Tour a Modern Outdoor Pool House with Scandinavian Flair

This vacation-like design is utterly timeless.
outdoor living area chairs and table and fireplace

Photography by Hulya Kolabas

“A nod to mod” is this Darien homeowner’s shorthand for her new addition, an outdoor kitchen/pool house that snugs up like a sleek she-shed to her classic, Shingle-style five-bedroom. But the contrasting addition—stainless steel cabinetry, infrared heat, dining for 20-plus—is more than an HGTV quip; it’s just one part of an entertainment multiplex.

“I wanted to be on vacation,” says the owner, who imagined something timeless, transitional and tranquil, something that would bring joy to others, which is her hobby.

According to Hamptons architect Paul Rice, many iterations were needed to achieve an indoor-outdoor program that would be used in its entirety. “There was no prototype,” says Rice, who designed the primary residence. “There was always an experimental element to the process, which she worked through.”

Rice collaborated with the original team: architect and interior designer Ward Welch of Studio SFW in New York and Darien-based custom builder Ed Zimmerman. Pre-pool house, outdoor hospitality had two options: a wisteria-frilled veranda used for bring-your-own-bib lobster boils and tented Christmas parties or a screened porch, with its South Beach-style sectional, made for late-afternoon napping.

But in the pool-and-pool-house era, coincidental with the Age of Corona, the menu has expanded. In addition to the three-sided shelter, a new wisteria-adorned pergola now provides cover for an outdoor teak lounge with a white-brick fireplace and an outdoor TV. Movie nights with popcorn and/or s’mores are a double feature for three daughters who spent so much of their quarantined summer in the pool that their hair turned green.

indoor outdoor kitchen and dining room

Photography by Hulya Kolabas

The illuminated salt-water pool—Esther Williams-style fountains, a Class III-rapids spa—is all action. Spectators watch from chaises on a bluestone beach, cabana boy optional. Thoughtful details throughout yield a casual sophistication that is both functional and approachable. A coda to the entire scheme may be the shower enclosure, where horizontal cladding is a surprising textural adventure amidst white brick, raw cedar, bluestone and graying teak furniture. “It relates to the house but it’s also separate,” says Rice. “It’s a little gift-wrapped box.”

The print version of this article appears with the headline: The Rear View.
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