This Pool House Doubles as a Guest Retreat

May 2, 2023

The only thing better than having your own pool? A pool house that doubles as a guest retreat.

Text by Kathryn O’Shea-Evans    Photography by Jared Kuzia

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, no matter how much you love and cherish your houseguests, in about three days’ time, they will inevitably, like fish, start to smell. Unless, that is, your property includes the ultimate guest quarters, separate from but equal in comfort to your main house.

So it’s no wonder that one Hingham, Massachusetts, family set out to build a pool house that would do double duty as GuestHQ. Comfort and hard-wearing materials were paramount but so was a serene feeling that wouldn’t clash with the family’s own digs.

“We didn’t want it to match, exactly, but speak the same language,” says interior designer Sarah Scales. Case in point: the exterior cedar walls. “Since the pool house is a dark color, we felt it would recede more into the landscape as opposed to painting it white to match the main house, which sits directly across the yard,” says architect Peter Twombly. “Dark-colored doors and windows were used for the same reason.”

Another priority: access to sunlight, recalls landscape architect and Stimson principal Joe Wahler, who has been working with his clients on their parcel of land since 2012, when they initially built the swimming pool and surrounded it with Japanese cedar, white pine, arborvitae, and hemlock. “We worked with the owners to plant a diverse mix of understory flowering trees: redbuds, dogwoods, and witch hazel,” says Wahler. “It’s quite amazing.”

But it’s the hidden comforts and artful touches that really make the pool house feel like home. All the furniture is upholstered in fade-resistant outdoor fabrics that can stand up to everything from persistent sun to “kids in wet bathing suits with popsicles,” Scales says. Rather than sourcing artwork from a gallery, the homeowner commissioned artist Alyssa Fortin to photograph her children in the swimming pool; those nine images hang above the convertible sofa.

The best part of the pool house, though, may come from the feeling that you don’t have to choose between the indoorsy or outdoorsy lifestyle. “The living room’s sliding doors are quite big, and when they’re open, it’s as if you’re outside,” Scales says. There’s plenty of breathing room for houseguests and homeowners alike—and it’s close enough to the pool for the occasional cannonball.

Project Team 
Architecture: Estes Twombly + Titrington Architects
Interior design: Sarah Scales Design Studio
Builder: Gilman Guidelli & Bellow
Landscape design: Stimson


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