Garden rooms have seen a boom since the pandemic began, with people looking for that extra bit of space for a home office or gym.
But, increasingly, their value as a sanctuary at home (yet removed from it) has meant garden rooms are being customised into spaces where people can explore their own unique hobbies and interests.
Garden rooms are quick and easy to build, taking as little as two days to install, and in most cases, they don’t require planning permission although there are exceptions for listed properties and homes in designated areas such as conservation areas.
They can be a good investment too, potentially adding up to 5% — or 1.5 times the build cost — to the value of your home.
The growth in garden rooms
Garden rooms took off during the COVID pandemic. Working from home (WFH) guidance meant that people wanted to squeeze every last bit of space out of their homes — including the garden.
Between April 2020 and April 2021, search data revealed that the term "garden office shed" increased by 200% and "garden office pod" by 180%.
While the worst of the pandemic is hopefully behind us, WFH seems set to stay for many workers.
"Over the past 18 months or so the interest in useable year-round spaces for our gardens has increased remarkably," says Mike Maguire, gounder of Riverside Garden Rooms.
"Until recently the biggest demand we have seen has been from office workers that are relocating their office to the home. However, as we have seen the restrictions of COVID relaxed and with summer on its way, focus is beginning to shift."
Spending more time at home during lockdown has given many people the time and opportunity to develop their interests and hobbies.
"People began looking at their homes with different eyes, fitting more activities into the same space than ever before, whether it was finding a place to work, exercise, socialise, or even carve out all-important time away whoever they were living with for 'me time', hobbies, or other interests," says Paul Ransom, co-founder of Into the Garden Room.
From offices to aviaries
Garden rooms are now being used as more than just offices and gyms — and most companies now offer a fully customisable service to cater for this.
"We do get unusual requests like this bird aviary," said Luke Dejahang, CEO of Crown Pavilions. "People can tailor their garden room for any purpose, combining functionality and design into one."
"We’re currently working on a hobby room for an old train collection set, complete with a functioning railway system, which has been banished to the loft for years. We’ve also created a pottery studio featuring a kiln and pottery turntable," said Ransom, who’s also designed a cinema room for a movie animator, a yoga studio and several "emotional escape" rooms.
"I created my own buddha room for this exact reason. I was so taken by the emotional benefits of having a garden room escape that it inspired me to offer similar 'sanctuaries' away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life," he said.
The benefits of being away from your home but still close by in your garden is one of the main draws of a garden room.
"We have noticed requests for much more unusual spaces," said Maguire. "A mindfulness meditation studio with sound proofing and full mood lighting pack, and luxury dog kennels with lots of insulation and special drainage systems."
Jonas Prišmontas of My Room In The Garden created a music studio for one client. "We used CNC digital manufacturing to create internal walls that have acoustic qualities. We scored and bent the corner panels, and we perforated wall panels creating a peg board that has acoustic fabric at the back. These gestures help absorb the sound of the music that is played inside the room."
His designs are also popular with artists wanting low-cost spaces. "The structural frame of this studio is modular and allows each creative user to customise the space according to their needs.
"Some artists need lots of storage and shelves, others need a space to put their easel, so we try to offer maximum flexibility and affordability," he said.
Teenage dens have also been a popular request, as well as garden bar rooms and wellness spaces, whether that’s an area for a covered hot tub, a fully functioning sauna or a steam room.
As Maguire noted: "The modern-day garden room really can be used for anything. Only your imagination can hold you back."