Paradise Found

Designer Ann Heath fashions a tasteful, family-friendly pool house and gathering areas that blend swimmingly well with their surroundings


Stay Awhile: All the comforts of home are found in this pool house, including comfy seating and a handy ottoman, created by DesignsDesigns of Walled Lake, custom-made to go with the sofa. A vintage-style rattan chair is the perfect spot for a summer read.

Photographs by Justin Maconochie

Interior Designer Ann Heath dove in with great enthusiasm a couple years ago when she started working on a pool house project in Bloomfield Hills.

“The homeowner was involved quite a bit, which makes the design process a lot more fun,” Heath recalls. Plus, the designer says she was happy to join a crew of veteran professionals, including Deborah Silver (Deborah Silver & Co., garden design), the Gillette brothers (Gillette Brothers Pool & Spa, pool design), Steve Templeton (Templeton Building Co., builder), and Joe Mosey (Joseph Mosey Architecture, architect). 

The savvy collaborators would, together, turn out one of the most stunning indoor/outdoor gathering spots in the area. 

When Heath — principal owner of Birmingham-based Duncan Fuller Interiors and part of FAD, the Forest Avenue Design collaborative — first drove up to the home, she saw a backyard that really was just an empty yard with grass. 

“The homeowners wanted to build a pool and pool house that would blend with the house,” the designer explains. “It was about using the available space to create a place that the family (including three children) could use.” 

Heath set to work designing a pool house that would be just steps away from the pool and would include an open kitchen, a bathroom/changing area, a living area, a small storage area, and a utility area.  

“It’s not what you would consider big; it just works well for this family and their friends. In fact, it’s totally oriented for the kids,” Heath says.  

Classic elements: The exterior of the pool house is shake, metal, and stucco with a brick base. Its blue shutters match those of the main house 


On the grounds: The neutral colors of time-worn seashells and driftwood allow the purples, pinks, and whites of the surrounding gardens to pop. Note the barn door, discovered in Houston. Outdoor sconces are from Bevolo lighting. Outdoor cushions were custom-made by DesignsDesigns, of Walled Lake. 


Heath’s final design and color scheme are easy to live with. Tans, creams, and ivories — found in everything from the backsplash in the kitchen to the sofa fabric — echo the colors of age-worn seashells and driftwood. A relaxed, comfortable look continues outdoors, where the chairs around a fire pit, for example, are made of teak, but they’ve been stained gray. “I wanted (to create) that gray, worn look early, well before it would naturally turn that way,” the designer explains.

Metal appointments and vintage-style rattan furnishings deliver texture, while an antique barn wood door adds a splash of rusticity.

Discovered at Houston’s Chateau Domingue, the old door now has new life, and a cabinet built within it is the perfect spot for storing towels.  

Working with Detroit-based metalsmith Andy Owens, Heath imbued handcrafted beauty throughout, from sconces to counter stools to outdoor furnishings. “I like to use regionally made custom items when possible,” she says. 

As for artwork, Heath and the homeowners chose to go a simple route. “The ‘paintings,’ or the ‘art,’ is what you see outside, and the ‘frame’ is the two doors,” Heath explains.  

In the name of being both practical and pretty, Heath combined form and function wherever she could. The footstool, for example, was custom-made using the same fabric that’s on the sofa, “and then I had a surface added to the top,” she says.

To blend seamlessly with the home, Heath’s design features a stone floor that complements the exterior of the main house.

Speaking of the main home, Heath is now working to update many of the spaces there, as well; her talent for design has resulted in what you could call a “ripple effect.”

Family Affair: The family-style pool house accommodates all ages. A fun blackboard inspires messages galore.

Before nighttime reveling, it's all about whipping up a little lunch in the pool house kitchen. 


Essence of Summer: Detroit-made iron chairs by Andy Owens ( and custom cushions pair well with Deborah Silver & Co.'s garden designs — a combination of cool whites, purples, and greens — as refreshing as a glass of iced tea ... poolside, of course.


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