Whether lounging away from the sun, or sneaking out for a midnight plunge, this posh poolside pad provides the perfect party place
Nothing cancels backyard pool parties faster than an impending storm, but with a modern pool house, inclement weather no longer drowns out outdoor ambitions. In the same manner that the iconic Ford F-150 pickup truck debuted in 1985 (at $7,500) and has since skyrocketed to become Ford’s flagship vehicle (a living room on wheels costing upwards of $60,000) pool houses have likewise experienced a dramatic evolution in quality, design and versatility.
We enjoy an era of sophisticated, high-tech building materials, appliances and furnishings. Synthetic stone and indestructible wood-grained vinyl seamlessly marry to bring a casual elegance to poolside life.
Disappearing glass walls and screens allow for use through all seasons. Fireplaces add ambience, and fire pits call for singing songs and toasting marshmallows.
Indoor/outdoor fabrics are indestructible, plush and inviting. Stainless steel grills (previously found only in top restaurants) now sizzle away in the backyard. To add symphonic accompaniment, theater quality audio/video systems with invisible speakers complete our weatherproof grottoes.
My fondest memories of growing up on the Wye River revolve around lounging in our waterside pool. Back then, the idea of a pool house was completely alien. Today, the pool house has become the anchor of backyard life. Weather dependent decks (which used to be the dominant feature in the backyard landscape) now serve mainly to transition from inside life to pool side retreat.
The owners of this 5,500-foot home on three secluded acres on a tranquil Wye River cove are longtime boaters and nature lovers. While they relished their quiet country home, they realized much of their entertaining ended up in the back yard, and an outside bathroom would be convenient. As many homeowners ultimately realize, what begins as a desire to solve a simple problem can often mutate into something much bigger.
A project’s scope can expand as one idea cascades into another causing the finished project to be better than originally conceived. The success of a project is the result of patient teamwork, a logical process, and openness to digression along the way. The owners selected Lundberg Builders as their guide. Lundberg’s team consisted of designer Bob Moreland, veteran project manager Pete Edmunds, and local landscape designer Andy Hobson of F.A. Hobson landscapers. Interior designer Carole Lindenberg, ASID, from Potomac Designs in Bethesda handled the decorating of the pool house.
Moreland said the owners wanted a pool house that seemed as natural as if it were built simultaneously with their home, could be used all year long, and would be a casual place for family and friends to huddle together to enjoy football in fall and winter. They also wanted an uninterrupted flow to the pool and an orientation to maximize river views.
The owners had a dream list of elements to be incorporated into their pool side haven. Key among these items was a wood-burning fireplace inside the pool house, a fire pit outside, and an outdoor shower. Elaborating on the intricate architectural details, Moreland said, “To match the look of the owners’ home, we painstakingly chose roofing, siding and stone materials that would create a harmony between both structures.
“To give full access to the pool and terrace, as well as provide unobstructed views of the river, we installed a retractable La Cantina seven-foot accordion glass wall system. To complement the stone veneer on the house and pool house, we removed the coping on the terrace and pool and replaced it with interlocking stone pavers with an intricate design. Finally, we built an outdoor cedar shower, and designed a lava-rock fire pit that Andy Hobson installed.”
Unity of design and function are apparent inside the building. Tall cathedral ceilings, floor-to-almost-ceiling windows, tongue-and-groove limed oak ceiling, and a refreshing aqua paint on the walls create a feeling of being in the Caribbean. A mini kitchen adds to convenience for entertaining.
“Completing this 630-square foot Cape Cod styled retreat took … seven to eight months, and the owners are absolutely ecstatic,” Edmunds said. “The pool house is fully conditioned, and despite having accordion glass doors, this pool house is tighter than most homes that are used year round.”
Edmunds gives credit to Hobson, who designed and installed both the hardscape and all the landscaping, which includes a privacy screen of mature holly and magnolia trees.
“Andy brought all those in about two-thirds the size you see them, creating an instant privacy screen between the neighbor’s yard and the client’s,” Edmunds said.
A pool house can allow homeowners to spend more time with family and friends and enhance the quality of their outdoor experiences throughout the seasons.
“The owners now spend so much time in their pool house that they feel they could almost do away with the main house,” Edmunds said. “It is incredibly rewarding to get this much positive feedback for both a process and project well done.”