At one time, swim-up bars were something you only saw in luxury resorts, especially in tropical locales. In fact, the swim-up bar was actually a Las Vegas invention — casinos wanted to keep making revenue while guests lounged at the pool, so they designed “swim-up” blackjack tables and bars.

The swim-up bar has become more than just a vacation luxury. In fact, adding one to your swimming pool design can be useful. Bathers and dry guests can mingle with convenient access to beverages. A swim-up bar is even an easy way to dispense snacks and drinks to the family.

Dimensions for a Swim-Up Bar

A well-designed swim-up bar should be located so it’s accessible both from the pool and from dry land. There should also be an entrance that’s convenient to the house or an outdoor kitchen.

The Landscaping Network recommends placing a swim-up bar in the shallow end of the pool where there are between 30 to 42 inches of water. The bar counter usually projects 6 inches above the pool’s coping. The site further recommends having the floor of the bar built 12 inches below the coping to accommodate easy access for bathers.

Materials for Construction

As a general rule of thumb, the materials for your swim-up bar should be similar to those for the pool itself. Indeed, many homeowners choose the same materials so the bar matches.

Naturally, quite a lot of the structure will be constructed of concrete and steel for stability. However, you can utilize concrete in the task centers as well because concrete is so customizable. You can have a countertop poured to any size and shape that makes sense for your space. The counter can be left natural, stained, dyed or seeded with an aggregate.

Granite is just as useful for the swim-up bar as it is for a kitchen counter. This provides an upscale feel while requiring less of the natural stone. If you have any granite left over from the kitchen, this would be a good use for it.

Tile is very common for pool work, and it can be used in swim-up bars too. Contractors can use ceramic tile for decoration or for your work surface. It’s common to accent concrete with tile. However, you can also choose granite tile in lieu of a slab.

Added Kitchen Features

The swim-up bar doesn’t have to be just for dispensing drinks. In fact, a well-designed swim-up bar should include areas for cocktailing. This not only includes the work surface but also includes storage for glassware and even refrigeration for the ingredients.

If you’d like an outdoor kitchen, you can combine it with the swim-up bar. The structure does need to be conveniently located to the house with a clear pathway to the dining area. From there, you can keep it simple with a microwave and a sink. Or, you can add a range, a grill, a smoker or any other addition you dream of in your outdoor kitchen.

Design for a Swim-Up Bar

Designs for your swim-up bar range from a simple counter with submerged seats to a luxurious poolside kitchen. Indeed, some of the most elaborate residential swim-up bars actually jut into the pool so there’s space for even more submerged seating.

Budget and space are practical considerations in designing any pool amenity. However, brainstorm how you want to use your swim-up bar. When you talk to your pool designer, mention these tasks — designers specialize in visualizing space to accommodate multiple tasks in small areas. Likewise, consider shade for bathers and poolside companions so everyone’s comfortable.

Finally, consider also how to make your swim-up bar attractive. It should match the style of the rest of your pool and the house. Likewise, make sure the placement is not only practical, but also attractive in your landscape.

A swim-up bar might make more sense to your outdoor living than you think at first. Discuss your ideas with Athens Pool & Spa to design a swim-up bar that works with your space and lifestyle.