Marta Hansen poses in her studio with the patio beyond.
The studio is housed in an ivy-covered, cement-block building.
Hansen sits at a conference table she designed, behind which a wall of bookshelves divides the room.

Work Space

Architect Marta Hansen's Annapolis studio embraces its natural surroundings

Amidst three pastoral acres in Annapolis, Marta Hansen plies her craft. Housed in a quaint, ivy-clad cottage, her studio feels like an extension of the surrounding landscape—which was why she bought the property originally. “It had been a plant nursery with a concrete building they used as an office,” she explains. “I decided to convert the building into a studio because I loved how it related to the outdoors.”

Among other changes, this entailed a massive overhaul to make the diminutive structure habitable. It encompassed one room with an attached shed—a raw concrete block with a wood-burning stove. Hansen took it down to the walls and rafters, using the two-room layout as a studio/sitting area and kitchen. She retained an existing exterior window between the two for light.

A charcoal-hued, poured-concrete floor sits atop the original cement foundation, scored to create the effect of slate sheets. Exterior pocket doors, each four feet wide, open out to a patio bordered by mature boxwoods. Beyond the patio, gardens and a wide, pea-gravel path lead to a fountain and obelisk. Hansen painstakingly moved existing plants around the property “to sculpt the space,” she says. “It’s really as much a landscape architecture project as it is an architectural one.”

Inside, open shelving separates the work space from the sitting area. The architect designed and welded her own conference table, which is made of birch with abstracted, Shaker-style tapered legs. Her desk overlooks the patio. In the kitchen, dark-stained walnut cabinets are paired with a Carrara marble countertop for a furniture-like effect. Cable and pendant lighting bring a modern element to the space.

Hansen’s favorite aspect of her studio? “I love how it opens to the landscape,” she says. “It’s always filled with light.”