There’s so much more to the British shed

There’s been a garden revolution over the past few years. It’s nothing to do with

plants, or garden celebrities like Monty Don. And we’re not talking about garden layout or the use of ‘new’ garden materials

such as polished concrete and stainless steel.

Far from it, in fact, because we’re talking about good old-fashioned wood.

The garden revolution in question is garden buildings. A few years back, if you’d

mentioned garden log cabins, a fairly narrow range of buildings would have sprung

to mind. The classic English Edwardian summer house, perhaps. A US backwoods-

style cabin, with rustic, unfinished timber. Or a simple garden storage shed with

apex roof and one small side window.

All of these styles are attractive, flexible, robust, and have stood the test of time in

terms of popularity. But the narrow range of styles available did limit people’s

options in terms of garden design – it’s hard to achieve style synergy between an

Edwardian pavilion and a contemporary home and garden design.

But trends like shedworking, garden offices, garden living, and amazing new garden

designs at the likes of the Chelsea Flower Show  have changed all

that. A browse through garden log cabin websites quickly shows that the British back

garden is now home to a vast range of cabin styles – from modern, modular timber

offices to Scandinavian barbecue houses.

And because of this garden revolution, you no longer have to be a DIY genius or

creative dreamer to have a Nordic forest hut or minimalist Japanese meditation

room on your own patch. You can buy them online, ready to erect yourself.

Modern minimalism

Garden working has stimulated the fashion for contemporary garden log cabins –

with flat or pent roofs, sparse decoration, and sleek, geometric lines. They come in

all sizes – from large multi-room offices, to a small two-person sanctuary or yoga

studio that would work well in an urban garden.

Oriental garden design

Modern modular log cabins can also complement an oriental-style garden. The

rectangular shape, the grayed out privacy-glass windows, and the clean uncluttered

lines are reminiscent of shoji – the Japanese doors, windows or room dividers made

from translucent paper stretched over a wooden frame. Using Japanese styling

details inside a modern log cabin, such as tatami (traditional mats), low furniture,

ceramics, and bamboo or natural wood would consolidate the effect.

Nordic nights and Scandi suppers

Barbecue huts (or grillikota) are nothing new in northern Europe, but they’re

growing in popularity further south. Common features include octagonal or

hexagonal walls; shingled pavilion roof; and the option of an indoor grill and smoke

extraction hood for indoor barbecuing. Some huts also have bench-style seating

around the edge, which can double up as ‘beds’ for summer and winter sleepovers.

Style-wise, a barbecue hut goes with all types of gardens. In the Nordic countries,

you might expect to find them amidst trees, and they do have something of the

enchanted forest feel about them.

But we’ve also seen them looking great in suburban and urban gardens, especially if

you go for simpler designs with straight walls and not too many cute fairytale design

features. Inside, you can go for the full Nordic ambience with accessories like

reindeer skins. If you want to use a barbecue hut all year round, look for 44mm

timber walls and double glazing.

Get out the geometry set

If you’re worried that your garden design has too many 90-degree angles, there’s a

growing choice of garden log cabins that are neither square nor rectangular.

Go back to the drawing board (or the CAD package) and play around with new

shapes. There are now plenty of pentagonal, hexagonal and octagonal timber cabins

on the market. They make more interesting focal points in a garden design than

four-sided models – and these highly appealing summer houses can be positioned

centrally rather than tucked away at the bottom corner.

These shapes can work equally well with contemporary or traditional designs.

Unless you have a strong visual imagination, it can be hard to picture the unpainted,

unfurnished garden log cabins on websites as part of a bold garden design. So, let

social media help you – there are some wonderful garden building and garden

design boards on Pinterest that will give you ideas for cabins like those above.

Some garden cabin companies will also show you examples of how other customers

have incorporated unusual, contemporary or traditional cabin designs into a wow

factor garden. It’s time to get creative.

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