Garden room design ideas – expert advice to inspire a garden building

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  • Garden room ideas can be as simple as a few wood planks and paint. Alternatively, there are plenty of options for something more luxurious with windows and a power supply.

    Whether your family needs more space for play, hobbies, work or study – or you simply want a summer sitting room, a garden room is an ideal solution.

    From traditional extensions to quirky covered terraces, a garden room is an attractive and practical area that blurs the boundary between interior and exterior.

    Garden room ideas

    Much like any other room in your house, a garden room is the perfect opportunity to flex your creative muscles. If you’re green-fingered, why not create your own gardening hideaway? Simply team practical furniture with an array of pots and plants for a slice of rustic charm.

    Or maybe you’re looking to really run with the interior theme in your garden room. In which case interesting fabrics, comfy seating and lots of colour will help achieve that vibe.

    We’ve put together a list of design ideas, to fire up your imagination and help you to realise the potential of that empty space at the bottom of your existing garden ideas.

    Sitting in the garden needn’t be reserved just for the sunny days either. With one of these conservatory ideas, you can enjoy your backyard blooms everyday of the year.

    1. Build a craft room to unleash your creativity

    Image credit: Future PLC / David Brittain

    Fancy a quiet space to retreat to, where you can pursue a crafting hobby or explore other creative outlets? Maybe you just fancy an escape from the bustle of family life, where you can catch up with a friend in peace?

    A timber garden room makes a great space for a craft workshop or peaceful retreat. It could double up as a home office too, whichever is most important for your situation.

    According to a survey by Forest Garden and Fine & Country Estate Agents, a garden room can increase the saleability of your home by 50%.

    ‘This certainly confirms what we’ve been seeing in sales over the last couple of years,’ says Forest Garden marketing manager, Jenny Davis. ‘People working from home has increased the sale of garden buildings and, whilst this was seen as a temporary solution initially, it’s interesting to see that many Estate Agents said they are seeing a growing trend towards requests for outdoor rooms when it comes to buying a new home.’

    2. Add a ‘lean to’ for a sunny dining spot

    lean on white house with table and chairs

    Image credit: Future Plc

    If a full architect designed extension is too big an outlay, why not go for an old school ‘lean to’. These (usually glass) structures are more like a conservatory and often don’t need planning permission (although obviously check with your local authority).

    They’re generally less expensive than extension ideas and make a great combination between a lovely light-filled garden room and extra living space.

    3. Entertain kids with a life-size Wendy house

    Small blue wendy house

    Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole

    Turn a shed into a cute Wendy house or playroom for little ones with a lick of pale paint and some power tools to put up shelves. It’s easy to insulate a shed and line the inside with plywood too. Then kids can use the playroom beyond the summer and they’re toys won’t get damp or damaged by water ingress.

    Fill it with their favourite things and let their imaginations run riot. You can then keep a watchful eye from your garden seating area.

    4. Lay a green roof to help wildlife

    green roof garden room

    Image credit: Future PLC / Darren Chung

    While it’s great to extend our living spaces outside, it means we lose grass, shrubs and green space. This has a knock-on effect for nature and wildlife as birds and bugs lose space to feed.

    A way to help remedy this and replace the lost greenery is with a ‘living’ or ‘green’ roof on your garden room. According to the RHS, a green roof will save energy through insulation too.

    There are various types, however extensive green roofs usually consist of ready-grown mats of sedum and should not require watering or weeding. So check which is best for your situation.

    5. Create a garden cinema for movie nights

    Wooden garden room and lawn

    Image credit: Future PLC / Clare Lloyd-Davis

    Turn watching a family film at home into an event with a big screen in an outdoor cinema room at the end of the garden.

    ‘Taking the whole family to a cinema room outside to enjoy their favourite film, surrounded by greenery with the bifold doors wide open is a perfect way to relax on a summer’s evening,’ says interior designer, Rudolph Diesel.

    ‘Add dimmable spot lights into the space. And if the room is big enough include a ceiling-mounted projector and a bar for drinks and snacks. Soft seating is important too, so go for a mix of sofas and beanbags.’

    6. Decorate your shed’s exterior

    White shed with flower box

    Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles

    Even if your ‘garden room’ is a traditional shed idea, where you store outdoor equipment and plant paraphernalia, it needn’t be an eyesore.

    Paint the exterior in a similar shade to your fence and add a window box filled with evergreens or perennials, so the structure blends easily with your back garden. This works especially well in a small spot, as instead of standing out, your eye will see the shed as part of the space.

    7. Set up an office away from the house

    A grey garden office with a coloured rug and a desk

    Image credit: Green Retreats

    Garden rooms have never been so popular. We homeowners look for the most affordable way to extend our homes – seeking extra space, without blowing the budget. Modern conservatory ideas offer extra space but giving up a portion of the patio to house a home office is the biggest trend in recent years.

    This is due to home workers looking for a way to work outside of the home.

    Our expert tips on creating a workspace in your garden offer a better working from home set up.

    8.  Invest in a living wall that won’t detract from your home

    A garden room with a deck area and a living wall

    Image credit: eDEN Garden Rooms

    If your house is quite traditional looking, you may be put off by investing in a modern garden room. The outdoor studios that eDEN Garden Rooms offer can include an exterior living wall idea to soften the linear design of the contemporary structure. This makes it blend into the surroundings beautifully.

    Inside they can be designed to your requirements with storage, power sockets and lighting fitted and ready for use.

    9. Create a glamorous she shed

    A black painted shed garden room styled with gallery wall and furniture

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Keep the exterior of your garden room simple and chic with a coat of dark paint. However, the interior can be as colourful and glamorous as you wish. A thoughtful she shed idea can create an idyllic garden retreat, perfect for use as an art studio or outdoor snug.

    This room has been turned into a luxurious craft and sewing room, brimming with inspiration for future projects.

    10. Organise the shed as a gardener’s retreat

    Wooden shed

    Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Russell Sadur

    It’s easy for the shed to become an outdoor junk room, filled with the lawn mower, wheelbarrow and other gardening equipment.

    Prevent that from happening by getting organised from the off with a separate storage area. Shelves for plant pots and hanging pegs for tools will keep things tidy and in order. While a potting bench, book shelf and place to sit will give you space to plan want to plant for the coming season.

    11. Rock Riad style

    garden with flowers

    Image credit: Future PLC / Robert Sanderson

    We may not have as much sunshine as Morocco but you can still rock Riad style in a back garden room. Particularly if yours happens to be a sun trap.

    To create this popular courtyard style, encourage lush foliage to cover your walls and paint a garden pavilion in fuschia pink or another favourite bold shade.

    Hang Moroccan lanterns and lay a berber rug with plenty of brightly coloured cushions for an exotic oasis, where you can relax on sunny days.

    12. Add a cute cabin for summer get-togethers

    wooden deck with garden room

    Image credit: Future PLC / Polly Eltes

    Tuck into wood-fired pizzas outdoors for longer with an entertaining space at the foot of the garden. Having a cute cabin to retreat to when the weather turns or to cosy up in afterwards with French doors lets you enjoy your garden even when it gets a bit chilly.

    As well as a kitchen counter for serving snacks, have an electrical supply installed and you can kit your cabin with a beer fridge and space to store pizza toppings, or whatever else you fancy firing up.

    13. Put up a pergola

    Pergola in garden

    Image credit: Future

    A pergola is a fantastic alternative if your outdoor space is limited and an enclosed building would impose too much.

    These open structures can zone an area for cooking, dining and entertaining in the summer months. This creates the feel of a garden room, while still being open to the elements with space for growing climbing plants for shade.

    Garden designer, Charlotte Rowe suggests putting a pergola in the garden, rather than on a patio, to avoid shading your home in winter.

    14. Don’t be afraid to go big in a small garden

    A paved garden with borders and garden room at the back

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    A large garden room can open up the uses of a small garden rather than dwarfing it. If you’re not a keen gardener, turning the bottom of the garden into an extra living room idea, complete with desk for working from home is the perfect way to get the most out of the space that can be used all year round.

    15. Take shelter in a hidden pod that blends into the garden

    Garden room with log storage and a blue lantern

    Image credit: Burford Garden Company

    The lived-in look of this cosy seating pod makes it look like it’s been in your garden for years. It’s made from reclaimed rusted metal sheeting and rough-sawn reclaimed timber and planted with wildflower and a grass-filled roof.

    Inside, it features wraparound bench seats with lift-up lids for stashing cushions and throws. While the vertical log stores either side of the entrance are ideal for storing a winter’s worth of stove fuel.

    16. Avoid commitment with a glamorous tent

    A cream garden tent with white furniture surrounded by trees

    Image credit: Raj Tent Club

    Not just for weddings and garden parties, a garden tent is a great option if you want some shade in the summertime, with the option of taking it down when the weather changes.

    The Raj Tent Club has a wide range of easy-to-erect garden tents covered in cotton canvas. They offer shade from the sunshine, refuge from a rain shower and even double as a guest bedroom in high summer.

    17. Double up with a living room and storage shed

    A double sided wooden garden room with double doors

    Image credit: Tony Cousins/

    This double summer house idea combines a smart open fronted room, with ample space for dining furniture or lounge seating. With a separate studio room on the other side with double lockable doors that you can use as a storage shed or a home office.

    18. Keep it traditional with a posh potting shed

    A small ornate wooden shed with a glass door surrounded by flower beds

    Image credit: The Posh Shed Company

    From an elegant potting shed to your own space to escape to, a Gothic shed from The Posh Shed Company is a stylish step up from your run-of-the-mill sheds sold at hardware stores. They’re built to last using a painted or pressure treated timber frame and with three roof options.

    The Gothic comes with a variety of added extras including exterior finishes, insulation and internal shelving. Prices can vary from £1,822 to £5,993 for a 6’x4’ shed but include delivery and installation.

    Buy now: Gothic Shed with cedar shingle roof, from £2,483, The Posh Shed Company

    19. Prepare for future moves with a portable shepherd’s hut

    A large metal garden room with book shelves and double stable doors

    Image credit: Plankbridge

    Because it’s on wheels, a country-style shepherd’s hut is a great option if you see yourself moving home in the near future as you can take it with you. Priced from £19,800, Plankbridge’s huts come fully insulated and with optional extras like wired electrics, bunk beds, kitchenettes, wood-burning stoves and even shower rooms.

    Planning permission isn’t usually required for shepherd’s huts provided they’re in your garden and is for personal use only. However, with any big investment, it’s always advisable to check with your local council first.

    20. Light the barbecue in any weather, with an outdoor kitchen

    Outdoor kitchen with garden room shelter and a pizza oven

    Image credit: Osoliving

    Outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity in the UK, partly due to the unpredictability of the weather. But also so we can use our barbecues for longer than the sunshine allows. The largest supplier of Morsø stoves in the UK, Osoliving, has developed an open garden kitchen with a Morsø outdoor oven as the centrepiece.

    The price includes a Forno Oven with door, built-in Forno table,flue pipe, Tuscan grill, ash scraper,pizza peel, fire tongs, Forno protective cover and four bar stools with cushions.

    21. Go for an affordable summerhouse you can build yourself

    Sage green painted garden room with a sofa inside

    Image credit: Tom Wilds/ Waltons

    With four large windows and wide opening double doors, the Clover summerhouse is the perfect spot to cool down in the sunshine. With plenty of space for a sofa and coffee table, the summerhouse comes ready to build (or you can pay the extra £279.99 to have it installed).

    Once up, the shiplap wooden boards are ready to paint in a colour of your choice. When considering a shed paint idea be sure to pick and apply the right weatherproof paint for the job.

    22. Add a guest room to your house with a garden annexe

    A garden with an annexe at the bottom

    Image credit: Diana Cotovan/ The Annex

    Go the whole hog and invest in an outdoor ‘granny flat’ for a space that doubles as a guesthouse for visiting friends and family, as well as a cool summer hangout, small home office or den. With sizes ranging from 5x3m to 14m x 3.5m, the Annex provides an end-to-end service, starting with applying for planning permission on your behalf (if required).

    Then building and installing your studio complete with kitchen, electrics, plumbing, insulation, glazing… the lot.

    23. Enjoy panoramic views of your garden 

    A small green garden room next to a wooden bench

    Image credit: John Lewis

    Made from Scandinavian Redwood, the four windows and double doors that wrap around this elegant summerhouse make the most of the garden views. It’s the perfect alternative if you haven’t the room for a typical orangery idea, attached to the house.

    Available in a choice of four painted finishes, delivery and assembly come as standard. Quality brass fittings include window latches, door mortice lock and hook catches to secure the doors in an open position.

    24. Let in the light and air with a slatted wooden pavilion

    A garden room with open slatted sides

    Image credit: Wyevale

    Looking for more robust garden shade idea, like a pergola or awning? This pavilion provides heaps more shelter, while allowing plenty of natural light and air in thanks to the open porch design and open louvred panels on each side.

    It comes ready to install and untreated so you can paint if whatever colour you like.

    25. Fit folding windows to enjoy outdoors come rain or shine

    Garden room with bifold doors and grey armchairs

    Image credit: Norwegian log

    With bi-folds that concertina back to expose the entire room to the garden, the Vista 43 garden room from Norwegian Log provides the perfect spot to enjoy a G&T as the sun goes down.

    With power sockets and LED lighting throughout, it also boasts wifi-controlled heating so you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, whatever the weather.

    26. A rotating  pod will let you follow the sun all day

    A round garden pod on a rotating base

    Image credit: John Lewis

    Garden pods are ideal for dining, studying or entertaining,’ says Vicky Angell, buyer for outdoor living at John Lewis & Partners. Consider the pod size carefully. Think about how many you’d like to seat, and how it will look in the garden – too big and it may be overpowering.

    ‘A rotating design that can be angled away from wind and towards the sun can help make best use of the space at all times of the year,’ adds Vicky. A roof cover, conservatory blinds or solar-control glazing will help to deflect heat and ensure a comfortable temperature, even on the hottest day.

    Buy now: Farmer’s Cottage seven-seater rotating garden pod, £8,999, John Lewis & Partners

    27. Divide work and home with a garden office

    Wood cladding garden room extension with a yellow sofa and white bookshelves

    Image credit: Moreno Masey

    A garden office idea is a dream scenario. Freedom from commuting while maintaining a safe distance from domestic temptations such as dishwasher-emptying or fridge-raiding. For comfortable year-round use, the building should be fully wired, insulated and heated, with access to wi-fi.

    ‘By taking the shelving across the rear of this garden office, we have provided the opportunity to add colourful displays, as well as practical office storage,’ says Rodrigo Moreno Masey, founder of Moreno Masey. It also boasts a special roller window that glides up at the touch of a button.

    28. Be inspired by your home for the decor

    A summerhouse in the corner of a garden on paving with flowerbeds

    Image credit: Scotts of Thrapston

    Taking design inspiration from your home is a great way to ensure a new garden structure feels authentic. ‘A traditional summerhouse is perfect for a country setting as it is quintessentially English,’ says Kathryn Morris, summerhouse sales manager, Scotts of Thrapston.

    ‘Architectural features to look for include cedar shingle roofing and decorative leaded glass.’ Period features can also be practical. Some Scotts of Thrapston designs include a rotating base, a mechanism popularised by the Victorians, which can be turned to face the sun or change your view.

    29. Upgrade an existing shed with paint

    Lilac painted summerhouse being used as an art studio in a garden

    Image credit: Jason Ingram

    Explore the potential of existing buildings, with a coat of paint and comfortable furnishings. Even the humblest shed can be repurposed as an artist’s studio or writer’s retreat. ‘Fresh colour can transform a plain outbuilding quickly and inexpensively,’ says Becky Rackstraw, colour expert at Protek.

    ‘A little imagination, alongside a suitable colour palette, will create a haven for hobbies. Adding exterior paving or gravel by doors and high-tread areas will help keep the interior clean.’

    30. Throw down your own pottery barn

    Wooden garden room

    Image credit: Forest Garden

    In a survey on garden rooms from Forest Garden and Fine & Country Estate Agents, one of the more unusual garden room requests that agents revealed was for a pottery barn.

    If you’ve had a go at the potter’s wheel and fancy pursuing it properly, why not create your own pottery studio in the garden? You’ll need an electrical supply, and to ensure it meets safety standards for a kiln if you intend to fire the clay creations yourself, but it’s food for thought.

    How much do garden rooms cost?

    Garden room costs can vary hugely in price. This depends on whether you are happy to put in a little elbow grease to build and paint the room yourself, or looking for something more intricate. At the bottom end of the spectrum a build your own summer house can cost just under £700.

    At the top end for a custom garden room, complete with all the comforts of a house, including power sockets and light fittings, can cost you between £22,00 and £58,745.

    Do you need foundations for a garden room?

    Without a strong and solid foundation, you risk damaging your garden building beyond repair once installed. If the company you’re buying from doesn’t include foundations in the price, you’ll need to hire a builder to do the job for you.

    A flat and level surface of paving slabs or concrete, no less than 10am thick is ideal and remember to leave around 50cm clearance if you’re building near walls, fencing or trees.

    How to maintain a garden room?

    Aim to give the exterior of your garden room a wipe down with warm soapy water once a year to wash off any dirt. Painted garden rooms will need a fresh coat of paint every few years to keep the wood in tiptop shape.

    Cedar clad structures require little to no maintenance. The wood is naturally resistant to rot and fungal growth. However, the wood will change colour from the rich red to a silver grey over time. Keep the area around the base of your garden building clear of long grass and leaves, too.

    A garden room with a grey sofa, a wooden coffee table, and a decking area outside

    Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

    Can you add connecting services to a garden room?

    Adding electricity and plumbing to a garden room is an expensive outlay and in some cases, can require that you secure planning permission beforehand. If installing electrical sockets and switches, your building must be watertight and ideally insulated for safety.

    Adding sinks, showers or washing machines require a plumber to install a fresh water pipe running from your house to the garden building and a separate waste pipe running out again.

    Do you need planning permission for a garden room?

    Permitted Developments allow you to add a single storey garden building to your property, provided it is under 2.5m in height (if within 2m from the property boundary), doesn’t exceed 50 per cent of the total land area around the house. Most importantly it must not be self-contained living accommodation.

    You can install a bathroom, kitchen and/or bedrooms without requiring planning permission provided that the space is just for personal use, say a hobby room, art or yoga studio or even an occasional guest room for friends and family.

    If you live in a listed building or you plan to use your garden room as an Air B&B, you will need planning permission. As a rule, it’s always safer to check with your council before taking the plunge.

    Will your next room project be venturing into the great outdoors?

    Additional words by Linda Clayton and Jacky Parker

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