Before this modern pool house was a cool entertaining hub, it was an under-utilized mother-in-law suite that hadn’t been updated since the 1990s. When architect Chris Sanders of
Sanders Architecture was hired to reimagine the tired and compact space, he knew he needed to bring it into present day, while maintaining some of its unique heritage. “The pool cabana shares the site with a 1920’s-era historic home,” says Chris. Another important factor was functionality. “As it is a tiny space (about 350 square feet), we designed everything to co-exist: It can go from being a kid’s space to a locale for parties and family gatherings, so everything had to serve a variety of functions.”
Keep scrolling to see inside the new pool house and get tips for designing your own backyard cabana!
1. Build Vertically
The original property was cramped with low ceilings, so Chris and his team decided to take advantage of the unused attic space. “While the footprint of the space is small, we doubled the vertical volume of the space by removing a flat ceiling and vaulting the space into what was previously an unused attic,” he says. The new double-height cabana is now the perfect space to host a party or weekend guests.
2. Choose Durable Flooring
When it comes to designing a pool house, it’s important to create a seamless transition from indoors to out and vice versa. You and your guests will constantly be switching from the pool to pool house, so choosing a durable material that will stand up to moisture and heavy foot traffic is key. “The new tile is Clay Imports Roseton ¾” Encaustic Tile, ideal for high traffic, wet-dry spaces,” says Chris.
3. Put In A Bathroom
A poolside powder room means no wet footprints traipsing through the main house. Simple details like Venetian plaster walls, a pedestal sink and a modern light fixture feel understated yet impactful. A woven basket with towels adds to the summery ambience.
4. Design With Entertaining In Mind
You don’t need a full kitchen in your pool house, but having access to a sink, mini fridge or even beer on tap will turn it into the ultimate entertainment hub. Not only will it earn you major brownie points with the guests, but it will eliminate the hassle of making multiple trips to the main house. Installing a TV and speaker unit means you can host movie nights, watch the game or blast your favorite summer tunes.
5. Maximize Storage And Flow
Although this pool house may be small on square footage, it was designed with functionality in mind. “The hidden doors in the shiplap walls conceal the AV closet and offer some storage space for towels and other pool-related accoutrements,” says Chris. Custom cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s
In the Midnight Hour (BM1666) are designed in a “reverse shaker” style and are perfect for storing smaller items. To avoid overcrowding the small space with a staircase, Chris installed a sleek ladder made out of painted steel to access the loft area.
6. Get Creative!
According to Chris, you shouldn’t worry about playing it too safe. “Try to create a space that feels special. Get creative with the design elements. Ultimately, this should be a fun and playful environment, so you can go bold with your choices here!” As for our favorite design element? A perfect sightline from the pool into the cabana for an unobstructed TV watching experience. When can we be invited over?
Author: Talia Hart
Chris Sanders of