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Bookshelves Conceal Hidden Rooms in This Secret-Filled Backyard Studio
San Francisco, California, USA
Media, Architecture, Interior Design, Housing
Laura Mauk
Date Published: 
Arlington, Virginia, Single Family Home, Home Office, Work Studio, Cedar, Recycled Materials
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2020-06-21 18:27:02
2020-06-21 18:34:15
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Gordon Beall
Harrison Design creates a dreamy work studio for screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan’s home in Arlington, Virginia.

Architect Bulent Baydar, of Harrison Design, devised this studio for screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan’s home in Arlington, Virginia—and although it was never in the plan, it’s as much an entertaining space as it is an office.

"Matthew had been working in his basement," Baydar says. "He’s the father of three young daughters, and he needed a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the family where he could write." Carnahan commissioned the architect to imagine a freestanding structure in his rear yard—a construction that would be filled with little noise and plenty of sunlight.

"The studio is strategically situated at the farthest corner of the property to increase its separation from the main home and surrounding neighborhood," Baydar says. "It’s equipped for a full workday, allowing Matthew to stay for long periods of time without going back and forth between the structures."

The 400-square-foot structure has a predominantly glass front facade, framed with cedar, and massive glass doors by NanaWall fold open and connect the interior to the landscape. "When the entire structure is open, Matthew feels like he’s completely immersed in nature," Baydar says.

Inside, the open floor plan accommodates a desk and a sitting area. Toward the rear, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves slide open and reveal a concealed bath and a storage room equipped with a well-stocked mini bar. "Due to space constraints, two columns of bookcases [function as] hinged doors that pivot on a system of rollers," Baydar says. "The hidden rooms give the impression of an uncluttered space while allowing the client to spend the entire workday inside the structure."

The studio is furnished with a cedar ceiling and reclaimed oak flooring crafted from old whiskey barrels. "The original saw marks are still visible on some of the floorboards," Baydar says. "The organic materials contrast with the glass and steel and bring warmth to the space."

A collection of mature oaks tower over the sloping, standing-seam metal roof and lend a treehouse-like atmosphere to a lofted deck that hovers above the work area. "The roof is sharply angled to conceal a spacious deck that can accommodate up to ten people," says Baydar. "If you’re sitting there, no one looking at the structure is able to see you."

Hidden rooms and all, the studio presents as a charming, secret-filled library in the woods—but it’s not always quiet. "While it was imagined as a workspace, guests are always intrigued," Baydar says. "As such, it now often functions as an entertainment area."

Organizations Mentioned: (4)
Ehlert Bryan
McLean, Virginia, USA
Structural Engineering
Harris Custom Homes
Amarillo, Texas, USA
Construction, Housing
Harrison Design
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture
Corte Madera, California, USA
Products, Operable Glass Wall Systems, Doors, Bi-Fold Doors, Sliding Glass Walls, Shades, Accessories