8 themes for decorating a summer house

8 themes for decorating a summer house

A summer house is more than just a garden building – it’s a window into the personality, taste and interests of its owner, so it’s only natural that you’ll want to put your own stamp on it when it comes to decor and styling. After all, we’re talking about a place for you to kick back, relax and indulge your favourite hobbies.

In case you need a helping hand, here are eight decorating themes to inspire your makeover.

1. Beach

Interior of beach themed summerhouse
Sue created a warm and welcoming beach theme in her 8 x 8ft Premier Corner Summerhouse
Image: Sue (Waltons customer)

Many summer house owners are keen to create a holiday vibe, and bringing the seaside to your garden is one surefire way to do it. Fortunately, whitewashed wooden walls and floors lend themselves well to either a British beach hut, Mexican cabana or luxury Hamptons style. Aim for simple but inviting.

In terms of colours, go for plenty of white along with cool blues and sea greens. Your accent colours will depend on which seaside you’re trying to recreate. From Southwold-inspired pastels to the vibrant corals of the Caribbean, the choice is yours! White shelving and cane furniture really fit with this style, and the liberal use of throws and rugs add layers of welcome colour and texture. A cosy blanket is just what you need when the sea breeze picks up! For a relaxed surf shack look, recycled surfboards can be cut into bespoke shelving and campervan references complete the laid back theme. 

2. Nautical

Nautical themed interior summerhouse
A chic shack with a nautical touch
Image: Michelle P (Waltons customer)

Similar to the seaside concept, a sharp nautical theme is another way to bring the holiday ambiance to your summer house. Think of a white and blue colour scheme accented by natural sand colours and vivacious pops of lighthouse red. White walls create an effective backdrop for materials such as frayed rope, shells, netting and seaglass.

Traditional maritime symbols include oars, anchors, lighthouses and helms and sails. Round mirrors are a clever way to symbolise portholes and a hammock makes a fun feature. In tems of furniture, rattan is a good fit, as is reclaimed wood. Cover rustic wooden flooring with coir mats and choose striped fabrics or tactile hessian for soft furnishings. 

3. Boho/Scandi

Scandi style interior summerhouse
Scandinavian style to a tee
Image: Tammy T (Waltons customer)

Scandinavians are known for their love of log cabins but you don’t have to go the whole hog if you want to take their lead. If a summer house – rather than an actual log cabin – is more suited to your budget, then you can easily replicate the effect and give it the Scandi treatment with some key style points.

The idea is to create a calm and natural ambiance combined with a sense of comfort. A minimalist approach keeps the light and airy feel, but you’ll need to inject warmth and texture to prevent it from feeling too cold and clinical. When it comes to colour schemes, try painting the walls a pale sage or light cream, using beige and greys to highlight or contrast. Avoid too much pattern, and use natural materials like wood, linen and foliage. 

Light wooden flooring is a must for this look, along with inviting seating areas and plenty of plants to add to the outdoors feel. Drape a sheepskin over a simple armchair for instant ‘hygge’. 

4. Country cottage

Cosy day bed in Waltons summerhouse
A floral flourish brings this Waltons Helios summerhouse to life
Image: Dee (Waltons customer)

Perhaps the style you’re looking for is closer to home. An English country cottage design lends your summer house a warm, comfortable and homely feel that’s instantly relaxing. 

Floral patterns and pastel shades of pink, light blue and cream are the order of the day, along with tastefully decorated walls in light hues. You can go for an effect that’s a little worn round the edges without descending too far into rustic. Gloss paint works really well for this look, but bear in mind it will take much longer to dry and requires a bit more care with application to avoid the dreaded drips.

When it comes to furnishings, a day bed is ideal and makes the most of the space. Wicker chairs also add a traditional touch, and there’s plenty of scope for accessories such as fairy lights or bunting. 

To decorate the walls, you can lean into your personal taste. Depending on your preference, you could hang botany prints, pastoral scenes or vintage advertising boards. And don’t forget to add a jam jar of sweet pea blooms for colour and scent.

5. Shabby chic

Overview of painted summerhouse turned chic tea shed
This 10 x 8 Contemporary Summer house with Side Shed was transformed into a gorgeous tea house
Image: Lobster & Swan

There’s nothing quite as inviting as a stylish summer house with a cosy, lived-in look. Shabby chic is a great style choice in that it gives you a broad palette to work with. It translates equally well into traditional or modern summer houses and allows you to reuse and upcycle furniture that you already own.

When Jeska, the stylist and photographer from Lobster & Swan, decorated her contemporary summerhouse with side shed (see image above), she chose a dark and striking paint for the exterior as part of her style-conscious design. In contrast, the light interior walls provide the perfect foil for her colourful collection of vintage patterns, warm textures and antique furniture.

While shabby chic combinations shouldn’t be jarring, you shouldn’t work too hard to make them blend together either. You can also really let your personal tastes dictate whatever ornaments and artwork you choose. Just group things informally to avoid anything too contrived or symmetrical. 

6. Modern

Exterior of painted summerhouse turned wine bar
This Contemporary Summer House with Side Shed celebrates clean lines
Image: Leigh (Waltons competition winner)

You can broadly separate summer house owners into two groups: those who like a traditional feel, and those who prefer a contemporary style. This isn’t so much about the exterior shape of the building, but rather the way it’s decorated. However, it has to be said, some options lend themselves especially well to the modern look, as is the case with this 12 x 8ft Contemporary Summer House with Side Shed from Waltons. 

To achieve this look, you’ll need to accentuate the clean lines as much as possible. In the image above, Leigh’s choice of bright paint colours for the exterior creates a modern focal point in his garden, almost like a large sculpture, while the light interior walls make the space feel bright and airy. You can create an equally striking look with dark colours like charcoal grey or midnight blue, contasted with gold accents and geometric patterns for relief.

To complete a modern look, simple and minimalist interior furnishings are a must, along with contemporary artwork. Perhaps you can even embrace modern technology as part of your scheme, as Leigh discusses in his customer story

7. Themed

Harry Potter themed summerhouse
The owner’s magic touch worked wonders with this Harry Potter-themed summer house
Image: Zoe (Waltons customer)

The summer house is your special place – somewhere you can escape and indulge your own interests. So why not use those interests to inspire the design? Of course, it’s your prerogative to fill your summer house with anything you want, but what we’re talking about here is using your passion as an actual design theme. That’s what Waltons customer Zoe did when she turned her 9 x 9ft Premier Corner Summerhouse into a Harry Potter-themed hideaway.

If you have a treasured collection of memorabilia, why not use your ornaments, merchandise and artwork to create something really special. Rather than storing things in the loft, give them their own space and enjoy them on a daily basis. To make this work, you’ll need to plan appropriate shelving and arrange your collection with an aesthetic sensibility. It needs to look planned rather than cluttered. Think of a ‘den’, and arrange seating that allows you to sit back and enjoy your collection. If you’re installing electricity, take the opportunity to highlight your special pieces with targeted lighting. 

8. Eclectic

Blue painted Waltons summerhouse named 'The Pleasant Pheasant'
This eclectic scheme is pulled together with country motifs
Image: Jane (Waltons customer)

When is a style not really a style? The answer: when it’s eclectic. You know what you like and you know what you want – so go for it.

Rather than choosing one particular look or being a dedicated follower of fashion, you can simply let your own style take you wherever it lands. That’s clearly what the owner of this quirky 10 x 8ft Helios Summer House did (above), broadly pulling everything together using stags, pheasants and other countryside references to create a clever sense of cohesiveness. Adding a bar and some fun stools to the mix clearly indicates that this garden building is meant to be shared and enjoyed!

Decorating your summer house is about making your own mark and allowing it to fully reflect your personality. It can also give you the chance to be bolder than you would be in your main property. It doesn’t all have to make sense from a design point of view – as long as it makes sense to you. Go ahead and fill your summer house with your favourite things and invite your friends and family in to share the enjoyment. 

Six of the best tips for decorating a summer house

  • Don’t let your design ideas get in the way of practical use. Your summer house is meant to be enjoyed, so don’t put form ahead of function and end up with a garden building that looks a million dollars but is impractical or a burden to maintain.
  • Experiment and don’t get tunnel vision with what you want to achieve. Sometimes, the best ideas come while you’re actually working on a project rather than planning it, so allow your ideas to be flexible.
  • Remember, it’s all about you, so even if you take inspiration from others, instil your own identity by giving your summer house some personal touches rather than following a template.
  • Think about storage. Maybe you’ll be using your summer house all year round, especially if you’re connecting it to utilities, insulating it and heating it. But if not, there will be a time of the year where it’s out of use and you’ll need to store some things away to keep them in tiptop condition. So make sure you have the space to do so when you’re kitting out your garden building. Models with side sheds attached are ideal for this purpose.
  • Think about the future and use materials that are as hard wearing as possible. Also, it’s a good idea to get more paint or preserver than you need in your colour choice, since this will make regular touch-ups and annual applications easier.
  • Think about your budget and upcycle or reuse old furniture or fittings if you can. This can also help your creativity to come to the fore. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

shop for summerhouses

We hope you’ve been inspired by our selection of summer house decorating ideas. We’d love to hear how you’ve made your own retreat look unique – so do get in touch, show us your pictures and tell us your stories on Facebook or by tagging on on Instagram using #mywaltons. 

A huge thank you to our customers for sending us photos of their own creations to share with you.

Back to blog