A pool-bottom mosaic makes swimming a visual adventure (1963)
The naturalistic charm of the pool is enhanced by a little waterfall which is not in fact natural. Water from the pool is piped up the rocks, then filtered before it cascades back into a shallow pebbled pool from which it trickles quietly into the big pool.
Next to the dressing room under the deck (see architect’s sketch below) is a small window that frames an engaging sight: the underwater ballet of cavorting children.
Tucked into an outcropping of rock on a steep, wooded hillside in Kent Woodlands outside San Francisco, the Harry Lehmans’ pool conjures up the wild charm of a mountain swimming hole.
Tall oaks soaring above the pool are reflected in its shimmering surface, and a little waterfall tumbling down the rock face adds the sweet, cool sound of splashing.
But the greatest delight of all is palpably man-made: a wonderful mosaic of glass and stone by Ray Rice that stretches across the pool bottom like an immense abstract painting.
A good part of the pool’s surroundings were man-made, too. To extend the level ground, a wooden deck was built over the hillside and around the trunks of oak trees growing up from below.
These shade a little arbor that shelters a tiny food preparation center, where the Lehmans can fix poolside meals without going into the main house.
Dressing rooms were built into the space below the deck which is reached by an outside stairway. Landscape architect: Lawrence Halprin; architect: Joseph Esherick.
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Vintage pool for an entertaining area at night (1960s)
Deck and trellis integrated into a pool area
The two-part pool: Pools divided for two generations (1968)
As a family playground, nothing can beat a body of water in the backyard. What makes the swimming pool news today is that its stock has gone so high, it has been split two for one.
The newest pools are designed in tandem. A big pool for swimming is still the major component, but swimming is only one of the delights of water in summer.
The new, smaller auxiliary pools run the gamut of other watery pleasures: a wading-splashing pool for children to play in; a therapeutic whirlpool for relaxation and restoration; a reflecting pool to entice the eye and ear and freshen the surrounding air.
Kidney-shaped pool and small spa
In addition to the two pools, the large covered patio makes this a spectacular backyard for entertaining
Bel Air swimming pool with whirlpool satellites
A swimming pool for exercise plus a therapeutic pool for relaxation is the two-pool plan at the Richard Barclays’ in Bel Air, Calif.
In the little round satellite pool are seven jets that circulate aerated water in a bubbly whirlpool, massaging the body and, according to its aficionados, elevating the spirit.
The water can be heated up to a salubrious 105 degrees, and lights in the pool wall glow through it at night. The pool itself is 7 feet across, and 2 feet deep — big enough for four bathers.
Reclining on a circular bench 16 inches below the water level, they can be immersed to the chin. The entire two-part pool is bordered on three sides by a step-like terrace of concrete aggregate with a special finish that makes it look continually wet and glowing with color.
The stone platform near the therapeutic pool is big enough for sunbathing or serving food, and contains a fire pit, both for cooking and the comfort of chilly swimmers. (Landscape architects, Armstrong and Scharfman.)
Pretty poolhouse & a peaceful pool
MORE: Vintage above-ground pools like these made swimming & summer water fun affordable
Palm Springs faux beach pool with infinity edge
One pool to swim in and a second to refresh the senses and cool the air make a delightful contrast to the desert surrounding Ralph Stolkin’s house in Palm Springs, California.
The first pool, built right into the desert terrain bordering the property, seems like a mirage from the terrace and house that overlook it.
Romantically landscaped with stonework, the pool also boasts a “beach” — one made of small pebbles set in epoxy and extending below the water’s edge.
At the far end, the pool overflows, forming a sparkling 2-1/2-foot sheet of water that is caught in a tank and recirculated [like today’s modern infinity swimming pools].
Palm Springs home’s second pool in the courtyard
The second pool fills almost half the court that forms the core of the house. The water trickles musically from tile channels into a gutter, and is then recirculated.
This pool, too, might be used for swimming, since it is 4 feet deep, but its main purpose is visual.
Backyard swimming pools design with a concrete bridge
The swimming pool and wading pool behind the Norman Kompaniez’ house in Encino, Calif., are separated only by a bridge of concrete stepping stones that leads to a big round island for midstream sun worshipers.
Centered in the wading pool for more splashy play is a fountain. (Landscape architect, Sid Galper.)
Pool & spa inside a walled garden
In a pretty walled garden lush with greenery at Tustin, Calif., the Jack de Vries have a pair of pools of strict geometric design — the therapeutic pool repeating the lines of the squared-off bays that edge the swimming pool.
The little whirlpool, 5 by 7 feet in area and 3-1/2 feet deep, is equipped with two facing benches 20 inches below the surface, where bathers can take their ease while three jets spray aerated water, which may also be heated.
In the far corner of the garden — just to look at and listen to — are three jet fountains. (Landscape architects, Jones and Peterson.)
MORE: Hot tub time machines: See some retro backyard Jacuzzi hot tubs & whirlpool baths from the ’80s
A perfect pair of in-ground pools on Long Island
Behind the John P. Jennings’ house in Mill Neck, N. Y., is a pair of pools so closely linked that they look like one and so beautifully integrated with the landscape that they resemble a woodland pond.
Yet one is an Olympic scale swimming pool, a businesslike 10-1/2 feet at its deepest; and the other, on a higher level and dammed by a retaining wall is a 2-1/2 to 4-foot deep pool for children.
At one end of the long meandering children’s pool is a pavilion containing a kitchen and dressing rooms. Linked to it by a small gazebo is a second pavilion for lounging, surrounded by water on three sides. (Architect, James Leslie, Jr.)
A pool designed to fit inside an old-fashioned brick-walled garden
Smooth curves create this vintage pool’s edge
Retro swimming pool with a unique floral design (1969)
This artwork was painted on the gunite/concrete pool finish with Rumac paint, which came in 6 colors (which could also be blended).
At the time, the manufacturer — Koppers — noted that in 1948, there were 11,000 swimming pools in the country — and by the end of the ’60s, there were more than 800,000 mostly permanent, in-the-ground concrete pools. (That was one swimming pool for every 80 families).
More pretty painted pools designs from the 60s
Artwork you can swim over
Actress Polly Bergen’s swimming pool design
The pool becomes an integral part of a water garden (1969)
When you first set eyes on the walled garden adjoining the senior Clint Murchisons’ house in Dallas, Texas, you may well suspect a mirage, for you seem to be entirely surrounded by water.
But it is no mirage, for in this garden plot there is almost as much water as there are trees, flowers and bushes.
The main body of water — a roughly crescent-shaped expanse of brilliant blue that curves through the center of the garden — is, you discover, a swimming pool. Feeding it at the shallow end is a little winding crystal clear brook that ripples over a bed of smooth round river stones.
And at one side is another smaller pool, rock-strewn like a woodland pond, and bordered with grasses and flowers. Every inch of this enchanting water kingdom is, of course, man-made. Yet, woven into the landscape as they are, each of its components seems as natural as the sky above.
To reach the pool from the house, you cross a glass gallery that links the main section to a new wing designed specifically for pool-side entertaining and for changing into bathing suits. Through one glass wall of the gallery, you have an expansive view of pool and garden. Outside the other glass wall is an enchanting surprise: a second water garden.
On two sides the pool is screened by a brick wall and a curving row of trees, on the other two sides, by the house, the glass gallery and the pool side wing. The gallery spans a little brook that flows between the two water gardens.
Making an amazing pool from an old quarry (1967)
On a scorcher of a day, couldn’t you imagine yourself taking a plunge into a pool like this one? Away from the madding crowd, the clogged highways, the postage-size beach. Then why not build your own pool?
Granted, most of us won’t find a quarry in our own backyard, but this pool is a shining example of how imagination can transform a feature of the terrain into something dazzling and beautiful.
The quarry, as Fran and Fred Otnes of West Redding, Connecticut, found it, is shown in the photograph above. It had been abandoned and was filled with assorted debris.
The Otneses had it cleaned out. Then they dammed up both ends and pumped in water from a nearby stream. The result: a gemlike, natural-looking pool of about 100,000 gallons — for a cost only slightly higher than that of a much smaller conventional pool. (The owners added the waterfall.)
SEE MORE LIKE THIS: Natural swimming pools for your backyard: How they work, plus 32 gorgeous examples
1960s-style modernist pool and backyard area
The deck elegantly extends over the swimming pool and its steps
A mountain lake pool in Beverly Hills (1960)
Rock accented lakeside sixties swimming pool design
Mod angular swimming pool with striped decking
Round swimming pool between two wings of a home
Water garden in foreground, party pool in the back
An open terrace with seating and a small kitchen serves both areas
Simple vintage in-ground pool with Japanese-inspired patio deck
Raised planter beds meet this pristine ’60s pool
Gracefully curved pool welcomes swimmers from the porch
Have a garden party on the pool patio! (1966)
SEE MORE: 112+ beautiful vintage ’70s table setting ideas
Arches meet a modern vintage backyard swimming pool design
Red brick decking and covered patio
Pools that fit the home or landscape design
The best of today’s swimming pools are so closely and subtly integrated with the design of the house or the landscape that it is not always easy to tell if a pool is meant for swimming or for visual adornment. Almost always the answer is: both.
Some of the new pools are naturalistic, suggesting that a spring-fed pond has merely been channeled and tamed, as natural greenery is pruned and tamed, the better to enjoy it.
Some pools are shaped as abstractly as cut gems and like gems seem to be the primary inspiration for their settings.
Occasionally a pool is built within the confines of the house itself, where it adds its shimmer to the vistas from adjoining rooms.
Other pools meander from indoors out, flowing under walls as serenely as quiet streams flow under bridges. And all are framed with terraces of meticulous masonry or graced by charming poolside structures that serve as engaging spots for entertaining.
ALSO SEE: Vintage kiddie swimming pools & inflatable backyard wading pools for children
A tree-shaded pool bordering a porch (1966)
A brick wall and brick terrace give the S. Allen Guibersons’ pool in Dallas, Texas, the natural, casual look of a woodland pond. Yet the Guibersons and their guests can plunge into the water straight from the porch of the wing which was added to their house primarily for entertaining.
The foundation of the porch forms one side of the pool which then turns the corner and flows under the brick bridge between porch and dining terrace to form a small reflecting pool.
The water spouts are set in the curved brick wall well above water level where they add the pleasant sight and sound of jetting streams playing on the pool’s surface.
For more aesthetic enjoyment, the pool terrace is studded with important sculpture: a Paolozzi head at the far right; a reclining figure by Wotruba at the end of the wall near the dining terrace; and Lipchitz’s “The Bather” at the far end of the wall. (Designed by Lambert Landscape Co.)
Backyard pool in a prefab home’s courtyard
LIKE THE STYLE? See more of this Scholz 60 home’s design here
Backyard pool built near the house with partial redwood decking
Pretty garden pool viewed from the patio & from outside
Hillside in-ground pool below rock terraces
Rustic-style patio & swimming area
Showpiece vintage in-ground swimming pool with huge boulder accents
Vintage covered patio over a fiberglass pool
Pool close to the patio and built-in BBQ (1959)
Small vintage in-ground pool inside a screened porch
ALSO SEE: Dive into these 10 amazing old indoor swimming pools
Pool area with rectangular elements throughout
Relaxing pool with wide steps, concrete bridge and fountain
SEE MORE: 47 vintage backyard ideas so fab, you’ll want to re-create this relaxing sixties-style outdoor living vibe
Nearly any one of these pools could be built today, especially since trellises are coming back into vogue.