• Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower
  • Garden Tower

Design Challenge

Ed Buchanan, brought into this project by the interior designers who thought his creative yet technically agile approach to projects would suit this whimsical project, describes it as “the most fun, eccentric and technically challenging project” that he’s ever been part of.

The client, inspired by C. S. Lewis novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, wanted a magical space to find solitude for reading and inspiration for her art. Yet the site she had in mind was on a steep hillside in Marin County where the permitting process is rigorous.


Through a very collaborative process with the owner, interior team and builder, Ed and the team came up with the idea of a tower, accessible from the main house only by way of a custom wardrobe inside the main house that opens up a secret panel and leads to the entrance of the tower. Woven into the interior of the tower are so many whimsical design elements including a LCD ceiling on the first floor offering a view of the upper story art studio painted like a starry night; a book entitled The Secret Garden, that when pulled off the shelf opens a portion of the garden, only accessible through that door; another book on that shelf, entitled A Room at the Top, opens an elevator door, also hidden in the panelling that leads to the art studio at the top. French doors from the upper level studio lead to a tiny balcony with a commanding view of Ross Valley and San Francisco. From there, a secret stair leads y to a private rooftop terrace with a commanding view of Mount Tamalpais…


With so many storyline features of the Land of Narnia woven into the space, the owner was more than ecstatic with the final outcome. Even with a very scrutinizing town council design review approval process, Ed was able to get permitting approvals on the first try.

Marin County
David Gordon of Hawthorn Co and Team
Architect of Record:
Jarvis Architects
Project Architect:
Ed Buchanan
Interior Design:
Walter and Kirsty Burns
Russell Abraham Photography
Year Completed:
Traditional 40s Style