Cocktail pools offer big backyard style without taking up

These six beautiful cocktail pools will have you dreaming of taking the plunge and upgrading your own outdoor space.  Photo courtesy of Tranquility Pools

If you dream of a backyard bathed in sunlight as you cool down in refreshing water, but don’t think you have the space to accommodate a pool, think again. Cocktail pools, also known as lounge or plunge pools, can bring your dream into reality. Described as a compact pool or combination pool/spa that is generally less than 400 square feet, a cocktail pool is a perfect solution if you have limited space, or if you want to make a smaller imprint in your backyard. Bonus: They are relatively cheaper and more eco-friendly than bigger pools. These six beautiful cocktail pools will have you dreaming of taking the plunge and upgrading your own outdoor space.  

Photo courtesy of CLC Landscape Design

Location: Franklin Lakes 

Dimensions: 15′ x 8′ 

The homeowners asked for multiple outdoor living spaces to enjoy with friends and family, making the goal of this backyard project to provide distinct spaces that were easily accessible to each other. This was achieved with a cocktail pool only a short walking distance from the outdoor kitchen, where a kegerator was installed. To provide privacy, berms and plantings were included across the landscape to shield all vantage points from the street.  

Designed by CLC Landscape Design (Ringwood), along with help from Cipriano Landscape Design (Mahwah), Marsan Pools (Oakland) and Penumbra Designs (Hackettstown)  

Photo courtesy of Tranquility Pools

Location: Rutherford 

Dimensions: 17′ x 11′

This homeowner, a single man, was looking to create a “man cave”-like feel to his backyard, making it an extension of his indoor living space. He wanted a pool, fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio, water features and yard space — in tight quarters. The planning process had to be concise, to fit everything in without overcrowding. One of the goals was to make the small space appear much larger than it was. A fire pit was built into the design of the swimming pool, which also has a spillway to create a water feature. 

Designed by Tranquility Pools (Haskell) 

Photo courtesy of Tranquility Pools

Location: Franklin Lakes  

Dimensions: 25′ x 12′

This project was created as the focal point of a new backyard construction, focusing on capturing the beauty of the lake. The swim spa features a sleek, minimal design, created out of all-natural bluestone, with a vanishing edge, to give the illusion of the pool fading into the lake. The homeowner wanted to create a modern design, with a spacious patio for entertaining, an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, as well as a custom herb garden. Originally, the plan was to create a swimming pool in this space, but after dealing with many obstacles such as permits and the slope of the land, the plan was revised to create an oversized swim spa that can hold up to 10 people, so it serves as a mini pool. 

Designed by Tranquility Pools (Haskell) 

Photo courtesy of Thomas Flint Landscape Design and Development

Location: Wyckoff   

Dimensions: 13′ x 9′

This uniquely shaped, curvilinear cocktail pool brings together all the elements that were on the homeowner’s wish list: a tranquil retreat with a water feature, patio space and a fire element. Constructed with custom, reclined bench seating, 12 therapeutic jets, LED lighting and heated water spilling from the natural stone waterfall, the pool also features large boulders notched into the pool wall — and placed throughout the landscape — to keep the look consistent throughout the backyard. The natural gas fire pit was a must-have and perfect for making s’mores. Additional features include an open-air pavilion that covers a large, outdoor kitchen and has a dropdown TV and a wet bar with pull-up seating.  

Designed by Thomas Flint Landscape Design and Development (Waldwick) 

Photo courtesy of Darlington Designs

Location: Avalon 

Pool Dimensions: 26′ 5″ x 8’                        

For this project, the homeowner knew he wanted to add value to his Shore home and installed a pool that would be perfect for his family to enjoy in the afternoon once they come back from the beach. The custom, gunite pool includes a sun shelf, decorative tile border and three bubblers in the center of the pool, as well as in-floor cleaning heads that suck up debris, and ozone and ultraviolet sanitation systems. It is surrounded by travertine pavers making for a larger “small” patio, bringing all the attention to the pool.  

Designed by Darlington Designs (Glassboro) 

Photo courtesy of Darlington Designs

Location: Haddonfield                              

Pool Dimensions: 9′ 5″ x 8′ 4″

Spa Dimensions: 6′ 8″ x 7′ 6″

This custom, gunite cocktail pool was built with adults in mind and features both a dipping pool and a spa. The spa has two, sheer descent waterfalls with a spillway that pours into the pool, while the pool is surrounded by natural bluestone and a modern wall block that varies in depth. While the pool is the focal point of this backyard, it’s not the only space in this small backyard — there is also an outdoor kitchen with an island and patio seating. Luckily, this small pool allows the homeowners to use it from the first week of April until Thanksgiving.  

Designed by Darlington Designs (Glassboro) 

Born and raised in Jersey, Laura Adams Stiansen has been a writer and editor for more than 19 years.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.

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