Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, and today we are soaking up every last ounce with a virtual vacation to designer Shelley Johnstone‘s backyard oasis. The main house is poised on a perfectly manicured acre in Lake Forest, Illinois and was built in the 1950s to resemble a David Adler coach house. When designing the backyard, Shelley was inspired by her frequent visits to La Fontelina hotel in Capri, Italy. A black and and white awning adds a touch of Hollywood Regency glamour, and endless hydrangeas, roses, and geraniums create the sensation of a secret garden.
“Everyone is trying to escape the everyday, but I believe that hanging out at home should feel like being on vacation,” she told House Beautiful. Inspired by the follies of Newport and the pagoda-shaped pool houses of Palm Beach, Shelley designed her pool house to complement the Dutch Colonial Revival style of the main house. In addition to serving as a lovely space for entertaining and relaxation, it is also functional, complete with changing room, outdoor shower, and storage space for pool equipment.
The outdoor furniture is a combination of vintage and new Brown Jordan and vintage Woodard lounge chaises. The cushions are custom pink Sunbrella with white piping. Shelley uses indoor designer fabric for the pillows (including Manuel Caonvas, Pierre Frey, and Roller Rabbit), which she replaces each season.
A closet inside the pool house is filled with pink towels, a touch Shelley gleaned from La Fontelina. “I have five boys and they usually have over a huge group of friends,” said Shelley. “It is fun to see the boys with all the pink… pink and white striped towels, cushions and flowers.”
Breakfast is eaten outside most days with china, linens, and glasses. Shelley has a large storage space for all of her tableware in the main house. “If I like something, I employ it, and I don’t worry about anything breaking – I have tons. My young clients want a look that is pretty but livable, and I’m good at delivering that understated elegance because that’s how I live my life,” she said.
The pool house floor is concrete, so it is easy to hose down.
Beautiful roses are planted in the boxwood parterre. Boundless white hydrangea surround the pool area. Pink and white flowers in blue and white containers scattered throughout.
Complementing pink and white flowers grace the front door entrance of Shelley’s 1950s home.
Shelley graciously sent me several previously unpublished images, and I also pulled more from her must-follow Instagram account!
Additional information can be found via House Beautiful and Tory Daily. To learn more about Shelley, please visit her website, Shelley Johnstone Design and follow @shelleyjohnstonedesign on Instagram for ongoing inspiration. You can see more of her beautiful backyard and home here and here. And to shop Shelley’s style, please see my recommendations below…