Poolside Living

When a storm sent an oak tree crashing through a Mountain Brook family’s kitchen, it brought with it a chance to reinvent the outdoor living space.

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Thank goodness for silver linings. While this East Briarcliff family had always enjoyed their backyard and pool, it was never the space they had desired. “I had always wanted a shaded area attached to the house,” says the homeowner. “So when we were making repairs from the tree that fell through our kitchen, it seemed like an opportunity to also make some changes outside.”

Cedar beams, designed for endurance with a tension-tie system made by a Tent Shop Design blacksmith, define the attached pavilion. “I let the materials do the heavy lifting,” says architect Walker Renneker. “If you go in and paint, you lose the transparency of real materials.”

Enter architect Walker Renneker of Tent Shop Design. “We decided to create a pool house on one side and a larger porch on the other to serve as bookends for the pool,” Walker says. “The cedar materials in both stuctures would tie them together.”

MIDDLE: A quartz-top, island designed to be both beautiful and multipurpose, weighs almost 500 pounds, necessitating castors to enable ease of rolling in and out. Barstools are Emeco high-density plastic crafted from recycled materials.
LEFT AND RIGHT: The pool house includes conveniences such as a TV, fireplace, refrigerator, dishwasher, surround sound, and bath. The cypress cabinets and iron chandelier were designed by Tent Shop Design. An aluminum garage door (right) appears as a wall of windows when closed. When open, it has the effect of an open-air pavilion.

Landscape architect Neil Couvillion joined the team to dress up the existing pool area and surroundings. He installed bluestone paths to repeat the pavers in the new construction, as well as to connect walkways and patios. Structured, round boxwoods combine with unceremonious oakleaf hydrangeas to add classic Southern charm.

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A minimal use of color with touches of blue puts the focus on the natural surroundings. Bevelo gas lighting creates a timeless atmosphere when combined with classic rattan furnishings from Southern Home Outdoor Furniture.

“When we start a design, we like to figure out the problems first. Knowing these helps us dictate solutions. We wanted this to be a space that the entire family could use and enjoy.”

Architect Walker Renneker
A small kitchen area in the pool house provides storage and easy access to entertaining essentials.

The new open-air spaces have proven perfect for keeping the family’s social life going. The area is host to friendly games of dominoes, as well as dinners and football parties. “This is our hangout,” the homeowner says. “It’s fun to entertain here and bring all of our friends to share the space with us.”




Architect: W. Walker Renneker, Jr. – Tent Shop Design – 205.478.2911 – tentshopdesign.com – IG: @tentshopdesign – See more of work here

Landscape Architect: Neil Couvillion – 662.418.7450 – IG: @neil_couvillion

Landscape installation: Paul Lell, Green – 205.933.0707 – greenlandscapingbham.com – IG: @greenlandscapingbham

Quartz and stone: Synergy Stone – 205.556.8115 – synergystoneinc.com
IG: @synergystone_inc

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