Artful Frolic in the Pool

Artful Frolic in the Pool

By Kymberly Taylor
Photography by Richard Powers Photography



It may be hard to believe, but this expressive and bright indoor pool room has a dark past—when it comes to walls and decor, that is. 

Interior designer Patrick Sutton explains that when the indoor pool was built in the 1980s for a Pan Am airline executive, its drab brown wood walls drained the room of energy. When his clients recently bought this home in Arnold as a getaway from their primary residence in Potomac, they were hoping for something upbeat and au courant to entertain family
and friends. 

“We took something from being dark and brooding from the 1980s to being sort of bright and cheerful and modern and expressive,” he recalls.  

The first thing Sutton’s team did was sand down the walls revealing lighter and brighter wood beneath. The laborious task was time-consuming but well worth the effort, he says. Now in shades of caramel, the walls become a natural backdrop for the pool. What alters the room completely is a series of unusual “modern interventions” in the form of white plaster fins that protrude from the wall and ceiling. Introducing an element of art and surprise, the fins become a focal point in the vast room. “Sculptural elements break it down a little bit and provide interest. The fins add layers that you can walk behind and cast shadows and reflections into the pool,” he says.

To complete the pool room’s transformation, he added new flooring and designed a generous, long banquette “that sort of grows out of the floor,” says Sutton. The banquette, complete with plush cushions, is clad in the same materials as the flooring. Butting up to the pool, it provides a generous seating area. Round café tables of a natural stone material are grouped casually, reminiscent of posh outdoor hotels in Greece or California. Sutton paired the banquette with a white custom island, white sink, and white cabinetry. An all-white surround is its own entity, fluidly rising to the ceiling and forming a kind of glowing tableau. Here food can easily be prepared and shared with guests. The last touch was to refurbish the pre-existing screen porch. Now, a wall of window doors from the pool room opens up to the screen porch, so the space seems seamless and inviting.  

“If you want to frolic in the pool or have a snack or dinner together and get in out of the heat and play games, you have it. It’s just part of the whole, like your own private resort,” says Sutton. 

And, indeed, there is a resort-style ambiance here. In fact, the space has something rare. Upon entering, one is subtly changed, if only for a while. It could be the startling white fins or the custom lighting fixtures, each one slightly different, that seem to dance overhead with their own syncopated rhythm. Sutton has used interior design to manipulate materials, light, scale, and volume. The oversized solid built-in banquette is juxtaposed with the fluid waters in the pool. A stairway to a landing, a pair of arched windows, and glass doors add variation and depth. Light is cast artfully about the room as if setting a stage. Gone are all traces of dark moodiness. Instead, the environment encourages guests to linger, cast off the cares of the present moment, and experience all the senses.



INTERIOR DESIGN: Patrick Sutton,
CUSTOM BUILDING: Pyramid Builders,


Pendants at the Banquet – Design Within Reach
Pendants at the Kitchen – YLighting
Teak Lanterns – RH


Dining Table – Harbour Outdoor with custom tops by Rock Tops Fabrication, LLC
Dining Chairs – Harbour Outdoor
Lounge Chairs – Harbour Outdoor with fabric by Holly Hunt
Custom Banquette – cushion fabric by JAB NYC and custom pillows by Holly Hunt and Hines
Coffee Tables, Side Tables, and Planters – RH
Sofa and Lounge Chairs at Screened Porch – RH with fabric by Holly Hunt
Coffee Table at Screened Porch – Zachary A. Design


© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 4 2023