Photo Courtesy of Southern Landscape Group

Planning a Pool House

Pools are popular for gathering and entertaining, but adding a pool house can be an afterthought. Rather than seeing the pool house as just an add-on, consider planning up front to make the most of this space for storage, everyday swims and hosting gatherings. 

Photo: Michael Patch

Where to start
Mark Maslow of Southern Landscape Group shared his advice based on more than 20 years of experience and 60+ pool houses in his portfolio. He said to begin with a few key questions: 

  • What do you want it to do? What is the main purpose? 
  • Who do you entertain and how do you want to plan for that? 
  • Entertaining a group of adults is slightly different than entertaining kids under the age of 10. 
  • n Do you need more shade or a covered lounge area? 
  • Will you be using it day, night or both? 
  • How much outdoor living do you do (or would like to do) near your pool? 
  • Do you want to use the pool house as a means of extending your living space in early spring and late fall or maybe even year-round? 
  • Most importantly, do you want bathrooms and/or changing areas in the pool house? 
  • What about an outdoor shower? 

Once you determine the function of your pool house, you can start nailing down the details. “People don’t use things when they aren’t functional and convenient,” says Maslow. 

Plumbing matters 
Start with the plumbing – the bathrooms and an outdoor shower. Do you want to be able to use it year round or will it need to be winterized? 

Do you need a place to rinse down or an enclosed shower with privacy that functions as a full shower? If the latter is the case, privacy is a big factor in placing and designing your outdoor shower. You won’t want anyone from the house being able to see who’s in the shower. A full shower will require a bench, hooks for towels as well as a drain that moves the water away from the pool area. You don’t want the shower water pooling up on the patio. 

Amenities to consider
Once you’ve got the restrooms and changing areas sorted, you can begin to think about other functions for your pool house. 

  • Food prep. A main component to any form of entertainment is food. How do you want to approach the cooking and preparing of food while you’re entertaining outdoors? A pool house can provide a number of conveniences so you’re not having to haul food and drinks from the main house. 
  • Finishes. When it comes to the interior finishes of your pool house, you’ll want features that can handle wet feet and towels. Tile floors work well with water, as well as cooking and serving. 
  • Convenience. Think about incorporating charging stations into your pool house for easy access. The more amenities you incorporate into your pool house, the more you can cut down on visitor foot traffic through the more private living areas in the main house. 
  • Lighting. The exterior lighting for the area is another big consideration. Will you want ambient lighting, architectural lighting or will you need floodlights for a nighttime volleyball game in the pool? 
  • Storage. Pools require two types of storage: “Clean” storage for floats, towels, pool games and the like and “dirty” storage which are things like pool chemicals, robot vacuums, skimmer nets and other pool maintenance tools that typically make a bit of a mess. 

Placing your pool house
You’ll want to orient your pool house so that any large openings like gable ends or an open-air pavilion don’t directly face oncoming weather. Avoid placing it due southwest, which is affected by the heat of summer afternoons. 

You’ll want some sort of barriers from the sun, wind and rain, although you will also want some sort of air flow, particularly on hot summer days. Also, you won’t want to block the view of the lake from your chaise lounge by the pool. When adding shrubs and fencing be mindful not to obscure the view. 

Perhaps the thing to keep most in mind when setting out to build a pool house is that it is a building with an entertaining purpose. At the end of the day, the more functional and convenient it is, the more fun you will have with it. A little thought on the front end will give you years of enjoyment.