This homeowner decked out her Connecticut backyard with a saltwater pool and rooms for casual living and dining. See how this space, built under their home, came together.

By Ayn-Monique Klahre Annie Schlechter Stacy Kunstel and Monika Eyers
July 18, 2019

It’s part open-air living room, part cabana, and part federally mandated flood elevation. Homeowner Gaelle Dudley calls it the loggia, and this bonus space below her Fairfield, CT, home is where you’ll find her and her family on all but the coldest days.

Credit: Annie Schlechter

Before the Dudleys moved here, Hurricane Sandy roared through the area. Houses being rebuilt were raised off the ground to let water flow through should another natural disaster strike. But the builder from Love Where You Live Homes had an inspired suggestion: Why make the space only tall enough to be compliant when another few feet would make it truly usable?

For Gaelle, who a few years back turned a side passion for designing container plantings and styling friends’ porches into a full-fledged design business, this space channels both her innate talents and her family’s lifestyle goals. “Down here we feel like we’re living in California,” she says.

Credit: Annie Schlechter

Clad in cedar with teak-and-galvanized-metal walls and bluestone floors, the structure strikes Gaelle’s signature mix of industrial and natural. Wide, slatted barn-style doors access the yard, pool, and outdoor shower. A mix of weathered, easy-care furniture—metal and wicker chairs around the dining table and a sectional slipcovered in outdoor fabric—keeps the 700-square-foot hangout guestfriendly. Gaelle layers in her favorite bright yellow, chunky woven seagrass, and plenty of seashells to create her take on coastal style.

Credit: Annie Schlechter

A large cabinet with cubbies—another vintage find—was originally for wine storage. Now it holds rolled beach towels, ready for grabbing on the way out the door. The space “fills our bucket,” Gaelle says. “I love a warm, rainy night; the kids in the pool; dogs sleeping by the couch; and grown-ups playing card games inside.”

Credit: Annie Schlechter

A rolling console holds snacks and dishware so Gaelle is always ready for guests. There's a shower under the stairs that gets regular use. A floor of river rock and pavers drains water quickly.

Just outside the loggia is a saltwater pool and patio. The outdoor play area is connected to the indoor casual living and dining spaces with a cedar pergola. The tall structure helps the patio feel like another room. It's safe to say Gaelle, Alex, and their two sons have plenty of space in their new home to make fun summer memories.


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