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Pool houses come in all shapes and sizes, from gloriously elaborate extensions of the home to barely more than a storage cupboard filled with inflatables and pool nets.
But they all have one thing in common—they must work with the pool. After all, what is a pool house without a pool? Answer: a shed.
Storage cupboards aside, most people are looking for a pool house they can use to take a break from the sun; somewhere shaded and cool in which to sit that allows them to read glare-free, or perhaps check the latest news on their laptop or TV.
The best pool houses are those that maintain the poolside feel while offering respite from the outdoors—somewhere removed from direct sunlight but still close to the calming ripples of the water.
Achieving this perfect marriage is about creating the right threshold between the room and the pool. Color schemes, furniture, windows and doors, and interior design in general all play a part.
A recent survey by windows and doors specialists Origin found that more than one in ten people living in the American south thought ‘décor’ was the most important aspect to get right when designing a pool house for the back yard.
Ensuring the décor of the pool house emulates the design themes of the main house, outdoor area and pool itself will work to unify these spaces and create a continuous flow for ease of access and optimal enjoyment.
Using cabana-style curtains or bi-fold glass doors which fold away to one side also helps to create a seamless transition between the poolside and the indoor retreat.
Robyn Branch, lead designer and owner of Robyn Branch Design, said: “It’s always important to include interior threads throughout any property. A pool house should reflect the same vibe as the home, and elements of the outside. Incorporating color, texture and function is paramount.
“Layering glass doors with a beautiful sheer drapery for sun protection and relaxation will enhance the look of the pool house while tying it to the home décor.”
One of the greatest aspects of a good pool house is its utility. For those lucky enough to have a kitchen area inside their room, this offers the chance of cocktails, snacks and soirees.
For those who like to indulge, the room could include rugs, pillows, hammocks, or even a cooling shower to wash away the chlorine.
“An outdoor shower is both refreshing and easy after a dip in the pool, and to make it look great you can finish it with natural rock,” Robyn Branch added. “Every pool house needs a full-size bath for convenience and overflow. Finishes inside the bath should all be wet-rated.”
But to enjoy these features at their fullest, the proximity to the pool becomes an issue. Set your pool house too far away from the water, moving back and forth will soon start to feel like a chore.
In fact, almost one in five (18.5%) of those surveyed in the Origin research said the most important consideration was having the pool house close enough to the pool itself.
A further consideration is the use of suitable materials. Make sure all surfaces in and around the pool house won’t degrade in the hot sun and will prevent the risk of slipping on any water brought in from the pool.
Robyn Branch said: “Surfaces must withstand a combination of wind, water, salt, pool chemicals and of course the strength of the sun. Material such as vinyl, Sunbrella fabrics and colorfast fabrics are recommended.”
“It’s best to use tile flooring that’s approved for commercial use. Grooves and textures are also a requirement to stop floors getting slick and slippery.”
Suitable weather-resistant flooring materials for a pool house include:
The ability to open up the pool house is another key aspect for those looking to create the feeling of a front-open beach hut for hosting BBQs or garden parties.
To achieve this, some pool house designs actually come with no front. However, security becomes an issue if your room is any more than a basic shelter.
A popular choice is to include sliding or bi-fold doors in the design. These can be opened up to create a large passageway where guests can mill. Some types of door can be fitted across the entire length of the wall, effectively removing the entire front to reveal views of the pool and helping to maintain an open-air feel.
“Having large glass doors that can stack to the side merges the pool house and poolside area, creating a larger space that’s perfect for entertaining guests,” said Joe Halsall, Digital Marketing Manager at Origin. “However, if you prefer, you also have the option to partition an area off for more intimate occasions.”
Transforming a pool house into a perfect space for guests might mean adding some final touches to complete the poolside experience.
Robyn Branch said: “A built-in bar can house a beverage center, ice machine, sink and storage, while a towel warmer and high-end fabrication such as Turkish towels, Egyptian cotton bedding and luxury furnishes throughout are high-end, luxury additions.”
A pool house also presents an opportunity to take advantage of the surrounding views, the most important design consideration for 10.5% of people in the Origin survey.
Joe Halsall said: “When open, bi-fold doors allow sunlight and a light breeze to seep in, so you can still benefit from the wonderful weather while remaining inside.”
Certain safety measures need to be taken to protect any valuables stored in the pool house, especially if the space is to be used as a sleeping area for visitors. Architects will generally incorporate this into the design process and recommend certain security features.
“Smart home technology can extend to pool houses,” added Robyn Branch. “This includes automated security.”
Making sure the space is completely safe means considering how close the pool house stands to the edge of the swimming pool. Local zoning rules may dictate a minimum measurement for this.
One way of heightening the level of security is to use bi-fold doors, as many of these come with:
“There’s always a balance to be had between creating an open and accessible transition, and including security features,” Joe Halsall said. “That’s why bi-fold doors are popular among pool owners.”
Although at-home swimming pools were once seen as an extravagant addition accessible only to the Hollywood elite, it’s now a highly desirable feature for many American households, and a pool house is a perfect accompaniment.
Whether a refurbished shed or a sizeable guest house, with the right décor, doors and design, a pool house can transform the backyard into an intimate private resort.