Seattle Culture

Office Space, Reimagined: An 80 Square Foot Work Space Doubles as Family Room

By Jennifer McCullum November 28, 2016


This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

For 40 years, architect Jim Cutler has created projects for his clients characterized by their connection to the natural environment. But despite his affinity for the outdoors, he was doing most of his sketches underground. “I’ve designed buildings all over the world from my children’s playroom in the basement,” Cutler says. “At the ripe old age of 65, I said, ‘I want to look at the water while I work.’”

A tiny wood-burning stove is all the central heating needed to warm up architect Jim Cutler’s 80-square-foot studio. Cutler converted the old tool shed behind his property to create the at-home work space he had always longed for

“I want to look at the water while I work,” Cutler says of his inspiration for the space, which overlooks Puget Sound 

Cutler and his daughter, Hannah, worked together for about eight months to complete the project, which serves as both the architect’s workspace and a bunkhouse for Hannah’s sleepovers. The family pet, Mars, lounges on the cedar boardwalk that leads to the studio, just 23 feet from the main house

Together with his 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, Cutler converted the old tool shed behind his property into an 80-square-foot oasis that serves as both his design studio and a bunkhouse for Hannah’s sleepovers. Constructed entirely of rough-sawn Douglas fir two-by-fours, the space took about eight months to complete, with Cutler and Hannah working together each weekend. “Hannah and I cut out all the walls in the garage. We hand-dug part of the foundation. We were building this as a pair, so we didn’t expect the highest degree of craft, but it’s so personal because it’s inhabited by the youngest of my four daughters,” he says.

Inside, the bunkhouse contains a drafting desk for Cutler, which is surrounded by glass windows on three sides (offering his long-wished-for view of Puget Sound); two twin bunkbeds that fold up via a traction strut; a 32-inch monitor that serves as a computer and TV screen; and a tiny wood-burning stove. “That little stove is just a gem in terms of heat capacity,” Cutler says. “Take two square blocks of wood and you can heat the place all night.”

One of the bunkhouse’s two twin beds, which folds via a traction strut to easily store out of the way, post-sleepovers. The entire space is constructed of rough-sawn, Douglas fir two-by-fours sourced from Smyth Lumber Mill of Indianola

The studio’s 32-inch monitor serves as both a computer and television screen, so evenings are spent with Cutler’s family watching movies while he draws at his desk. “It’s the world’s tiniest family room,” he says

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