Design Your Dream Pool House: Ideas for a Comfortable, Functional Space

Summertime is in full swing, and as we enter the warmest months of the year, homeowners with pools will be eager to maximize their time by the water.

If you and your loved ones practically live poolside during the season, a pool house may be a welcome addition to your backyard. These bonus spaces can serve many purposes – enhancing your outdoor entertaining, providing shelter from sun and rain, and offering storage for all your pool-related essentials.

How do you create the pool house of your dreams? Here’s a run-down of the various needs your pool house may serve along with ways to design a functional, beautiful space.

Begin Your Pool House Plans with Function in Mind

When designing any space – whether in your main home or elsewhere – it pays to let function guide form. This is particularly true in a pool house, which must meet certain utilitarian needs to be the true dream addition to your pool area.

It may help to envision the roles your pool house will play in different seasons. During the cold months, it may serve as storage for poolside furniture and pool care tools. But while the pool is in use, it most likely functions as:

  • A place for guests to shower and freshen up after a dip.
  • A hub for outdoor entertaining, with room to store cold beverages and countertops for food prep.
  • The go-to storage space for pool essentials, including sunscreen, towels, and floaties.
  • A shelter offering respite from the midday sun or passing summer thunderstorm.

If your pool house footprint is large and you have a flexible budget, then adding a home gym, sauna, in-law suite, or game room for the kids are add-ons to consider. 

Finding the Right Materials for Your Pool House Design

Remember that a pool house is the perfect place to embrace the idea of indoor/outdoor living. Creating an interior kitchen space that opens seamlessly into an outdoor dining area, for instance, allows you to maximize your pool house’s footprint and create comfortable gathering places for family dinners or summer fȇtes.

Because your family and guests will use the pool house after spending time in the sun and water, it’s essential to choose unfussy materials that can withstand the elements.

Select sturdy fabrics for any upholstered pieces; acrylic fabric is water-resistant and designed to fare well outdoors. Slipcovers and removable cushions that you can toss in the wash if they become soiled or mildewy are practical choices for your pool house designs.

You’ll also want to take care in selecting your flooring materials. Polished stone is slippery when wet, and hardwood floors can stain and buckle. Instead, turn to your bathroom tiles for inspiration, and select a material like a honed natural stone or concrete for your pool house floors.

Finally, remember that your pool house is a space for relaxation and entertainment. Consider adding elements like a sound system with Bluetooth speakers or festive lighting so your area is always effortlessly party-ready.

Your ability to incorporate plumbing, electricity, and other utilities will depend on your budget, the pool house’s proximity to your main home, and other realities of your home and backyard (for example, whether you are on town sewer or have a septic system). Consult with your architect and design teams to understand the possibilities on your property.

Details of a Nantucket summer home with coastal interior design

Pool House Ideas: Suggestions for Each Space

Now that you have a general sense of what you’d like to get out of your pool house design, let’s go room-by-room and delve into the specific considerations for each.

Changing or Bathing Area

The most essential space in any pool house is the one where your family and guests can freshen up after a swim. Whether your pool house has a full bathroom or a simple changing space, your focus should be guest comfort.

This starts with ensuring the room is on the low-traffic side of your pool house and that any windows feature curtains or etched glass for privacy. You’ll also want to give your guests a place to hang their wet towels and suits and provide an area with a mirror and toiletries for primping.

If you don’t have room inside your pool house for a shower, consider incorporating an outdoor shower on the side of the structure. This lends a resort feel to your space and still gives guests a place to rinse after a day in the pool.

Outdoor Seating Area

Most pool houses don’t have room inside for a complete living or dining room (that’s what your main home is for!), but pool house designs are an ideal place to create covered outdoor gathering spaces.

Whether you opt for a living room setup, with rattan chairs gathered around a coffee table, or a long communal dining room to host outdoor dinner parties, establishing a seating area off of your pool house allows you to create a covered gathering space.

There are a number of ways to incorporate shaded seating into your pool house scheme. A few ideas to get you started:

  • Extend the eaves of your pool house to create shelter that seamlessly blends with the structure.
  • Add an awning to the side of your pool house, with a canvas design that matches your poolside umbrellas or furniture cushions.
  • Build a pergola alongside your pool house, and encourage vines to grow up the sides to create a natural canopy.
  • Work with your landscape architect to select plantings that will provide additional cover near the pool house.

Consider installing an outdoor-rated ceiling fan to keep your seating area cool on those hot, still days. We love the solutions on offer from the playfully-named Big Ass Fans.

Kitchen and Food Prep Area

If you do a lot of entertaining by the pool, a pool house kitchen or kitchenette can be a lifesaver.

As with your gathering space, your pool house kitchenette does not need to be a full-sized replica of your main home’s kitchen. However, incorporating a few essential appliances and some countertop and storage space can make a world of difference when you host summertime parties.

Elements like open shelving, simple subway tile, and a low-maintenance engineered countertop will do the trick in your pool house kitchenette.

When it comes to appliances, a refrigerator and dishwasher are crucial. Consider the size of your guest list when settling on the right appliances. If you host full-scale parties with dozens of attendees, you will likely need a large refrigerator with space for storing beverages, snacks, food destined for the grill, and ice cream and popsicles. 

If you usually host smaller-scale events, a diminutive fridge, perhaps accompanied by a specialty appliance like a wine refrigerator or chest freezer might better suit your needs.

A dishwasher is a handy addition to your pool house kitchenette. Having the ability to clean your poolside dishes nearby, rather than carting them back to your main house, is a lifesaver at the end of a busy evening of hosting.

Finally, consider having a set of dishes and glassware that always stays in your pool house. Rather than hauling your regular set out from the main home for parties, this saves time and effort. Nonbreakable materials are best, as shattered glass on the pool deck is a safety hazard.

Laundry and Storage Areas

Your pool house kitchenette need not be the only workhorse space in this structure! Your pool house designs can also include areas that make poolside entertaining and living more comfortable.

This starts with laundry. Any great pool party will generate dirty laundry, from wet towels to stained furniture cushions to used table linens. Creating a dedicated laundry space in your pool house is a major convenience and, like the kitchenette, saves you from having to bring piles of used items from the pool house to your main laundry room.

Space is obviously a concern in a pool house, so finding compact washer/dryer options is crucial. Look for stacked units rather than all-in-one solutions, which can often be slow in drying heavier items, like towels.

You’ll also want to create storage space within your pool house for pool care essentials and off-season items. Your storage space doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it should be well-designed. Modular storage solutions can help you customize the area to your needs and maximize small square footage.

Before shopping around for storage solutions, consider everything you wish to store in your space. This may include in-season pool care items, like nets, pool cleaning tools, and chemicals, as well as poolside furniture, umbrellas, and toys in the off-season.

When you have a special outdoor space, like a pool, you want to make the most of it during the warmer months. Designing a pool house with features that make entertaining easier and enhance your guests’ comfort can encourage you to relish even more of your summer days out by the pool.