Westchester Whimsy

Nestled among natural rock outcroppings, a new pool cabana provides an entertaining space for a Westchester family year-round

Hidden by overgrown landscaping, the original pool house was not easily accessible from the main house and the surrounding landscape did not flow well with the contours of the land. In addition, the 1970s structure was in need of repairs and updates; in conjunction with Daniel Contelmo Architects, the owners decided it would be more cost-effective to demolish the original and reconstruct a cabana in the style of their recently renovated home. The original structure was a colonial and two renovations by Daniel Contelmo Architects in five years had transformed it into a whimsical, shingled home.


“The goal of the design was to create a structure that was completely integrated with both the main home and the landscape and would offer easy outdoor entertaining during all seasons,” Contelmo stated. Daniel Contelmo Architects settled on a cabana-style structure, which was open on all four sides to be more conducive to the indoor/outdoor entertaining that typically occurred around the pool.


The entire rear yard was re-landscaped; low shrubs and wide swaths of grass contribute to the openness of the entertaining area. In New York, all in-ground pools must be protected by a barrier 48 inches high, but by opting to enclose their entire property, rather than just the pool area, the homeowners were able to take advantage of unobstructed access from the pool to the lawn. The pool decking was done with random-sized and -colored bluestone that is flush with the lawn on one end, allowing entertaining to flow smoothly onto the grass. When the fieldstone retaining wall was built, pockets were left that now serve as nooks for flowing plants to spill over the stones. The fieldstone is finished with a rustic, grouted cap in colors that blend with the existing rock outcroppings.

While the new cabana’s design ties into the existing house, certain details lend it a more casual style. Columns matching the home provide structure to the front of the cabana, while contributing to the open feel. The lattice-work joining the columns and the cedar shingles on the roof are reminiscent of beach houses, as is the vaulted ceiling finished with white beadboard and exposed beams.


Though the overall feel of the pool cabana is casual, it is grounded in practical details that will allow the homeowners to effortlessly entertain. A balcony at the rear permits air to flow freely through the structure; more importantly, it is flanked by a full bath and a changing room so guests don’t have to make the trek to the main house to use those facilities. The outdoor kitchen is a cook’s dream—the stainless steel Viking cabinets and appliances include a fifty-three inch grill, and a refrigerator, icemaker, and sink that make food prep easy and keep the hosts connected to their guests. Bountiful storage space hides behind the cabinets, which are surrounded by stone, and an industrial-sized hood vents smoke and odors through the roof, not into the vaulted ceiling.

Opposite the kitchen area, a fireplace with a raised hearth and a twenty-two foot tall chimney anchors the cabana and offers the ideal place to relax, converse, and roast marshmallows. The fireplace allows the entertaining season to begin earlier and extends it into cooler days, even into the winter months. The chimney was constructed of the same fieldstone that makes up the retaining walls and supports the kitchen counter.

Daniel Contelmo Architects decided to wrap the finished surfaces of the cabana with Versatex, a weatherproof PVC material, to ensure that it would stand up to the elements, which was particularly important with the open-air design. Due to the high-quality installation completed by the housewrights of Home Enrichment Company, the building looks as perfect today as when it was completed three years ago. Contelmo states, “once again, we had tremendous clients who had great visions of their own and allowed us to create this outdoor oasis for their family and friends to enjoy.”


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This article is from the Early Summer issue of Outdoor Home Magazine.