Hands up if you know when the first swimming pool was made and by whom? No? Well, the first swimming pool was actually found in Pakistan and dates back 5,000 years. The Romans, however, can claim the first heated pool, which was allegedly constructed in the first century BC by a lord and patron of the arts, Gaius Maecenas. Once the Romans came to the UK and built the spas in Bath, there was no going back. Skip several centuries and by the mid-1800s, there were swimming pools all over the country, and six indoor designs complete with diving boards.
After WWII, private pools became hugely popular particularly in the US following films starring Esther Williams, as seen in Dangerous When Wet swimming alongside cat and mouse cartoon duo Tom and Jerry. Not only were swimming pools now being considered a way to keep fit, they were being marketed a status symbol. People liked the privacy of a pool at home, as well as the sociable nature. Plus, you never knew what would happen at a pool party. As veteran film icon James Garner admitted: “I saw my wife at a pool, and 14 days later we were married.”
Meanwhile, indoor pools provide year-round swimming and, because they are arguably more difficult to build and maintain and therefore more expensive than their outdoor siblings, are seen as the ultimate residential luxury item. They seldom require planning permission, although it’s always best to check and enlist the advice of a recommended pool specialist as well as a top luxury interior designer. After all, this is not an investment you want to get wrong.
Choosing a pool involves selecting the shape, size, colour, materials, heating system and where your pool will be installed. The price of an indoor pool design will vary drastically depending on the size you opt for, as well as what additional features you may choose. If you don’t already have a separate building, the absolute minimum you can expect to pay is around £60,000 for the whole package. If you already have somewhere in mind (traditionally a barn or conservatory or possibly a basement), bear in mind that the structure may need underpinning. Alternatively, you can construct a bespoke edifice, and it’s usually easier to build the pool first and then put the building above it.
If money is no object, building an indoor pool that is functional yet opulent with state of the art technology is the epitome of indulgence. In this case, a London interior design company is just the one to help make it happen! We’re thinking James Bond (minus the sharks), with movable floors that transform the area into a party space or a games room at the flick of a switch, Swarovski-crystal waterfall, a back-lit Brazilian quartz bar and/or accommodation for visiting masseuses, beauticians and hairdressers.
Current trends, however, are slightly more subdued than the hand-painted, jewel-encrusted crocodiles that have been known to grace some London mansions. Simple, large porcelain slabs in stone, grey or black, and “experience showers” that turn the hot water red and the cold water blue are now not uncommon. A Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and ice fountain are more commonly seen as swimming pool staples.
When it comes to pools, some believe that — as is the case with cars, jewelry and yachts — price tag and size matter. Their prime purpose is to show off the depth of their owners’ pockets. This could be true for many. On the other hand, others have a pool simply because they like the exercise. For some, a pool in their home is one of the most important parts of their lives. As Xavier Cugat, celebrity musician and bandleader at the Waldorf Astoria once said: “I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.”
(If you want to know more about indoor swimming pools, the facts and figures, nuts and bolts, check out our next blog installment.)