More and more of us are coming up with imaginative ways to create a personal space outside the confines of the house. Options include glass garden dens, gypsy caravans and even Hobbit Holes, as Gabrielle Fagan reports
We all need a place – a private hideaway – where we can get away from our busy lives and enjoy elusive quiet time or hobbies.
The solution can be as simple as a spare room, a garden shed or, if you’re fortunate, a beach hut. But increasingly people are thinking outside of the box room and investing in a range of imaginative sanctuaries.
These days your retreat could be a romantic gypsy caravan or a storybook-style treehouse through to a state-of-the-art outdoor room clad in timber, a glass and steel entertaining pod or, more quirkily, a Tolkien-style Hobbit Hole.
“It’s all about being able to separate ourselves from everyday life and all its routines,” says Jane Field-Lewis, author of My Cool Shed: An Inspirational Guide To Stylish Hideaways And Workspaces.
“There’s a huge satisfaction in having your own personal space, in a separate building from your home, styled and decorated as you wish, which gives you the opportunity to work or relax in your own way.”
She’s travelled the world looking at the ways people fulfil their dreams of expression and escape, whether it’s a renovated air raid shelter, a Californian beach hut, a fishing shack or even a sea shipping container converted into a studio.
“An intrinsic part of their charm is that normal decorating rules don’t apply and they give their owners the freedom to express themselves in a different way,” she says.
“They embody the spirit of the new style, which has an unexpected beauty and doesn’t necessarily follow fashion or trends.
“Given this choice, people don’t necessarily follow convention. They create their own environment, often with unexpected and refreshing design ideas and consequences.”
Let your imagination take flight and explore the possibilities of a space of your own.
Garden sheds, once somewhere to stash a lawnmower or the preserve of pipe-smoking men, have been reborn.
These humble buildings are increasingly being given makeovers, especially as our desire to move is thwarted by hard economic times.
They can be cheaply and easily spruced up with a lick of paint, dressed with curtains and cushions, and will work as a hobby room, retreat for teenagers or somewhere to simply think, read or write.
Do bear in mind a shed will need insulating if you want to work in it during winter, and you need a qualified electrician to install lighting.
ROOM TO GROW
A garden room is often the answer for those who need more space for an office or gym, or somewhere for guests or a granny annex.
“These were once the preserve of the wealthy, but are now a mainstream solution to gaining more space and enjoying flexible living areas,” says Roger Hedges, co-founder of Garden Spaces, specialists in garden rooms and buildings.
“We can create bespoke structures that are tailored to whatever the client wants, whether it’s space for a games room or teenagers’ zone, a cinema room, or a music studio, through to an extra room to accommodate guests.
“We use the highest quality wood and can even create a roof made of sedum, a flowering plant, so that the structure blends perfectly with the outdoor surroundings.”
GLASS THE JOINT
A glass room is perfect if you’re concerned that an extension or outdoor room will dominate a garden.
“In many cases, people don’t necessarily want more space in their homes – they want separate rooms where they can entertain, relax and have a get-away-from-it-all feeling,” says Gary Davis, director at IQ Glass Rooms.
“These can look beautiful at night as, with state-of-the-art lighting, they can seem to ‘float’ in the outdoor area. Owners often site them at the end of the garden and enjoy the perspective it gives them of their main property.”
There are magical ways to create extra space outdoors, if you’re happy to ignore the conventional and embrace your inner child.
What could be more romantic than a gypsy caravan with its associations with a nomadic, homespun lifestyle, free from the cares of the workaday world?
“These are for people who long for something different and totally personal, and they often become heirlooms passed from generation to generation,” says Laurence Ward, founder of The Gypsy Caravan Company.
“While we don’t recommend them for the road, they can be moved around a garden, taken with you if you move house and are always a talking point.
“Clients choose the paint colour and fabrics and we provide a scaled-down size for children, as well as an adult version, which is often used as an extra room for when guests visit or a hobby room.”
:: Hobbit Hole from £8,500 and Treehouse, from £15,000 made by High Life Treehouses.
:: Studio clad in Western red cedar wood with soid wooden flooring, starts from £25,000, Garden Spaces.
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