This Outdoor Renovation Is a Home Run

This family’s love of baseball inspired a winning outdoor renovation that manages to be both sophisticated and kid-friendly.
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There probably aren’t too many outdoor renovations inspired by the national pastime, but a love of baseball is precisely what inspired this sport-loving family in Poland, Ohio. The beloved game led to the transformation of a carriage house on their property, resulting in an outdoor oasis.

“We have three young children, all active in sports,” says homeowner Kate, who asked that the family’s last name remain anonymous.

“Their baseball teams always come over in the summer. I just started thinking how that structure could be turned into what we needed.”

And then some.

Working with Shadyside-based interior designer Alisha Gwen, the family converted the two-stall detached garage into a pool house and added a covered patio. There’s both an indoor and an outdoor kitchen, plus an expansive pool that 12-year-old Andrew and 7-year-old twins Luke and Ella — as well as nearby family members and all of their friends — love to hang out in.

“We always have droves of kids coming over,” Kate says. “We’re on four baseball teams this summer.”

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After the pool was completed several summers ago, Gwen began the process of turning the garage into a glamorous (yet kid-friendly) pool house filled with clever and convenient touches.

The existing openings of the garage doors were turned into windows. Gwen also opened up the wall facing the pool, creating a seamless transition between the indoor kitchen and the outdoor space, which includes a grill and pizza oven plus beer taps and refrigeration. There’s also a sitting area, featuring a television hanging over the fireplace, and a dining area.

“Rain or shine, the outdoor space provides an underroof outdoor experience with the benefits of fresh air,” Gwen says.

To keep the view of the pool unobstructed, the gleaming, white, pass-through fireplace Gwen designed has an extra-large opening that allows the homeowners, and their guests, to keep an eye on those in the water from all angles.

“You can be in the kitchen and see everyone hanging out,” Kate says.

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Additional inspiration came from Kate’s love of the ocean, as well as a pair of already purchased, large-scale beaded chandeliers in teal, her favorite color. The chandeliers sat in storage for three years, until Kate asked Gwen to incorporate them in the outdoor space. She also requested a black-and-white decor scheme, with teal as the accent color.

“[Gwen] knew I loved teal, and white, and black, and that’s kind of where I ended and she started,” Kate says with a laugh. “She really just ran with it.”

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A series of white hanging pendants in different shapes and sizes adds a major wow factor, creating a striking juxtaposition against the kitchen’s black, paneled ceiling. Gwen says she found the pendants at Selamat Designs, a San Francisco-based boutique furniture design company rooted in sustainable, eco-friendly practices.

“After a simple sketch, I assembled a collage of the different varieties, and a light installation was born,” she says.

The designer also went big when it came to the glamorous black-and-white outdoor flooring. Gwen says she knew she wanted a bold pattern for the floor, but couldn’t find any materials to withstand the changing seasons (not to mention winter’s freezing temperatures). So, after convincing the contractor it would work, she had it created.

“I found the perfect large-scale hexagon porcelain tile that came in both black and white, and had the material cut in half by the vendor so we can lay the two colors in contrast to create a pattern,” Gwen says.

Inside, the contemporary kitchen has tall black cabinets with a standout teal backsplash above the oven, a broad island counter space with modern teal seating and a walk-in pantry. Hidden away are a washer and dryer. Combined with the full bathroom, it makes a trip inside the main house on pool days unnecessary.

“People can just stay outside the whole time,” Kate says.

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While Kate wanted the space to be aesthetically pleasing, she also knew it needed to be practical. As such, the outdoor ottomans are an easy-to-clean vinyl. There’s also an extra-long, 25-foot channel-tufted banquette (also in teal) against one wall that’s upholstered in an outdoor fabric, making it friendly to wet bathing suits.

“We always wanted the space to feel like a true getaway or destination for guests, so we incorporated unique materials and fixtures,” Gwen says.

Since its completion, the outdoor space has been the site of a plethora of celebrations, including the twins’ August birthday bashes — with more to come.

“Honestly, the space is used mostly in the summer for baseball parties,” Kate says. “A lot of the kids just show up after the games in their uniforms.”

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