A Natural Beauty

For the design of a stone-clad pool house, Atlanta decorator Phoebe Howard creates a space that's as functional as it is beautiful

If it weren’t for the swimming pool out front, one might think this stone-clad structure—set against a backdrop of rolling hills—was a quaint cottage nestled somewhere deep in the English countryside. And inside, with furnishings as luxe as one would find in any formal living room (without the pretense), you might think you are in a good friend’s den. But the structure is, in reality, a pool house. Created by architectural firm Henry Sprott Long and Associates and decorator Phoebe Howard, the new space has a sense of permanence, even though it’s only a few years old.

While the pool house’s great room is casually elegant, it goes well beyond being functional, too. “If something is not pretty and not practical, it won’t make the cut,” says Howard of her designs. “An object has to be beautiful but it has to work for what it’s intended.” Here, cases in point include a hemp diamond-pattern rug that can stand up to the abuses of indoor/outdoor living, plus comfortable upholstery covered in weather-friendly acrylic outdoor fabrics by Pierre Frey.

“I wanted to connect the room’s design to the feeling of the woodlands that surround it—not in a mountain style, but in a way to pay homage to the nearby streams and trees,” Howard explains. A slate gray-and-white fabric with a bird motif by F. Schumacher frames a grand window and the view beyond. Bird prints, driftwood lamps, wicker and rustic antiques offer subtle reminders of the surroundings, as well.

The great room is flanked by two simply stylish spaces—a kitchen and bath that the decorator designed with her stepson, Andrew Howard. White kitchen cabinets feature doors with inset panels painted slate-gray, while an antique sideboard was converted to a vanity in the bath. Pebble floors, a Howard favorite, anchor both spaces.

“I didn’t want to distract from the architecture or the setting, so the pool house didn’t need to be over-decorated,” says Howard. “I wanted the clients and their guests to be able to sit anywhere they wanted while wearing a wet bathing suit.”

DECORATION Phoebe Howard, Mrs. Howard, (404) 816-3830; phoebehoward.net, ARCHITECTURE Henry Sprott Long and Associates, (205) 323-4564