Get an extra room: Why a garden retreat could be the perfect summer project

If your living space is feeling smaller right now, a garden retreat could be the perfect summer project. Interiors editor Nicole Gray has shed-loads of inspiration…

The eco haven

eco haven
Architect: Johan Hedenstrom Backe. Photo: Lina Ikse. House: Orangeri Lavo

This compact greenhouse makes the most of its space with two connecting rooms creating compartments for gardening and relaxation. Not only can the timber structure be sustainably produced, it requires less energy to manufacture, helps to make a room thermally efficient and can be practical by providing space to hang gardening tools. Fill with pre-loved furniture for the perfect eco finishing touch. For a similar design try swgreenhouses.co.uk.

The summer house

summer house
House and Garden/bauersyndication.com.au

The owners of this garden cabin wanted a steel and glass design that would be low-maintenance and big on natural light. Glass wall corners on each side of the 5m x 3.5m structure make the most of the views and let light flood in. The cabin was built around an existing decking area and the wooden exterior painted black for definition – try Cuprinol Garden Shades in Black Ash for a similar look. Artwork, chairs and open shelving fill the space, giving it a home-from-home feel. The foliage in various heights and shapes on either side adds depth and brings a colourful contrast to the neutral cabin. For a similar summerhouse try londongardenstudios.co.ukmillboard.co.uk sells similar composite decking.

The home office

home office
House and Garden/bauersyndication.com.au​

Tight on garden space? Think about building up as opposed to out. This quirky freestanding home office at the bottom of its owner’s garden has a compact footprint of just 3m x 8m, but with a lofty 4m height, exposed beams, unusual shape and mosaic tiled floor, it is colossal in character. For your own unique structure, try shackadelic.co.uk. For similar outdoor furniture, see aram.co.uk.

The entertainment zone

Sargentpix.com
Sargentpix.com

An outdoor retreat doesn’t need to be used only for work or relaxation – it can also be a space for fun and entertainment. If you have the room, you could opt for a pool house with a designated games or bar area. Choose decorative items not typically seen outside to adorn the space, such as mirrors and wall art, to give a garden-party vibe. Alternatively, if you are short on space, create an entertainment hub by dividing a patio or terrace area to make multifunctional spaces. Creating different heights with decking can separate areas, plus tiered levels also act as seating, eliminating the need for bulky furniture. Finish by adding some decorative touches such as cushions and lighting.

The studio

garden studio
House and Garden/bauersyndication.com.au​

For anyone working perched at the kitchen table, a dedicated workspace in the garden is a game-changer. It’s comfier, saves on renting office space – and, once lockdown is over, any time lost to the commute. You don’t need a big garden to achieve this – just tailor your studio to the size of your garden (and budget). Here the studio feels like a natural extension to the main house, with the connecting decking area and sliding glass doors allowing the space to flow into the outside. Try getting creative with the route from your house to the studio by using old bricks to make a decorative path, or let your lawn grow wild before mowing a walkway through it. For a similar garden studio, try gardenaffairs.co.ukgardentrading.co.uk sells trestle tables.

The conversion

garden outhouses
Rachel Whiting. ©Ryland Peters & Small

Instead of buying something new, you could transform any existing sheds or outbuildings. Here, an unused garage has been converted drawing inspiration from old factories and industrial premises, embracing rusting metal surfaces and scuffed walls. It has a sedum-covered living roof which softens the metal cladding, absorbs rainwater and helps with biodiversity. When choosing decorative accessories, go for metal or raw wood, and stick to a neutral colour palette. The surrounding greenery here provides an uplifting contrast to the weathered finish. The structure was designed by londongardenstudios.co.uk.

The outhouse

sheds
Debi Treloar © Ryland Peters & Small

If you have a large garden space, a mobile structure such as a shepherd’s hut or outhouse may be just the thing. One tucked away in a secluded corner of the garden could be the ultimate secret retreat. The cheery primrose yellow gives this corrugated metal hut heaps of nostalgic charm, while the windows and door have been picked but in a bolder shade. For a similar design try plankbridge.com.

Want to show off your own shed? Then why not enter Cuprinol’s Shed of the Year competition. For more details visit readersheds.co.uk. Closing date: 1 June

Shop the look

Fill your garden getaway with pieces that are decorative and functional

Garden coffee table, £120, johnlewis.com

Plant spritzer, £12, made.com

Trowel, £61, royaldesign.co.uk

Plant stand, £95, oliverbonas.com

Hose, £78, royaldesign.co.uk

Bistro set, £149, made.com

Sign, £38, rockettstgeorge.co.uk

Planters, £65 for two, habitat.co.uk

Secateurs, £65, conranshop.co.uk

Bench, from £649, twentytwentyone.com

Gardening gloves, £48, amara.com

Pot and stand, £65, laredoute.co.uk

Fork and trowel set, £20, maisonsdumonde.com

Outdoor pendant light and woven shade, £308, maisonsdumonde.com