Published : 28 October 2015

It used to be that the average poolside structure purely housed the pool pump, or a mix of pool cleaning and gardening equipment! Well how things have changed, for this summer's must-have item is a fully-fledged indoor-outdoor room.

Enclosed or semi-enclosed outdoor rooms are increasingly popular, especially in climates where you spend most of your time outdoors. What's the point of spending a fortune indoors when you do all your entertaining by the pool?

Originally nothing more than an open-sided thatched hut, today's poolside cabana is quite a different creature. At the very least it will feature comfortable seating and a bar fridge - but don't be surprised to see outdoor kitchens and pizza ovens, daybeds and sofas, wired music, a pool table, fans, heaters and so on.

It really has become a 'room' - in fact, designs are leaning more and more towards those gorgeous American pool houses, found in The Hamptons.

Add a touch of Hollywood

The origins of the pool house date back to 1930s America, when Hollywood movie stars added them to their grand mansion, often echoing the design of the main house.

Its primary purpose was to have somewhere to change in and out of bathing costumes, shower, and enjoy a cool drink with friends.

Pool houses serve many purposes - they can double up as an office, artist's studio, even a guest bedroom.

Of course, with the structural integrity, plumbing and electrical wiring needed for those purposes, they don't come cheap. And that's why the gazebo or cabana became a popular alternative.

Technically speaking, gazebos are open on all sides, while cabanas have three lightweight 'walls', with one open wall facing the pool. The walls don't have to be permanent - they can be fabric curtains, drapes or shades, intended to block sunlight.

Keep the kids out the house

They can still incorporate storage for those essential poolside items, but hidden away from view. And if nothing else, it's somewhere for the kids to change out of their wet togs, rather than dripping water through the house!

In fact, it can keep your guests out the house, too! Imagine being able to host a fantastic party knowing that the next day, your home will still be immaculate!

Clearly budget will determine whether you opt for a simple cabana or a pool house, but consider this. If you're contemplating spending big on a granny flat or extension to house guests, perhaps you'd be better splashing out on a pool house.

Your pool house can still incorporate sleeping quarters but the bonus is that you get to enjoy the structure all year round. That's got to be better value than a boring old bedroom used a few times a year by visiting relatives!