Garden offices are becoming a much more common feature in gardens across the UK. Anything from a luxurious multi-room office to a petite garden pod can provide you with space to work peacefully, firmly separating 'work' and 'home' in a way that you may not be able to enjoy with a normal garden office. There are other benefits too: the tax benefits and savings on travel have been enough to convince many to start running their businesses from their own back yard.
There are several specialist companies that design and sell garden offices, often in pre-designed kits. These 'kits' can provide everything you need, including utilities, and with enough customisation options to suit your garden, so do not dismiss them as a less attractive option off the bat. An architectural designer can help you design a bespoke garden office, and even manage the project for you. A garden office is a big investment, so do not take on the work yourself if you are inexperienced. It will be worth it in the long run to hire a competent builder or carpenter to make sure you get a satisfying finished project.
When you are designing a garden office, there's one thing you'll need to get through your head: you are not building a shed. A garden office is a comfortable space where you can get your work done at any time of year. Do you move offices between the seasons? Even a simple garden office can be designed with weatherproofing, insulation and some form of heating.
The next thing to think about is exactly what you need. Most garden offices are built with access to utilities, even if this simply means having a few electrical outlets. If necessary your garden office could contain cooking and toilet facilities, as well as wifi. Many pre-designed kits come with utility access, though it is still sensible to hire a qualified plumber or electrician to connect everything together.
Choosing a pre-designed garden office kit has a few advantages, aside from simply being the cheaper option. Many come with utility access, but more importantly with a pre-designed model you can visit a show room and test it out. Remember, a garden office is a big investment, and a more bespoke option will require hiring an architectural designer to draw out blueprints before work can begin. Having said that, they tend to look very much like garden offices, and can stick out like a sore thumb in period or wilderness gardens.
Try to remember that your garden office will be an important visual aspect of your garden. When thinking about materials, consider what will go well with the rest of your garden, as well as your house. You could decorate the outside with a coat of paint, metal accents or even a few hanging baskets to make it seem more at home in your garden. Take your time to look online for some decoration ideas!
Again, your garden office is not a shed; when choosing furniture, treat it as you would an office in your home. Start by thinking about what you need for your work environment: a desk and office chair? Shelving? Storage? There are plenty of space-saving options, so even a tiny garden office can become a completely practical work space with all the necessities. You could speak to a carpenter about creating fitted furniture, specifically for the dimensions of your space, or a furniture specialist if you would prefer to source pieces from elsewhere.
Think about how much space you have. Would you be able to accommodate a separate seating area for meeting with clientele? Perhaps you could install a counter where you can have a kettle and microwave? You might even be able to fit in an additional desk if you ever need to hire someone for your business! Think about what you would have in a professional office, and how you can accommodate those pieces in your own space.
One of the simplest way to choose luxurious pieces for your garden office is, again, to think of it as a room in your house. Luxurious leather desk chairs or a hardwood desk create an air of success wherever they are. Be careful though: overly luxurious furniture and decorations in a less expensive garden office may appear unseemly.
If you are willing to consider a planning application, you could start thinking about a larger garden office with separate rooms, or even an additional storey! Talk to an architectural designer or structural engineer about your options and limitations when designing a larger office. It may take a little longer, but the end result will be a workspace you can really be proud of!
Another option for creating a luxurious garden office is to make it suitable for other uses. If you have enough room, your office could also serve as an entertainment lounge or man cave. You could even buy hidden beds, so guests can use it as a bedroom! Alternatively, you could focus on making one section of your office 'business casual': a place to relax with clients, with a small monitor on the wall for keeping up with the working world.