DIY: Meditation Space

This interior space in Michael McCulloch’s pavilion brings together an absence of adornment and peaceful views of the outdoors.
This interior space in Michael McCulloch’s pavilion brings together an absence of adornment and peaceful views of the outdoors.

In 2006, Michael McCulloch completed a pool pavilion on the Portland property that the architect shares with partner, Maryellen Hockensmith. From the start, this wasn’t just any pool pavilion, as the site is an 80-acre working lavender farm that hosts a 1980 house designed by famed Oregon architect Pietro Belluschi. “We designed [the new pavilion] intentionally to be like a piece of the original building broken off and put out in the garden,” said McCulloch.

The resulting structure is multi-functional, with two rooms that can be closed from one another and a bathroom in the middle. The front “expansive” section of the pavilion captures the site’s far-reaching views, as well as the nearby pool, while the rear “introspective” room has three walls composed of sliding glass doors that frame the natural crawl of the surrounding land.

The entire building is constructed of Port Orford cedar, which was chosen “because it’s highly rot resistant, but also easy to work and shape,” said McCulloch. “It smells great, too.” Local woodworker Patrick O’Neill of Greenline Fine Woodworking was a natural fit for the project, having worked on three Belluschi homes, as well as the Watzek house. O’Neill constructed the pavilion using Japanese timber framing techniques. “There are no metal straps, or tons of nails,” said McCulloch of the construction. “It’s pretty much fitted together.”

Interior detailing was kept simple, with the simple bronze hardware made locally. All the better to put the focus on where it was intended: “Maryellen wanted a place where she could retreat and see and feel some aspects of the untouched woods nearby,” said McCulloch. “It can be opened up to let the wind flow through.”

Our tips for designing a meditation space, inspired by McCulloch’s pavilion


Whether that’s a window to nature, a cluster of favorite plants, or the perfect paint color on the walls, choose views that will put you at ease.


If natural light is preferred, set up the meditation space beside a window that gets good sun. If not, install window coverings. McCulloch designed the introspective room with large expanses of glass, but there’s also a ceiling track with a curtain that can be pulled into place.


McCulloch covered the pavilion floor in tatami mats, which are a traditional woven Japanese flooring material. Surround yourself with materials that will soothe the senses, such as floor pillows and blankets, but avoid any patterns or colors that might distract.


Pick a spot that promotes quiet. If needed, employ white noise tools, like a water fountain, to mask potentially intrusive sounds. Minimize visual clutter to encourage inner focus.


The caveat to the above suggestion about visual clutter is that you might want to bring in select items that aid concentration, such as candles, statues, or a Tibetan singing bowl.

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