Who wouldn’t want a garden office? A dedicated space away from the house to work, surrounded by the calming influence of nature. From new on-trend office pods to repurposed garden buildings such as sheds and summerhouses we’re looking for innovate ways to extend our living space. Our garden office ideas offer the advantage of providing a quiet pocket away from the main hubbub of your main home.
While working from home has plenty of pros, the no-cost commute and the daily leisurewear wardrobe being just two, it also can prove hard to stay motivated to work when in your own environment. Our homes are the space we create to relax and retreat from the busy outside world, and that doesn’t bode well with turning it into a home office. That’s where having a garden office to escape to can be a very happy resolve.
With home working looking set to pave the way for the new normal way of working for many, maybe it’s time to venture out into the garden – for pastures new!
Garden office ideas to inspire
1. Keep it simple
If you already have a summerhouse, turning it into a home office will be a natural transition. Keep the colour palette muted and make the furniture versatile so that it can still function otherwise as a relaxing summerhouse when work hours are over. Flexibility is key to making the space work for your needs.
Charles Walton, CEO of BillyOh, one of the UK’s largest shed makers says, ‘With remote working now a permanent fixture for many people, we are all looking for ways to get some much-needed peace and quiet when working from home. A garden office provides you with a dedicated space to concentrate on your work in an inspiring and productive setting.’
See more of our garden ideas to inspire you outdoor plot
2. Repurpose a side return
Use the main space of your garden to build a garden room for your now permanent home office. Garden offices became the hero garden room during the pandemic. ‘With most of the country encouraged to work from home, making space to focus on work and create a work-life balance seemed an impossible task’ say Green Retreats. ‘A garden room offered a solution to both! Creating space away from the distractions of home, as well as being able to close the door at the end of the day to properly switch off.’
‘I think a garden room is a really great place to go and work, particularly, if you can just get that sense that you leave the house, even if it’s four steps,’ says TV presenter and property expert Sarah Beeny. ‘It’s really good for your mind to separate your work and your home.’
3. Enliven the space with thoughtful decor
Take your home office outside but retain the same level of decor as that of within your home. Paint an on-trend black feature wall and hang decorative accessories to dress the space as if it was inside your home. The sense of familiarity will prove comforting. Create an office ‘break-out space’ with jute floor cushions and informal seating, to escape the screen and enjoy a garden break with a book during your lunch break.
4. Paint the walls to boost creativity
A home office needs to an environment that provides a balance of both calm and motivation, so the colour you choose to paint the walls needs to be a careful consideration. Green is the colour we associate most with the thriving greenery from nature, so there’s the motivational element. At the same time because being at one with nature soothes the soul it’s the ideal colour for creating a serene space in which to work.
Welcoming in real elements of nature with potted planst will help to enhance the element of being surrounded by nature.
See more for inspiration: Garden rooms – design ideas and expert advice to create an idyllic garden retreat
5. Hang curtains to prevent glare on screens
Wherever you decide to set up your garden office, glare on a computer screen is inevitable. There are a number of ways to minimise the brightness to save yourself squinting at your screen – the most obvious for a repurposed summer house idea is to hang a lightweight curtain, to pull across when needed. Practical and pretty to dress the space.
A spokesperson from Chiltern Garden Buildings also suggests, ‘ A screen hood for your laptop will help you to see your screen, even during the middle of the day and it will also help to keep your laptop cool and shaded. You could even look at covering your screen with an anti-glare filter which will help eradicate the mirror-like reflections from your surroundings.’
6. Opt for privacy with a screen
Save being distracted from the tasks at hand by screening off one area for when you need to concentrate. This might be more necessary if you’re not the only one who wants to hang outside and enjoy the garden during working hours. Adding decorative screens or planters is a great way to add privacy and separate workplaces to ensure a successful days work, without interruption.
7. Put a garden pod in place
Pods for the garden come in many forms, from outdoor office to guest bedroom, hobby room to teenage hangout Pods for the garden tend not to require planning permission or foundations, which makes them quick to buy and speedy to install.
Award-winning design and architectural practice JaK Studio have created modular cabins to install in your garden to offer the ideal space for a home office solution. The Module Cubed (HOM3) designs are inspired by the popular online game Minecraft. The completely customisable modular garden rooms are ideal for contemporary home working.
8. Stay connected
One of the key things you need to consider when setting up a working spot outside is a location that is close enough to the Wi-Fi. This will determine where best to place your garden office set up.
‘Moving your office outside could mean your home connection becomes interrupted and sporadic, which will cause more headache and stress when joining any virtual meetings, conferences or when making any important calls If you can, move the router closer to your chosen spot so your signal strength is the best it can be’ advises a spokesperson for Chiltern Garden Buildings. ‘If you’re unable to move your router, a Wi-Fi extender will help strengthen your connection.’
9. Repurpose the garden furniture
If you’re already saving money by repurposing a garden shed you may want to keep costs in check with a few other savvy solutions. Repurposing the outdoor furniture is a sure-fire way to save on spending.
‘Although working from the hammock may sound cozy, if you’re going to be working outside for a long stretch, your best bet is to set up shop at a traditional outdoor dining table’ says Riverbend Home’s Chief Home Officer Mark Feldman. ‘If you want a standing desk option outdoors, two alternatives are repurposing a potting bench or a bar height table. Consider the same ergonomics as your traditional desk setup.’ Add cushions to bistro chairs to pad the seat and be sure to take frequent breaks to stretch in between long spells of sitting at a desk.
10. Seek shade
Whether it is 15 degrees or 35 degrees, protecting yourself from the sun when working outside is essential. Especially if you’re used to working indoors, the powerful rays may be a shock to the system. If your garden is a suntrap if you do venture outside to work on a bench, ensure you have the appropriate protection. A canopy will provide shelter to seek shade, protecting your skin from the UVA and UVB rays and your electrical equipment also. Retreat inside when it’s too hot to handle, the shelter of a garden office in a jazzed-up shed will provide a welcome escape.
11. Welcome warmth with rugs
Use rugs to layer the floors to make the space feel more inviting. The homely touch will add a certain feeling of warmth but by blocking any potential draughts from coming through the floorboards it will literally warm the room too.
Is a garden office a good idea?
They say that you shouldn’t work a horse in its own paddock, because that’s their own personal space – a chance to just be. Much can be said the same for humans. While there are many benefits to working from home it can sometimes encroach on your work-life balance. Therefore having a garden office, if you have the space, allows you to physically leave the house for work and return home after each day. Despite the fact you are only walking out the door short distance to the garden, mentally it can be liberating to have the routine.
‘We believe a garden office is whatever you make it, which is why we provide a blank slate for you to decorate however you wish’ says Charles Walton, of BillyOh. ‘A quality garden room can act as a home studio for creatives or productive office space for freelancing professionals. Moving your office space outside your home allows you to separate your work and home life better and approach your work with the attention and professionalism it deserves.’
Do I need planning permission for a garden office?
‘You have to be a little bit careful on garden buildings because you have to make sure that you don’t need planning permission,’ property expert Sarah Beeny warns. ‘And it depends on how big your garden is, how high the building that you’re planning on putting in is, how close the neighbours are. You do need to check with planning permission and building regs. You can’t have a habitable room out there without building regs, so there are a few rules you need to comply with.’
For most cases it’s unlikely you will need planning permission for a garden office, because the structures are often repurposed sheds and summer houses – which are all in the permitted development guidelines. Garden pods tend not to require planning permission or foundations either, which makes them quick to buy and speedy to install.
‘If your building is shorter than 2.5m, doesn’t take up more than 50 per cent of your garden, or isn’t going to be placed in your front garden, you shouldn’t require planning permission’ says Charles Walton.
‘However, this will largely depend on local councils and neighbourhood policies, as well as the response of your immediate neighbours. Planning permission rules can vary by area, so we would strongly recommend checking with your local council.’