Designed to Inspire

A look at Dallas artist Carly Allen-Martin's backyard studio

I’m always happy the minute I walk through the door.” That’s what Dallas artist Carly Allen-Martin says about her enviable backyard art studio. That’s important when you’re known for creating cheerful art. Featured in the September issue of Fort Worth Magazine, the TCU grad and East Texas native’s abstract oil paintings showcase color and optimism.

And one look at her charming backyard art studio makes it clear she has a knack for creating pretty spaces too. “My mom is a decorator and has taught me a lot about design over the years. I’m fortunate to have her to bounce ideas off of,” Allen-Martin says.

The artist decided to create her own home studio in the fall of 2016. And, lucky for her, the backyard was already missing something. So, she turned to an architect to help her create plans for the studio she wanted — one that would complement her 1940s cottage-style home in a charming West Dallas neighborhood and anchor the backyard where her kids play on picture-perfect artificial turf.

“Our backyard is really shaded, and we had a difficult time keeping the grass alive,” says Allen-Martin. “We also have young kids who love to be outside. We absolutely love the turf. It’s been our favorite addition to our house.”

Hydrangeas surround the studio for a verdant touch, popping off the studio’s exterior painted in Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White. “They’re honestly my miracle flowers. I never seem to keep any plants alive, but the hydrangeas are doing great,” she says. “So far, just water and fertilizer seems to be the trick.” 

Inside, gallery lighting combines with an abundance of flowing natural light and music booming from surround-sound speakers to inspire Allen-Martin’s artistic endeavors. While the pint-sized artist’s oversized art hangs above white-washed concrete floors inside, the design details are on the exterior of the studio. She chose vertical planks and gooseneck light fixtures to give the studio a farmhouse feel, and outfitted the exterior with shutters she purchased at an antique warehouse in Dallas. The shutter dogs, from Elliott’s Hardware in Dallas, provide unique details.

And that crossbuck front door she walks through that makes her so happy? Farrow & Ball Breakfast Room Green paint bounces off it and the matching garage doors.