Combining the best of both worlds, the Baja shelf is a genius idea. The concept is similar to sitting in a chair at the edge of the water on the beach – but in a pool. Also known as a lounging shelf, tanning ledge or sun shelf, the Baja shelf is a built-in platform that’s wide enough to fit lounge chairs. It allows you to sit in the pool while only being partially submerged in the water, so you can enjoy a beverage, be on your phone or just chill in the sun.

Baja Shelf Design Tips From a Pro

For the inside scoop on how to design the perfect Baja shelf, we reached out to design superstar Nicole Salceda of Eye for Pretty. Having just completed a pool project in her own backyard, she has some excellent first-hand knowledge on the subject.

new pool with baja shelf and underwater umbrella sleeve
eye for pretty home baja shelf for mobile display

(pictured above) A freshly completed pool project, featuring a sleek Baja shelf lounging area with a built-in umbrella sleeve. Check out the full construction process and story on Instagram.

What are the typical Baja shelf dimensions?

The typical depth of a Baja Shelf is generally 8-10″. It’s nice to be able to sit in the water without getting fully submerged. It’s also a great hangout spot to talk and cool off without swimming.

How about other design considerations?

While there are many designs for a Baja Shelf, the most popular are flat bottom about 6-8ft (or more) in length and a gradual walk in that mimics an ocean or the beach. The point is to create a landing spot for sunbathing, talking or just hanging out while getting cooled off. There might be holes to place umbrellas for shade or a water feature but really, the sky’s the limit when designing your pool!

And accessory tips?

When thinking about furniture and accessories for your Baja Shelf, Terra has the perfect solution… the Palm Springs Shelf Loungers. Made of durable materials, they are perfect when placed in water and come with a drink holder. They allow for just enough of your body to be in the water and remain cool. Shade is also really important when relaxing on your Baja Shelf so make sure to check out Terra’s umbrella collection. They have many sizes and colors to choose from!

the palm springs shelf lounger and side table for in-pool use
the palm springs shelf lounger and side table for in-pool use - for mobile display

(pictured above) The Palm Springs in-pool lounger (sold in pairs only) and matching in-pool side table with built-in umbrella sleeve.

Best Practices for Baja Shelf Umbrellas

It’s always possible to have too much of a good thing. And as idyllic as kicking back in an in-pool lounger may be, eventually you’ll need some shade protection from the sun.

As a result, homeowners and designers increasingly look to build in-pool umbrella sleeves into new Baja shelves. This design provides shade for the lounge area and pool deck, and looks extremely cool as well.

In-Pool Umbrella Sleeve Design Considerations

However, there are some best practices that are important to follow when designing an in-pool umbrella sleeve and choosing an umbrella itself:

  • The best time to construct an in-pool umbrella sleeve is during pool construction. This prevents builder from needing to drill through foundation of existing pool and eliminates risk of drilling into rebar.
  • Consider the position of the sun during the course of day and throughout the year. Experiment before finalizing desired positioning.
  • Confirm dimensions (preferably with a professional contractor) before doing any drilling. Consider how deep the hole needs to be, the diameter of the hole required to fit a specific umbrella, etc.
  • Ensure that the sleeve is finished with the proper materials. Additionally, decide if the sleeve needs a removeable cap to cover the hole when umbrella is not in use.
  • Look for an extended height umbrella. Most umbrella sleeves extend approximately 8″ under the pool floor, lowering the normal canopy height considerably.
  • Ideally use an aluminum frame umbrella. While fiberglass may also be an acceptable choice, wood or steel should never be used for in-pool applications.

Baja Inspiration from the Source

Sitting on a 36,500sq. ft. elevated lot with 114 feet of beach frontage at the Playa Tortuga, “Casa Sal” offers a stunning illustration of Baja shelf luxury. Built in 2020 with design consultation by Eye for Pretty, this Baja California property has it all.

Casa Sal pool area in Baja California
Casa Sal pool area in Baja California - for mobile display

Shop the Baja Look

Create your own Baja-style, poolside oasis with Terra Outdoor furniture today. Find these styles online or in any of our 11 conveniently located California showrooms.