Have you always dreamt of owning a sun-drenched pool house? Us, too.
Few would deny the pleasure of a refreshing dip on a sweltering summer’s day. Vigorous swimming is well know for developing full body fitness à la Michael Phelps and even the gentlest of strokes can be meditative and relaxing. A pool makes a glamorous addition your home, the perfect spot for a summer party or afternoon with family and friends, but a new swimming pool also needs a glorious pool house to accompany it. But where to start?
Pool houses are multi-functional structures that can be built and designed to suit any interior or exterior style. In some cases, a pool house might be nothing more than a simple (yet beautiful) shed to store your pool pump and inflatables.
In others, it’s an all-encompassing guest house with electricity and plumbing that will perfectly complement your pool ideas. And, of course, there are plenty of options in between, such as a backyard pool house that includes a kitchen, bathroom and entertaining area.
If you’re contemplating building a pool house in your backyard, here are our top pool house ideas to get you started – plus some expertly-researched answers to some of the biggest questions you might have about pool houses.
1. Create a multi-purpose pool house
Martin Moore had recently designed and installed the kitchen in the main house of a Georgian-style, six-bedroom new build, and having fallen in love with the bespoke furniture, the clients’ commissioned them to redesign the new pool house.
The brief was to create a striking space, combining classic, handcrafted furniture with modern materials and finishes. Martin Moore’s New Deco design was the obvious choice; drawing inspiration from the architects and craftsmen of the 1920’s, it has an Art Deco feel and features geometric lines and architectural detailing.
The color scheme is dark, dramatic, and glamorous, with the furnishings providing playful pops of color. Designer, William Rudgard chose ebony stained Hardwood for the cabinetry, with insert panels of beautiful ceramic marble. New Deco pull handles in a polished chrome finish complement the scheme, adding a sleek, contemporary edge. The mirrored splashback helps brighten the room, reflecting the natural light that floods in through sliding glass doors that lead directly out to the pool terrace and garden.
2. ...complete with a pool house bar and lounge
The clients love entertaining family and friends in the pool house over the summer months, and so it was vital that the new layout could accommodate large groups of people. Capable of seating up to eight, the large bar/island forms the social heart of the space and integrates state of the art appliances, such as a drinks fridge, a dishwasher, and built-in fridge freezer.
Clever zoning is crucial in the success of the layout; one side of the island acts as the working area whilst the other forms the informal social zone where people can chat, graze and socialise. 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.
Storage was also an essential factor of the redesign; Martin Moore installed floor to ceiling cupboards on either side of the bar, specifically designed to house all the soft cushions from the pool furniture.
'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 the experts at Martin Moore.
- See: Backyard ideas – decor inspiration for outdoor spaces
3. Evoke the feel of the Mediterranean
Whether you live in the Hamptons or on the beach in Miami, evoke the sunny climes of the Mediterranean with a pool house that is at one with nature and its surroundings.
If you don't want your pool house to dominate the space, look at investing in a customised one that beautifully blends into the landscape. In this project, the width of the pool house matches that of the outdoor pool and lounge area, ensuring that the exquisite surroundings remain the main feature of the garden.
This pool house has been painted in a soothing sage green color palette. The earthy, natural hue creates an emotionally zen-like feel in the backyard – harmonious and holistic, this color is perfect for the recent 'healing home' movement.
4. Focus on the interior design
Expertly designed by Kimberley Harrison Interiors, this cool, calm and collected pool house is the epitome of luxurious elegance and high-end design. The serene 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 garden beyond.
- See: Pool party ideas – fun ways to throw the perfect outdoor gathering
5. Invest in a family-friendly garden retreat
Before designing the décor of your pool house, consider the look of your garden, and also the surrounding landscape. Is it cottage style or formal? Incorporating the strongest themes and shapes in your garden through color, pattern or line can be a good departure point for planning a pool house scheme.
Designed by Christopher Grubb, an interior designer and founder of Beverly Hills-based Arch-Interiors Design Group, this pool house features a more relaxed look, using metal and wrought iron garden furniture and natural stone flooring, such as limestone flagstones and slate.
6. Install a traditional pool house – that is sympathetic to your home
When planning a pool house, think carefully about how you’d like to use the space. A cleverly-designed pool house can also double up as an extra sitting room, a peaceful sanctuary for enjoying your garden all year round, or a home office or ‘quiet zone.’
A wide choice of building materials is available to suit all tastes. Painted hardwood is popular (look for companies using FSC certified sustainably-forested timber), while green oak-framed construction creates a more rustic look.
Consider employing an architect, especially if your property is listed. To avoid delays at the planning stage, the scheme must blend sympathetically with the rest of the building, and have similar windows. Planning authorities will look closely at the roofline and positioning of any gables, and their visual impact on neighbouring properties. Solar control glass panels will optimize heat retention, and help keep heating costs down.
7. If space allows – build a pool house big enough for guests
Building a pool house with a view of the garden is now a growing trend – especially for those of us lucky enough to have a large outdoor space. With the current vogue for open-plan, multi-purpose rooms that combine a mix of kitchen, dining and living spaces, garden rooms, pool houses and orangeries fit the bill perfectly.
For maximum access, install folding or sliding doors that open out all the way and lead straight into the garden; these are perfect for sunny days, allowing for uninterrupted movement between the pool and the pool house.
8. Tiny backyard? Opt for a small pool house
Size is not everything, especially when it comes to pool houses. Not all garden rooms need to be over-the-top or ostentatious, some can be purely functional.
If your goal is to simply store all your pool paraphernalia, or to provide minimal seating, then a small pool house is all you need. Keep the cost of your pool house down by skipping extras like plumbing and electricity. You’ll still have an incredible lounge area, just at a more affordable price.
What's more, a tiny pool house doesn't mean that you will need to compromise on style. This design fits in perfectly with its country-style surroundings – without taking attention away from the real star of the show – the pool.
9. Turn your pool house into an all-round entertainment space
In this backyard, designed with entertaining in mind, efficient heating and air conditioning systems, plus heat control glass and specialist blinds ensure the space is comfortable to use all round making it suitable for turning it into a full-functional kitchen, bar or to use as a relaxed living space.
Its informality is perfect for modern-day living, as interior designer Steven Payne of Maison AD explains: 'I’m often asked to design pool houses that open double up as an extra lounge area or kitchen. A really well-planned pool house brings the outside inside so that even on chillier – no swim – days you can still enjoy a sense of being outdoors.’
10. Design a pool house worthy of a country estate
The materials used provide an instant clue to the quality and longevity of a pool house. While cheaper models are made of plastic UVPC with Poly Carbonate roofs, quality pool houses are typically timber or aluminium (or both) with low-emissivity double-glazing and details such as hand-jointed glazing bars. Such quality details help support thicker glazing which makes the structure more energy-efficient and kinder to the environment.
Top-end pool houses are often made of hardwoods such as Sopele and durable softwoods including Douglas Fir or oak from sustainable sources approved by the FSC. ‘Slow-growing trees generally provide stronger timber than fast-growing species,’ says Nicola Morton of Vale Garden Houses.
11. Install a compact kitchen area
No luxury pool house is complete without a kitchen area for meal prep, drinks and snacks. If you are a frequent host of extravagant pool parties, then you'll know how often you spend time in the kitchen, but equally you will want to keep those slippery shoes, large-than-life inflatables and dripping swimsuits away from the main house with a dedicated kitchen in your pool house.
Design, technology and engineering have advanced in recent years, making the once-traditional pool house one of most flexible rooms in the modern-day home. Here, floating shelves add form and functionality – making this kitchen ready for sharing a glass of wine with guests a joyous experience.
How much does a pool house cost to build?
While it may seem like a costly investment, building a pool house doesn't have to cost the earth. 'Ten to 20 per cent of your overall pool budget usually works,' says Chris Brandon of Brandon Architects. Typically, that will get you a more simple pool house structure – ideal for storage or basic entertaining.
However, if you are after a luxurious space for lounging, dining and entertaining, then you can expect to spend on upwards of $100,000. If are looking to invest in a fully-equipped guest house with all the amenities of a small house, you’re going to need considerably more money. 'A starting budget of $250,000 is appropriate for a big structure with electricity, air conditioning and plumbing,' says Grant Saller of Four Brothers Design+Build.
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