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Playful Michigan Pool House

A backyard retreat offers year-round relaxation

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Werner Straube

    Sunday mornings, Kappy and Dave Trott sit by their swimming pool, drinking coffee and reading The New York Times. “We feel like we’re on vacation, but we’re right in our own backyard,” Kappy says.

    The Trotts created their private resort just steps from the master bedroom when they renovated the kitchen, family room, and outdoor spaces of their Birmingham, Michigan, house. The updates included adding banks of French doors that open the back of the house to the yard, a new swimming pool, and a hot tub. Kappy planned to add a fire pit near the pool to create a cozy gathering place, but architect Victor Saroki had a bigger idea: Why not enclose a fireplace in a focal-point pool house at the back of the lot and create an all-year indoor-outdoor space?

    When designing the pool house, Saroki drew inspiration from the Trotts’ Georgian Colonial house, repeating materials and features such as a brick exterior, hipped slate roof, whimsical round windows, and porch columns. “We wanted this building to be a little bit charming, a bit of a folly, but still be in the spirit of the main house,” Saroki says.

    Four glass doors across the front slide into wall pockets, creating a virtually seamless indoor-outdoor space. Large rectangular slabs of bluestone on the pool house floor continue outside to the pergola-shaded patio and pool surround for a smooth flow from indoors to out. Inside, radiant in-floor heat keeps the spaces warm year-round. Poolside furniture is from Brown Jordan.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Hilary Rose

    Architect: Victor Saroki, Saroki Architecture, 430 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/258-5707,
    Interior design: Craig Steinhaus, Craig Steinhaus & Assoc., 187 S. Old Woodward Ave., Suite 206, Birmingham, MI 48009; 248/593-2635,
    Landscape design: Matt and Bill Whetstone, Greater Detroit Landscape, 21000 Fairfield, Warren, MI 48089; 586/777-2000,

  • Werner Straube

    Soaring Ceiling

    Interior designer Craig Steinhaus kept the interiors simple. “We saw it as an essentially outdoor space,” he says. “Even the chandelier and mirror have a weathered finish for an outdoor look.” The designer covered seating pieces in durable, water-resistant indoor-outdoor fabric that looks like linen.

    Chairs and sofa from Hickory Chair are slipcovered with a weather- and water-​resistant Sunbrella fabric. The cushion cores are synthetic to allow for water drainage. “So if someone sits down in a wet bathing suit, it’s not a problem. It is a pool house, after all,” says designer Craig Steinhaus. The Circa chandelier hangs from a vaulted ceiling—16 feet at its high point—of stained and intentionally distressed pine beadboard. Horizontal wood plank boards on the walls were painted with an enamel finish.

    Wall paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore
    Chandelier (“Marigot Eight Light Chandelier with Wood Beads”/custom finish #CHC1413): Circa Lighting,
    Mirror (discontinued); chests under windows (“Alexander Side Table”); stool in front of lounge chairs (“Claw Leg Saddle Stool w/ Leather, White Weathered” #GSTOOL113WW): Noir,
    Blinds: Craig Steinhaus & Assoc.,
    Sofa (“Emory Made To Measure Skirted Sofa” #1501-51, by Suzanne Kasler); lounge chairs (“Emory Chair” #1501-21, by Suzanne Kasler); sofa and chair fabric (#3240-16): Hickory Chair,
    Round table between chairs: discontinued.
    Large lantern by sofa (for similar, “Savoy Square Lantern”): Restoration Hardware,

  • Werner Straube

    Outdoorsy Kitchen

    Kitchen cabinets custom-made with alder wood were sandblasted for a rugged texture. “The doors to the pool house are often open all day, so we wanted the interior cabinets to have a definite outdoorsy look,” the designer says. “There’s a wonderful indoor-outdoor connection.”

    Refrigerator: Sub-Zero,
    Microwave: GE Monogram,
    Cabinetry (custom): Cole Wagner Cabinetry,
    Countertop (soapstone): PMP Marble & Granite,
    Backsplash tile (#AS9500BBC in White Gloss, by Barbara Barry): Ann Sacks,    

  • Werner Straube

    Window with Whimsy

    The whimsical round windows of the pool house were inspired by the design of the main home.

  • Werner Straube

    Airy Bathroom

    Light bounces around the bathroom with its bright white walls and sparkling mirror. 

    Wall paint (“Decorators White”): Benjamin Moore,
    Cabinetry (custom): Cole Wagner Cabinetry,
    Countertop (Calacatta Gold marble): PMP Marble & Granite,
    Faucet (“For Loft by Michael Smith”/Wristblade handles #P23040): Kallista,
    Wall tile (by Barbara Barry, in White Gloss); tile border (Renaissance Collection): Ann Sacks,
    Sconces (“Fulton” #1822-PN): Hudson Valley Lighting,
    Mirror: owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube


    The symmetrical pool house creates a graceful backdrop for the pool. Even though they’re on a city lot, arborvitae trees planted behind the pool house create a sense of seclusion.

    French doors (custom): Grabill Windows & Doors,
    Windows: Marvin Windows & Doors,
    Shutters for round windows: Craig Steinhaus & Assoc.,
    Bluestone for pool deck and pool-house floor; planters (custom): Greater Detroit Landscape,
    Chaise longues, occasional table, dining chairs, lounge chairs (Venetian Collection in Downspout); chaise cushions (“Lighthouse” #6100): Brown Jordan,
    Wall lanterns (“Hampshire Medium Scroll Arm Lantern” #CHO2053): Circa Lighting,