Sarah Sherman Samuel’s Nature-Inspired Modern Home Office
Interior designer builds a home office around natural light and mood-boosting nature views.
For designer Sarah Sherman Samuel, staying inspired in a home office space means incorporating her two must-haves for creative bliss: plenty of natural light and a blank slate space where the color, materials, patterns, and finishes she works with can get all her attention.
Used to living and designing in sunny California, natural light (and lots of it) is integral to her professional process. When Samuel and her family relocated to Michigan and moved into a home in a beautiful nature ravine, she knew she wanted to build a space that would capture as much light as possible while celebrating the wooded backdrop. She ditched traffic-filled commutes and gave “working from home” a new meaning when she built a modern, streamlined office structure just steps from her newly renovated home.
Nestled in a hillside overlooking her tree-lined site, Samuel’s workspace is long and skinny, modeled after a house with a single-gable roof. The exterior is painted Caviar Black to match her family home, giving the impression of a closed-off bunker until you round the side and see a wall of expansive Marvin Modern sliding doors and a 12-foot direct-glaze window framing the ravine below.
“I’ve always wanted to build a ‘modern shed’ for an office, and when I saw the new Marvin Modern line, it all clicked. I designed the structure around its multi-slide door that goes from floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall,” Samuel said. “There is nothing superfluous in the design, just like the structure itself. The clean lines go hand-in-hand with the black metal roof that almost seamlessly transitions to the siding.”
In keeping with Samuel’s modern aesthetic, her home office boasts clean lines and a minimal color palette of black and white, letting natural materials, rich textures, natural light, and nature views take center stage. Since she spends a lot of time at her computer designing and envisioning spaces, Samuel enlisted her father to create what she calls the “infinity pool of desks” – a 12-foot custom desk built into the windowsill of her Modern direct glaze window. The desk helps save space and gives her a much needed opportunity to bask in the light and gaze into the forest to clear her mind.
“Even when you’re sitting at the computer you feel immersed in nature,” Samuel said. “You only need to glance up to give your eyes a beautiful break from the screen. Focusing on something 20 feet or more away periodically while working at a monitor helps to avoid eye strain. It makes it easy to follow the 20-20-20 rule (which states that for every 20 minutes at the computer, you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds).”
As a designer, Samuel has a knack for choosing art and creating beautiful moments in a space. In her home office, she did this with the windows – strategically placing solid walls where the views were not so desirable (her driveway) and placing windows and doors so when she’s in her office she sees nothing but forest views and the wooded ravine below.
“When taking a picture, you narrow in on the subject and crop out anything you don’t want to see. For example, showing the perfectly styled corner of your house, but cropping out the toy explosion produced by your toddler just off to the left,” Samuel said. “Windows are like photo cropping in real life.”
From the materials you choose to design with, the shape of a structure, and the creative ways you organize the space within it, Samuel believes that a person’s surroundings deeply affect how they feel. In a space designed around light and views, with creative and custom touches to accommodate her busy design business, Samuel has created an inspirational sanctuary (and she doesn’t need to go far to find it).
“Natural light gives me life and is my number one necessity for productivity. My brain often works overtime and needs a palate cleanser. I’m never not working or thinking, ideating or designing in my head, which can sometimes lead to burnout,” Samuel said. “Being able to take a moment to look outside and immerse myself in nature helps my mind to rest and sparks more inspiration.”