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Swimming Pool of the Week: A Pool House with Vineyard Views in Sonoma

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Swimming Pool of the Week: A Pool House with Vineyard Views in Sonoma

April 8, 2019

Originally conceived of as just a 500-square-foot box, a modest Northern California pool house in Sonoma got bigger after architect and owner Neal Schwartz started thinking about how to block views of neighboring properties—to focus instead on surrounding vineyards.

The solution? Schwartz, founding principal of San Francisco firm Schwartz and Architecture, added a tiny courtyard to the pool house to make the structure longer. Let’s take a look at what he did:

Photography by Matthew Millman, Courtesy of Schwartz and Architecture.

Above: In Architect Is In: Beyond Prefab in a Sonoma Weekend Retreat, we featured the main house on this site-sensitive property. “The main house was sited to focus on views of surrounding vineyards while the pool house blocks views of an adjacent property and adds to the feeling of privacy on the site,” Schwartz says.
Above: Schwartz first designed the 500-square-foot structure as a box with a main living space and an attached bedroom. “Because of the desire to maximize the length of the structure to block views of the neighboring property, we began to pull the bathroom away from the main space,” Schwartz says. “This is how the outdoor courtyard space came to be.”
Above: The floor plan of the pool house (with the pool on the left) shows how the courtyard was created by pulling the bathroom away from the main space to make the pool house longer.

Above: The site plan shows the relationship of the pool house to the main house.

Above: Because the courtyard is on axis with the site’s largest oak tree, much of the courtyard is hidden from view from the main house, “a nice extra level of privacy for sun bathing,” Schwartz says. The simple structure, which is wrapped in corrugated metal siding more commonly seen on rural structures, is conventional wood frame construction with a concrete slab on grade. “The one bit of luxury is the cedar lined courtyard—a contrast to the rougher exterior walls,” Schwartz says.
Above: Views from the courtyard face long vistas to the Sonoma mountains and the main house.
Above: When the pool house was extended, it gained a courtyard and a long hallway to connect the main space to the bathroom. Schwartz has turned the hallway into a gallery space. “To fit with the pool house theme, I ordered photographic prints of aquatic creatures online from a Russian marine biologist and amateur photographer,” Schwartz says. “When I contacted him about his images, he was on a dive in the Bering Straits.”

Above: When the pool house was extended, it gained a courtyard and a long hallway to connect the main space to the bathroom. Schwartz has turned the hallway into a gallery space. “To fit with the pool house theme, I ordered photographic prints of aquatic creatures online from a Russian marine biologist and amateur photographer,” Schwartz says. “When I contacted him about his images, he was on a dive in the Bering Straits.”

For more clever Outbuildings, see Rehab Diary: From Garage to Tiny Cottage in LA, on a Budget.

Browse our Swimming Pool of the Week posts for design inspiration:

Finally, get more ideas on how to integrate a swimming pool into your landscape or exterior home project with our Hardscaping 101: Swimming Pools guide.

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