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.
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
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.