Dezeen Magazine

Cumberland Hideaway

Nwankpa Design creates compact, colourful sanctuary for working mom in LA

California studio Nwankpa Design has transformed a room in a family house into a colourful, private space for a mother to work, breastfeed and exercise.

The project, called Cumberland Hideaway, was designed by local firm Nwankpa Design for a creative director and mother of two. Totalling 200 square feet (18.5 square metres), the slender, rectangular room is located within a suburban, ranch-style home in Los Angeles.

Cumerland Hideaway
Cumberland Hideaway was designed by local firm Nwankpa Design

The space formerly held a storage area, and before that, it served as a garage.

The client desired a "sanctuary" where she could work, nurse and ride a fitness bike, in addition to having storage space. The design needed to be as efficient as possible because of the room's limited size.

"The programme packs a lot into the small footprint," the studio said.

Nwankpa Design room
The room was designed for a mother to breastfeed, work and exercise

The team opted for blocks of colour, streamlined cabinetry and contemporary decor. The combined elements create variety without making the space feel too crowded.

A skylight and slit windows bring in daylight while also offering privacy. Extra illumination is provided by globe-shaped Carina Maxi pendants from Nuevo Living, a Restoration Hardware chandelier and sconces by Brooklyn studio In Common With.

Colourful private room
Nwankpa Design added colourful accents to the space

Walls are sheathed in a light-grey wallpaper from Fayce. Bush-hammered porcelain tile was used for the flooring.

Furnishings include a wooden treadmill desk, a Blu Dot table and a peach sofa from Interior Define. A bold, striped rug by Ralph Lauren helps delineate the lounge area.

Skylights in private room
Furnishings include a wooden work desk

Custom medium-density fibreboard cabinets – in shades of pale pink, baby blue and white – were staggered to fit a Peloton exercise bike. Brass was selected for knobs and handles. A mini fridge was incorporated into cabinetry along one wall.

A range of potted plants helps to round out the space.

Studio founder Susan Nwankpa Gillespie said the project brief resonated with her, being a working mom herself.

"It’s about all of the things we need, without compromising what we want," she said.

"We need a space to decompress – somewhere we can focus and get work done, whatever kind of work that is," she added. "We also want it to feel special, to uplift us."

Potted plants
Nwankpa Design scattered potted plants around the room

Other spaces for working moms include Big and Tiny, a co-working facility with on-site childcare that features wooden decor and a blue-and-pink colour palette, and a variety of outposts for The Wing, a women-focused, co-working company.

The photography is by Madeline Tolle.

Project credits:

Design studio: Nwankpa Design
Team: Susan Nwankpa Gillespie (lead designer), Lillian Nguyen (designer)

More images and plans

Floor plan
Floor plan
Cumberland Hideaway
Cumberland Hideaway
Cumberland Hideaway
Cumberland Hideaway