1950s architecture for Nancy’s 2012 pool house — 10 pictures

“…Neighbors here for years were blown away
and thought the original owners would be very proud.”

retro-patio-with pool“The original owners would be very proud.” That’s what neighbors told Nancy after she completed her big project to add a swimming pool and pool house next to her 1950s house that sits alongside the Chesapeake Bay. And you should be proud, too, Nancy!  Yes, not only is the interior is spectacular — readers, see all 17 photos in our separate story on Nancy’s interior design — but the architecture of your pool house is so seamless that no one would ever guess the pool house has not been there all the time. Staycations a deprivation? Not in this happy mid mod retirement compound! 9 more photos of the exterior of Nancy’s pool house follow. Fire pit and outdoor shower, anyone? –>

retro-ranch-by-the-waterIt’s lovely to imagine being a guest at Nancy’s — winding down the stone drive to see this, just as I pass the tree line. A mid century getaway set right on the water with breathtaking views of both nature and architecture.


retro-mid-century-ranch-landscapingI absolutely love the irregular stone walkways that lead between buildings — they add simple mid century style charm to the landscaping.

mid-century-ranch-and-pool-houseNancy and her builder did a great job making the pool house mimic the architecture of the main house, yet still remain subordinate. Notice how so many of the details — from the pitch of the roof to the shape of the windows — match up nicely. In fact, Nancy did such a good job that some people think the pool house has always been there:

The best compliment I have received is when the realtor that sold us the house came to see it… He wanted to know if we just furnished the inside!? It seems he thought we had done such a great job of being true to the architecture of the main house — for example, the exterior lights and window sills are exactly the same — so he thought it had always been here and he didn’t remember?

Also, the neighbors that have been here for years knew and watched all of the work. When they saw it completed they were blown away and thought the original owners would be very proud.

mid-century-ranch-exteriorSee that bit of bright orange peeking out from the corner of the pool house? Those are lockers that Nancy salvaged and had painted Orange Crush 🙂 — providing a safe and dry place for guests to stash their stuff. Another thoughtful touch: The corrugated metal privacy screen for the outdoor shower.

outdoor-shower and lockers

mid-century-patio-fireplaceAbove: The free standing fireplace for the pool house patio was found at a local barn sale that Nancy happened upon one weekend on the way to Farmer’s Market.  She had to have it (no one was interested in it until she found it) and Nancy didn’t pay much for it at all (even though it is all copper). A local landscape company moved it for her (since the fireplace is so large & heavy). Interestingly, when Nancy was doing research on the architect of the main house she discovered the architect was a woman (rare the 50’s), named Chloethiel Woodard Smith.

mid-century-ranch-with-poolAll throughout Nancy’s property, there are pops of color and fun surprises — like the decorative glass pieces peeking up from that grouping of plants. Details = Love, for decorators, at least!

mid-century-patioCongratulation on a job well done Nancy — I’m sure you will enjoy your beautiful new pool house for years to come and make many happy memories there — and if ever you decide to turn it into a bed and breakfast please book me for the first weekend.

This isn’t Nancy’s first time being featured on Retro Renovation — she’s one of the “founding readers” going all the way back to 2007, Pam says.


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  1. Cynthia says

    Fantastic in every way. Love the waterfront setting and everything else about the original house and new poolhouse architecture and interiors. Suggestion: decorative concrete blocks, 50s style, would enhance the retro feel in place of the straight, round metal posts supporting the porches; either than or posts in a wide “V’ shape.

  2. Annie B. says

    I’m awestruck. The attention to detail is stunning. There’s nothing inside or out that I don’t absolutely love.

    In photo #4, there is a tall structure to the right in the yard at the end of the walkway. Looks like a ham radio anntenna tower…just curious.

      • Annie B. says

        Oh, my word! The original TV antenna and you still use it! Your place IS retro paradise. How absolutely perfect. (For years, my husband was an avid “ham”, so I’ve been trained to be a radio “tower spotter”!)

        I’ll bet you also have the “Channel Master” device, usually placed on top of the set, which turned the TV antenna toward better reception?

    • Diane in CO says

      Forgot to add – I adore the patio set where the pool is in the background, those scoop chairs are wonderful. Can you tell me something about them?

      • Nancy says

        The table & chair sets are Salterini . Couldn’t believe Adam (from Dead 50’s) found matching sets!!

        The structure you are talking about is storage for pool equipment…

        Thank you for your kind words!

  3. says

    Nancy – You have a beautiful house AND a beautiful pool house!?!?! And all that beautiful land! And a lake! And a pool!?!? You are really lucky!

    I vote for your place as the first international gathering of RRReaders. 🙂 Seriously, it is all very spectacular, Nancy. Thanks for sharing it with us, Pam and Nancy!

  4. ChrisH says

    Great job! It can be difficult to get the exterior details period correct. Looks like it was built at the same time as the house.

  5. tammyCA says

    Your house seems very ’50s So Calif…location scouts should come calling. I’ll check the link on the female architect, sounds interesting.

  6. Jason says

    Nancy the outside is just as great as the inside! Love that you use a tv antenna too – I’m not paying for my tv(HD at that) either – I love it!

    I also love that you chose concrete with just the broom finish – I just had a patio put in that I saved a long time for and chose the same, I thought it best fit what would have been done when my house was new in 1956.

    Broom concrete is falling victim to our laminate countertop type stigmas I have found.

    Just as people have questioned why I didn’t have granite in my kitchen – they have questioned why I didn’t have pavers or stamped concrete. I’ll pick the no care durable concrete anyday over sandy joints I can’t use a pressure washer on.

    • Nancy says

      It seems like a no brainer to us, right? Not sure how we got away from some of these things! I have had all kinds of countertops & to me the laminate is the easiest to keep ( even mine that was 50 yrs old). When Pam wrote that they were discontinuing the aqua boomerang Formica I was all over that! How could they discontinue something SO GREAT?!!!

      • Joe Felice says

        We tended to veer away from a lot of that stuff because of the labor involved and the corresponding cost. Today, we use cheap imitations for everything. No time for such unnecessary items as “broom finish.” HA! Back then, plastics were new and people were so busy coming up with inventive ways to use them. This made them very desirable. The same applied to laminates. And when the process of extrusion was perfected in the ’60s–well, things just took off from there.

        I am so tired of granite and stainless steel, and I don’t think realtors and TV shows are doing anybody any favors by insisting your house is nothing if you don’t have them. I deliberately chose white appliances & laminate counters when I remodeled my kitchen. In a few, short years, granite and stainless will be passe, and, years from now, they will be among the things that people look back on and say “What were they thinking?” Isn’t it amazing, tho, how easily Americans can be herded into believing the same things? I recently had tile installed on the floor of my master bath. The other day, on an HGTV show, I heard “. . . and they even replaced the outdated tile on their bathroom floor.” Made me want to reach into the plasma and strangle the hostess! I replaced that wonderful staple–cheap vinyl–with the tile, so I don’t consider it “outdated.” In fact, it’s quite an upgrade. Herd on, TV-show hosts and realtors!

    • Sheila says

      Hand raised and arm waving here! I’d even offer to bring some lovely retro cocktail glasses but I suspect Nancy already has great options stashed inside those delicious orange cabinets.

      This is so impressive, on all levels. Thanks to Nancy for sharing!

  7. Sara of WA says

    It’s simply and absolutely perfect. Love the yellow. Landscaping is so perfect for the period as well. Simple and lovely. And what a location. How do you ever leave the house?

  8. Zoe says

    Oh. My. God. So much awesomeness in one place! Nancy, you’re a genius — that fireplace is to die for! As is the pool house itself. Wow.

  9. JivenMama says

    Stellar job! both on building the pool house, and on making all the right decisions to create a wonderful life for your family.

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