From bohemian yurts to wow-factor treehouses, outdoor buildings have never looked so good. Reconnect with nature, create a guest annexe or work from home in spaces that are truly inspiring
1 Natural escape
This super-stylish garden shelter was designed for the RHS Cardiff Flower Show and inspired by Cardiff’s twin county of Hordaland in Norway and the Norwegian philosophy of ‘friluftsliv’ or outdoor life. “The design evokes memories of fun family weekends in HordalandCounty relaxing among the trees, toasting marshmallows on the bonfire and snuggling up in a cosy cabin in the woods,” explains award-winning garden designer, Victoria Wade. Except here, it’s a retreat from the Welsh weather, creating a space where the family can relax and enjoy outdoor time together all year.
2 All-season summerhouse
A summerhouse is a classic favourite and sizes range from tiny pergolas to expansive log cabins in all shapes and styles, making it easy to find the right one for your garden. Optional extras such as insulation, lighting and power supply will help it meet a range of needs from the standard garden escape to home office, guest room or even gym. This Lisbon log cabin is made of high-grade, FSC-certified northern European pine by Dutch company Lugarde and starts at £7,835 for an 8x4m structure.
3 Under canvas (Avalon Yurts)
Made of heavy-duty canvas and felting over a bentwood frame, the traditional Mongolian yurt has become a favourite with British festival go-ers and glampers. Avalon Yurts has adapted the design to deal with the British weather and owner Joel Cusden explains that ‘a yurt is likely to last 10-20 years if looked after properly, and themaintenance is easy enough.’ Yurts are considered temporary structures so require no planning permission, and it’s advisable to take them down over winter if they’re not bring used.
4 Cook’s cabin
The British weather and barbecues aren’t always the happiestcompanions, so if you love outdoor-style cooking or simply like to snuggle up around the fire on colder evenings, consider investing in an Arctic cabin. Each cabin comes complete with a central table fitted with a barbecue grill, and sizes range from small, which seats 10 and sleeps 3 to an impressive 17m2 which can seat 25 – plenty of space for gathering the tribe.
5 Shepherd’s delight
‘Shepherds’ huts were originally made with whatever was to hand, with a stove in one corner and a window on each side so the shepherd could see the flock,’ explains William Vickery of BlackdownShepherd Huts. Today things are more polished and you can expect quality materials, a high level of craftsmanship and a say ineverything from exterior paint colours to a luxury interior. This Heritage hut from Blackdown is available in four lengths from £18,650. If you’re on a tighter budget, many companies offer self-build options and some offer reconditioned originals, too.
6 Contemporary pod
The working day takes on a whole new feel in an Archipod home office. Director, Chris Sneesby, came up with the design based on the essentials for a good outdoor work space: bright, warm, cheerful and comfortable to use. “We also wanted the structure to look asnatural and sculptural as possible,” says Chris. Outside, it’s rustic(this 3m diameter pod is clad in Western Red Cedar shingles) butinside has a smart, high spec design that you would want in a permanent office or studio.
7 Ranch style
If you’ve always fancied being at home on the range, the new Plankbridge Cabin gives the Wild West look and a whole lot of living space inside. Larger than a shepherd’s hut and clad in English Western Red Cedar, it’s ideal if you have your own field or meadowand want to create an annex, guest suite or bolthole for family and friends all year round. As co-founder Richard Lee explains, ‘a footprint wider than 2.55 metres or longer than 7.5 metres gives enough space for a shower room, bedroom, kitchen and living area.’ Prices start at £35,000.
“People love tree houses because they remember the fun they hadin them as children – being among the branches has a unique feel and is a great place to escape the world and relax with friends,”says Catherine Hill of Blue Forest. They’re a practical solution for big gardens, transforming little-used shady areas such as woodlands into an accessible and fun space that the whole family will enjoy. A suitable tree isn’t a necessity as a house built on stilts can still catapult you straight up into the canopy.