This Former Garage Is Now Fit for Drink Making, Dinner Parties, and Fall Nights by the Fire
Even in an indoor-outdoor space, you can be Team Open Shelving.
Published Sep 12, 2022 1:00 PM
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When you hear that someone has a pool house, you probably picture a shedlike structure with foam noodles stacked neatly in one corner, rows of hooks stocked with towels, and an awning-covered bar lined with stools. Steve Fabrikant’s Westhampton pool house has none of those things, but it serves the same purpose: to keep guests happy. After a few summer rainstorms forced the former fashion designer and his wife, Nancy, to squeeze friends and family into the main home’s tiny kitchen, they realized they needed a proper entertaining space. The 20-by-22-foot garage turned out to be the perfect spot. “Instead of making it more important for cars, I made it more important for people,” shares Fabrikant.
In true indoor-outdoor living style, he kept the double roll-up doors, though he did swap the ugly mechanical opener that attached to the ceiling for a more streamlined hoist that wouldn’t detract from the new design. “Once I discovered I could do that, it made it much more available for home use,” he explains. Three decades and around $20,000 later, Fabrikant takes us inside the once-utilitarian space, ahead.
The Secret Sauce
The real workhorse of the garage is the slop sink Fabrikant sourced on Amazon for $450. The basin is a catchall for cooking scraps that need to be dumped from the cutting board and trimmings from floral arrangements. “It’s as deep as it is wide—it’s pretty heavy-duty,” he says.
The Open Door Policy
Fabrikant’s no-screen approach means that when the windows or garage doors are left wide open, bugs are a reality. Luckily, running fans helps keep them at bay. To prevent larger, hungrier critters from overstaying their welcome during the day, he lined the pantry cabinets with chicken wire. Everywhere else, platters and plates sit high on open shelves.
“Yes, it gets dusty, but I think it’s so much nicer having objects exposed,” he says, defending the long-debated storage decision. “I call myself a maximalist of exposing everything. And if we have to wash something before using it, it’s not a big deal.” While all of the upper cabinets and shelves were custom made by his carpenter, the lower cupboards are basic ones by KraftMaid.
The Hot Topic
Fabrikant’s hard-to-miss cow collection all started after he and his wife came back from a trip to Scotland decades ago. After mentioning to a friend how they had spotted a lot of cows abroad, they were given their first themed piece. “Then as we went along, we found other cows that we liked, or friends would bring us them,” he says. Fabrikant began to cover the walls with the cows, going as far as to mount a small shelf to display one of his favorite figurines. The food-prep area, with its white-painted cabinets and black granite counters, is a subtle nod to the underlying motif. “A guy I used to know who made buttons found out that I liked cows and he fashioned them into drawer pulls,” says Fabrikant. He gave him enough to put on every other front.
The Seasonal Surprise
Adding skylights to the space was one way to make it feel less garage-like and more dinner party–proof. The problem, Fabrikant quickly learned, was the surrounding maple trees. “I would have them cleaned in May and then in June they’d be so dirty, it’s as if I never did it,” he says. These days he’s learned to work with the seasons and wipe the skylights down after all the helicopter seeds have fallen.
The Flip Side
Although the pool house is largely intended for use in the summertime, Fabrikant considered how they’d live in the space during the colder months, too (they stay on Long Island year-round, after all). Rather than put in more windows and paint everything white, he went superdark in the second half of the former garage with Benjamin Moore’s Racoon Fur paint, honed granite countertops, and 12-by-24-inch Italian floor tiles. “I really wanted to keep it cozy in there,” he explains. Name another pool house that has a wood-burning stove—we’ll wait.