Appearances can be deceiving. This certainly holds true for a new house built along a tree-shaded street in Holladay. Set on a narrow lot behind a curved gravel drive, the classically styled structure would leave few suspecting it is not a separate residence. “The owners wanted a charming pool house on the property beside their family home, so we decided to make it look like a separate house rather than part of an estate,” says interior designer Jason Wilde, who created exactly that for his long-term clients.
Photos by Lindsay Salazar
Approachable and neighborhood-friendly, the understated, single-story house features a welcoming scale and classic detailing. Cedar shingles, stone chimneys and horizontal siding team with a handsomely paneled, sheltered porch framed by symmetrically paired lanterns and potted boxwoods. “At first glance, it resembles a modest 1930s Cape Cod cottage,” says Wilde, who worked with architectural designer Hyrum Bates and builder Lance Howell, Principal of The Biltmore Co. The only clue that it is indeed a pool house is the front door’s aqua hue, hinting at the sparkling water around which the L-shaped home was built.
Offering a welcoming first impression, the front door opens directly into the light-filled, main living and gathering space. A separate side door leads into a richly decorated hallway providing direct access to the pool and patios, as well as changing rooms, full bathroom and broadly windowed exercise room. Hallway doors offer entry to the spacious living area when desired.
Wilde conjured a fresh, timeless style for the poolside retreat. “I wanted it to feel a little barn, a little Cape Cod, a little Hamptons,” he explains. To that end, beadboard and finely crafted beams adorn the cathedral ceiling soaring high above the interior’s gathering area. Wilde painted the ceiling’s beadboard a warm gray hue, providing a shadowy backdrop that accentuates the artistry of hand-chiseled, white-painted beams and the delicate form of an ethereal chandelier. The designer clad the walls below with wider planked beadboard “to make it feel like the outside is coming in.” The limestone floors that flow inside and out add to the harmonizing effect.
Once the backdrop was in place, Wilde turned to the décor. His goal was to create spaces as special and inviting as those in the main house, but less formal and more durable. “This may be a pool house, but we didn’t want the quality of the design diminished in any way,” Wilde explains. In the main gathering space composed of open kitchen, dining and living areas, he mingled custom furnishings, European antiques and unexpected details. Rush-seated Irish keeping chairs surround a painted dining table, Swedish open shelves hang above the kitchen’s reeded cabinets and unmatched side tables team with relaxed seating upholstered in posh outdoor fabrics. “They’re as pretty as they are indestructible,” he says. Other elements of note include a stately William Morris-inspired fireplace specially designed to accommodate a TV, as well as a main bathroom fully dressed with ornate Walker Zanger tile, Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and a custom lattice mirror. “This interior is about the sum of its parts, not about any one wow moment or ‘that’ thing,” the designer explains.
One of Wilde’s fortes is curating and layering lux fabrics, and this project proves no exception. Woven draperies with a Lee Jofa hand-blocked pattern frame the expansive opening to the pool, an assortment of patterned performance fabrics dress varied lounge chairs, and striped and floral patterned pillows—exquisitely detailed with trims and fringes—pile on the hall bench as well as the sleeper sofa dressed in a solid blue Thibaut weave. “A job worth doing is worth overdoing,” jests Wilde, who is fearless when it comes to piling on the fabrics. “It’s all about how you ground and mix the patterns and scales,” he explains. And in this pool house, weight also matters. “The fabrics have a cotton and linen vibe, nothing heavy,” he says. The same holds true for his airy color palette of soft grays, calming blues and warm whites. “It’s like the grayed graduations of the sky.”
That lighthearted, fully decorated approach continues outdoors, where under-the-stars gathering spaces and intimate destinations showcase the same attention to detail as their indoor counterparts. A solitary teak bench, six chaise lounges and assorted potted topiaries gather around the pool. Meanwhile, a large pergola extends from the windowed exercise room, shading a spacious, outdoor living area fully furnished with woven sectionals, cushioned teak arm chairs and ceramic garden stools. “You want to take the same approach to finishing outdoor spaces as you do with those indoors,” Wilde says.
Nearby, a classically detailed Chippendale gate—painted the same green-blue hue as the front door—charms the manicured gardens. “I like the magic of things,” says Wilde, referencing the gate and everything else that enchants the one-of-a-kind pool house in unison. “I don’t want you to feel surprised because you stumbled on something special,” he adds. “I like everything to feel special.”
If you’re looking for more backyard oases, check out our pool house summer series here!