Pool Houses That Make A Splash

Four families, four amazing pool houses—each with its own style. Don your suit and dive in.

The Marble Masterpiece

The Ahearn Home – Yonkers

Photos courtesy of Artisitc Tile 

The vision: “This was envisioned as a natatorium, the technical term for a swimming pool that has its own separate building,” explains Fred Cox, the architect on the project, who worked with Will Parker of the same firm and Janet McHugh of Artistic Tile. “This was built to be used by two brothers and their families, who share the property.”

How it coordinates with the home: “The house is a Tudor built in 1926. It’s a little Gothic, a little classical,” Cox says. “The pool house is done with the same brickwork and stone as the original house. It’s meant to be like one of the great estates of the early 1900s, with an indoor pool reminiscent of that era.”

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Key elements: “In addition to the pool area, which has a seating section, as well as a TV for watching games while you’re swimming, there is a rotunda leading to the mezzanine, which contains a family room, changing room with shower, and kitchen-
ette. On top is a patio area. Next to it is an outdoor country garden with patio and dining. A bar area is in progress.”

Standout feature: Tiles! Millions of tiles! Each area of the building features different patterns and mosaics on the walls and floor. “We wanted to make it a very special, beautiful place unto itself,” Fox says. “It’s almost like the walls are covered in murals. We spent a lot of time considering what tiles would go where and mixing and matching. It was really quite fun.” McHugh agrees: “It was like putting a puzzle together; this can work as wainscot, and it can work for flooring. It was a creative process of using designs and figuring out where they might go in this grand space—how to start and end them and how to border them,” she says. “Without question, it’s the most elaborate project I’ve ever worked on.”

What it feels like to be in the space: “One really feels when you’re there that you’re in a storybook land,” says Cox. “It has a real magical feel to it. You’re transported. It reminds me of Hearst Castle or the swimming pool at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. You expect Audrey Hepburn to come in wearing a beautiful ballgown from Sabrina.” 

The Year-Round Retreat

The Kantor Home – Scarsdale

 Photos by Peter Krupenye

The vision: “We wanted the pool house to be part of the design of the house,” says owner and interior designer Tara Kantor. “Something that began inside the house and opened onto the outside that would allow people to easily go back and forth.”

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The look: “We had something specific in mind: whitewash, almost like a Miami Beach vibe.” 

What changed along the way: “Initially we were thinking about having a changing area and bathroom. But there is a bathroom right next to this room inside the house,” Kantor says. “We also thought about having a table. But we ruled that out in favor of an open, airy area, in keeping with the way more people are entertaining. We decided to create a bar with stools, where people can come inside to get a drink, chat, and take a break from the sun.”

Key elements: “The floor is porcelain tile made to look like white, bleached, weathered wood. The sofa is covered in indoor-outdoor fabric that anyone can sit on, wet or dry. There’s a refrigerator for drinks and cabinets for cups and everything else we need for entertaining. There is reclaimed wood in the ceiling, and the nano doors open 25 to 30 feet. There is also a TV behind the bar, so my husband can watch a football game from the pool. That was his dream.”

Most pleasant surprise: “This was originally intended as a summer entertaining space, but it’s been even more functional than we envisioned,” Kantor says. “When we have friends and family over in the summer, the kids run in and watch the Yankees game and run back out to the pool. If we have friends for dinner at other times of the year, we have apps in the bar room and then head back to the dining room. It’s turned out to be a year-round living room that happens to be a summer space, as well. It’s beyond anything we imagined.” The contractors on this project were Murphy Brothers Contracting.

The “Hamptons Meets Hotel” Oasis

The Casimano Home – Old Brookville, New York

Photos by Kimi Max

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The vision: “We were going for a combination of European hotel and Hamptons feel,” says Emma Lesser, senior designer with JSE Interior Design, which handled the project. “Most of the architecture is speaking to the European portion of that. The furniture and color palette are more of the Hamptons side.” 

Additional goal: “We focused on the fact that this couple loves to entertain. They wanted lots of space in the pool area, so all their friends could enjoy it with them.”

The feel: “It’s a cool combination of luxurious but also something you can have fun in,” she says. “That’s not necessarily easy to achieve.”

How it coordinates with the home: “It’s a take on the house,” she says. “There’s a dome in the foyer of the home, and the cabana also has a dome. We used similar finishes, similar marble, and similar coloring on the floor. We used a lot of the same materials they used in the house. You have the same privacy and the same feeling you do when you’re in the home, but it’s an extension of the home.”

Key elements: “There’s a bathroom with an exterior shower as well, along with a master bedroom and a living area. There’s also a grill area, a microwave, and an indoor and outdoor wet bar.”

Color palette: “It’s a lot of light neutrals. The stone is light, and the furniture is all silver, white, and off-white, accentuated with black.”

A slight problem along the way: “One of the neighbors wasn’t that excited about the six-foot-high dome on top of the cabana that was obscuring their view,” Lesser recalls. 

The happy ending: “We flew in palm trees and planted them,” she says, “so now they’re looking at trees and not the structure. It really feels like they’re on vacation.”

The Modernist Cabana

The Kaye Home – Purchase

Photos courtesy of Sothebys 

Key elements: “There’s a small living room where you can hang out and watch a sports game—the husband wanted a TV at the pool house so he could watch weekend sports and still be with the kids,” Keller says. “Indoors, there’s also a kitchen  and a bathroom with his-and-hers changing areas. Outdoors there’s a hot tub with a circular bench and cushions, and a covered terrace where you can sit in the shade and still be at the pool. The curtains can be pulled shut if you want to block out the sun or wind, and they add a little color and interest.”How he pulled it off: “The existing house was a shingle-style house with a stone first floor, but the owners’ taste was more modernist than that. So we used the same materials—stone and wood—while reinterpreting them in a more modern way.” The vision: “We wanted to integrate the new pool house with the existing main house and make it a bright, open, accessible place where people would want to be,” says Robert Keller, principal of Keller/Eaton Architects, who worked with landscape architect Rivi Oren and interior designer Eddie Dumas. “We were going for something that was modern and light and airy and fun.”

Standout features: “One, we lit the building with a daylight band of glass that runs around the entire building underneath the roof. The glass gives the illusion that the roof floats above the walls and lets daylight in on all sides,” Keller says. “For another, we built a three-story wall of glass on the main house as a way of integrating the main house into the pool house and vice versa. The pool house is quite a distance from the main house, and the big glass wall visually connects the two.”

The result: “It’s its own functional house where you can hang out in the building or be outside. You can get a snack, go swimming or watch TV,” he says. “You could definitely just live there.”  


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