What’s in your garden shed

Today the humble garden shed has loftier ambitions. Today it can be quite a grand affair: It has graduated to become an office, private gym, chill out room – the alternative to an extension, adding much needed floor space to the family home.

Seen as an extra room it is a definite ‘plus’ when you come to sell your house, so using your shed as a dumping ground for junk may not be the best use of its potential. If you are considering upgrading think carefully about what you want and plan accordingly. Whether you have an existing structure or not, follow these simple guidelines to create the desired effect.

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Here are a few things to think about before you get started.


A shed or outdoor room is generally seen as a temporary structure by the planning authorities, but this does not mean you can build anything you want. Many garden rooms do not require planning as long as the structure is not higher than 4 metres, is more than 5 metres from existing structures and nearer the house than the public highway. However, it is ALWAYS best to check with your local planning department especially if you are going to install a multitude of services such as toilets, etc. Remember that to run an office from home technically you will require planning permission.

Check if you house is listed as the grounds may be part of that listing. Conservation areas also require planning approval so do check with planning. .

Substantial brick structures are best in larger gardens, as these can be considered “small houses”. These will most likely require planning permission and are the costliest of the three options. The granting of planning permission will always depend on intended use and a quick call to your local office may save you much time and money.

All garden rooms must comply with Building regulations – you will need to ensure that your outdoor room complies with structural strength requirements, fire safety, insulation, ventilation, water and energy efficiency to name but a few.

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What will it be used for? Do you need a quiet area away from the kids and hustle and bustle of a busy home? Is the room to be used as a studio or craft making area? A home office? Gym? Once you have decided there are decisions to be made…

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The building should not overwhelm the garden. As a rough guide the structure should take up no more than 25% of the available garden area. Even small gardens can benefit from an outdoor room but remember to keep it in scale.


Size is not everything and location is just as important. Tucked away in a corner of the garden and lightly screened from the main house is perfect for a restful retreat.

Placing the outdoor room at the bottom of the garden will create symmetry and allow a good interaction with the rest of the garden. Placing the room to the side of the garden creates more interest and is not so obtrusive.

new house interiors, Harlequin_Landscapes_09_LR


The look of the building is very important. If it clashes with the house then it will stick out like a sore thumb when it comes time to sell. There are many materials to choose from – wood and glass being the most common. Wood need not look like Grandpa’s shed! Traditional wooden structures can be painted or if you like the natural look, make sure you use a good quality wood preserver. Wood can also look extremely modern when mixed with glass walls and steel supports. Ensure the wood comes from sustainable sources, the FSC certification and seal should be “de rigueur”.

Bold colours and simple shapes work best in general but keep the nautical look for seaside properties and the Swiss chalet-type look …for Switzerland! Out of context structures can put people off when it comes to buying your property and although you may feel it makes a bold statement, others may see it as a deal-breaker.

Remember that an all-glass structure is very visible to all, so ensure you have allowed for adequate storage in an office room otherwise the mess will be there for all to see.

Folding or concertina doors are great for multi-function rooms; you can open up or divide the space with minimal fuss and disruption.

If you’re inspired to go and seek out a garden shed to install in your garden but need a bit of advice on what type to look for or where to site it then please get in touch. I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford, Lincolnshire, Oakham, Uppingham, Rutland, Oundle and Northamptonshire as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.