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The unofficial start of summer isn’t Memorial Day, it’s the day you open your pool. For most people who are lucky to have one in their backyard, that might be a matter of just taking the cover off, but for others it will involve completely filling it up with water. If that’s the case, may we suggest one extra step before pulling out the hose? Paint it. 

Your door trim and exterior siding can wait. Take it from artist and Studio Proba founder Alex Proba, who showed us last year how the summer reno project is really done when she covered the bottom of a couple’s Palm Springs swimming pool with vibrant abstract shapes and swirly speckled forms using water-based pool paint. The outdoor upgrade has since led her to revamp more pools, not to mention inspire renovators to do the same. Want to paint your own paradise? Dive into summer with these tips.

Be Detailed With the Stairs

For her second painted pool in Palm Springs, Proba covered more surface area, this time spotlighting the stairs with tiny polka-dotted, leaflike silhouettes. Her reasoning: The patterns on the steps are the most noticeable because they’re closest to the surface. The pro muralist also works around pesky spots like vents, not against them, filling in those areas with large fields of solid hues.  

Mentally Prepare for Many, Many Coats

Australian designer Shannon Vos was so inspired by Proba’s first pool that he decided to tackle the one in his backyard (he and his wife’s two sons surf, swim, skate, and adventure nonstop, so their outdoor space was worth investing in). He opted for shapes like overlapping circles and flowers that are easy for any novice to draw but will dance under the rippling water, thanks to the curves (his friend Nathan Johnston from Blacklist Studios helped with the overall design). “When it’s all lit up at night, the pool glows like an ethereal artwork,” he says. 

To get the job done, he used two-part epoxy paints from Australian brand Luxapool and coated the surface 15 times over the course of three weeks to ensure it sticks for at least 15 years. But he assumes by then they’ll be tired of the look and want something fresh: “Luckily I’ll have two teenage boys by then eager to help their dad on a stinking-hot weekend.”

Pick an Idea and Repeat

Artist Victoria Czentner’s stab at the outdoor trend only looks complicated, but the design really comes down to two colors and one motif, used on repeat. With the petals from one flower spilling over into the next, it’s easy to work your way across the bowl rather than having to jump around and overlap different shapes. When all is said and done, you’ll feel like you’re floating over a garden. 

Think Outside the Box—Er, Grass

No in-ground pool, no problem. Consider transforming a basic stock tank. The galvanized steel tub won’t look like a chunk of metal in your backyard if you coat the facade in a preppy striped pattern or all black for a modern twist. The Nashville-based bloggers behind Hey Wanderer started by applying Leak Seal, a product that allows you to paint directly on the metal without any chipping, before painting on 10-inch-wide stripes in Behr’s Everblooming. All that’s left is to dip your toes in. 

For hands-on advice from designers and pro DIYers, plus more scrappy before-and-after transformations, subscribe to Reno. Let your in-box do all the hard work—for now.