Worlds Best Homes

7 interior design tips to borrow from this zen retreat in California

White walls, a multitude of textures and functional furniture combine to create a space that is anything but dull

Pool house with white interior
(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

Expertly designed by Kimberley Harrison Interiors, this all-white pool house is the epitome of luxurious elegance, high-end design and unwavering serenity. 

The tranquil retreat was designed for an active, empty-nester couple who were seeking a ‘get-away’ that was situated in their own backyard, and that is precisely what was delivered.

The use of interesting texture and organic materials such as wood, rattan and coco beads – which have come all the way from the Philippine tropical islands where coconut trees grow in abundance – create an authentic coastal aesthetic that is in harmony with the backyard pool and expansive garden beyond. Here we explore why this space works on so many levels – and how you can achieve the look in your own space.

Read on to discover how Kimberley Harrison and her team transformed this blissful space.

1. Work in plenty of textural elements

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

When using texture in interior design it is important to get the balance right. Texture in interior design is vital, and is, quite literally, woven into the fabric of a designer's vocabulary and practice. 

In the lounge area, Kimberley Harrison has used textural elements – notably on the couch, rug and coffee table – to add interest and breathe life into a room. 

Don't be afraid to mix and match materials. Quite simply, without texture, a space will fall flat.

2. Set aside a space for mindfulness

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

'No zen space could earn its name without a place for quiet reflection,' says Kimberley. The first step to creating this retreat is to remove unnecessary objects – or furnishings – from the room. 'Clutter will not do,' she adds. 

Here, a masterful mix of organic materials and subtle pattern allow for a sense of calm and serenity. This is truly a space designed for the practice of yoga and meditation in mind. The custom-designed meditation pillows were made using Uptown Toile – a fabric collaboration with Vervain and Sasha Bikoff.

3. Invest in beautiful open shelving for the bar 

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

In terms of kitchen ideas, open shelving is a great way to add extra storage space to a room, as well as wow factor. 

Open shelving can create a real statement in a room and is both practical and visually pleasing. It is also a more economical option than a fully enclosed storage unit.

Finally, think carefully about the thickness you want each shelf to be. If you’re using wood, it pays to choose a chunky option, giving a strong, clean, confident appearance.

4. Build in niches for streamlined storage 

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

Go for recessed storage in compact rooms, especially bathrooms and en suites, as Kimberley has done here. The great thing about recessed shelving is that there’s so much potential to use dead space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be deep to make an impact – concealed shallow shelving works well for bathroom storage, creating a compact pantry for storing bottles of shampoo. 

5. Add interest with quirky mirror

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

A bathroom is a great place to play with curves and shapes. Use your imagination – the possibilities for accessorizing are endless. 

Here, the 'wiggly mirror', which is having something of a moment, is more than just an accessory. It is a piece of art that also functions as a mirror, which means it mixes well with contemporary spaces as well as traditional. 

6. Devise the perfect place for entertainment

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

No pool house is complete without an entertainment area for family and friends. Clever zoning is crucial in the success of the layout; one side of the media room forms the exercise area whilst the other functions as an informal social zone where people can chat, socialise and watch TV. 

Careful planning and attention to detail means that the pool house can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, at any time of the day or evening. 

7. Welcome a sense of harmony with colors found in nature

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

Pool house with white interior

(Image credit: Kimberley Harrison / Kathryn MacDonald)

Swimming pools need not be rectangular slabs of blue hidden away in a corner. This pool area makes the most of the rolling hills beyond without distracting from its beauty. Use organic materials and colors found in nature to create a similar scheme. 

'This pool house is a perfect example of a classic meets contemporary aesthetic – one that will be treasured and used to great enjoyment for many years,' says Kimberley Harrison. This is truly a magnificent spot to while away the days.

Interior design / Kimberley Harrison Interiors

Photography / Kathryn MacDonald

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 


Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.