For Travis Haston, the pool-house project had come full circle. It was the summer after sixth or seventh grade, and he was on site with his contractor dad.
“I was at the project, watching them dig the footing for the brick foundation,” says Haston. “And I remember being over there cleaning up, helping the carpenter. I spent about a third of my summer at that house.”
Now, some 40 years later, Haston watched that same pool house get a much-needed makeover—though, this time, he was CEO of custom residential contractor Andrew Roby Inc., which had originally built the house.
“It hadn’t been touched since it was built some 40 years ago,” says homeowner Kathy Finuf. “We really wanted to turn it into a usable space for outdoor entertaining but also as a guest house.” The circa-1970s structure was tired and dated with dark cedar paneling on the walls and ceiling, ’70s-inspired mosaic tile in the bathroom, and broken appliances throughout.
But beyond the ’70s-inspired finishes, luxury home designer Jim Phelps saw great potential. “I think too often people’s first reaction is to tear something down, but, in truth, sometimes the best course of action is to look at what you have right in front of you,” says the luxury home designer.
The consensus among the team, which included project manager Wade Carlton from Andrew Roby, was that the bones of the original structure were ideal for a renovation. So after gutting the interior, Phelps began designing a light, bright, and airy space that served as a place to relax, watch TV, and entertain first, and then also doubled as a guest house.
But in such small quarters—the space is only about 700 square feet—Phelps and Carlton had to get creative to maximize the storage and seating while also keeping the look seamless. A Murphy bed, the door to the guest bathroom, and full-size refrigerator disappear into the wall with the use of white shiplap, while the small kitchenette opposite the Murphy bed balances the space.
Taking advantage of the pool house’s original cathedral ceilings, Phelps modernized the space by creating a tongue-and-groove barrel ceiling. The result: a more open, breathable entertaining and living area. “It was a great way to create interest in the room while also utilizing the height,” says Phelps.
With the addition of a few extra windows, Phelps designed additional seating underneath each opening to maximize every inch. French doors were swapped out with floor-to-ceiling bi-fold glass doors to create a seamless transition from the inside out, while the travertine flooring on the pool deck flows right into the pool house to create one cohesive look.
To ensure all parts of the property worked together, the existing pool was torn out. Working with B&B Pools and landscape architect J’Nell Bryson, Phelps lined the new pool up so that the existing structures frame it; the move also allowed Phelps to remove the original brick patio and install travertine throughout.
“Part of good design is that we want to have good accents and center lines so that things play off each other,” says Phelps. “Outdoor pools, veranda, terraces are an extension of the house, and they all need to work together.” In a nod to the main house’s brick accents, red brick was added to the base of the façade of the pool house.
To complete the renovation, interior designer Maribeth Prosser added comfortable, coastal-inspired furniture and accessories to complement the white shiplap walls and architectural accents.
“We use this space all the time says,” Finuf. “When our children and grandkids come to town, my husband, Larry, and I let them have the main house and we stay out here. It’s just so easy and comfortable.”
Looking back, Haston wishes his late father, Ron, who was partners with Roby, could have seen the project come to fruition. “He would’ve enjoyed seeing something like this come back to us,” he says. “It’s funny how things work out like that. It’s great to see something stay within the Roby family.”
David Ramsey Photography