Adult Swim

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Kari McIntosh Design transforms an average pool house into a chic, entertainment oasis

Plaid wall paper by Scot Meacham Wood complements a green sofa by George Smith from Hewn add character. Photos by Christopher Stark.

“My approach to each project is to create a highly personalized space that prioritizes my clients passions, lifestyle, and values,” says designer Kari McIntosh. “My inspiration is global, cosmopolitan, eclectic style and I emphasize collaboration with local artisans and makers. My focus is a singular experience for each client.”

The ceilings are lined in a grasscloth wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries.
Photos by Christopher Stark.

She applied this approach inside a 500-square-foot pool house, creating a center where a family of five who loves sports, could enjoy many experiences. From ping pong to cocktails, each area is infused with character. Located in a charming neighborhood of San Mateo, the family initially wanted to update the pool house’s heating system and acoustics. However, the exploration led to much more. “There were many hard surfaces (concrete floors, glass and drywall) and nothing to absorb the sound,” says McIntosh. “The clients love to travel and just returned from visiting their daughter studying in Ireland where they took photos of the floor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. They very much wanted to incorporate that look and feel into the room.” 

A custom ping pong table by Sean Woolsey Furniture sits atop an indoor/outdoor rug handmade by Woven Designs and hand painted floors by Caroline Lizarraga.
Photos by Christopher Stark.

After working with the builder on costs, the client decided to keep the existing surfacing intact and go a different route by collaborating on a custom heating solution. “We replaced the wall heater with a newer model that we recessed and added a custom metal cover to disguise it, and changed the floor design to a tile pattern painted directly on the original concrete floor by Caroline Lizarraga Decorative,” she says.

A vintage antique pub table and chairs from 1st dibs create the perfect game corner.
Photos by Christopher Stark.

Avid sports memorabilia collectors, the family owned a robust collection of vintage trophy’s and antique golf sets that McIntosh used to decorate the walls in a gallery-like setting. “The clients wanted to add more game tables for recreation so we created a custom shuffleboard (that has a top you can add to create a buffet sideboard) and replaced their table tennis court with a complimentary design to the shuffleboard but in outdoor materials so it can be moved outside when they wish to have larger parties,” says McIntosh. The walls were lined with plaid wallpaper by Scot Meacham Wood and the ceilings a grasscloth wall covering to absorb sound and add texture. New pendants from Urban Electric, Co. echoed the vintage vibes set by the main Tudor structure and the surrounding memorabilia.

Photos by Christopher Stark.

“It’s truly a flexible space,” she says. “One of the biggest challenges is that we started demo for the room March 2020 just as COVID was becoming part of our vocabulary. We safely and steadily worked on the room, completing most of the work it in time for a small, socially distanced, outdoor college graduation celebration in June.”