Garden rooms: from home offices to 'man caves' - how to create extra space with the perfect outdoor extension

From romantic huts on wheels to sleek glass “man caves”, home owners are rejecting the high cost of moving house in favour of installing a versatile garden room to get the extra space they crave — and, like most home improvements in London, the trend is driven by the housing shortage.

A recent report says 60 per cent of the city’s home owners would prefer to improve their existing property rather than shoulder the expense of leaving the area they love for a district where they could afford more space, but which is less attractive.

When you are out to create extra room, a garden building is cheaper than a loft conversion and usually far less disruptive to install. A new wave of chichi cabins is fuelling a trend for “shepherds huts” that double as office space or extra living accommodation, says Paul Bennett of Red Sky, which makes them in Oxfordshire.

 

“It’s a romantic, lovely thing,” he says. “People enjoy ‘glamping’ and then want something similar at home.” Inspired by 16th-century huts-on-wheels in which shepherds would tend their lambs, these charming, bespoke   buildings are highly functional, featuring handcrafted steel wheels, horizontal timber exteriors, wood-framed windows and a curved roof. Downsized furniture painted in muted Farrow & Ball shades adds a roomy feel to the huts, which have walls insulated with sheeps wool, double glazing and 240-volt electricity hook-up packs.

With a background in furniture making, Bennett prides himself on attention to detail in his “shepherd-chic” spaces. Extras include wood-burning stove, kitchenette and shower. On wheels, the huts don’t need planning permission so you can take them with you when you move. “It’s crucial — despite what you are told you won’t make your money back,” says Bennett, whose customers include home workers tired of commuting and hairdressers who want a salon in the garden.

These huts are easy to install if you have an access route that is 8ft wide, or they can be craned over houses as long as telegraph poles aren’t an issue. Prices start at £10,000. Call Red Sky Shepherds Huts on 07870 223114.

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Give me shelter: a garden room can be built to suit your purpose. This one is by www.iqglassuk.com, which creates bespoke spaces for home gyms and bike storage, among other uses


For a sleeker look, IQ Glass designs and builds contemporary structures using architectural glass technology and minimal framed glazing. Demand is rising. “Home owners are finding it hard to finance a bigger property,” says the firm’s Ellice Bateman, pointing to IQ commissions including “his and hers” art and pottery studios for one couple, and a games room for an Essex family.

Prices start at about £1,000 a square metre including design, fabrication and installation, but excluding VAT. Call 01494 722 880.

In Ham, pretty Pointers Cottage, for sale at £1.25 million, comes with a detached room at the end of the garden that attracts buyers seeking versatile space. Paul Price, of estate agent Hamptons International, says: “Privacy is easily found in your pod at the bottom of the garden.” Call 020 3369 4388.

HOW ABOUT A HOME GYM?

Wandsworth’s big gardens are prime territory for garden rooms, says Simon Tollit of UK Sotheby’s International Realty. A friend recently installed a garden studio for his pool table, bar and giant plasma TV.

“It’s his man cave,” says Tollit. “Garden studios add tremendous value, offering more square footage without the headache and large bills that extensions cause.” Green Studios specialises in bespoke options for home gyms and bike storage. Call 01923 205090.

Outdoor playrooms give busy mums a break. Michelle Vanlint spent £20,000 on a garden room at her South Woodford home. It has a sedum roof, storage and bathroom: “The children love playing in there and use it as a den when friends come over.” Installer London Garden Rooms will be at the NEC in Birmingham for The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show from April 14-17. Call 020 8418 9498.


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