Making a Splash – Designer Fran Winstock Transforms Pool House


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Designer Fran Winstock helps transform an empty pool house into a paradise for corporate visitors.

Text by Jordana White

Photography by Suzie Hansen

Several years after building their dream home in Eads, TN, Jim and Jenn German decided to make a change. As owners of a growing business, they needed a space in which they could host and entertain corporate guests. To achieve this goal, the couple enlisted the help of Fran Winstock, an independent designer based in Germantown.

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Although their existing home was 8,500 square feet, theGermans really wanted a private, self-contained structure for entertaining, so they built a two-story, 5,000-square-foot pool house, complete with two bedrooms and four bathrooms (each with its own washer and dryer) and attached to the main building by an atrium walkway.

Decorating the large open structure presented several challenges. First, there was the time crunch: the Germans hoped to complete the job in just six weeks, so that it could be ready to house their Thanksgiving guests.

Then there were the family’s goals to consider: the house had to be appropriately appointed for entertaining, while remaining warm, inviting and functional. Plus, since the building was sun-filled thanks to oversized-windows and reflections from the pool around which it was built, Winstock had to select fabrics, paints and finishes that could stand up to the constant battering of the heat, not to mention the frequent dampness that is synonymous with indoor-outdoor living!

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Finally, since much of the pool house’s interior could be viewed from the main home’s family room, design continuity between the two buildings was of utmost importance

To begin addressing the laundry list of must-haves, Winstock started with the walls, selecting a faux-finish in a soft gray and taupe combo for the pool house, atrium and the family room of the main building. The color choice was particularly effective in the pool house, where the warm colors and textures lent a touch of coziness to the main room, despite its soaring 24-foot ceiling.

Next came fabric choices—using washable Sunbrella products in grays, whites and yellows, Winstock was able to build on the coziness of the wall finish while also bringing a touch of the sun in from outdoors.

With fabrics selected, it came time to pick out furnishings. When working on a pool house, Winstock always keeps future guests in mind. “I want them to feel like they’re in a home away from home, so they can relax, be happy and enjoy their surroundings. The atmosphere should be fun, fun and more fun,” she explains.

To that end, Winstock says the furniture in the pool house had to be, “warm, livable and eclectic. Nothing stiff allowed!” The two large sofas cry out for guests to curl up on them, while the custom pillows aren’t too fancy to discourage weary visitors from using them for an impromptu lie-down. Side chairs and ottomans were upholstered with a large-scale geometric pattern, but in a durable fabric so they could give the room a “pop” without sacrificing comfort or usability. Even the custom 50-inch square painted coffee table, specifically selected in order to fill up the giant space, is inviting enough that visitors will have no qualms putting up their feet and relaxing with a good book after a dip in the pool. The cozy eating area immediately adjacent to the couches was surrounded by both a bench and upholstered chairs, giving hungry guests their choice of perch when munching on a quick snack or dining in private, away from the main house.

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Of course, the main focus of any pool house is the pool and the one at the German home is quite noteworthy. Surrounded on one side by the main and pool house and on all other sides by large trees and shrubbery, the area lends itself to complete privacy. As Winstock describes it, “The atmosphere is completely tranquil. This feeling comes over you and you just smile and say to yourself, ‘It doesn’t get any better than this.’

Whether splashing in the water, relaxing in the pool house or making a stop into the main family home, the entire property has been set up to provide plenty of room for everybody to enjoy life.