For the better part of the past 12 months, we’ve all been thinking about one thing: swimming. Okay, so plenty of more important matters have come up, but it’s true—at least for home buyers. “Pool” was the most-searched keyword on Zillow in 2020, and if that doesn’t perfectly capture our mood this year, we don’t know what does. 

Sellers, if your home already has one: Congratulations! Take advantage of this news and highlight your space’s top feature in the listing description, because we have a hunch everyone will still be looking up places with oasis-like backyards in 2021. For everyone out there without a pool, consider this the time to invest in one. We saw a lot of dreamy ideas this year, including clever above-ground solutions. Here are four spaces we loved to get you looking forward to next summer (it’s never too early). 

Pick Up a Paintbrush

Before you fill it with water, grab a roller and go to town. Keep in mind the water will distort the dimensions of the shapes. Alex Proba took every aspect into account when designing this abstract mural, like how the patterns on the stairs will be the most noticeable because they’re closest to the surface.

Skip the Digging Part 

Stock tank sales soared this summer and not because people were using them for livestock. Budget-conscious DIYers like Bri Moysa were turning the galvanized metal tubs into chic plunge pools. Moysa painted hers, installed a pump, and built a modern deck around it all for $600. 

Bring on the (Palm) Trees

After the construction of her small pool was complete, Los Angeles–based writer Camilla Blackett peppered in banana-leaf palms, which double as a curtain for a nearby outdoor shower and deliver major jungle vibes. 

Fake Expensive Gunite 

A sleek gunite base will set you back thousands of dollars, so do what Robert McKinley did here and fake the look instead. He reskinned the original surface with a new dark gray vinyl liner, which made it feel more modern and saved him an estimated $50,000. You’d never know it wasn’t the real deal. 

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.