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Professional interior designers show us their garden offices

20 October 2020

Garden rooms provide a unique opportunity to create your ideal work space. Unlike traditional office blocks where you’re assigned a sterile desk by your employer, working from a dedicated garden room allows you to design an inspirational environment that’s perfect for you. 

Want some tips to make your garden office a productive and happy space to work? We caught up with interior designers Joanna Thornhill and Annie Golledge to find out how they styled their own garden room offices. Not sure where to begin? Here are some of the most important questions that our professional designers ask before they start work on a garden office project...

1: What view would you like?

Joanna Thornhill Exterior Garden Studio
Embrace the outdoors and enjoy the connection between your office and garden
Image: Joanna Thornhill

What are the main benefits of working from a garden room office? For Joanna Thornhill – interiors stylist and author – celebrating the view of your garden and connection with nature is a huge plus:

As a wooden structure, it allows you to decorate in a somewhat different way to a conventional household space, and the close links to the garden help reduce stress levels and foster feelings of wellbeing - undeniably useful in a workspace.

Choosing where to locate your garden office is an important early decision to get right. Annie Golledge – interior designer and founder of Hygge and Cwtch – agrees that it’s the freedom to choose that makes these buildings so enticing: “You have complete freedom to decide where to locate an outdoor workspace within your garden. You can choose the view, how to fit it out, style it and decorate it.” 

No longer constrained to an airtight office with an unflattering view, think carefully about the levels of natural light, the amount of fresh air, and the overall outlook that will most inspire your endeavours. 

2: How do you want your new office to make you feel?

Annie Golledge interior garden studio
Annie’s office cabin is a calm and soothing space decorated in a Scandinavian style
Image: Annie Golledge

It’s easy to think that some nice furniture and a splash of paint is enough to create your dream workspace, but this is why finished projects can sometimes feel a bit flat. Joanna suggests taking a different perspective: 

Whenever I work with clients, I always like to focus on how they want a space to make them feel over what they want it to look like - this ensures it stays aligned with their personality and needs, and is somewhere they genuinely want to spend time in.

Annie agrees. Whether you want to make your garden room office feel like an extension of your home or something completely different, the key is to make it feel right for working in: 

You have complete freedom to create an environment in which you truly want to spend time, whether that is with calming colours and simple patterns and textures or something more vibrant, bold and uplifting. Essentially you can express your own personality in your design and are not restricted by the limits of working in a commercial space with corporate fixtures and fittings.

3: Do you want your office to include some social space?

Joanna Thornhill Interior Garden Studio
Joanna’s ‘breakout zone’ is the perfect place to sit and reflect throughout the day
Image: Joanna Thornhill

As a professional, Annie knows that it’s absolutely vital to establish a clear purpose for the use of any new space early on in the design process. Clients who need a traditional desk, computer and printer will end up with a completely different office to someone who requires a creative workshop. 

Annie recommends building flexibility into the space if possible. But if you don’t have the square footage, concentrate on the main purpose for the room and let the rest of your wishlist go: “Otherwise you’ll end up with an ineffective workspace because you were trying to do too much. Get the scale, proportion and layout right. Avoid oversized furniture and don’t over fill or clutter the space too much.” 

However, if you do have a large enough garden office, Joanna suggests that adding a ‘break out’ area is a good way to help to focus your thoughts and inspire you throughout the day. She says: “incorporate an area away from your desk to sit and take notes, brainstorm or simply sit and meditate for five minutes if you find the day getting on top of you.”

Joanna, who works from her own 3.5x2.5m garden log cabin, added a small sofa and coffee table to create a ‘breakout zone’ that overlooks her garden. Along with copious plants, swatches of bright fabrics and personal decorative accessories, her workplace feels like a fun extension of her home.

4: What practical elements will make you more productive?

Joanna Thornhill Desk View and window
This colourful workspace combines clever wall storage solutions that double as art
Image: Joanna Thornhill

The ambience and feel of your working environment are an important factor in productivity, but what about the practical considerations? Annie points out that it’s important to make sure that your garden office is fit for purpose:

The base layer on which the garden space stands must offer good drainage and ventilation. The basic heating and insulation, lighting and any plumbing requirements must be thought through to make sure that your garden office is as comfortable as it can be. That way, you are much more likely to be productive and happy in your work

Joanna reminds us that it’s also important to address all of your work-based needs, from an ergonomically appropriate desk set-up to all of the necessary storage requirements. If internet access is vital to your business, investigate your options at the beginning of the project so you can run cables at the same time as your other amenities. 

Annie’s top tips for creating an inspiring garden room office

Annie Golledge desk in studio
The use of natural materials gives this garden office a real warmth
Image: Annie Golledge

Choosing the right garden building for your needs is the first step of the process. If you’re looking for somewhere to work all year round – insulated garden rooms are the premium solution. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, a 44mm thick log cabin with double-glazing is an affordable option. Once you’ve chosen your blank canvas, here are Annie’s interior design tips to make the most of your new office space:

  • Angle the building to make the most of the natural light.
  • Choose a spot with a good view.
  • Celebrate the connection to nature.
  • Focus on natural materials and textures.
  • Create a personalised space - add artwork, plants, lighting and accessories that mean something to you.
  • Maintain flexibility - movable furniture can be rearranged to switch up the room or change the use of space.
  • Invest in a variety of easy-access storage solutions.

Are you in the process of creating your dream garden office? We’d love to hear your plans and see your photos. Drop us a line via Facebook or Twitter

Lead image: Rufford 5m x 3m Insulated Garden Room from Waltons

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