Summer house ideas – how to create inspiring garden rooms for a dream outdoor retreat

Are you dreaming of a summer house? We have all the inspiration you need

A garden summer house can be used as your very own special space. It can be transformed into a studio for writing, painting or other crafting activities, or can simply become a space for you to relax in and enjoy your leisure time.

On sunny days, a garden building or garden room also provides welcome shade from the midday heat. If you want to go for a country garden summer house, choose a style with a tiled roof, windows with small panes and details such as a weathervane or window boxes.

Pick a calming colour palette of neutral and pastel shades, and colour wash timber cladding with pale leafy greens. There are a lot of choices and things to think about, but our summer house ideas should give you all the inspiration you need.

See more ideas and inspiration for all your garden needs

Summer house ideas for all gardens

1. Create a calming cabin to seek shade

summer house with wooden bench cushions and lantern

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Use a summer house to seek shade during the hottest parts of the day. Keep the purpose simple with a sizeable bench seating solution that can double as a day bed, filled with cushions to make it all the more comfy. Unify your summer house with the garden furniture by painting all in a calming neutral, such as white to help keep things cool and feeling serene.

2. Lay an inviting footpath

garden area with summer house and grassland

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Make your summer house the main attraction in your garden with a stylish stepping-stone garden path idea that leads to the front door. Another noteworthy thing about this garden is the sizeable summer house, which has been fitted into a relatively narrow space. An eau de Nil exterior, deckchair and beach sign all give a nod to the seaside, too, creating the feel of a stylish beach hut.

3. Build the perfect home office

home office with table chair and panelled wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dan Duchars)

If you work from home, a garden office could be just the thing for you. For a calm effect, paint the room white and set a desk near a window or door, where it can be opened for a cool breath of fresh air. Create a stylish spot to study with a mix of modern furniture and traditional accessories, such as the phone and wooden filing unit.

Read more: Garden office ideas to create a serene workspace away from the house

4. Find a secluded spot at the end of the garden

summer house with grassland and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson)

The position of your summer house is really important. Generally at the far end of the garden is a good place - in the middle will make your garden seem smaller than it is and break up the lawn space you have. Plus, if you're looking to create a beautiful retreat, the further you are away from everyday life, the better. We love how this spacious summer house is surrounded by trees, giving it a truly secluded, middle-of-the-countryside feel.

5. Create an outdoor living room

garden cabin with macrame swing footstool and wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Use a summer house to extend your indoor living space. Perhaps you have a growing family and need the extra space or simply want another area to socialise. By decorating the garden structure in the same fashion as your interior decor helps to unify the individual living spaces, making them feel more at one.

Lay down rugs, hang pictures and use familiar furniture that echoes your main living room – creating an outdoor living room of sorts.

6. Set up an outdoor studio

garden studio with wooden table and armchair

(Image credit: Protek – Artists Studio Painted In 'Protek Rose Pink Royal Exterior')

A garden studio is the perfect place to isolate a hobby, away from the main house – not to mention being surrounded nature to inspire. Whether it's an art room or a yoga studio, the dedicated space will encourage you to nurture your hobbies to flourish, allowing you to feel more connected and in the 'zone' because there are no other distractions in sight.

7. Plant around the plot

summer house with potted plants and dark exteriors

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dan Jones)

Use the plot immediately outside the summer house to plant to immerse the room into the surrounding garden. This black summer house is a fine example with the raised beds creating an entryway path, a climbing rose on a mounted trellis, hanging baskets and statement pots flagging either side of the doors. As the plants establish they will engulf the garden room in lush greenery, which will be offset beautifully against the rich black paint finish.

8. Mix and match your furniture

summer house with sofa and french door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Give your garden summer house a relaxed look with a mix of furniture styles, from the kind of comfy sofa you might find in your living room to painted wicker pieces in a hot-pink hue. Junk-shop finds are great for outhouses, as you don't need to have your best furniture in here - and remember that upcycling can turn even the most unloved piece into something great.

9. Make space on a deck to dine

garden area with wooden table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Spike Powell)

Provide your garden summer house with a decked area and you’'ll have the perfect spot for lazy summer lunches. Pretty bunting and folding directors’ chairs dress up the typical English clubhouse look. You can't go wrong with fold-up furniture in the UK - if it starts raining, you can easily and quickly take it inside to use under the comfort of your summer house roof.

10. Paint it blue

garden area with blue painted summer house

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Decorate the exterior of your garden summer house in a fetching blue. If you have a hilly garden, this arrangement shows you what can be done. It's all about creating different levels in your garden so you have a flat enough surface for your summer house to sit on. In the absence of a lawn, there's still lots of scope to have flower beds and pots dotted about for a lush, green effect.

11. Fill your summer house with garden prints

sofa with floral cushions and white wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dan Duchars)

Most people like their garden room to feel entirely different and separate from their homes. It's all about having a retreat where you can get back to nature, so choose furnishings to reflect this. Natural materials and botanical prints are the way to go. Think fresh greens, bright pinks and a splash of yellow - they're all colours found in the great outdoors and will create a soothing scheme.

12. Choose floaty curtains for a country retreat

summer house with french door and sheer curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

If you've been put off summer houses because you don't want anything too standout or dominant in your garden, you will love this super-natural structure. With its calming neutral palette, timber cladding and climbing plants, it blends in with its environment perfectly. Lemon-yellow accents add a hit of colour to the rustic scheme.

13. Turn your summer house into a spare room

bedroom with freestanding lamp and rug

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Got no room for guests when they come to stay? Then turn your summer house into a chic spare bedroom that will be the talking point of their visit. A rustic scheme always looks stylish for a summer house - go for white walls for a neutral base and layer the look with warming earthy tones. Don't be afraid to mix plains with patterns, from geometrics to stripes - in moderation, they can't help but look sophisticated.

14. Pick a quiet corner to position a peaceful retreat

summer house with sofa cushions and bunting flag

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

Tucked away at the end of your lawn, a garden summer house provides a picturesque focal point and shelter from the midday sun. This octagonal room has small-paned windows, a tiled roof and weathervane, creating the perfect country look.

15. Choose serene green

summer house with sofa set and tea table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lucinda Symons)

Lloyd Loom furniture is the classic choice for a country-style summer house or conservatory. A leafy green paint colour on walls provides a fresh backdrop to the furniture, and a natural flooring rug draws the scheme together.

16. Go for plantation style

summer house with french window and relaxing chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lucinda Symons)

The curvy dark wood frame and cane seat of a plantation-style chair emphasise a summery scheme. Keep the theme light and airy with sheer curtains and furnishings in neutral tones and soft, pastel colours.

Which of these ideas is your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below.

Do you need planning permission for a summer house?

'If your building is shorter than 2.5m, doesn't take up more than 50% of your garden and isn't going to be placed in your front garden, you shouldn't require planning permission' advises Charles Walton, CEO of BillyOh.com (opens in new tab).

'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 strongly recommend checking with your local council.'

summer house with artificial plant and wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

What do you put in a summer house?

What you put in a summer house very much depends on the purpose you are using the extra space for. If you wish to create an extra living room for the garden you can dress the decor with all the elements you would have indoors – a sofa, coffee table, rugs, paintings on walls etc. If you have mains power to your summer house lighting is a must, for being able to use the space all year round and at all times of the day.

If you're using the summer house for hobbies and activities you will might choose to keep the contents minimal. Avoid it feeling cluttered. For a fitness studio keep it free from bulky furniture, use wall storage to elevate any items off the floor to keep the space safer - avoiding accidents from trip hazards.