garden rooms

Garden rooms – design ideas and expert advice to create an idyllic garden retreat

Lounging in the garden isn't just for sunny days

Whether your family needs more space for play, hobbies, work or study – or you simply want a summer sitting room, a garden room room is an ideal solution. They can come as simple as you want, barely more than wood and a bit of paint, or something more luxurious with windows and a power supply.

For more ways to transform your outdoor space, see our Garden ideas

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 garden. Why should sitting out in the garden be reserved just for the sunny days? With one of these structures you can enjoy your backyard blooms everyday of the year.

Garden room design ideas

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

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Image credit: Burford Garden Company

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

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.

Buy now: Hideaway Garden Pod (H200xW212xD184cm), £2,999, Burford Garden Company

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

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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 to soften the linear design of the contemporary structure, making 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.

Find out more: A 5m x 3m garden room starts from £22,000; living walls start from £2,160, eDEN Garden Rooms

3. Avoid commitment with an easy-to-put up, glamorous garden tent

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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 that offer shade from the sunshine, refuge from a rain shower and even double as a guest bedroom in high summer.

Buy now: Lilypond tent (H302xW365xL365cm), £3,100, Raj Tent Club

4. Double up on the space with a living room and storage shed

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Image credit: Cuckooland.com

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

Buy now: Rowlinson Connor outdoor wooden summerhouse in natural timber (H225.5xW504.5xD256.5cm), £2,499, Cuckooland.com

5. Keep it simple and traditional with a posh potting shed

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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. 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, so prices can vary from £1,822 to £5,993 for a 6’x4’ shed. Prices include delivery and installation.

Buy now: 7’x5’ Gothic Shed in Very Posh build option, with treated timber finish with cedar shingle roof (H245xW158xD221cm), £3,562, The Posh Shed Company

6. Prepare for any future house moves with a portable shepherd’s hut

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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.

Buy now: Cabin shepherd’s hut (H315xW548.6xD213cm), £21,650, Plankbridge

7. Light up the barbecue, whatever the weather, with an outdoor kitchen

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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.

Buy now: Morsø Hut (H275xW280xD166cm), £5,995, Morsø

8. Skip the ornamentation with an affordable summerhouse you can build yourself

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Image credit: 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) and once up, the shiplap wooden boards are ready to paint in a colour of your choice.

What’s more, the doors are lockable so you can use it to store your garden furniture safely throughout winter.

Buy now: Clover summerhouse (H277xW236xD236cm), £699 (unpainted), Waltons

9. Add an extra guest room to your house with a garden annexe

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Image credit: 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, 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.

Buy now: The Annex 1 (H280xW500xD300cm), £58,745, The Annex

10. Enjoy panoramic views of your garden from a round summerhouse

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

Buy now: Crane 1.8 x 2.5m summerhouse in Sage (H243xW269xD199cm), £6,999, John Lewis

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

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Image credit: Wyevale garden centres

Looking for something more robust than a pergola? 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.

Buy now: Rowlinson Carmen pavilion (H223xW264xD256cm), £1,199.99, Wyevale Garden Centres

Related: Garden seating ideas for your outdoor living room

12. Folding windows mean you enjoy your garden room come rain or shine

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Image credit: Norwegian log

With bifolds 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.

Find out more: Vista 43 garden studio (H250xW400xD300cm), £19,995, Norwegian Log

13. A rotating  pod will let your follow the sun throughout the day

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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, 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, £7,999, John Lewis & Partners

14. Create a divide between your work and home with a garden office

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Image credit: Moreno Masey

A garden office 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.

Find out more: Similar 6x4m garden room in reclaimed oak, around £30,000, Moreno Masey

15. Be inspired by your home to create a quintessentially English summer house

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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.

Buy now: Burghley 3x3m octagonal summerhouse with cedar shingle roof, from £10,400, Scotts of Thrapston

16. Why not upgrade an existing shed with a little paint and TLC

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Image credit: Jason Ingram

Explore the potential of existing buildings: with a coat of paint and comfortable furnishings, 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.’

Buy now: Shire Barclay 2.25×2.25m summerhouse, £609.99, Elbec Garden Buildings

Buy now: Rose Pink, Silver Grey and Pond Green Royal Exterior Superior Wood Finish, £16.99 for 1L, Protek Wood Stain

Garden rooms – everything you need to know

How much do garden rooms cost?

Garden room can vary hugely in price depending 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.

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% of the total land area around the house and 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.

Related: Greenhouse ideas – traditional and new ways to use your garden glass house

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

Additional words by Linda Clayton

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