Bookshelves Conceal Hidden Rooms in This Secret-Filled Backyard Studio

Bookshelves Conceal Hidden Rooms in This Secret-Filled Backyard Studio

By Laura Mauk
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 400-square-foot work studio that architect Bulent Baydar, of Harrison Design, designed for Virginia-based screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan features NanaWall doors that fold open and connect the interior to the natural surroundings.

"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.

The studio is clad with cedar, glass, and a sloping, standing-seam metal roof.

The NanaWall doors on the corners of the front facade fold open, joining the interior and the wooded landscape.

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."

Built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with Carnahan’s favorite titles create a library-like atmosphere in the work studio.

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One section of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves pivots open to reveal a concealed bathroom. 

A minibar and storage area are hidden behind another section of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

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."

The interior of the studio is outfitted with floors made of oak reclaimed from vintage whiskey barrels. Carnahan arranged the space with lounge chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller and a table by Blu Dot.

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."

The cedar cladding was inspired by the towering mature oaks on the property. 

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."

The rooms hidden behind the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves give the studio a whimsical quality.

Related Reading:

A Creative Couple Build a Multipurpose Backyard Studio For $18K 

An Architect Builds an Elegant Office in His Backyard Garden For $15K 

Project Credits:

Architecture and Design: Bulent Baydar, Harrison Design / @harrisondesign

Construction: Glenn Harris, Harris Custom Homes

Structural Engineer: Wayne Bryan, Ehlert Bryan Consulting Structural Engineers

Photography: Gordon Beall

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