How To Turn A Pool Cabana Into An All-In-One Staycation Destination

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Love what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Interior Design: Christina Kim Interior Design · Photography: Raquel Langworthy

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With summer just around the corner, we’ve found the perfect space to inspire a sun-kissed and cool dip state of mind. This 300-square-foot cabana was designed for a couple and their three teenage daughters with a multitude of uses in mind. Grab your sunscreen and come take a peek at how Christina Kim Interior Design transformed this cozy cabana into an entertaining space, office, and bedroom all-in-one.

From Christina Kim Interior Design… “My clients requested three uses for the space,” explains Kim. “The husband travels a ton for work, but he works from home a few days a week. There is no shortage of overnight guests here, and pool guests need a place to change and relax. And of course, it needed to also be a bar area—a place to watch the game!” The cabana/guest house was initially part of a detached garage utilized as an old storage unit that looked like it was stuck in the 70s in need of some serious love and TLC. Outfitted with office-grade carpeting and orange-toned wood ceiling beams, the nondescript, tiny room needed a completely new look! “I love making a small space feel like it’s worth the big effort,” says designer, Christina Kim “Luckily, I’ve spent a lot of time living in apartments in New York and Paris. I love a small-space challenge!”

Starting with the giant painted surfboard at the entrance, the entire home exudes a Cali-cool feel, and the mix of blues and teals naturally brings to mind the soft colors of the ocean. The bar area brings the inside out, perfectly encapsulating that indoor-outdoor vibe. The indoor-outdoor cabana has a beachy vibe that creates a vacation feel in the backyard. Rattan bar stools at the counter facing inward toward the kitchen create a comfortable seating area. A soft white, mint green, and blue palette inside and out and an ombré surfboard leaning up against the side of the cabana reinforce the coastal feel. “I was going for a cool vintage New Jersey-cabana feel,” says Kim. “These little beach towns here have old-school boardwalks with benches and gazebos painted these perfect washed-out shades of mint green and white. My main envelope for the home was actually white, and I used texture and pattern to add interest in a quiet, muted way.”

A small kitchenette serves as the main entertaining area of the home, with clean lines and a long, comfortable bar area that serves as the main spot to relax with a drink or snack. A mix of open and closed shelving adds contrast and airiness, while the bar accessories work with shine and brass for interest. “The shelving is lit, so it looks gorgeous and dreamy at night… And I found the most beautiful slab of White Macaubas quartzite with the slightest bit of green running through it.”

In the living area, white bunk beds are punctuated with sea green throw pillows with intricate white patterns, a pale mint rug, and a yellow and green surfboard that reminds one of the sea crashing against a sandy beach. “I wanted to make sure that there was a ‘pierced’ quality to things, so nothing felt too enclosed or claustrophobic in this small space. I kept all of the color on the ceiling, to keep the eye moving upward.” The bunk beds and built-in shelving were some smarter small space hacks, with the vertical space in the home being utilized as much as the horizontal space. Some textured accessories, including plants and a casual surf-inspired book, kept the cabana true to its theme.

“The beamed ceilings were a plus for sure because of the added height and airiness, but the existing beams were by no means the beautiful, rustic kind. Before I came onto the project, there was talk of covering up the beamed ceiling with a drywall ceiling: Thank goodness that didn’t happen! I loved the idea of painting the envelope of the room white and the ceiling an old-school boardwalk mint green (Benjamin Moore Sage Tint). Those drab ceilings became the room’s best feature with just a little paint.”

A defined study area provides function while staying true to the cabana’s earthy, relaxed vibe. “The custom office nook feels very carved into the space…In fact, every element in the room is deliberate, and there is actually very little movable furniture. I wanted to create an easy-to-care-for space without a lot of things in it to knock over or keep track of. The theme was well-appointed and somewhat minimal.”

Blurred lines between indoors and out with folding windows and sleek, natural chairs as another way to enjoy the home during high-season. “The structure itself was nondescript, but I loved the portico situation right away…Even if the New Jersey weather doesn’t always cooperate, that covered area allows for a little protection, which meant that my clients could enjoy it outside of the summer months.”

Love what you see? Take a peek at the talent behind the story… Interior Design: Christina Kim Interior Design · Photography: Raquel Langworthy

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