It took nearly 11 years, but builder David Habib finally received the phone call he always knew would come. Habib, president of Frontier Homes and Development and a 23-year veteran of building luxury homes throughout the greater St. Petersburg, Fla.-area, constructed the main residence for a local automotive industry businessman, and now he was asked to build the adjoining pool house.
“It was really only a matter of time until the pool house was to be built as the finishing touch on the property,” Habib says. “I remembered how the homeowner appreciated an attention to detail, so we were just flattered at being asked back to do the pool house construction, too.”
The property plan originally was designed to someday feature the adjacent pool house structure as the backyard focal point from the main house. So, in April 2010, a beautiful yet multipurpose pool house became reality and adheres to the owner’s following requirements:
- Upstairs guest suite suitable for visitors and/or potential long-term living space for usage by owner’s elderly parents;
- “Safe house” construction exceeding current hurricane-resistant standards;
- Stylish garage that could double as a game room;
- Luxury downstairs kitchen and bathroom area for entertaining and parties;
- Exacting overall design to architecturally mimic the main house.
With 912 sq. ft. of upstairs living space and 1,478 sq. ft. overall, the requirements seemingly don’t leave much room for error— or great design.
Design and Perspective
The main house has timeless, classic architecture for the area. Labeled as “stylized neo-classical” and around 3,500 sq. ft., every effort was taken to transfer that exacting the pool house design, down to the smallest detail.
“The homeowner wanted the pool house to stylistically look like it had been built with the main house — not as an add-on — so the entire context needed to be correct,” says designer D. Allan Vallario, president, Davis Design Architects, St. Petersburg, Fla. “We actually designed the pool house to be the featured focal point of the backyard from the main residence from the very beginning, and now the homeowner wanted to insert an elevator into the design — which posed unique design challenges for a structure that’s so compact.”
So, the entire pool house structure was revolved on its axis by 45 degrees. This rotational shift upheld the architectural consistency the homeowner wanted, as it sleekly meshed with the main residence that also features a rotated main sitting room flanked on either side by a breakfast nook and bedroom spaces. Furthermore, the twisted effect offers a unique yet timeless look for the pool house.
“The subtle uplighting of the side pavilion elements offers a floating-like appearance and perspective that really draws in the eye.”
“Rotating the structure slyly conceals the two side pavilions, while offering an element of individuality to the pool house,” Vallario adds. “And the subtle uplighting of the side pavilion elements offers a floating-like appearance and perspective that really draws in the eye.”
Perspective was paramount to the design, all the way down to the elongated pool design. During initial construction, the pool actually was tapered to force the appropriate pool house perspective. “The pool guy kept asking me if the tapered end was a design error, but it was intended all along,” Vallario says with a grin. “Now that the pool house is completed, it gives the backyard the much longer and elongated appearance of an estate or compound, really.”
Form Meets Function
In addition to sleek design, the owner required it exceed the functionality of a normal pool house. For one, it needed to be safe. Since St. Petersburg is located in hurricane country, he wanted it to be the family “safe house” during storms. And while the main residence was designed under the hurricane code at the time of construction, the owner wanted the pool house to exceed the current code — which added challenges to both the design and construction process.
On the structural side, two-story concrete walls were poured and reinforced with steel rebar. While this technique can be costly, it offers the highest safety rating. Additionally, doors and windows needed to be impact- and category-four hurricane-resistant while maintaining the overall architectural consistency. This can be a challenge when trying to match 10-year-old products some of which were manufactured by companies now out of business. So, doors and door hardware were custom-made, and roof tiling was painstakingly custom-colored to remain consistent across the property.
Functionality also was important on the interior. Most notably was the addition of the elevator which can accommodate a wheelchair should the owner’s elderly parents want to live in the two-story structure some day. This alteration proved somewhat problematic as space was limited and the exterior design needed to imitate the main residence. Ultimately, the elevator was concealed when the entire structure was rotated.
In the Details
Both the builder and architect worked closely together with the owner throughout the entire process to ensure details were correct from start to finish. This close communication uncovered numerous details requiring attention, including the final position of the pool house. “We actually had to lay the house out twice so things were symmetric and properly aligned with the main home,” Habib adds. “Additional tweaks were minor after that, like having the garage door tracks powder-coated to match the room’s color scheme, or ensuring the impact-resistant window style was consistent with that of the main house.”
From the overarching design down to the small details of identical crown moulding or cabinet hardware, everything in the pool house is consistent with the main house. “Clients with exacting standards can be challenging, but that definitely wasn’t the case here,” Habib says. “Everything counts and he likes things to be exact, but still allowed the creative process to flow — and it shows in the finished product."
Location: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Size: 1,478 sq. ft. total; 912 livable
Cost: $313,640 (materials/labor included; excluding land)
Davis Design Architects
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Frontier Homes & Development
Garage doors: Wayne-Dalton
Insulation: Owens Corning
HVAC: American Standard
Grill: Twin Eagles
Microwave oven: Frigidaire