“Room tour please!” came the cry on Instagram last week, a stark reminder that I still hadn’t shared our
mammoth building project garden room with you. In fact I am so tardy with this post that I can no longer legitimately describe our garden room as ‘new’!
It has now been in full use since October of last year and although the build wasn’t without its difficulties, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the end result.
Why Build a Garden Room?
When we bought this house back in 2006, neither of us were committed to staying here forever. It seemed like a good stepping stone and the garden was perfect for a growing family. But with one less bedroom than we would have liked and being situated on a busy main road, in the words of Kirsty and Phil: it wasn’t our ‘forever home’.
After about five years, we did consider moving. In fact for the best part of three years, the OH always had one eye on Right Move. But nothing ever felt right and when it came to putting our house on the market, we realised that actually, we are very happy here. Ten years later and even the main road has become a plus point (being able to walk into town and having easy access to public transport, is a massive bonus when you’ve got teenagers).
We slowly began to consider alternative options for creating the space we ideally wanted: a spare bedroom and a place for the kids to hang out with their friends. It’s true what they say – it’s good to know where they are and who they are with, even if you’re not entirely sure what they’re doing!
Our garden has always been a reasonable size, but a good chunk of the space at the back was unused and an abundance of trees was making it very dark. In short, it had become a dumping ground/compost heap/place for unwanted play equipment. It took about three years of mulling before we finally got the trees removed (don’t panic, they didn’t have a protection order on them) and had plans drawn up for a timber-framed garden room with outdoor entertaining space (complete with bar and jacuzzi – why should kids have all the fun?).
Creating a Wish List
There are five us in this family and as you can imagine, we all had our own agenda for this additional space. We therefore decided to sit down to create a combined wish list; this is what it eventually looked like:
- In-keeping with the garden
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Somewhere for grown-ups to gather (complete with bar and pool table)
- Teenage hang out
- Place for overnight guests to stay
- Relaxing retreat on busy days
- Sleepover den
Not too much to ask then!
The plans were drawn up and we were told it would take four weeks to build. Knowing that builders are notoriously optimistic, we decided to double that estimation and add some. What we didn’t expect, was for it to take four months from start to finish!
This is what our garden looked like after the initial 4 (or 8…I had lost count at this point) weeks.
One month later it looked like this; told you progress was slow!
If you follow me on social media, you might have picked up on the fact that the company went bust halfway through this project. I’m deliberately trying to erase that little hiccup from my memory so won’t go into detail but suffice to say it caused another one week delay.
Once we managed to get things back on track, six weeks later and we had a water tight building that was beginning to take shape.
As soon as the plaster was on the walls, that was my green light to start thinking decor, furniture and all the little extra bits that would make it something more than simply an enormous rectangular box!
The cedar cladding went up pretty quickly but another month passed before we were at the furniture and decorating stage. By October, the outside finally looked like it should.
And most importantly, the jacuzzi was ready to use. Anyone wondering whether a jacuzzi is worth it? The answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’! Initially we were a bit disappointed not to be able to take advantage of the summer months but actually a jacuzzi is perfect for the winter – probably the reason why they are so popular in ski resorts.
If you suffer from back or muscular pain of any sort, I can highly recommend a jacuzzi. Interestingly, it has also proved to be a great place to get teenagers to talk – once in there, they can’t get away! We always feared that it might be redundant after the initial enthusiasm wore off but five months on and we are still using it at least twice a week.
I can hardly remember the neglected vegetable patch and unloved swing set that used to reside in this space. A vast improvement I would say!
Planning the Interior Layout
Our combined wish list was long, meaning that we had to be quite clever when designing the inside space. The tiles on the floor are a non-slip indoor/outdoor tile so that in the summer we can open the bi-fold doors to create the entertaining space that we were after.
We all agreed on a bar and the OH’s top priority was a pool table (which takes up a lot more space than you think after allowing for cue action). He also wanted a dart board which has proved really popular with the teenagers (it didn’t take long for the pristine white wall to become peppered with tiny little holes ?).
My priority was somewhere comfortable for guests to stay so we created a shower room as well as a small kitchenette behind the bar area.
I loved the white subway tiles in the shower room so much that we decided to put them on the bar as well.
As this space would be doubling up as a spare bedroom, we thought long and hard before choosing seating. We’ve bought some right clangers in the past but sofas are expensive so we felt under pressure to get it right.
In the end we plumped for a large corner sofa bed from Sofa Workshop which has proved to be an excellent buy. Teenagers can slouch on it, grown ups can sleep on it – win/win!
We have used this space so much since October and it’s not even summer yet! Over Christmas we were able to have family to stay, we have hosted drinks gatherings, church meetings and I’ve lost count of the number of sleepovers the kids have had. The best bit? We can’t hear them from the house when they are down here!
If you’re thinking about creating some extra space in the garden, just do it. It has been one of the best decisions we ever made; our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.