News Home & Design Poet's Compact Beachside Studio Gets a Minimalist Makeover This small but elegant dwelling is renovated for maximum creativity. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published November 18, 2021 04:00PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Caitlin Atkinson Photography News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive For many creatives, having a dedicated space for work—and for fomenting those fleeting moments of inspiration—is key for sustained productivity. With the onset of the pandemic, more people found themselves blending the daily ins and outs of personal life, along with the new complexities of working from home. Understandably, home offices are now more popular than ever, with some either carving out some space inside the main house or installing a secondary structure out in the backyard. Either way, many of us are rethinking how work, life, and leisure can be hybridized in an ever-changing world. For one poet who purchased a beachside property in Stinson Beach, California, the idea was to transform a small structure already existing on-site into a haven for creative writing. Turning the project over to the designers at Fischer Architecture, the rundown studio has now been transformed into a purposeful workspace that welcomes light and the beauty of the outdoors into the area. As the architects explain, the original building was an "ad hoc arrangement" of smaller spaces that were dimly lit and cramped. The intention was to completely transform the structure to suit the client's needs, as well as updating it to meet current setback ordinances, without altering its compact footprint of 500 square feet, or its location. Caitlin Atkinson Photography To accomplish this, the new scheme involves opening the interior up to the outdoors, with the help of larger folding glass doors, as well as strategically placed windows, as the design team explains: "In order to make the home feel as large as possible within this small footprint, we envisioned the studio as a lens, a space that could gather and concentrate light. Tall glass folding doors dominate the north elevation of the studio, which flood the space with diffuse sunlight. This soft light is balanced with direct light that enters through a skylight that runs the length of the studio on its south side, creating a play of shadows and reflections in the space that change throughout the day." Those huge folding doors do make the relatively tiny studio look that much more open and grand, in addition to letting sunlight and fresh air in. The stone flooring of the interior has been extended out to form the outdoor patio, subtly connecting the indoors with the outdoors. Currently, the client is working on planting a garden that will be home to native grasses and flowers that will attract pollinators. Caitlin Atkinson Photography Stepping inside, we come into an open plan living space that encompasses a sitting area, dining area, and a kitchen at the rear. The living room features an upholstered bench with integrated storage, as well as a rectangular coffee table on casters that can be wheeled around as needed. Caitlin Atkinson Photography To create a cozy space for lounging and reading, the nook has wall-mounted reading lights, as well as minimalist fabric blinds that can be used for filtering out harsh sunlight and augmenting privacy when necessary. Caitlin Atkinson Photography Across from the living room, there is an area with a desk with a clear view out, creating a spot that is perfect for work, or for contemplative moments. Caitlin Atkinson Photography Behind that, there is a Murphy bed that folds down from the wall, as well as built-in storage cabinets overhead. The form of the angular clerestory window here echoes that of the living room's and provides privacy while still permitting light to enter. Caitlin Atkinson Photography Over in the dining area, we have yet another table on wheels, which permits the client to move it around to suit her needs. Caitlin Atkinson Photography The kitchen is pared down, yet elegant, thanks to the minimalist choice of materials: whitewashed oak cabinetry and a single overhead shelf, and grey quartzite countertop and backsplash—a relatively more environmentally friendly option compared to granite. Caitlin Atkinson Photography Looking up, we see a long skylight overhead that not only brings light inside, but also serves to visually connect the kitchen with the adjacent bathroom. Caitlin Atkinson Photography The bathroom is done with the same stone flooring and neutral coloring as the rest of the studio, making the transition between spaces quite seamless. Caitlin Atkinson Photography A side door leads to the garden outside, also making it simpler to wash off sand in the shower after a day at the beach, before entering the house. Caitlin Atkinson Photography It's not easy to overhaul an already compact space, yet the architects have manage to create an elegant and luminous space that will no doubt nurture future creativity. To see more, visit Fischer Architecture and their Instagram.