Sarah Sherman Samuel’s latest project hit close to home—her backyard to be exact. The interior designer set out to build a creative getaway tucked into a wooded ravine behind her newly-finished Grand Rapids abode. Naturally, the forest views quickly became an important part of the design, and framing them a prime focus. For the ultimate “wow” factor, the designer used Marvin’s Modern Multi-Slide door to create a soaring glass wall as the dramatic main entrance. What better setting for Samuel’s signature aesthetic of earthy tones and effortless cool.
Ahead, the designer walks us through the stunning reveal, talking light, landscapes, and nature’s impact on productivity.
Go Back to the Basics
For the structure itself, Samuel borrowed inspiration from the exterior of her home, using the same siding and paint to achieve a cohesive look. “I wanted a black, streamlined single-gabled roof that extends over a mini porch, coupled with elements of Japanese Muji huts,” she says.
The Marvin Signature Modern collection fit right in with the designer’s vision: Floor-to-ceiling glass gives the feeling of being outdoors and slim details and sleek hardware lend a minimalist feel that went hand-in-hand with the clean lines of the studio itself. “The structure is all about paring things down to their simplest form, as well as unobstructed views that help achieve a seamless transition between the indoors and out,” Samuel says.
Let There Be Light!
And lots of it. That was Samuel’s main priority, not to mention an integral part of her professional process. Sitting flush with the base of her desk, a sweeping 12-foot direct glaze window offers an optimal picture frame for the all-encompassing surroundings. Natural light floods the northeast-facing room in the mornings, though it’s always slightly diffused thanks to the neighboring tree groves.
From there, Samuel can stare straight out to the wooded ravine, so even when she’s working on the computer it still feels like she’s outdoors. “In the winter you can see for miles, but in the summer and fall it’s all leaves,” she says.
Keep It Cool
The palette inside was limited to white and black, letting the outdoors take visual hierarchy. Samuel introduced splashes of muted, warm colors, through a set of rust-velvet office chairs and woven textures. Raw materials like wood and concrete were incorporated in refined forms for a zen-like feel and a calming “blank” canvas.
The entire back wall of the office is used for storage, maximized by eight feet of cabinets that hold supplies and product samples. The adjacent wall is split between a set of floating shelves—holding everything from tile samples to trailing plants—and an empty section reserved for pin-up sketches, material samples, and a revolving gallery of Samuel’s ever-changing personal art.
Look to the Elements
“I’m constantly working, ideating, or designing in my mind,” says Samuel. “Being able to take a moment and immerse myself in nature is a helpful break that sparks inspiration,” she notes. One of her creative flashes: manipulating the window placement to function as a real-life photo cropping tool. Between the windows and doors, Samuel left solid walls to block out glimpses of the car-lined driveway, as well as a snippet of the neighbor’s house. “When you’re inside, you see nothing but the forest and the ravine below.” And just like that, the window to the outdoors remains the crowning feature of this dreamy home office.