Summer’s here and we naturally crave the extra space and time outside. One way to spruce up your outdoor space is to introduce a summer house. Often used as a cosy garden hideaway, a play room for the kids or even a peaceful garden office for working from home, a summer house can easily be adapted to suit your personal needs and style.
Whether you want a summer house that reflects the interior style of your home or dare to introduce a fantasy interior style for a real focal point, there are plenty of ways to create a wonderful garden building that’ll suit you and your family.
We asked interior experts, garden decor specialists and bloggers what their dream summer house design looks like. A garden studio here, a corner summer house there, and dozens of gems like hanging baskets, fun garden furniture and water features gave us plenty of garden room inspiration. From colourful cushions to Scandi style influences, find the perfect way to decorate your summer house by getting inspiration from our experts.
Getting a summer house was one of the best investments I made when I moved to my house three years ago. It’s like having another room to style and fill with beautiful things and makes a great place to sit with a glass of wine and ponder the day. I’ve gone for a very colourful, eclectic look in mine, as I wanted it to have a beach house vibe. Painted and reclaimed vintage furniture is mixed with jewel bright velvet cushions for maximum lounging, and storage is provided by old trunks and cabinets. I’ve also hung fairy lights for a truly magical outdoor space.*
For me, a summer house is all about simplicity, a back-to-nature space where you can relax, switch off and not look at your phone or computer. I would have a lot of timber cladding and some comfy seats with a massive stack of magazines so I can waste my time away. Some simple shelving will hold some plants and other decorative bits. Ideally, the house would have a small veranda with an outdoor kitchen so you can have your friends over and cook simple meals on a wood fire while seeing the sun set.
Master the art of minimalism and utilize space to the maximum with fold-out tables, clever shelving displays and storage boxes. Keep the decor light and bright to avoid making your summer house interior feel any smaller than needed. Displaying mirrors is a great way to create an illusion of more space, and adding a plant or two will help bring the outside in, to create a calming, botanical atmosphere.
An extra room to enjoy and the perfect escape from reality, for me a summer house must feature deckchairs, bunting and white-washed wood. Bringing back memories of happy days spent at the beach, you can’t go wrong with pared-down decor and sky-blue accessories. Keep everything comfy with luxurious throws and cushions, perfect for cosying up with as the sun sets.
There is no denying the appeal of rustic shacks trimmed with blowing bunting and wisteria adorned windows, but we are crushing on a summer house with a cooler concept, designed to keep us warm in those transitional months. The absence of colour is notable, the palette is purposely calming – neutral tones punctuated with varying shades of grey. The white-washed floorboards lend a beach chic vibe, along with the subtle ship, complete with hessian sails. A cool space in the summer, warmed by a central wood burner on chilly evenings.
I’ve chosen photographer Cathy Pyle’s summer house makeover for its laid back simple charm. Cathy thrifted her makeover on a tiny budget. Using just white paint for the walls and making use of palettes for both the coffee table and as a sofa base, to house the spare cushions from an old sofa she had replaced. It’s a quiet, creative space with a Scandi feel, decorated with natural sack cloths and pops of green from the garden with Cathy’s keen eye for composition. It is as near to an elegant rustic summer house interior with a bohemian feel as I can imagine.
Summer houses should be light, bright and versatile. Furniture should be movable to be put outside the house as the weather and guest count demands. These chairs can go outside and the seat benches could be filled with cushions for an afternoon snooze too. Leave your windows free of curtains (unless you need privacy) as this will only block the view. Don’t over-fill your summer house – space is good for the kids running inside and out! Add bright colours to match the vibrancy of the outdoors – it’s about feeling at one with your environment.
The summer garden house is becoming more popular and for a good reason. It is a place where you can go and switch off and do whatever you want. It is a home away from home. I absolutely love this shabby chic summer house with the beautiful blues and the original features. The stained glass is simply beautiful and I can imagine the natural light shining in would make it the perfect place to feel relaxed and get inspired. It would definitely be a place where I would love to spend time blogging or simply reading a book.
When styling a summer house, you must consider how you’re going to create a welcoming, social retreat. A great way to achieve this is through soft furnishings. By adding a sofa that you would typically find in your living room, you’re instantly enticing your guests into the space. In addition, a rug situated in the heart of the room as well as cushions and throws will create a relaxed vibe. Upcycled furniture sourced for free, such as pallets, also provides you with an opportunity to be creative and build anything from a coffee table to a drinks and bar area.
I’ve recently made over my own shed and I love it. I painted the walls white and used flat white sheets to hide all the junk. I added an outdoor mat from Rice DK, some paper party decorations, a crochet garland and a tassel garland. I hunted out some vintage lampshades from eBay and charity shops and taped them up. Lastly, I added a light curtain, a salt lamp, somewhere to sit and a Bluetooth radio so that I can listen to my favourite podcasts.
What better way to celebrate summer and be at one with nature than with an amazing outdoor bathroom? I love the idea of connecting with your surroundings and making the outside a part of your home. It’s reminiscent of tropical holidays and has an almost magical feel. Using a combination of different materials and textures along with lots of plants is a great way to create a welcoming, luscious space to relax and enjoy the summer weather.
Since the trend to demonstrate summer houses can be just about anything from an office to a slick studio space or teenage retreat, I feel we’ve forgotten the real beauty of a summer house – being that little bit closer to the outdoors. We need to remind ourselves of that and start incorporating nature back into these spaces so they connect with the garden rather than stepping into a room that could be any other in your home. Choose a design with lots of windows so plants will thrive and let nature do the decorating. Imagine curling up with the door slightly ajar whilst the rain falls, with a pot of tea and a book, knowing you are still in the garden – well, almost.
Transform your summer house into a peaceful haven - a simple, uncluttered space perfectly designed to relax and watch the world go by. Choose warm wood, set against light, clean colours to create a fresh and cosy atmosphere. A comfortable day bed and statement swinging chair take centre stage, accessorized with beautifully detailed cushions. Enhance the calm atmosphere with scented candles and a few favourite books – so inviting you won’t be able to stay away.
I grew up thinking that glass conservatories were a thing of mystery, and not in a good way: freezing cold in the winter then like a sauna in the summer months. But times and technology have changed, and so has my perception of these glass wonders. Now I couldn’t imagine anything more magical than sitting in my own glass summer house, nestled among the apple and cherry trees in our garden. In my dreams, there’s whitewashed floorboards, greenery hanging from ceramic planters from the roof beams and an oversized armchair, with a butler tray to one side and a basket bursting with my favourite magazines to the other. And maybe a bed … bliss.
Minimalistic style interior, warm, wooden cladding walls and ceiling, big glass doors which could be open or closed depending on the weather and of course a fireplace. This is the perfect combination for a cosy and easy-to-maintain summer house.
I always think summer houses should be light and airy, bringing the outside in but ensuring they also have that cosy feel. Rather than plastering the wall and ceiling, consider putting in wood panelling to add interest and then paint over. Laying a real wood floor will not only warm the room but will add character too. Adorn the room with large potted plants to help bring the outside in. Make sure you have plenty of side lights for ambient lighting. Lastly, add a large comfy sofa or two, ideally facing a large sliding door, and you’ll never want to leave.