25 garden room ideas to embrace outdoor living

Expand your living space and make the most of the great outdoors

A garden summerhouse with sliding glass door, white walls, and green decorative accents, surrounded by plants
(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies)

Whether your family needs more space, or you simply want a summer sitting room, these garden room ideas will offer the perfect inspiration for your next home project.

As our attention turns to garden ideas in the warmer months we're always asking how we can make our outdoor spaces work harder. Garden rooms are one of the easiest ways to add extra space while allowing you to explore the boundary between interior and exterior.

Plus, the addition of a garden room, could even add value to your property. 'We believe one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost property value is through adding a summerhouse garden building,' says Samuel Marlow from Garden Buildings Direct.

'They have a huge number of uses and can even double as a home office. If furnished and fitted out properly in a way which complements the rest of the home, it may just be the thing which catches the eye of a potential buyer.'

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 ideas. In which case interesting fabrics, comfy seating and lots of colour will help achieve that vibe.

1. Express yourself in a cosy cabin

Creative office space inside garden room with vintage furniture and bright orange desk chair

(Image credit: Future Plc/David Giles)

If you're hankering for a home office but have run out of space (and major funds) try squeezing a cosy cabin into your garden as a place to express yourself and your creativity. This one came from BillyOh and starts from just £2375, making it a more affordable garden office than most.

'Garden cabins can be a great excuse to have little fun and be adventurous with your design styles and tastes,' says Joanna Thornhill, Interior Stylist and Writer says.

Use colours and wallpapers you might be a little nervous to use in the house and fill your space with your personality- after all, it's a place just for you so you do you!

2. Give WFH a whole new meaning

Garden room used as a hair salon at the bottom of a garden

(Image credit: Green Retreats)

Why not put your garden shed to best use and conduct your own business from it? From hair salon, to pilates studio, you might even be able to work towards covering the cost of your garden building through money earned working. 

Of course, you'll need permission from your local council to operate any business from your property, so it's best to do your research first, but if you get the green light, you could be working from home permanently! 

3. Ensure the party never stops with a home bar

Inside of a wooden garden room set up as a bar with bar stools and ceiling lights

(Image credit: Garden Buildings Direct)

If you love to entertain friends and family, then garden bar ideas are sure to tickle your fancy, but how about making them a more permanent feature with a dedicated home bar garden room. 

Get set up with a place for 'punters' to perch, a bar for preparing your tipples and even a fridge or two for keeping drinks cool on hot days. Pop a sofa and perhaps a projector inside your garden room too and you'll be all set for hosting movie nights and private screenings.

4. Make-over a standard shed with paint

Garden shed painted blue and yellow and set up as a home office in garden

(Image credit: Protek)

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, you just need to discover how to paint a shed before getting started.

‘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, and adding a door matt or extended front patio will help keep the interior clean.’

5. Build a craft room to unleash your creativity

living room with wooden flooring and light blue sofa with cushions

(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.'

6. Add a 'lean to' for a sunny dining spot

extension house with table and chair

(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.

7. Entertain kids with a life-size Wendy house

wendy house with cane chair and table

(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.

8. Lay a green roof to help wildlife

garden room with lawn

(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 or conservatory. 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.

9. Create a garden cinema for movie nights

garden room with 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.'

10. Decorate your shed's exterior

garden with shed exterior

(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.

11. Set up an office away from the house

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.

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.

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.

12. 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.

13. Create a glamorous 'she shed'

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.

14. Organise the shed as a gardener's retreat

garden room with wooden wall and white window

(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.

15. Organise the shed as a gardener's retreat

garden with plants trees and table chair

(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.

16. Add a cute cabin for summer get-togethers

cabin with trees and chair and table

(Image credit: Future PLC / Polly Eltes)

Make use of your pizza oven 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.

17. Put up a pergola

garden with pergola

(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.

18. Don't be afraid to go big in a small garden

garden with roof and table and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/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 space, 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.

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

garden room with plants and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC/Burford)

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.

20. Avoid commitment with a glamorous tent

white tent in garden with white rattan furniture

(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.

21. Keep it traditional with a posh potting shed

wooden shed with flower bed borders

(Image credit: The Posh Shed Company)

From an elegant potting shed to your own space to escape to, a Gothic shed, from £2,309, 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 for a 6’x4’ shed but include delivery and installation.

22. Prepare for future moves with a portable shepherd's hut

sage green shepherd's hut in garden

(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.

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

garden with lawn and bench and table

(Image credit: Future PLC/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.

24. Plump for a pod that lets you follow the sun

garden pods

(Image credit: Future PLC/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.

‘This seven-seater rotating design, £9,999, John Lewis & Partners, 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.

25. Take inspiration from your home for the decor

garden with flowerbeds and room

(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.

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 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.

Mike Head, Director at Atlas Ceramics advises, 'If you’re building your garden room away from the house and it takes up less than 50 per cent of the garden and is smaller than 15 sqm, or in some cases 30 sqm, luckily, you’re unlikely to need planning permission.' 

'However, you will need planning permission for certain instances. For example, if your garden room would be located in a conservation area, near a listed building and within a national park. Your garden room company should help you with this too, however always double-check to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.'

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.

Mike adds, 'Depending on the position of your garden room, different foundations may be needed to make sure your garden room is fully functional. For example, a lot of companies recommend concrete in order to erect the building. However, other companies may suggest avoiding a foundation, as this gives you more flexibility. It is also important to think of the sustainability and the materials of the foundation to make sure your garden room can last as long as possible.'

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.

How do you 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.

Ginevra Benedetti
Deputy Editor (Print)

Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.  

With contributions from