This beautiful garden room is situated within a small Victorian terrace in Walthamstow, north-east London.
The owner, an interiors stylist and writer, wanted to create a home office that felt separate to the rest of the house, without the expense of an extension or custom-built garden construction.
As well as a dedicated desk space, she was keen to incorporate a small seating area, allowing her to look out over the garden during breaks. She also needed lots of storage to house both paperwork and styling props, without making the space feel cramped.
The garden office
Having worked out of a 'box room' for years, the owner was really feeling the need to create more of a boundary between work and home.
‘I’d longed for a garden cabin to use as a home office for years, but always ruled it out due to cost,' she explains.
However, after speaking to some friends, she realised she might be able to find an off-the-shelf garden log cabin kit that met her requirements. It would be a fraction of the cost and without the disruption of hiring builders and opting for a bespoke garden room idea.
The owner wanted to make the most of the garden's small footprint. So she chose the largest cabin configuration she could find to fit the spot, while still allowing for a slither of space between its sides and the neighbouring fences, for maintenance access. To keep within permitted development regulations, she opted for a kit with a maximum ceiling height of 2.5m.
After initially hiring builders to create a level concrete base, her and her husband set about constructing the cabin to save on labour costs. She assigned her dad the role of chief construction manager. As a former electrical engineer, he was able to not only put the space together. He was also able to install the electrical supply coming into the cabin from the house, which saved a lot of money.
To ensure the garden office idea was useable year-round, the owner paid extra for optional upgrades. These included thicker logs for the walls, roof and floor, double glazing rather than single, and additional lining on the roof, to help retain heat. She also chose pressure-treated timbers, meaning the exterior wood won’t need any maintenance for at least a decade.
Although its pressure treatment meant the wood didn’t require painting, for aesthetic reasons the owner wanted to customise its look with colour before moving into the space.
'I was keen to use a paint that was more solid than a stain, but still allowed the beauty of the natural timber to shine through, which led me to choosing Thorndown’s wood paint, which is suitable for exterior wood and eco-friendly, too,' she explains.
While log cabins are great at regulating their internal temperature, the space can get very cold in winter. To keep things toasty, a small oil-filled electric radiator does the trick, plus a clever electric heated mat, which sits under the rug. When it gets super-chilly, a bonus blast with the electric stove heater takes the edge off.
'I love using vintage pieces within any space, and didn’t see why my garden office should be any different,' says the owner. 'I was keen to make it feel more like an extension of our home, and wanted to fill it with pieces I love and that have meaning to me – most of the furniture in here has come from our grandparents, and I’ve filled it with artwork, accessories and ornaments that also hold happy memories.'
She was keen to bring in plenty of colourful touches, too. In the depths of winter, the idea of trudging down to the bottom of the garden didn't feel appealing, so she wanted to ensure it felt really warm and welcoming as soon as you step inside.
'As I look out directly onto the garden, it was also important for the space to reflect this – both literally, with mirrors, and also by filling it with plants and dried flowers, so it almost feels like a conservatory. Now, in the summer, I can throw both the doors and window open, and the connection to nature feels really soothing and relaxing – exactly what I’d hoped for.'
‘I love this little seating nook,' says the owner, 'the coffee table and little sofa both belonged to my grandma, and it’s lovely to give them a new lease of life in our own home.'
To reflect the garden and help the room feel more spacious, the owner converted an old empty Crittal window frame into a mirror by attaching pre-cut glass rectangles into each window gap with silicone sealant. It’s held in place on a custom-made wooden ledge and supported at the top with a couple of screws.
The owner has added plenty of personality through other easy DIY projects:
‘Why hide pretty stationary in a drawer? Use a sheet of pegboard and some regular metal shop fittings (try Amazon) to store washi tape, paint charts and scissors. This was attached to the wall using 3cm x 3cm batons’
Have you been inspired to create your own garden hideaway for work or play?
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Steph Durrant is the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home’s sister magazine, Style at Home. Steph is an experienced journalist with more than 12 years under her belt working across the UK’s leading craft and interiors magazines. She first joined the team back in 2016 writing for both homes brands, specialising in all things craft, upcycling and DIY.
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