Washington, D.C., artist Brece Honeycutt finds creative stimulation in nature, preferring to sculpt and draw with organic media like wool, paper, earth, charcoal, and pastels. So when she tapped local designers Darrel Rippeteau, AIA, and Annica Emilsson, Associate AIA, to create her in-home studio, it only made sense for them to try and relate it to the outdoors as much as possible.

They tore down an old addition on the rear of the 1890s Federal-style row house Honeycutt shares with her husband and built a double-height space in its place. Square, copper-clad windows cover most of the studio's main façade, highlighting views of a giant elm tree in the backyard. The windows also bathe the interiors in soft northern light, which artists prefer because it doesn't create glare or interfere with color perception. A coat of copper roof shingles sheathes the rest of the exterior. “We tried to think of something that would age with the house,” Emilsson says.

Because Honeycutt's process often involves found objects—vintage pitchers used as forms for cast-paper sculptures, for example—storage played a major role in the design. Rippeteau and Emilsson stowed a set of flat file drawers under a raised platform where Honeycutt can stand and draw; a painted Homa-sote wall over a plywood underlayer serves as her work surface. Tall shelves fill the room's southern edge. Upstairs, a mezzanine level angled toward the elm tree holds a small office space, where she can delve into the historical research that informs her work. Although the house's second floor contains a door to the office, she gets there by climbing a custom steel ladder from the studio's main level. This arrangement prevents her from having to leave her workspace and break her concentration. The studio functions as an independent world, allowing Honeycutt to immerse herself in her art.

project: Studio Brece, Washington, D.C.
architect: Rippeteau Architects, Washington
contractor: Marion B. Crabill Contractor, Olney, Md.
project size: 435 square feet
onstruction cost: Withheld
photography: Anice Hoachlander/HD Photo