A backyard becomes a family retreat in Rockport
For an architect, sometimes the smallest project can present the biggest design challenge. Such was the case for Chris Brown, director of b Architecture Studio, when North Shore clients approached him and project architect Kurt Stavdal to transform a two-car detached garage on their property into a pool house. hospitable, offering much more than just a place to change and take off a bathing suit.
“They wanted a separate, comfortable place for their adult children to visit,” says Brown of owners Kevin and Dee McCurry. “Our plan was to completely transform the underutilized garage and outdoor space, which was essentially a blank slate.”
A garage bay has been retained, mainly for storage. The remaining 285 square feet of space has been cleverly redesigned within the structure’s original footprint, and the former standard backyard on the double lot has been repurposed into an oasis featuring a 12-by-20-foot pool and patio area. filled with a pergola and a fire pit. Huge granite boulders forming a natural-looking wall serve as a reminder of the town’s origins, Rockport.
Even though there are essentially four outdoor spaces for the family to enjoy, a sense of privacy prevails. “We wanted the scale to be modest and reasonable, not overwhelming,” says Kevin McCurry, explaining that it was important to him and Dee that the newly renovated structure and landscape blend aesthetically with their small mid-19th century farmhouse. century.
Brown, who has mastered the art of using every square inch in projects with tight, typically New England constraints, credits the McCurrys, soon to be empty nests, with a clear vision for the future – l intend to maintain their property as a place for the family to enjoy for years to come.
The new pool house has a comfortable living room, a complete bathroom and a superb kitchenette. No shortcuts were taken on design and material decisions. “The fun part for us,” says Brown, “is that we designed all the spaces inside as if it were a complete home project, with attention to detail, craftsmanship, to finishes and finish selections.”
Collaborating with Premier Builders was strategic because the contractor is known for his prowess in cabinetmaking. Brown and Premier have designed a queen-size Murphy bed that folds out directly onto a custom sofa without having to move it. Even the main sofa cushion stays in place. Built into this wall, there is upper storage space for occasional and seasonal use accessories, while below and to the side of the sofa are cupboards and drawers for more frequently used items.
“When you’re dealing with a confined space, placement of everything is a big deal,” Brown says.
Among other amenities, the kitchenette has a beverage fridge and dishwasher, so guests don’t have to run all the way to the main house to retrieve the items they need. Premier Builders milled the shelves in the kitchen from a beam that was no longer needed in the garage, wood that was also used behind the Murphy bed and to support the shelves on that wall. Wide plank ceramic tile flooring looks great and is also durable, withstanding foot traffic to and from the pool.
The bathroom, with its subway tiles and wainscoting, also has an upscale residential feel. “The glass doors and glass partition in the walk-in shower are details you’ll find in many of the complete homes we design,” notes Brown, adding that the wall-mounted rainfall showerhead and finish of black hardware are also touches you would see. in a main bathroom. “The client didn’t want it to be different [from a nicely appointed home].”
Outside, the gunite swimming pool and patio, with high-quality concrete pavers imitating blue stone, extend the dining and living space, while the pergola connects the pool house to the outside. “Clients wanted to have both the use of the pergola and purlins to create shade,” says Brown. “[These features] also help define the dining table area, a place where lighting options and candles can be played around to make it a fun place to hang out in the evening.
Giving up the two-car garage was a small price to pay for what the family got in exchange: a completely separate guest bedroom and an outdoor retreat for entertaining. The McCurrys, who have played with this company for 10 years, are generous with their praise for the architects. “Chris and Kurt took our ideas,” they say, “and improved on them.”