Pool lighting ideas – ways to illuminate a swimming pool and make it the centerpiece of your backyard

These expert pool lighting ideas and product picks will help you make more of your outdoor lighting scheme

a modern house with a deck pool
(Image credit: Luxx Design)

Pool lighting ideas can be a little tricky to come by, which is why we’ve collated some of our favorite examples of beautifully lit swimming pools, both at home and abroad. Whatever size your pool or garden, there are a few factors to consider when lighting your pool and its surrounds, such as where you want to draw the eye, what kind of atmosphere you want to create, and how much you’re happy to invest in outdoor lighting. 

‘It’s crucial to ensure that you have a good lighting design to enhance the surrounding pool ideas,’ says Luke Thomas, design director at John Cullen Lighting. ‘Creative swimming pool lighting can generate magical effects. You can turn a pool area into a dynamic and vibrant environment which can change in mood to suit the time of day.’

For lighting inside the pool itself, Luke advocates choosing high-quality fittings that will be able to withstand long-term use underwater, as leaking or broken fittings can lead to significant problems. ‘The pool company you use will have a range of lights they are comfortable with installing,’ adds Luke, who recommends smaller fittings with controlled beam angles and glare baffles for a more design-led approach, or fiber optics to create a twinkling effect.

If you’re in search of pool lighting ideas read on to discover how to create a pool area that adds extra wow-factor to your outdoor space, and looks as good after dark as it does during the day. 

8 pool lighting ideas for outdoor swimming pools 

Lighting an outdoor pool is a little bit different than lighting an indoor one. When it comes to indoor pool lighting, your scheme may need to be a little more flexible. ‘Indoor pool areas are often used as multi-purpose spaces, so the lighting may have to be appropriate for everything from a gym to a home cinema or an entertaining area,’ Luke continues. ‘Think about how you can light your interior features to enhance them at night.  Textured walls look particularly fabulous when lit with an LED strip from above, or with a series of uplights, for example. Or, to create a calming, spa-like environment, use low-level lighting, such as floor washers.’

1. Showcase the surroundings

an above ground swimming pool with lighting

(Image credit: Sublime Comporta)

An hour’s drive from Lisbon, on Portugal’s southwest coast, boutique hotel Sublime Comporta belongs to husband-and-wife team Gonçalo and Patricia Pessoa, who wanted to ‘fuse the breathtaking natural environment with an elegant and contemporary retreat’. 

The pair enlisted architect Alberto Charrua to build a tranquil, eco-friendly escape with a show-stopping above ground pool framed by the surrounding pine forest. Powerful underwater lights give the surface of the swimming pool its luminescent quality, while softer floodlights angled upwards into trees cast a warm glow and highlight the surrounding nature. A lantern-lit fire pit area completes this magical outdoor space. 

2. Consider floating pool lights

floating light orbs in a pool

(Image credit: Luxx Design)

Italian brand Slide’s ‘Acquaglobo’ floating light is ideal for swimming pools, ponds and fountains, adding a whimsical, other-worldly touch to your outdoor area. ‘The design is simple and linear, but at the same time creates a dramatic effect, particularly when combined with other sizes in the range,’ says Silvia Rangoni, founder of London-based Italian design specialists, Luxx Design. 

Use this lightweight and watertight floating lamp in or around the pool to create an atmospheric space for outdoor dining and summer get-togethers as part of your wider garden lighting ideas.

3. Frame your pool with uplighters

an outdoor swimming pool with uplighters

(Image credit: Derek Swalwell. Design: Ong & Ong)

We love this spectacular swimming pool, which fills this courtyard garden of a renovated Art Deco home in Singapore. Designed by architecture practice ONG&ONG, the sitting room opens out onto the swimming pool, with a line of stepping stones that provide access to the kitchen area. Another striking feature is the lighting, which enhances the dramatic architecture. 

‘Sleek aluminum cladding lines the walls to act as a reflective surface,’ say the architects. In the day, this cladding bounces sunlight around the space, while at night, spotlights affixed to the wall cast beams of light upwards, framing the pool and adding to the space’s powerful linear quality.

4. Change the mood with dimmable lights

poolside lights

(Image credit: Go Modern)

 ‘This is one of our prettiest lights,’ says Go Modern’s director Tina Mahony of Tribù’s ‘Monsieur Tricot’ outdoor lamps. Created by Belgian designer Ilia Eckardt, the lights are made from high-performance, weather-proof polyolefin rope, and created using innovative knitting and crochet techniques. ‘

The result is an unusual design that casts a beautiful glow and intricate shadows across your pool landscape, with a dimmer switch to change the mood as the light goes down.’ Powered by rechargeable batteries, this free-standing version also contains a hanging hook if you’d prefer to mount it on a wall or pergola.  

5. String festoon lights overhead

a pool with festoon lights strung overhead

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

‘Festoons are such a great way to light up your pool area,’ says Lights4Fun’s creative manager Lucy Kirk. ‘For the perfect display, we recommend swagging warm white connectable festoons overhead, which will create a soft and subtle glow that you can enjoy each night as dusk falls.’ 

Lucy recommends combining multiple sets using a singular power source for a fuss-free setup, and suggests opting for white festoons as a softer alternative to dark cables. Here, they’re a perfect match for the white-painted backdrop, and pale stone surround of this small backyard pool

6. Go high and low with lighting

an outdoor space with a pool illuminated at night

(Image credit: Vibia)

The pool area of this Mediterranean home features two lighting styles by Barcelona brand Vibia, and is the perfect example of how to position landscape lighting. The tall and angular ‘Palo Alto’ lamp was designed by Josep Lluís Xuclà, and features a double-armed, tree-shaped design that lights the pool and terrace from above. 

On the floor are low-lying floor lamps by Jordi Vilardell & Meritxell Vidal that cast light across the ground and between the loungers. ‘The Meridiano outdoor lights have a double function: as well as a light, they can be used as a stool or side table, and integrate seamlessly into gardens, courtyards and swimming pool terraces,’ says the team at Vibia

7. Draw the eye outside

a backyard with an illuminated pool

(Image credit: John Cullen Lighting)

‘For this swimming pool, situated in a large garden, we used a mixture of our spiked ‘Hampton’ floodlights and ‘Kew' spotlights to light up the perimeter planting and trees.’ says Luke Thomas, design director of John Cullen Lighting

This was combined with lighting inside the pool, as well as under the structure of the house. The latter not only helps to illuminate the pool area, it also gives the house an ethereal floating quality. ‘In homes with expanses of glazing, adequate exterior lighting is an essential tool to draw your eye outside, which avoids the feeling of being in a goldfish bowl,’ says Luke.

8. Simulate a starlit reflection

a starlit lighting effect on a pool

(Image credit: Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge)

Bill & Coo Suites and Lounge is a relaxed Mykonos destination set amongst fragrant gardens full of lavender, olive trees and prickly pear. ‘The architecture focuses on natural local stone and shades of white, allowing the colors of the island to stand out,’ say the founders of its enviable design, which includes an infinity pool overlooking the Aegean Sea. 

If you won’t be jetting off to the Greek islands this summer, don’t worry – we’ve found a pool lighting idea to steal from one of Myokonos’ ‘most Instagrammable spots for sundowners’. As the sun sets, the this pool at Bill & Coo is filled with a display of fiber optic lights that mimics a starlit reflection. A perfect choice for underwater use, fiber optic cables conduct light, not electricity, and can also be used for color-changing lighting. Imagine the view from your deck or pool house during the evening too. 

Can you add lights to an existing pool?

It's possible to add lights to an existing pool, but integrating lights into the pool itself may require you to remodel it, which will be a considerable amount of work and expense. 

If you have existing halogen lights, it's an easier process to upgrade to modern LEDs, and this job can be completed sometimes without evening lowering the pool level. 

If you can't stretch to remodeling your pool to incorporate integrated lighting, there are plenty of modern lighting options that can be used to add light to a pool that isn't built-in or mains power-connected. However, bear in mind the likes of solar lighting and rechargeable battery lighting tends to not be as bright, so is better for ambiance, rather than safety lighting. 

How much does it cost to install pool lighting?

Whether in a new or old pool, you can expect pool lighting to cost around $1,000-$1,500 to install.

Tessa Pearson is an interiors and architecture journalist, formerly Homes Director at ELLE Decoration and Editor of ELLE Decoration Country. When she's not covering design and decorative trends for Livingetc, Tessa contributes to publications such as The Observer and Table Magazine, and has recently written a book on forest architecture. Based in Sussex, Tessa has a keen interest in rural and coastal life, and spends as much time as possible by the sea.