Garden room ideas – 14 inviting ways to bring the outdoors in

With a little creative thinking the architectural use of modern materials can open up homes to abundant natural light in a strikingly stylish way

Pool house and pool
(Image credit: HollandGreen/Ellie Walpole)

Looking for garden room ideas? If your vision for a bright, sun-filled home is falling short, a glazed structure could be the answer.

Extending into the garden, building an extra room with a view of the garden, refurbishing outbuildings with all mod cons, and buying land adjacent to our home are all hot topics right now. 

Fed up with our existing four walls, we are looking to our outdoor spaces for the answer to how we expand our property’s footprint. With the costs of moving high, the obvious step is to make better use of what we own – adapting our garden ideas to the functional and fun needs of modern life. 

Garden room ideas

By definition, a garden room is a glazed addition with a fully tiled roof, and an orangery has a part-tiled roof with inset glass panels. Garden rooms can either be freestanding, which is a popular choice for home offices, or attached to an existing building, such as kitchen extensions

‘More people now choose a garden room or orangery rather than a conservatory, since their solid roof construction makes them highly suitable for year-round living,’ says David Salisbury of David Salisbury Joinery.

1. Build a garden annexe for multiple uses

Garden building with steps

This garden room in  London was designed by De Rosee Sa and is used as a useful guest annexe

(Image credit: De Rosee Sa)

Creating a garden room – for a home gym or extra bedroom – is an excellent way to make the best use of any external space when it comes to garden building ideas. 

‘Be prepared to be flexible and amend your design to suit the parameters; a boundary wall is not a problem in itself, but you have to be mindful of neighbor’s privacy and their right to light, therefore you may have to compromise on the height,’ says architect Max de Rosee of De Rosee Sa

2. Convert an existing outbuilding 

Home office

Dunning & Everard decorated this 17th Century semi-derelict farm storage building which has been converted into a home office with room for comfortable meetings.

(Image credit: Dunning & Everard)

The home office now features among the key attributes listed in sales brochures but whether or not they add value to a house differs depending on where you are, says Lindsay Cuthill of Savills

‘In the country, there’s usually ample space to build one but in a city it’s much more of a challenge – I’d expect houses that already have a good home office space in the garden to therefore attract a premium.’ 

3. Add a pool house

Pool house and pool

HollandGreen worked with their clients to create a reclaimed timber pavilion extension during the renovation of a cottage which has resulted in a year-round al fresco dining and entertaining space by the pool

(Image credit: HollandGreen/Ellie Walpole)

Architects say there’s been an increased appetite to build spaces in gardens that are used for entertaining, linked back to a heightened awareness of the benefits of being outside for wellbeing. 

Converting outbuildings into party barns with at-home bars, exercise areas, pool houses and spas, is a big trend says Ben Holland of HollandGreen Architecture

‘We’re also being asked to create different zones in outdoor spaces, each with their own ambiance and purpose, for instance, a rewilding area is ideal for quiet and reflection, and great for wildlife too.’

4. Build a garage with living space

Garage design

The ‘Little Gloucester’ design by Oakwrights combining a garage with a room above which could be a teenage den or home office

(Image credit: Oakwrights)

Another garden building idea is to look at extending the garage, or building one from scratch. Oak-frame structures are popular in the countryside and many designs come with a room above that can be used as a home office, games room or guest annexe. 

5. Choose a beautifully blended garden room

Conservatory Ideas

(Image credit: Hartley Botanic)

Looking for conservatory ideas that make provision for both dining and lounging? A concrete-topped table and rattan chairs offer a relaxed contemporary feel for lazy weekend brunches, while window seating, softened with an collection of graphic-print cushions in blues and greens, uses every inch of space without detracting from the bright feel. We love the green exterior of this space – which blends beautifully with the greenery surrounding it.

6. Invest in a glass room extension

Garden room ideas with glass extension

(Image credit: Future / Jonathan Gooch)

One of the most exciting ways to enhance our homes and introduce more natural light is by adding a glass extension. 

Here, a suspended ceiling surrounded by a glass border helps to insulate the room while providing tantalising glimpses of sky.

7. Buy the best you can afford when it comes to glazing

Garden room ideas with modern conservatory extension

(Image credit: Future / Matthew Williams)

Conservatories are unlike any other room in the home, so you need to take a different approach when decorating. Primarily, the high levels of glazing can result in UV damage inside. Using low emissivity glass will reduce the UV and IR light getting through, while fitting blinds to both the roof and sides will also help to combat effects of the sun.

8. Light up with a flat glass roof

Garden room ideas with small glass extension

(Image credit: Future / Nick Carter)

Flat glass roofs have proven extremely popular of late. These have several advantages: they offer an uninterrupted view of the sky, can slide open on summer evenings and can be a good solution for a listed building when conservation officers deem a traditional roof lantern to be too dominant.

9. Decorate in a refreshingly simple palette 

Garden room ideas with white interiors

(Image credit: Future / Simon Bevan)

A palette of soft green and greys, natural textures and an artful use of flowers and foliage combine beautifully for a summery scheme that blends indoors and out. A neat slipper-style chair makes a comfortable yet unobtrusive addition to a sunny corner, with relaxed Swedish blinds lending a modern country air.

10. Marry two spaces and styles together

Garden room ideas with kitchen-diner

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Before you choose a design, it is important to note that it can be hard to create a full-use living space with a completely glazed extension. Even with advances in glass technology, this style of building can struggle to stay cool in direct sunlight. This bright, relaxing space features warm grey tones rather than white to prevent it feeling stark. Traditional English decor marries beautifully with hints of the American South in this spacious and welcoming garden room.

11. Bring the outside in

Garden room with shed and garden furniture

(Image credit: Future / Jody Stewart)

Before designing the décor, consider the look of your garden, and also the surrounding landscape. Is it cottage style or formal? Incorporating the strongest themes and shapes in your garden through color, pattern or line can be a good departure point for planning a garden room scheme. 

For a more relaxed look, use metal or wrought iron garden furniture and natural stone flooring, like limestone flagstones or slate. Conventional, upholstered furniture and wooden floorboards will create a more formal feel. As a general rule of thumb, use lighter or medium-toned colors. 

For maximum access, install folding or sliding doors that open out all the way and lead straight into the garden; these are perfect for sunny days, allowing for uninterrupted movement between the garden and the house.

12. Embrace a garden room with a view

Garden room ideas with glass and steel windows

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

This house was rebuilt from a shell to include a new, light extension, designed to make the most of views of surrounding greenery. A timeless and long-lasting choice, black steel frames are growing in popularity. Modern steel designs are double glazed and thermally efficient to meet the latest building standards.

13. Decorate in a harmonious color palette

Garden room ideas with country style decor

(Image credit: Future / Emme Lee)

Botanical prints in fresh greens create a tranquil spring-time feel that brings the outside in. Don’t be afraid to mix and match fabric in a country style garden room. It’s easier to mix patterns when they are drawn from the same color palette. Try experimenting with scale, combining florals, stripes and geometrics.

14. Introduce plenty of houseplants in a garden room

Room filled with overflowing houseplants

Cosmo Green Pearl; Dinner Plant Aralia; Golden Serpent Fern; Ficus Ginseng Bonsai; all foli8

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Garden rooms are the perfect opportunity for plant enthusiasts to show off larger specimens of plants that might not fit in around other areas of the house.  

'One of the great advantages of garden rooms is that they are usually so well lit,' says foli8’s Plant Scientist, Kenneth Freeman. 'This means that your plants will seldom be wanting for light. They are often warm – almost hot – in the summer, despite all efforts to shade them. Conversely, they can be a little chilly in the winter. These conditions are ideal for a wide range of plants which can be displayed with great imagination and style.'

How to you design a garden room?

When planning a garden room, think carefully about how you’d like to use the space. A garden room can be an extra sitting room, a peaceful sanctuary for enjoying your garden all year round, or a home office or ‘quiet zone.’ Alternatively, it can be your main family room, like many a contemporary orangery-style kitchen or a large convivial space for parties and entertaining. ‘With its full-length windows, an orangery will always create a more formal feel than a fully-glazed conservatory, and is now the most popular choice for kitchen and dining room extensions,’ says David.

A wide choice of building materials is available to suit all tastes. Painted hardwood is popular (look for companies using FSC certified sustainably-forested timber), while green oak-framed construction creates a more rustic look. Consider employing an architect, especially if your property is listed. To avoid delays at the planning stage, the scheme must blend sympathetically with the rest of the building, and have similar windows. Planning authorities will look closely at the roofline and positioning of any gables, and their visual impact on neighbouring properties. Solar control glass panels will optimize heat retention, and help keep heating costs down.

Our selection of garden room ideas offers plenty of inspiration for all property types and lifestyle needs.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.