How One Architect Turned an Old Storage Shed Into a Pool Cabana for Summer Soirees

a modern pool house makeover

Design: Chris Sanders; Photo: Ryann Ford; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My client’s pool cabana shares the property with a 1920s historic home and was being used as a mother-in-law suite,” says architect Chris Sanders. “They decided to renovate the cabana so they’d have a place to entertain friends and family pre- and post –a dip in the pool. My goal was to make the space functional, brighter and more modern.” 

Meet the Expert

Chris Sanders, founding principal of Sanders Architecture in Austin, Texas, has an appreciation for blending indoor and outdoor environments, from contemporary to traditional, and is committed to designing architecture that is client-driven. 


old pool house in backyard

Courtesy of Chris Sanders

“The room was a dark, empty space that was in disrepair,” shares Sanders. “It had low ceilings, a concrete slab floor, and white-painted gypsum wallboard."


bright, modern pool house makeover

Design: Chris Sanders; Photo: Ryann Ford; Graphic: MyDomaine

“One of the first things we addressed was the low ceilings,” explains Sanders. “Luckily, there was unused attic space which allowed us to vault the ceiling. Then we moved on to create separate zones including an entrance, eating area, bathroom and loft, the latter which is used as a hangout and sleepover space by the homeowner’s teenage kids. Adding a glass garage door was one way to incorporate the outdoors.” 

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Wood tones merge with white and black hues to create a modern yet relaxed feel. 
  • Floor: Patterned and textural clay tiles are ideal for high traffic, wet-dry spaces.
  • Windows/doors: Custom steel windows, including a stacking door that opens up to the pool area, flood the space with light.
  • Sconces: Brass and steel sconces have a modern yet vintage look. 
  • Mirror: A large round hanging mirror adds a nautical touch.  
  • Bench:  A pillow-filled bench provides a place to rest or drop bags. 
  • Table: A round white dining table is used for meals and board games.  
  • Chairs: Dark painted spindle back chairs have a modern look. 
  • Cabinets:  Custom cabinets are painted in black with a navy undertone (Benjamin Moore Midnight Hour).
  • Countertop: Engineered quartz countertops are durable and non-porous.  
  • Kegerator: A dispenser makes it easy to keep beer cold while providing an efficient way to serve guests. 
  • Floating shelves: Custom designed floating shelves display plants and kitchenware. 
  • Fan: A modern yet unobtrusive 3-blade ceiling fan keeps things cool. 
  • Walls:  The venetian plaster and shiplapped walls were chosen for their indoor-outdoor durability and textural qualities. 
  • Loft: Ten steps lead to a 9’6’ loft that includes a sleeping area and a Douglass fir floor.   
  • Bathroom: The powder room’s simple and clean lines reflect the cabana’s main room.
  • Plants: Greenery is displayed throughout the space to create a seamless transition to the outdoors.

Shop the Look:

pool house makeover

Design: Chris Sanders; Photo: Ryann Ford; Graphic: MyDomaine

Clay Imports Roseton Pitch Black 8"X8" Varies

“These low maintenance, handmade clay tiles won’t stain and don’t require sealing,” says Sanders.

Modern Hanging Oversized Mirror, Walnut/Black, 36"
West Elm Modern Hanging Oversized Mirror, Walnut/Black, 36" $209.40

“A round oversized wood framed mirror looks great in almost any room,” shares Sanders.

Morris L Sconce
Schoolhouse Morris L Sconce $199.00

I love that this sconce has a turn-of-the-century look yet remains timeless,” notes Sanders.