Design Lesson

Design lesson: Garden retreats

Design lesson: Garden retreats Author: Style At Home

Design Lesson

Design lesson: Garden retreats

An open-air gazebo, garden shed or pool house can give you just that – a little extra room outdoors to use as required. Perhaps you'd like a sheltered spot to lounge and read, an outdoor dining area, a garden shed to free up the garage, or a covered playhouse for kids. Maybe even an artist's retreat for painting or throwing clay.

Sound good? A simple addition will add value to your home and boost quality of life. Here are some suggestions to make it a reality.

DIY Dreaming
My friend Lindsey Hall dreamed of the Ultimate Guy Shack, a solitary spot where he could retreat to watch a hockey game undisturbed. Lindsey envisioned himself slouched on a comfy sofa with a big-screen TV and beer fridge nearby. "Just one room that's all mine – is that too much to ask?" he lamented. A trip to a nearby lumber yard provided all the supplies he needed to make his dream come true.

Building the shed wasn't too difficult, he says, since he enlisted the help of a friend who's a carpenter. Once the shed was framed, Lindsey added the siding, his friend installed the windows, and together they shingled the roof. From start to finish, the project took about two weeks and cost approximately $5,000. When I asked Lindsey about his satisfaction with the results, he said, "It looks good – maybe a little too good." Turns out his wife, Bonnie, thought the new space was ideal as a garden shed. So the Ultimate Guy Shack still remains a dream, but Lindsey has this advice to offer: "Either build it before you get married, or be prepared to offer a trade – say, a tennis bracelet for control of the shed."

If you don't want to start from scratch like Lindsey, there are some ready-to-assemble sheds available. Many large garden centres sell them, as do home supply stores like The Home Depot and Lowe's. Visit Summerwood Products, which offers customizable gazebo, workshop, shed and cabana kits that you can order online.

Style & Continuity
When researching ready-to-assemble styles, think about what would be most consistent with the design of your home. Would a Victorian look suit it best? Or a more rustic structure with cedar shingles? You can customize a standard look by adding elements of your home's architecture, like a window shape, roofing detail, distinctive wrought-iron accent or moulding pattern on the door. It's best if the colour scheme is the same as your house or complements it. For a natural look, integrate the gazebo or shed and the landscape by planting flowers or shrubs around it.

It's all about location
As with anything relating to real estate, location is everything. Position your structure according to its purpose, and to create a focal point in your garden. If planning an outdoor dining area, keep it close to the kitchen or barbecue for efficiency. If you're building a tool or garden shed, place it away from the house and make it blend in with the garden and landscaping. A pool house would benefit from the addition of an adjacent outdoor shower. As for the Ultimate Guy Shack, well, dream on!

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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Garden retreats