Party pad. Elegant guesthouse. Quiet retreat. This little structure does it all, thanks to some ingenious design tricks
1 of 7Thomas J. Story
Pool House Rocks
New York’s gray days have nothing on Southern California’s eternal sunshine. Just ask a formerly bicoastal family who decided to settle down in Brentwood a few years ago. Determined to make the most of the area’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle, they hired interior designers Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwickl to create a poolhouse for their property. “They wanted that California dream, to be outside as much as possible,” says Wollack.
2 of 7Thomas J. Story
Inside, Wollack and Zwickl found clever ways to make the most of the small footprint. Thanks to moveable furnishings and a Murphy bed that unfurls from the wall, the roughly 500-square-foot main floor can go from pool-party venue to guesthouse to quiet getaway for the homeowners, who often settle in with a bottle of wine or book in hand. Downstairs, a dark and cozy media room gives the couple’s two teenage boys a spot to hang out and cheer on the Lakers. “The poolhouse is meant to be a retreat for everyone,” says Wollack. As a matter of fact, almost every visitor who sees the poolhouse for the first time says the same thing: “I want to live here.”
Designed to be used for entertaining or hosting overnight guests, the kitchenette is small but mighty: A refrigerator and dishwasher hide behind lower custom cabinets, while open shelving and wraparound Caesarstone countertops maximize surface space. The combination of blond wood, rattan, and polished nickel hardware creates a casually glam vibe. The porcelain floor tiles echo the grain of wood while being durable enough to hold up to dripping swimmers.
This space functions almost like a Swiss Army knife. The sofa and coffee table—both on casters—can be rolled away, and the lightweight chairs and stools can be reconfigured to create an open party space. The room also has a secret: a Murphy bed that pulls out from the wall (linens are stowed in built-in banquettes). “The homeowners had seen and loved Murphy beds when they lived in New York,” says Wollack. “And we didn’t want to give up space to a guest bedroom that wouldn’t be used that often.“
To minimize the number of wet feet traipsing through the house, the designers came up with a shower that can be accessed via steel-and-glass doors from the bathroom and the pool area. A shade can be pulled down for privacy, and a custom 5-foot-long vanity holds towels and other supplies. The dark gray walls make the space a moody contrast to the airier main room.
The kitchen window opens up to a bar counter and stools outside, allowing the homeowners to dole out margaritas or lunchtime grub to guests. “I call it the food-truck window,” says Wollack. On the other side of the yard, the designers created an outdoor lounge, complete with white chairs that echo the seating used indoors and a custom fireplace.
Shannon Wollack and Brittany Zwickl, of Studio Lifestyle, West Hollywood, handled the interior design for the project. The two-floor structure the designers came up with isn’t just any poolhouse, mind you. “We saw this as a chance to have fun, to think outside the box,” says Wollack. That’s more than just a handy design metaphor: The duo literally extended the “box” of the house by adding features like a 15-foot-long pocket door that brings the outdoors in, a kitchen window that opens to a pool-side bar, and a shower that’s accessible from both the bathroom and the yard.