Floors + Windows + Doors: Case Study

Pool Party: BOWA creates a lavish indoor pool area full of natural light

Repeat clients in Potomac contacted the design/build firm BOWA to add a great room and outdoor pool to their previously renovated property. But after some consideration, the owners and design team opted to combine the two. “They decided to build an indoor pool with adjacency to the new great room,” recalls principal Steve Kirstein. BOWA partnered with architect David Cooper of Anderson Cooper Group Architects on a design that connects the two spaces.

The great room measures a spacious 30 by 50 feet—and the pool area dwarfs it at 45 by 70 feet. The challenge was to create spaces that felt light and airy despite their size. BOWA constructed a dramatic vaulted ceiling over the pool using timber trusses. Two massive, custom skylight panels, each measuring 16 by 30 feet, were installed on either side of the pitched roof; each boasts 36 five-by-five-foot square mullions. Glass doors by LaCantina fold back into pockets to separate the spaces; when open, they allow for easy entertaining. The doors seal the pool off entirely from the great room “so there’s no pool smell,” explains Kirstein. The climate in the pool area is also controlled separately.

The pool area is contained by a combination of eight-foot-tall, floor-to-ceiling Windsor windows (with mullions that match the skylight panels) and more glass folding doors designed to bring in as much light as possible. Above the doors and windows are two-foot-high transoms, a number of which open electronically. The doors lead out to the surrounding patio; when they are folded and tucked away, the pool area becomes part of the outdoors. “The concept was to feel like you’re outside when you’re in the pool area,” Kirstein says.

Renovation Design/Build: Steve Kirstein, BOWA, McLean, Virginia. Interior Design: Sharon Kleinman, Transitions by Sharon Kleinman, Potomac, Maryland. Photography: Gwin Hunt.

Steve Kirstein’s Trade Secrets:

  • When possible, use maintenance-free exteriors on doors and windows.
  • Transoms paired with standard-size doors and windows reduce budget and add height.
  • Consider door swings and “travel lanes” prior to ordering furniture.
  • While maximizing glass size, allow for trim plus a bit extra so the details will work out.
  • Consider the path of the sun and the resulting views before determining window and door locations.
  • A high window or large skylight may be the best option on a tight project site. Provide windows at the end of passages and ensure multiple light sources.
  • Many product lines offer a split finish, with the inside stained or painted to complement the interior finishes while the outside is pre-finished.