Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

A pool house creates more space to work and entertain in Newtown Square

The pool house “is separated from the house, so I may talk as loudly as I wish" without disturbing his family, said Jim Conlan, whose work requires frequent early morning calls.

During the pandemic, the pool house, heated so it can be open year round, has become Jim Conlan's workspace. The family also likes to entertain there.
During the pandemic, the pool house, heated so it can be open year round, has become Jim Conlan's workspace. The family also likes to entertain there.Read moreStephen Conroy

Entering the Newtown Square home, it’s clear the occupants are avid readers. Visitors are greeted by a two-story entrance, wallpapered to resemble a library. Books fill custom-made bookcases in most rooms.

When Kelly Conlan and her daughter, Camilla Stapleton, now 19, discovered the house in 2014, it felt like their perfect haven. Camilla found it just going past one day. The new construction spec home was smaller and would be easier to maintain than their home in Malvern. It was also near other family members and a comfortable commute for Kelly, who often traveled to New York and elsewhere for her job as a financial adviser.

“My daughter had obviously been watching a lot of HGTV because she said the house was beautiful and had an open floor plan,” Kelly recalled. “I remember thinking that was hilarious coming out of the mouth of a 12-year-old.”

Kelly loved the kitchen that opened into the great room and the two fireplaces where she can comfortably enjoy a quiet moment with a good book. After some initial upgrades, including the cherished bookcases, refrigerator, kitchen backsplash and paneled doors, mom and daughter moved in later that year.

At first, the 4,000-square-foot house suited the pair perfectly. Camilla made the third floor home, creating her bedroom and a media room/office there. Kelly took over the second floor, featuring her primary suite, laundry room, guest room, and gym.

“It was perfect for my daughter and me, decorated exactly how I wanted it, very feminine,” Kelly said. But when Jim joined the family in 2016, Kelly realized she needed to carve out some dedicated space for him.

“We were married in Paris on March 23, 2018, which was also my 50th birthday,” she said.

For starters, they turned the gym into a library and created a bathroom with herringbone wallpaper for Jim, but ultimately they had grander plans. While growing up in California and then living in Malvern, Kelly had always had a pool and realized she missed it. Why not build a pool with a place for entertaining but also to give Jim more space?

They engaged Gasper Landscape Design & Construction of Bucks County to build a 450-square-foot stone pool house with heated floors to be enjoyed year round. Their designer, Liz Walton, said she aimed to create a vibe that brought California back east.

“The Conlans wanted a space to entertain, work, and relax all within the confines of their property,” said Walton, of Liz Walton Home, based in Phoenixville. “To achieve a bright and welcoming space, we used an all-white color palette as our base and added pops of color throughout with the use of accessories such as pillows, artwork, and plants. We vaulted the ceiling and covered the walls and ceiling with shiplap.”

The fireplace is finished floor-to-ceiling using white painted brick, and the flooring is a porcelain wood plank tile that imitates white oak. The family and their guests enjoy watching TV from the nearby Jacuzzi or the heated pool.

The pool house has become Jim’s coveted workspace. His phone calls to Europe often begin at 4 a.m., and in the pool house kitchen, he can make coffee, have breakfast, and talk on the phone privately.

“It is separated from the house, so I may talk as loudly as I wish without disturbing Kelly,” said Jim, who enjoys the open and airy space with great light. “The bar area and all the sliding doors in the pool house are a fave.”

The couple also spend a lot of time in their kitchen around the oversize granite island or kitchen table with woven baker chairs cushioned in green velvet. The kitchen features bookcases — some for books and others filled with dishes — a bar, stocked tea cabinet, and the stone fireplace, which keeps the space cozy year round.

“Our house is where the whole family congregates, and during COVID, we can all be outside,” Kelly said. “I call the backyard a cross between California and Nantucket. It’s a shingled little jewel box.”

Is your house a Haven? Nominate your home by email (and send some digital photographs) at