My Backyard Hangout

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If you’ve been lucky enough to vacation in a fancy hotel or two, you may have encountered the trendy swim-up pool bar designs. In case you haven’t, they’re pretty much exactly as they sound. They’re bars that attach directly to a swimming pool or along the ocean shoreline. They often have sunken bar stools and everything you need to have a drink without ever leaving the water. Neat, right? What’s even better is you can recreate one. No matter if you have an in-ground pool or above-ground, check out these 8 inspirations to create your own backyard oasis. 

1. Tropical Tiki Bar

A very popular theme for any outdoor bar, including swim-up pool bar designs, is a tiki bar. If you’re like most people, you don’t have the flexibility to visit the beach whenever you like. Recreating it in your own backyard is the next best thing. For this design, you could use a thatched roof to cover your outdoor bar. You can also add some bamboo along the sides or a back wall. Many people choose to build countertops out of stone for swim-up bars due to the frequent exposure to water. But you could also choose something like finished wood or epoxy.

2. Modern

If you decide to go with stone or marble countertops instead, another option is a modern swim-up bar. You could install a cabana or gazebo with matching stone pillars. Place LED lights in the pool and around the bar stool area. You could also add geometric light fixtures to hang over the bar. Or attach some sconces to the pillars, similar to how you would on a modern pergola.   

3. Rustic

For a more cozy, laid-back feel, rustic swim-up pool bar designs are a good choice. You can add a traditional pergola with some warm string lights draped beneath the rafters. For the countertop, you might consider a live edge or river top coated in epoxy. For siding, you can choose wood panels with a distressed look or some sheets of corrugated metal.       

4. Simple Swim-Up Bar Design

Building and maintaining a pool in your backyard is an expensive project itself. Many of these swim-up pool bar designs may seem unaffordable. While it may not be as fancy as the resort, it is possible to install one without investing thousands of dollars. This is especially true if you have an above-ground pool. For a simple swim-up bar, you can build a DIY wood countertop that conforms to the perimeter. Additionally, you can build a small roof to cover the top. Or you can buy something like an outdoor umbrella, depending on the size.

5. Boho

One of the most popular design trends is a boho outdoor patio. This combines earthy and Mediterranean-style elements that you can easily integrate into your swim-up bar as well. You can add some colorful ceramic tiles to the lining of the pool around the bar stool area. If you have an above-ground pool, you can create a mosaic countertop instead. Like the rustic design, you can use a covered pergola. Add in some large terracotta pots with tropical flowers, such as elephant ears or pampas grass. You can use a rounded wicker shelf to store your liquor collection. You can also add extra seats around the exterior of the pergola for a more inclusive setting, like these macrame swings.

6. Hidden

Though a little trickier to pull off, a hidden swim-up bar can make your backyard oasis truly unique. One way to do this is to build a sunken bar around one side of an in-ground pool. Then, build some structure that covers the area completely, similar to a faux cave. For access, those in the pool must swim through an entrance to reach it. You could paint the outside to resemble a large rock or add a waterfall over the entrance to make it seem more obscure.

7. Botanical Garden Swim-Up Bar Design

If you like the backyard jungle look, maybe you want your swim-up pool bar design to blend into the surroundings. A great way to achieve this is by adding a pergola or trellis and growing vines along the beams and top. Another idea is to build a moss wall along one or more of the edges and add earth-toned elements. You could also use rock siding and bar stools painted to resemble tree stumps.


Swim-up bars are common at vacation resorts, but they can also be a great addition to your dream backyard. Although there are plenty of luxury options out there, adding one doesn’t require an in-ground pool or a large budget.

Which swim-up pool bar design was your favorite?

Want to build a different outdoor bar? Check out these DIY options

Categories: Outdoor Bar


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