Dakota Murphey, Decoration, Gardening Year, How To, Make over

Garden Offices: 6 Elements for Year Round Comfort

If you need more space in your home but an extension or a loft conversion is out of the question, how about putting a log cabin in your garden? Garden buildings have come a long way since the ‘outbuildings’ of old. Contemporary garden rooms can be designed exactly to your specifications and to meet whatever requirements you may have. From teenage den to guest suite, music studio to home office, it all becomes possible with the help of a good builder.

Here are just a few examples of how your new garden studio office might look:

garden office

home office building
Image Source: Whitehead Builders

log cabin

outdoor office
Image Source: Home Building

If you’re thinking of a garden office, this can be a clever and cost effective way to extend the usable space in your home, while adding interest by making use of your home’s natural surroundings. What’s more, a professionally designed and installed garden office will look fantastic and add value to your home too.

However, when it comes to specifying your new home office, there are some key decisions that need to be made at the outset to ensure that your log cabin offers the home comforts you need for all-year use.

1. Insulation

As a starting position, all garden buildings that are designed for year-round use need to be fully insulated. When you specify your garden office, make sure you choose a twinskin log cabin which comes with cavity filled wall insulation, as well as full roof and floor insulation.

Standard levels of insulation provide a better thermal performance than you would find in a mobile home, while upgraded insulation levels are comparable to those of a modern brick-built house. Once insulated, the walls of your log cabin garden office can be the equivalent thermal value of a solid wall, which is much thicker.

2. Heating

Even with high levels of insulation and double glazed windows in your garden building, chances are you will need additional heating to keep warm during the colder months. There are several heating options.

  • Wall mounted electric convector heaters are the traditional choice
  • Wall mounted electric infrared heating panels are energy efficient as they don’t heat unnecessary space
  • Underfloor heating is unobtrusive and space saving
  • Wood burning stoves can be fitted to an outside wall for a natural solution and real fire comfort
  • Fully fitted air conditioning can be used to provide heat in the winter months
  • Standalone oil filled radiators or electric fan heaters can be wheeled into position for extra flexibility

It makes sense to install a heating system with a programmable timer, so that you can control the temperature to suit the times that you are actually spending in your garden office. The latest systems come with smartphone app controls, which may be useful.

3. Ventilation

British summers can be hot, and usually when you least expect it! Some form of ventilation is recommended to keep the temperature comfortable, so make sure your garden office design takes account of this.

  • Glass panels can look very stylish in a contemporary garden building, but don’t forget to include an opening window in the room design to keep their airflow circulating
  • If you wish to avoid the clutter of a desktop or floor standing electric fan during the summer, think about a ceiling mounted electric fan that can be switched from the wall.
  • For full comfort throughout the year, whatever the outside temperature may be, air conditioning systems can be fitted.

4. Natural light and shade

Maximising natural light is the holy grail of many interior designers. And what could be nicer than having a garden office where light floods in through large expanses of glass? Using insulated glass panels in your home office design will provide plenty of light while blurring the boundaries between indoors and the natural environment on the outside.

That said, you may also need to make provisions for shading to screen your eyes from the intensity of direct sunlight and to cool down. If you work with as computer screen, the sunlight reflecting onto the screen can be very uncomfortable and cause long-term eye strain.

Think about where the log cabin is situated in your garden. Positioning your home office near a deciduous tree means that the leaves will shield you in the summer but not block out valuable winter light. Consider the design of the building too; deep eaves will offer a degree of natural shading.

Of course, fitting window blinds (or even curtains) to your garden office is a simple trick you shouldn’t miss. Whether you go for Venetian blinds, pleated or blackout roller blinds such as these ones, there’s no shortage of choice to give your building the right degree of shade. For a top end solution, look out for double glazed window designs that come with Venetian blinds fitted within the glass panes.

5. Electric lighting

Your home office will come fitted with standard electrics, and lighting is typically installed in the form of track spot lights or downlighters set into the ceiling to provide a general level of artificial light. Among garden building designers and customer alike, LED lighting has become an increasingly popular choice to provide good quality and energy efficient ambient lighting.

In addition, you may need to consider specific task lighting to aid your work. Depending on the amount of detail incorporated at the garden room design stage, task lighting can be built in – perhaps as a pendant light over a sitting area, wall-mounted picture lights or outside entrance lighting.

If you’re not sure how exactly the room will be configured, why not add more power point to provide flexibility later on? Then, when it comes to furnishing your home office, standalone lamps or desk lighting can be added as required.

6. Data cabling

Finally, in addition to wiring for power and light, it is essential that your garden office’s IT connectivity requirements are fully covered. Tapping into your home wireless network may not be the best solution. Very often, your computer’s WiFi reception may be patchy, particularly if your home router is in the main building and high levels of insulation in the garden office disrupt the signal.

Specifying data cabling when you order the design of your log cabin garden office will give you a much more reliable service when you need it most. You will need data connections for telephone, broadband and possibly TV too. You may also wish to consider cabling for alarms and entry systems, so you can answer the front door or gate when you’re in the office at the bottom of the garden, and to protect your garden building from intruders.

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.

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