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The indoors ... outdoors

If you want to make the most of the summer months, despite the vagaries of our climate, we have the perfect solution. Bring the outside in... or the inside out

Claire Pitcher





Adding a conservatory to your home adds value and, most important, entertaining space. If you’re considering a conservatory, and it’s the most permanent and expensive option of all our outdoors/indoors suggestions, there are few things you need to take into account. First, you need to keep it under planning size and keep an external door so it doesn’t come under building regulations – making the process much easier.

Next, consider which way your neighbours are looking – you might need to restrict their view in. It seems obvious, but take note of which way is your garden facing. If south, then you may want roof blinds to stop sun glare. Finally, think about the style of your house and whether the conservatory will complement it. Look through plenty of brochures for inspiration. There are so many styles to choose from you’re spoilt for choice, so here’s expert Ben Canning from Hillview Windows with his suggestions:

1. Redesign and replace These days conservatory glass is really very good at keeping the room at the right temperature, as well as being efficient. You can simply replace the glass and framework as well as the roof design and the material – UPVC is by far the cheapest and the most popular. A replacement UPVC conservatory with top spec glass that self-cleans and is colour tinted should cost you between £6,000 and £10,000 and the work itself should take around three days.


2. Modern statement Imagine a completely glazed space with bi-folding doors running across the front. This modern style is about letting in as much light as possible. An aluminium-glazed style can cost anywhere between £20,000 and £40,000. In total, the construction should only take three weeks to complete.


3. Stylish orangery This style is probably one of the more expensive options, but if you’re after a more useable space, it’s also the best option. Not only does an orangery have more wall space, it’s much warmer in winter and more private. This type of solution takes the longest to construct, from six to eight weeks in total, and can cost between £30,000 and £60,000.


New-look summerhouse

Include mix and match furniture. Give a summerhouse a relaxed look with a mix of painted and natural wicker garden furniture. Junk-shop finds, such as a folding tray table and occasional table, look chic when repainted in subtle shades.

Throw a party. Make the most of a summerhouse as a party venue. Dress it up with bunting, cover an outdoor table with fun candy stripes, and provide seating within in case the weather turns. 

Make space to dine Provide a summerhouse with a decked area and you’ve the perfect spot for lazy summer lunches. A mix of striped and floral fabrics and folding directors’ chairs dress up the typical English clubhouse look.

In an English country garden

For an even more elaborate statement in your garden, you could consider building an oak garden room. They can really transform a home, bringing the outdoors in, while sheltering from the elements.

Not only can these stunning buildings give you fabulous entertainment space, they are a good investment too, as Helen Green, of Hartwood Oak Buildings, points out. “High property prices have resulted in people looking for other ways to improve and expand their living situations,” she says.

“So, aside from the additional space and light people are very aware of the long-term investment they are making and the value that these structures will add to their home.”

But it’s not just elaborate garden rooms that Hartwood Oak are being commissioned to construct. It seems our outside spaces are becoming more and more important to us. “All of our work is bespoke, we collaborate with clients to produce custom structures that are tailormade to suit their needs,” says Helen.

“This means that the projects can be extremely versatile and fulfill a range of different aspirations. Alongside the garden rooms we welcome special projects and offer a variety of designs from studios to arbors and even, on one occasion, a hen house.”

Paint your cabin

“Barbecue cabins were developed from traditional kotas used by the indigenous Sami people of Northern Lapland who used to live in them,” reveals Louise Jones of Arctic Cabins. “They’re sometimes known as barbecue lodges, barbecue huts or even Hobbit houses.” Available in different sizes, from 10sq m to 25sq m, the cabins have solid wood floors, double-glazed windows and a central grill with seating around the edge, which can turn into sleeping bunks. As they’re made from wood you can stain, preserve or paint your cabin to fit your setting. Unlike a summerhouse, the cabins are useable down to -4°C and, as Louise points out: “We’ve all attended a barbecue and huddled under an umbrella before making a dash for the house to take shelter... or even the dreaded barbecuing in the garage scenario. “ A barbecue cabin removes all these worries and possibilities – guaranteed.” Deer skins, utensils, kettle, coasters and kuksa (Finnish wooden mugs) are just some of the items that accessorise your cabin. As for cost, they start from around £5,000, which is more reasonable than a conservatory, plus it’s a unique addition to the garden which will easily impress friends and family.

Find out more Hillview Windows: tel: (01635) 278778 Hartwood Oak: tel: (01635) 253534 Arctic Cabins: tel: (0115) 932888

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