Summer house ideas for a welcome retreatJen Wiss-Carline
Transforming your garden shed or outbuilding into a summer house gives you a welcome retreat on warm summer days or balmy evenings. Sit and relax with a cool glass of wine or a fruity cocktail, curl up on a comfy chair with your favourite book, or use the space for your favourite arts and crafts. Or give your children their own magical area to sit or play, away from the grown ups. With these easy summer house ideas and a little creative flair, you can make even the smallest space individual to you – and the possibilities are endless.
1. Waterproof your space
Start by ensuring the shed is completely waterproof. You’ll be adding furnishings, so the last thing you want is for the damp to spoil them when it rains. Add new felt to the roof if there’s a chance it might leak. Protect the outside with a good quality wood treatment to prolong the life of your timber.
Inside, check carefully around the windows, using sealant to plug up any gaps. Seal down the corners and the edges between the floor and the walls, if needed. Look for any cracks or holes between the slats of wood that may also need sealant. Make sure you do any sealing while the weather is dry and give the sealant 24 hours (or more if recommended by the manufacturer) before decorating.
2. Paint the interior
Painting the interior floors and walls is the next step in the transformation process. Most people opt for cool whites, pale blues, soft duck egg or warm off-white shades. This opens up a dark shed and gives it a fresh, clean summer feel. Colours trending for 2016 include blues — specifically turquoise, cobalt, navy and teal – and grays, which are easy neutrals to work with.
A beautiful summer house palette using colours from The Little Greene Paint Company (L-R): Gauze Dark 166, Gauze 106, Shirting 129, Gauze Deep 165
Although you’re painting the interior, the floor will get more exposure to dirt and damp compared with the interior of your house, so factor that in when choosing the type of paint.
3. Add pops of colour
With the warm weather finally on our doorstep, there’s no better way to welcome in summer than by choosing some beautiful summer-inspired shades.
Designers are favouring accent colour in pastel shades or citrus hues such as lemon yellow, bright orange or lime green. Introduce these in small pops – a cushion, candle holder, picture frame or ornament – or give smaller pieces of furniture an overhaul, like this table (right) painted in zesty ‘Trumpet’ by The Little Greene Paint Company.
Remember though, it’s all about personalising this space to you – so choose what you love and don’t worry too much about staying on trend.
Image credit and paint (L – R): The Little Greene Paint Company Lamp Black 228, Trumpet 196, Turquoise Blue 93
4. Furnish smart
The summer house is usually small in size so to get the best use out of this space, you need to choose smart furniture. Nests of tables are a great option as they can be tucked away when they’re not needed. A small bookcase will give you space for your best reads, and room for your favourite photos on top. A small bench can create seating for more than one, while narrow shelving can give you useful storage without taking up the floorspace.
5. Choose comfy seating
The type of seating will depend on what you’ll be using your summer house for – if it’s to curl up with a book, a small two-seater sofa, chaise longue or comfy armchair is the perfect choice. If you’re going to be working or making things, a desk chair at an appropriate height will be a better option for you. Don’t be afraid to mismatch furniture in the summer house – it adds to the charm.
6. Add a rug
A rug can help make the space feel more like a room and less like a shed. Again, you’ll find the room is far more prone to dirt, so choose a bleachable material such as polypropylene which can be easily cleaned from time to time. Plenty of carpet shops will be happy to edge a piece of carpet for you to create a custom rug, giving you more choice of colours and allowing you to get the perfect size.
7. Get lighting
If you don’t have electricity in your shed, look for a battery operated lamp so that you can use the space even on dull days or in the evening. These can be wall mounted or they can stand on the desk or floor. Some come with battery chargers – if yours doesn’t, it’s worth investing in a battery charger to keep the costs of running the lamp to a minimum.
Battery operated fairy lights look really pretty in the summer house although they won’t be bright enough on their own for reading or working. Jars containing candles (below, right) and lanterns are also the perfect way to add mood lighting to create a magical feel on a summer evening.
If your shed has a high enough ceiling, you could install a candelabra (below, right) to give you the chandelier look without the wiring. If you plan to actually use the candles, you’ll need to make sure they are a good distance from the roof of the shed!