On the rocks: Cocktail pools transform small spaces into outdoor oases

For Lucas Firmin and his team at Lucas Firmin Pools, it all comes down to the details. Using elements such as River Rok plaster, Old St. Louis brick and Pennsylvania bluestone, Firmin infused this outdoor space with a taste of the Big Easy. To add a little something extra, Bobé scupper-style copper fountains were included on the wall that the family shares with their neighbors. Photo by Fotosold.

With zero-lot-line homes taking over the housing market, homeowners aren’t willing to sacrifice the ultimate backyard staple—a pool—simply due to space. Enter cocktail pools. Also known as “spools,” these pint-size pools may be small, but they are no less luxurious. Incorporating everything from fountains to fire features, local companies are creating refreshing and show-stopping aquatic masterpieces in yards across the Capital City.


Photo courtesy Makaira Pools

“Cocktail pools are like fountains on steroids,” jokes Jeb Barber of Makaira Pools. “They are useable water features that allow for noise cancellation and elements like heaters and coolers.” In this pool created for a Willow Grove home, Barber and his team created an elegant and refined look with oyster white and light blue touches, as well as lush landscaping to frame the pool.


Photo by Lovetrolux Photography

Often, a smaller footprint allows for greater customization and even more opportunities to create a wow factor. This pool created by GW Oliver challenges the traditional by incorporating an elevated design that not only creates visual impact, but performs a practical function by offering overflow seating.


Photo courtesy Russell Pools

A fire feature completed the union of earth, wind, fire and water in a striking indoor space created by Russell Pools in a downtown home. “The money you save in size allows you to create something really spectacular by spending money in other areas,” says Lee Russell. “One thing people don’t realize is that creating these small pools takes about the same amount of time as larger pools. There’s less space to work in and often more detail.”


Photo courtesy Brian Keith Pools

To maximize the size of a pool in a minimal space, geometric designs are ideal. In this design brought to life by Brian Keith Pools, everything from the hot tub tiles to the stepping stones ties in the modern design to create a clean but eye-catching look.

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