A Gem of a Pool House

Even heaven on earth can benefit from added amenities.In the case of a Boston family’s Monadnock Region retreat, what the owners added was water.While the family’s property with more than one hundred acres in Peterborough boasted mountain views, luscious forests and privacy, the spot lacked a place for swimming. No lakefront here. For the homeowners, installing a swimming pool and building a pool house that family and friends could enjoy was part of the larger, phased-in plan-one that evolved over eighteen years.”Since we’re not on a lake, its nice to have some type of water to enjoy summer activities,” says the homeowner. “A pool is something I grew up with, and our boys campaigned for it for a number of years. They enjoy having it.”The extraordinary compound includes the pool, a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen area, a campfire pit and the crowning jewel: the 1,800-squarefoot pool/guest house with Hansel and Gretel cottage appeal.The pool and pool house were built new from the ground up, after the existing main home was renovated, says Richard Monahon of Richard Monahon-AIA Architects in Peterborough.Since construction and landscaping were completed in 2008, the pool house has been used to host NASCAR auto racing and Red Sox game parties; as a place to play and cool off in the summer; and as a cozy guest house.Privacy aboundsSet seventy-five feet in the existing wooded area, the pool house is sited to maximize privacy and distinguish it from the main house. The surrounding landscaping ties the area together with native plants; soft- and hardwoods; and boulders that look as if they’d been on the site for ages.”We chose to put the house in the woods. We cleared the area then relandscaped it to feel like the edges were natural and contiguous,” Monahon says. A path meanders between the main house and pool house.”The main house is barely visible through the trees,” he adds.Landscape architect Peter White of ZEN Associates in Woburn, Massachusetts, recalls how privacy was part of the homeowners’ and architect’s “clear vision” from the beginning.”They wanted it separate from the main house and off in the woods so it becomes a distinct destination,” he says, adding that how the vision was articulated proved helpful in the overall landscape design.A cottage feel”We knew we wanted the afternoon sun and a view of Mount Monadnock,” says the homeowner. “We wanted a cottage feel to the pool house.” The main home on the property is Cape-style.”Rick came up with the perfect design,” agree the homeowners, adding that they are long-time fans of this architect’s post-and-beam designs.The cottage effect was achieved through scale; an architectural design that includes a round room, fieldstone hearth and tons of windows; and the use of materials. The structure of the living space is supported by a mortise-andtenon joinery, Douglas-fir truss system from Vermont Timberworks. Monahon explains the mortise is the notch cut into the beam and the tenon is the tongue that fits into the notch. Redcedar shingles were chosen to side the exterior. The pool house is topped with a tern-coated copper, standing-seam roof, which Monahon points out works well with the rounded bays of the porch and dining room.Inside, the exposed beams and tresses were bleached white for an open, airy look. “The owner was looking for a soft, light, bright-feeling room,” he says.At the heart of the pool house are the fieldstone wood-burning fireplace, hearth and floor-to-ceiling chimney located in the middle of the living room. The fieldstone was chosen to match the stone walls built around the pool. Beaded-pine whitewashed wainscoting covers most of the walls, up to between thirty-six and forty inches.The cozy space includes two bedrooms, a bathroom, a galley kitchen, a screened porch, changing rooms, a dining area, an outdoor shower and a gym. The pool pump and equipmentare located out of view in a lower level. Builder Gary Grashow of Grashow Corp. of Keene says he and his crew thrive on the attention to detail expressed in this project and were proud to bring it all together for the homeowners.The serenity outsideOutdoors, the components of the landscape support a laid-back lifestyle, White adds. The pool connects to the wide terraces and hot tub area with wide bluestone steps.”The shapes of the terraces are very organic,” White says. “There aren’t any squares or rectangles. It all flows together.”Large boulders from the New Hampshire landscape provide natural seating areas, without an over-manicured look. “We wanted it to be very informal but at the same time, the elements had to have a practical side,” White continues. “The boulders were arranged to engage people-you can lean on them, and sit and chat on them. I would say there’s a nod to Eastern design, but it does not go too far.”Plantings include native birch, ferns, bayberry, mosses and ornamental grasses as well as long summer blooming perennials, blueberry bushes and evergreens, such as junipers and pines.”The best part about it is that it fits so well into the woods,” White says. “It has all the luxuries and comforts you would expect of a project this size, but most important, when you go there at any time, it’s a place to relax.”