HOW do you design a ``pool house'' that has to function as a guesthouse, cabana, party area, and family retreat - and also complement the style of the main residence? You see that architecturally the little house mirrors a wing of the big house, according to Sharon Hayslip, an interior designer in Dallas. Then you develop a concept of interior space that translates into one large living/dining area, a complete kitchen/utility room, a sleeping loft, two bathrooms, and lots of built-in storage.
To get a spacious and dramatic feeling in a small area, Ms. Hayslip explains, she adopted a vertical plan, giving the chief living area a soaring 17-foot ceiling with several levels.
The sleeping loft is set off with a decorative balustraded banister, and it is reached via a spiral staircase that also serves as a sculptural element in the room.
The guesthouse and the swimming pool that reflects it are already in use. This is the first season for both. The project began last year when Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Marcus and their two children moved from Greenwich, Conn., to their new home in Dallas.
They asked Hayslip, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and head of her own Dallas design firm, to create a Texas setting for their traditional New England furnishings for the main residence.
They also asked her to plan and decorate a pool house that would be ``light, airy, and casual,'' as well as contemporary, colorful, and fun.
It was a tall order. But Hayslip accomplished it by using a very pale, glazed pickled oak on the woodwork, bleached oak for the floor, and a textured and glazed beaded board ceiling.
She chose a dappled sky-blue paint for the walls, a cool background for a few large-scale paintings.
``Bigger and fewer paintings work better in smaller spaces,'' the designer comments.
Even the coffee table is a work of art, with its hand-painted top. Small chair-side tables are of light faux stone. Accessories made of wood, clay, and ceramic carry forward an informal handcrafted feeling.
The only antiques used in the pool/guesthouse are the satinwood breakfast table and four chairs that were part of the Marcuses' earlier home in Connecticut.
Area rugs, including a hand-painted canvas floor cloth, are used in the chief living area. Only the loft, with its platform bed, is carpeted - for quietness and coziness.
The only fabric selected by Hayslip to cover all seating pieces was cotton chenille in a combination of four strong colors - shocking peach, aqua, teal, and pink.
The fabric, she says, is sturdy and informal enough for pool parties, and good looking enough for weekend guests.
The overall room arrangement is oriented to yield nice views of the garden and pool.
This pool/guesthouse has just won the honorable mention award in the annual S.M. Hexter Awards Program for the Interiors of the Year.
It was judged for its ``originality of design, coordination and use of color, integration of interior furnishings, and adaptability of the space to its function.''