As more of us are working from home, finding your perfect garden retreat or office/studio is becoming a route many are taking. JK Rowling has an office at the bottom of her garden…. Sometimes just some extra space for the kids – or a guest house for the in-laws when they visit!! Maybe we all have that inner-child who just wants to play?
Whether you want to go the self-build route or something from a specialist company, then its important to look for inspiration and find out what will be right for you. It could be ultra minimal and sit in a garden with lots of long wavy grass to give some texture and contrast, or you could go for something whimsical and enchanting to fit a forest style setting, or something neat and conservative in an urban setting. Consider how it looks from your house and how it looks with your house or other garden structures in the garden. Depending on the purpose you might want it close to the house if e.g. you want it to be a sitting or dining area (you don’t want to be carting food/tableware etc too far) or further away if it is a workspace where you need peace and quiet away from the house. If you just need electrics then distance is not usually a problem and some companies provide solar panels or small heat pumps so you could be quite low energy or even off the grid. However as soon as you factor in drainage for plumbing then the further from the house could add to the cost.
Using good quality products will cost more in the beginning but quality will pay for itself over the long term, and you will have something for many years to come. A good solid base is important and think if you want to have something low maintenance (in natural wood which will weather) or something that requires upkeep in repainting every few years. Either way get the best quality you can afford its a false economy to cut corners here. Always check with your local planning office before you start planning and find out what restrictions there are on your property if any. It is also worth noting that when a structure is movable and non permanent it sometimes can bypass tricky planning rules… (shh….you did not hear that from me!!)
Size can also be difficult to visualise, and it is easy to get carried away and go for something too big. Use a ball of white string with some small sticks to mark out the area and make sure it doesn’t dwarf your garden. I say this because when we lived in London and my kids were little, we put in a treehouse on stilts – the whole shebang…. lets just say it dominated our garden and everyone laughed when we said it looked smaller in the catalogue!! It was lovely though so not a complete disaster – and with young kids you tend to compromise – big time!!
I found some interesting eco ideas I’d like to share…..
Denmark & International – add a room
I have admired this company for many years and it was good to see they have just won an award as Best of Design 2016 on houzz. The company was founded in 2006 by a couple who renovated Swedish summer houses. They combine sustainability, simplicity and flexibility. They offer various sizes with the ability to add extensions so you can configure different layouts. You could even build a whole house! I love the natural minimal elements, Swedish spruce specially treated to be low maintenance using eco friendly techniques, quality insulation and windows. Comes fully complete. The limited colour palette is timeless and would suit many different spaces.
England, Halifax – Eco Pod by Pod Space
Eco pods built to FSC specs with thermal glass, low voltage lighting, low energy Scandinavian underfloor heating, offers a modern clean look with impressive eco credentials. This would be an ideal office/art studio/playroom….
This design would suit most urban gardens and has a modern look but still a traditional shape.
Pod Space Details here
England, Slough – In.it.studios
In.it’s modern flat-roofed prefab garden rooms are made from sustainable timber and have a sedum roof. They have a one bedroom version which looks solid enough and could act as a home extension also….
In.it.studios details here
England, East Sussex – EcoPerch from Blue Forest
This prefabricated hideaway works with nature and can be placed on the ground or in a tree. It is highly insulated with a variety or renewable energy options including photovoltaic solar systems and rainwater harvesting systems so it could be off-grid.
This style is slightly more radical and would suit someone wanting to make a bold statement in their garden …….. with the added benefit of bathroom facilities it is more independent.
EcoPerch by Blue Forest details here
Canada, British Columbia – Esk’et Tiny House
A first-nation aboriginal community called Shuswap whose language is called Esk’et is the inspiration for this more than cute, artistic little abode. The company is founded and run by Robert Johnson an Aboriginal Canadian and his wife Bettina from Switzerland.
The exterior features aboriginal carvings and the roof is shaped like a salmon. The siding is in local pine which has been treated with Shou Sugi Ban a natural Japanese method of preserving and fire-proofing the wood by scorching it. (This method is stunning and will do a whole post about it soon!)
The Tiny House is built on a trailer base incase you want to move it.
This look is more whimsical, I could see it in a forest setting looking quite enchanting. I do love the backstory as well………
UK, Germany, Switzerland & Worldwide – Loftcube
A modern holistic eco approach with major science behind the concept. Based in Germany with franchises in EU and N. America. For city dwellers with no gardens there is even the possibility to put this on a flat roof.
This option is more expensive and certain offers more luxury, with floor to celling panoramic windows and full construction is done off site and lifted in. It would also be a very upmarket office suite or hotel rooftop bar.
or as a super extravagant modern pool/summer house
Loftcube details here
So, as you can see there is an eco option for garden rooms whatever your style and budget….. offering sustainability and energy efficiency…….. which one would you choose?
Thanks for reading, please feel free to share if you know anyone looking for inspiration to plan their very own garden retreat!