At the rear of an existing mid-century ranch-style residence in the Lower Garden District, a studio and guest pavilion is designed to provide temporary quarters for visitors and permanent space for the owners’ creative endeavors, including fine art and music, while focusing on blurring the line between interior and exterior space as an environmental experience. The existing yard is a lush garden–lovingly cultivated year-round by the owners–who spend a significant amount of time out-of-doors. The program includes an expansive studio with concealed storage for guitars–which doubles as pin-up space–and built-in display storage for LPs, which also performs as a bench with cabinets for a turntable, receiver and flat files. A serene bathroom is adjacent, with custom cypress vanity, mirror and wardrobe, and a marble-clad shower and bench with infinity-edge window to further dissolve indoor/outdoor separation. The soaring studio space is proportioned for maximum filtered light and acoustic performance for playing of live guitar and recorded music. Oversized sliding glass doors and smaller operable windows encourage cross-ventilation, and a bathroom skylight allows venting from that area. A dual-height, low-sloped standing seam metal roof responds to programmatic needs and existing building conditions. The interior includes seamless, epoxy-coated floors, and wood lath as a wall finish to bring visual warmth and acoustic absorption to the space. Exterior ipe wood siding in a rainscreen assembly and blown-in insulation improve the building’s thermal envelope. Custom metal window and door frames add to the bespoke quality of the project.
To facilitate the blending of interior and exterior space, an oversized opening with sliding doors connects the studio to the terrace and garden. Smaller operable openings supplement this and allow cross-ventilation, reducing the need to utilize the building’s mechanical systems.
Warm ipe siding in varied widths is set up in a rainscreen assembly that provides superior water protection and increased thermal performance of the building’s envelope.
Custom-designed black metal window and door trim detailing polishes off the simplicity of the elevation.
Nestled at one end of the existing rear garden, the retreat pavilion has an element of seclusion that is ideal for both guest habitation and owner art creation.
The plan is functionally logical and experientially satisfying. An open studio has a soaring, sloped ceiling; the bathroom has a lower, more intimate proportion. No door is needed here: the wardrobe provides a privacy screen.
Custom cabinetry pavilion includes:
• Guitar storage wall
• LP storage rack/bench
• Turntable + equipment
• Flat work storage
A future part of the project is the semi-enclosed Orchid Room toward the top of the plan, which is overlooked by a solarium-type interior room in the existing house.
The ipe exterior siding and wood joist roof overhang combine with the interior wood lath and beaded board finishes to tangibly connect the building to the garden, giving the structure the quality of a true retreat bungalow.
Minimal elevation change between interior and exterior further enhances the indoor/outdoor connection.
Detail drawing and process photos of installation of the custom metal window and door trim on the exterior of the building, highlighting the crisp corners and considered ipe siding design and installation. Windows were envisioned as extrusions coming fully through both exterior and interior wall planes.
Section through the Studio looking toward the Guitar Storage wall (away from existing house, seen in next image.)
Generous interior proportions lighten the space. Interior finishes include wood lath along portions of the ceiling and wall. The lath was salvaged from a cottage previously on this site, sanded and lightly bleached before installation. It spatially integrates a furr down required to house the recessed HVAC cassette unit, warm the space aesthetically and enhance acoustical performance.
The custom LP storage bench can be seen in an enlarged detail on the next slide.
The guitar storage wall is finished in cork tiles, providing acoustic absorption as well as a textural shift and convenient place for hanging creative works-in-progress. It will be highlighted with integral LED tape light along top and bottom.
Wood lath follows the slope of the ceiling, detailed with gentle curves at angled joints to avoid abrupt changes in direction. A new concrete topping slab was finished with a two-part industrial, high gloss epoxy.
The bathroom wardrobe can be see in detail at the left, its black stain a dramatic contrast to the warm lath and cool floor.
Custom LP storage shelf/bench integrated into the space and set on the CMU block base.
The base provides a frame for the new concrete slab floor and elevates the structure to protect from potential flooding, though this area has not experienced significant standing water due to its location toward the center of the block.
Window trim detail, showing interior treatment of the condition whereby the opening is slotted into the wall plane, cleanly breaking the lath pattern and framing a lush view of the garden.
The guitar shelf is to the left, clad in cork tile. The front (pinup) surface is set out from the exterior wall in alignment with an opening opposite the one shown, providing a storage cavity with multiple shelves measuring 12” wide.
A detail study of the wood lath ceiling, smooth gypsum board and cork tile textures. The lath was slightly angled at corners to create a gentle curve rather than an abrupt change in direction in those locations.
View of the studio looking toward the existing house.
A lower ceiling height was used at the bathroom to provide a more intimate space as well as deal with the existing roof beyond.
The skylight frames the tops of Live Oak trees on the street in front of the house, and a sandblasted portion at the right is positioned to maintain privacy from the windows of the adjacent property.
The dramatic black-stained cypress vanity and wardrobe are a counterpoint to the clear birch plywood of the studio’s LP and turntable storage components.
Detail view of the studio’s southeast corner.
An operable window frames a view to a historic plaster wall at the adjacent house. Window trim here matches the opening in the lath-finished wall, simplifying detailing.
The LP storage bench includes a concealed section for the turntable, with open shelves below for the receiver and other equipment. Adjacent to the turntable cabinet is one for flat storage of sketches and other creative work.
The vertical cove visible in the corner houses an LED tape light that will illuminate it at night.
Custom vanity, wardrobe and mirror box were designed for the space with an idea of serenity in mind.
Cypress stained black resulted in the ethereal patina finish visible on the pieces shown here.
The wardrobe is designed to breathe via the use of spaces between its slatted elevations.
The mirror has an LED tape light behind its perimeter which, when illuminated, will enhance the floating quality of the offset mirror in its box frame.
Credits for the Studio Retreat project, studioWTA