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Pool House with Classic Architecture

Full of romance and charm, this pool house is a masterpiece in miniature

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Werner Straube

    Architects often call them follies—backyard structures with fanciful details that add romance and charm to a property. New York designer Marshall Watson took the folly concept and gave it a Swedish spin, creating an elegant pavilion pool house with Scandinavian influences at the Missouri residence of Bill and Amy Koman.

    Watson guided the Komans through the renovation of their historic 1920s St. Louis home. After adding a backyard swimming pool, the Komans wanted an outdoor structure to link the pool with a spacious back lawn and to provide a comfortable place to simply relax. “The pool house is such a predominant piece on the property that it really needed to have a strong presence and be a mini version of the house,” Amy says.

    Watson took cues from the formal Georgian architecture of the old house, designing a symmetrical limestone-and-brick structure with a slate roof and making the folly look as though it were built in the 1920s or ’30s. “The pool house’s limestone facade is almost a direct copy of the back facade of the house,” Watson explains, right down to the pilasters and carved Masonic motifs that trim the exteriors. “I did elongate the arched French doors, however, so they’re much taller than those on the main house.”

    The three sets of 10-foot-plus-tall French doors on opposite sides of the pool house create a charming pavilion effect when all are open. Set at the yard’s midpoint, the fanciful building acts almost like a passageway, connecting the pool with a lower-level lawn on the far side of the structure. 

    Gustavian influences are evident in the interiors, where Watson was inspired by what the Swedes call a lusthus. “These were small pavilions the Swedes built on their properties to enjoy the sun and light of summer. They are like fantasy pavilions,” he says.

    “This is definitely designed in the style of an 18th-century pavilion, with symmetrical wings and one wonderful open room,” notes the designer, who covered the walls and ceilings with poplar planking, which is typically painted. “I was going to paint the walls, but once the poplar was up, the texture and colors were so beautiful, I didn’t have the heart to paint it,” Watson confesses. Instead, the planks were bleached and finished with a grayish-white glaze that echoes the color of the Texas limestone floors.

    “While the pool house is very formal in its symmetry and with the beautiful arched doors, there is something about the wood cladding on the walls and ceiling that gives it the look of a barn interior. It has a less rigid feel,”

    A limestone-base pedestal table is centered in the main room under a patinated-silver lantern. “We wanted something grounding the room. I didn’t want everything on legs,” he points out, adding that the table separates the room into two seating areas, one for dining and one for watching TV.

    A banquette in the dining area is upholstered in an easy-to-clean plastic-like fabric so people can relax there in wet bathing suits without damaging the cushions. Chairs are upholstered in terry cloth, which is stitched with a custom-designed monogram.

    In the kitchen, cabinets rise to the ceiling to emphasize the spaciousness of the room, and ribbed glass on some cabinet doors contributes a vintage feel. There are two bathrooms/changing rooms—one for men and one for women—that open directly to the pool for easy access when swimming.

    “I wanted the pool house to feel like a spa,” says Amy. “The great thing is that we made this amazingly beautiful and dramatic pool house.” As Watson puts it: “It is both comfortable and elegant.”

    A scaled-down version of its larger counterpart, a St. Louis pool house is a masterpiece in miniature.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Mary Anne Thomson

    Architect: Lauren Strutman, Lauren Strutman Architects, 16676 Old Chesterfield Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017; 636/537-0880,
    Interior design: Marshall Watson, Marshall Watson Interiors, 105 W. 72nd St., Suite 9B, New York, NY 10023; 212/595-5995,
    Landscape architect: Gay Goessling, Goessling Design, 1005 S. McKnight Road, St. Louis, MO 63117; 314/569-0900,
    Contractor: Kevin Sanders, K.V. Sanders Co., P.O. Box 833, Chesterfield, MO 63006; 636/227-3335,
    Original architect: Edward F. Nolte (1870-1944).

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    Beautiful Rear Façade and Gardens

    The back exterior has twin stairways to the lower lawn. Marshall Watson designed the house with wings on either end for the kitchen and two baths.

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    Bright and Airy Entrance

    The central space is anchored by a Dennis & Leen pedestal table and silver light fixture.

    Pedestal table (“Louis XVI Round Fluted Base” #DL-DT08); hanging light (“Regent Lantern” #DL-LN14): Dennis & Leen, 310/652-0855. Through Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900,
    Iron dolphin planters flanking door (vintage): Center 44, 212/450-7988,
    Flooring (limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Sconces (custom): Architrove, 631/329-2229,
    Walls and ceiling: lightly glazed poplar.

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    Sun-Filled Dining Area

    Towels from Restoration Hardware were fashioned into chair covers. The banquette is covered in a polymer fabric.

    Flooring (tumbled Texas limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Walls and ceiling: lightly glazed poplar.
    Table (designed by Marshall Watson); banquette (designed by Marshall Watson): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995,
    Banquette fabrication: Joe Upholstery Inc., 212/290-2188.
    Banquette fabric (discontinued): Pollack, 212/627-7766,
    Pillows on banquette (“Get Groovy”/Tahiti #1088-01, discontinued): Zoffany, 800/894-6185,
    Pillow fabrication: Arabelle Taggart, 212/980-6663,
    Chairs: customized vintage chairs.
    Chair fabric (bath towels, custom monogram): Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836,
    Sconces (custom): Architrove, 631/329-2229,
    Art (Untitled, by Mary Judge): Mary Judge,
    Napkins: Crate & Barrel, 800/996-9960,
    Basket tray on table: owner’s collection. 

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    Serpentine Planters

    Stylized terra-cotta dolphin planters were found at a Connecticut antiques shop.

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    Poplar-Wrapped Dining Area

    The pool house, designed in the style of an 18th-century pavilion, has a definite Swedish flavor. The rooms are wrapped in poplar planking, bleached and finished with a gray-white glaze which complements the pool house’s light-colored furnishings.

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    Spacious and Elegant Kitchen

    The designer extended the cabinets to the ceiling to give a generous and elegant feel to the space.

    Cabinetry design (custom): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995,
    Cabinetry (Omega custom maple, with opaque finish, beaded inset doors and drawer fronts): Callier & Thompson, 636/391-9099,
    Countertop (Calcutta Oro with 4-inch backsplash): Midwest Tile, 888/936-1249,
    Drawer pulls (#9451): Omnia Industries, 973/239-7272,
    Sink (“Undertone” #K-3325): Kohler, 800/456-4537,
    Faucet (“Country Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet” #R77V3): Rohl, 800/777-9762,
    Hanging light (“Knebworth Hanging Bowl” #CL45): Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070,
    Roman shade (“Gordian Weave”/Natural on Greige #2643921): Schumacher, 800/523-1200,
    Fabrication: Designer First, 314/432-7095.
    Cooktop: Miele, 800/843-7231,
    Oven (“Epicure Single Wall Oven”): Dacor, 800/793-0093,
    Microwave: KitchenAid, 800/422-1230,
    Dishwasher: Fisher & Paykel, 800/863-5394,
    Refrigerator (Undercounter Refrigerator/Freezer #UC-24C, by Sub-Zero): Sub-Zero/Wolf, 800/222-7820,

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    Clean and Simple Details

    The pool house’s simple white furnishings enhance its classic Swedish design.

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    Sparkling His and Hers Baths

    The pool house has two baths to provide separate changing areas for men and women. Each is elegantly appointed with monogrammed towels for a spa feeling. The sink and faucet in the women’s bath are from Kohler’s Purist collection.

    Cabinetry (designed by Marshall Watson): Marshall Watson Interiors, 212/595-5995,
    Sink (“Purist Wading Pool and Bowl” #K-2313, discontinued); faucet (“Purist Wall-Mount Faucet” #KT-14419-3): Kohler, 800/456-4537,
    Sconce (“French Deco Horn Sconce” #S2020PN-L, by Visual Comfort): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323,
    Towels (custom monogrammed); rug: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836,
    Wood blinds: Hunter Douglas, 800/274-2985,
    Flooring (tumbled Texas limestone): Alan Court & Assoc., 631/324-7497.
    Wall covering (discontinued): Designtex, 800/221-1540,

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    Pool house designer Marshall Watson.

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    Relaxing Poolside Sitting Area

    Tufted chairs and an ottoman are covered in all-weather Perennials fabrics.

    Pool: Pool Tron, 314/428-0567,
    Chairs (“Bracken House Club Side Chair” #CH234, by Edward Ferrell): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman, 336/841-3028,
    Chair fabric (“Jake Stripe”/Linen #800-27): Perennials, 888/322-4773,
    Pillows on chairs: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836,
    Table: Lexington Gardens, 212/861-4390,
    Ottoman (custom): Joe Upholstery Inc., 212/290-2188.
    Ottoman fabric (“Bigger Stripe”/colorway discontinued #500-15): Perennials, 888/322-4773,
    Exterior wall lights (“Devonshire Lantern” #414681): Fine Art Lamps, 305/821-3850,  

  • Werner Straube

    Lush Back Gardens

    The pool house links the pool area with the back lawn.

  • The Sidecar, price available upon request from Moore & Giles [1-800-737-0169]

    This beautifully crafted bar cart, The Sidecar by Moore and Giles, is a great way to store liquor, glassware, bar tools, and anything else needed to complete your own miniature bar. The cart, made of Virginia black walnut, birch, leather, aluminum, and brass, is wheeled to make sure the party can travel with you. Perfect for drink-lovers without the space for a full bar.