Room to breathe

Light-filled and open to the elements, this pool house offers a tranquil, restorative space for elegant relaxation

The pool house lit up at night, its pillars reflected in the large mirrors and the water. The lanterns are from Restoration Hardware.

The pool house lit up at night, its pillars reflected in the large mirrors and the water. The lanterns are from Restoration Hardware.

Patience is a virtue no garden designer can do without. It takes time for your plants to bed in, grow and blossom, for the changing seasons to show off your colour scheme, and for the years to pass, bringing shrubs to maturity. And if you don’t have patience, it helps if you are internationally in demand, so the garden can get on with doing its thing while you’re too busy to notice.

This, at least, is how one imagines Rachel Laxer’s relationship with the glorious green space that surrounds her home. An interior designer who splits her time between New York and London, she has a long list of clients to keep happy, and this garden represents both an escape from her hectic schedule and a chance to recharge her batteries.

The pool house has a direct connection with the garden, making this a usable space all year round. As well as a barbecue, there’s a generous and practical kitchen area with stainless-steel and marble finishes. The cushions are covered in vibrant fabrics from Missoni and the decor shows off Rachel’s preference for relaxing colours and high-quality natural materials

The pool house has a direct connection with the garden, making this a usable space all year round. As well as a barbecue, there’s a generous and practical kitchen area with stainless-steel and marble finishes. The cushions are covered in vibrant fabrics from Missoni and the decor shows off Rachel’s preference for relaxing colours and high-quality natural materials

In typical fashion, Rachel didn’t just design the garden; she designed the house as well. “It was built five years ago,” she says. “I wanted a house that had an open, modern feel, but with a classical exterior, so it looked like a renovation of a Georgian house rather a new-build.”

The property sits on a ‘flag lot’ – that is, the plot (the flag) is behind another house’s grounds, with an access strip of land (the flagpole) linking it to the street. “There’s a long driveway, making it very private,” she says.

There was an old house already in the grounds but it was both dilapidated and poorly sited. Once she had received planning permission to demolish it, Rachel began making a plan for the entire plot. With several acres to play with, she knew she’d have space for a pool, guest quarters and a lot of greenery, as well as the main six-bedroom house she shares with her family.

The principal building work, predictably, was slow going, but Rachel didn’t get frustrated. She is used to playing a long game, biding her time in order to get everything precisely the way she wants it. This is a woman, after all, who began her career on Wall Street as a commodities trader, before moving to Japan and falling in love with the architecture she found there. A passion for interior design was sparked by the simplicity and beauty of the Japanese aesthetic and she began studying art history and architecture in Tokyo. She and her family then settled in London, where she was soon hired by Kelly Hoppen. Now, with her own practices there and in New York, she is where she wants to be.

Natural materials lend this dining area an appealing simplictiy. The cantilevered shade is by Tuuci

Natural materials lend this dining area an appealing simplictiy. The cantilevered shade is by Tuuci

DETAILS

Photography Paul Johnson
Words Judy Diamond
Issue 114, p216 – 222