Whether you're looking for summer house ideas to inspire an outdoor home office, creative space to paint or write, or simply a quiet corner to catch up with some reading, these make for versatile spaces and are designed to fulfil a variety of needs.
From shepherds' huts to boathouses and even a shell-clad folly, these real-life beautiful garden buildings are both practical and pretty, used by artists, gardeners, and crafters for all sorts of activities.
Our gallery is sure to convinces you to invest in a summer house of your own, and should you want a more beautiful garden ideas, be sure to read our feature.
- Is your summer house part of a bigger garden design project? Be sure to use our guide to help.
1. Perfect potting shed
With a shiplap exterior evocative of old-fashioned beach huts, and gothic-inspired decorative details, The Chelsea shed is a compact yet versatile design. An integral side storage area with removable shelving can be used for holding logs or other garden bits and bobs that don’t need to be kept inside, while the shed itself provides a lockable store that can be upgraded with options such as insulation and solar panels. From £2,008 at The Posh Shed Company.
Find out how to choose the best garden shed with our helpful guide
2. A shepherd's hut retreat
Traditionally used as a mobile shelter for shepherds during lambing season, the shepherd’s hut served as a bedroom, living room and kitchen complete with a stove for warmth and cooking. The bed often had a space underneath for orphaned or poorly lambs and stable-style doors enabled the shepherd to hear his flock. Today, these characterful huts are seen more commonly in gardens, creating sumptuous living, working and recreation spaces for year-round comfort.
This Cabin design, from Plankbridge, can be made from either tin or timber, and painted in a wide variety of Farrow & Ball shades to blend seamlessly into any garden. The Cabin shepherd’s hut is large enough to hold a king or super-king mattress along with shower room, basin and kitchen dresser, making it the perfect additional living area or a space for guests.
- For more modern outbuildings, be sure to browse our complete garden room ideas feature for contemporary pics too.
3. The quilter's room
With plenty of glazing at the front, and a window boasting countryside vistas at the back, this traditional summer house idea makes a lovely bright craft room for quilter Jenny Larvin. Not wanting to take down the tree, she and her husband snuggly fitted the room beneath, painting it green to complement its natural setting.
4. Vintage-style summer house
Complete with a pretty veranda, this quaint summer house is a great spot to admire the garden in the heat of the day. Styled up with potted plants, bunting and vintage planters, apple crates and watering cans, it’s a masterclass in pretty country style.
Find out how to make bunting in our guide.
5. A traditional summer house idea – with storage
A picture of English charm with its pink roses and rustic stone wall, this pretty garden room is also packed full of clever garden storage ideas. Custom-made, the storage bench is the perfect place to stow away garden tools or craft materials, and a vintage crate serves as a mini bookcase and side table, not forgetting the ample shelving which provides plenty of surface space for those cherished collectables.
6. An oak-framed summer house studio
This stunning oak-frame garden building has served as an artisan studio for engraver Andrew Davidson for the past 26 years. Now beautifully weathered to a silvery finish, it was constructed from pegged oak to his own design. Nicknamed his 'gilded cage', the building is reminiscent of a boathouse, but instead of river views it offers vistas across the Cotswold countryside. ‘If one must be imprisoned for life, it has to be in a gilded cage,’ he quips.
We have more oak frame garden room design ideas.
7. A sculptor’s retreat
Sculptor Pauline Lee’s traditional summer house isn’t just a beautiful feature in her garden; it’s the workshop and studio from where she produces her wonderful ceramic pieces. It serves as the perfect setting to observe the natural world around her from which she draws inspiration for her botanical works.
Made from two modified sheds, it blends into the garden landscape, with honeysuckle and clematis spilling over the roof and fragrant pink roses climbing up the walls. Inside brims with her fired stoneware sculptures, pots, figurative work and wall tiles.
8. External home office summer house
If you work from home, finding a quiet spot to concentrate isn’t always easy, so an office at the end of the garden is the perfect solution. Providing a sanctuary away from the main house, it is a cheaper and quicker option than extending to add an office, as most designs can be installed within a few weeks.
Another benefit is that the majority of garden offices, and most garden buildings, don’t need planning permission. This Suffolk Barn Quarto design with a cantilevered roof and veranda costs from £20,718 at Smart Garden Offices.
9. A little brick outbuilding
Louisa and Charlie Butters took on the renovation of a Grade II-listed cottage in north-east Oxfordshire. The neglected garden was re-landscaped after Charlie unearthed some photos of the garden in the 1950s.
Charlie returned it to its former glory, replanting borders and trees, and reinstating the paving stones where an orangery had once stood. The little brick garden room perfectly complements the period features of the home and is a beautiful place to view the surrounding Oxfordshire countryside.
10. A lakeside traditional garden room
When Linda Kilburn's friends drop by for coffee and a catch-up, too, they are less likely to end up in the kitchen of her 18th century house and more likely at the bottom of her garden, sitting in comfort by the side of the lake. Surrounded by mature trees at the bottom of her garden, this dreamy two-room summerhouse was custom-made by a local joiner and has been decorated in a calm palette of duck egg to reflect its beautiful watery setting.
When friends drop by for coffee and a catch-up, too, they are less likely to end up in the kitchen of Linda’s 18th Century house and more likely at the bottom of her garden, sitting in comfort by the side of the lake.
See more of how this summer garden building came to be the ideal lakeside summer house.
11. Use planting to create a summer house hideaway
Latte Lodge is one of two outbuildings on the grounds of Wendy Blakeman’s 240- year-old renovated farmhouse. The garden cabin where Wendy likes to sit and sew or chat to friends over a coffee, is an impressive space, with views right across the Derbyshire hills.
12. Go for coastal cabin interiors
At the other side of Wendy's garden is Gull Cottage. Originally a small tool shed that friends were throwing out, Wendy transformed it into her very own Southwold beach hut. Shells, seaside accessories and bric-à-brac were sourced on frequent trips to the Suffolk coast and to her all-time favourite shop, Tinkers in Walberswick, which she says is a ‘treasure trove of vintage finds’.
13. Create a summer house cum crafter’s shed
Artist Ali Ferguson’s back garden studio in Roslin, near Edinburgh, is known as the ‘Purple Thread Shed’. It is lined with cupboards, crates, drawers and shelves brimming with her collections of objects, from buttons of all sizes and colours, lengths of old lace and fabric and vintage bobbins to sepia photographs, giving her the perfect place to produce her complex collages of found objects. Her love for vintage even spills outside, with old suitcases and Singer sewing tables used as decorative features.
14. The stitcher’s studio
With its pastel blue weatherboarded walls this pretty shed has a New England feel. Studio to textile artist Viv Sliwka, inside it is cosy yet bright and stacked floor to ceiling with drawers, painted shelves made from salvaged circus benches, and patchwork hangings.
Find more garden paint ideas in our feature.
‘I would find it impossible to do what I do on the kitchen table, clearing it up for dinner every day,’ says Viv. ‘This workroom is my bolthole, and I love spending time in my garden — it feeds me. Listening to the birds, being surrounded by nature; it’s all part of what I do.’
15. Botanical potting shed
Tucked away at the bottom of the garden, this old potting shed has been transformed into a beautiful work and creative space which blurs outside and inside. To complement the glorious verdigris exterior, the bench is covered in a selection of botanical print cushions, and the window adorned with beautiful leafy curtains in a fabric from Jean Monro.
Inside, the botanical theme is continued with the apple green paint shade which creates the perfect backdrop for a selection of botanical wall prints and freshly picked blooms.
Rustic and hard-wearing outdoor metal furniture is an ideal choice for a practical work space, and old apple crates are used as side tables to blur the boundary between outside and inside.
Learn more about linking your indoor and outdoor space.
16. A sweet summer house that's a little chapel
Inspired by the prefabricated iron structures used as mission halls and chapels in the 19th century, this scaled-down, portable tintabernacle was built in Cornwall.
17. Creative conversion
This ingenious, self-supporting steel structure started life as a commercial shipping container before being converted into a home office by Green Roof Shelters. Eco-friendly in more ways than one, the offices come with deep sedum roofs planted with wildflowers, and have attached nesting places to help make your garden a haven for wildlife.
Discover more ways to create an eco-friendly garden.
18. A treetop hideaway
Like living the high life? This bespoke, luxury treehouse by Blue Forest features a spacious deck, wired interior complete with wall-mounted TV, zip wire, rope bridge and sunken trampoline, making it the ultimate chill-out space. The exterior combines warm cedar cladding with green roof tiles to blend with the tree. As the treehouses can be built with supporting stilts, having a sturdy tree is not essential.
19. Sociable BBQ Shelter
Barbecues are normally the preserve of sunny days, and any plans made for them are nervously anticipated when there is the threat of rain. However, this cabin boasts a centrally vented grilled fire, meaning you can enjoy barbecuing all year round with no fear of your plans being rained off.
Its circular design makes it a social space, easily seating 15 people around the fire, while a few adjustments transform it into a unique guest bedroom, sleeping up to three people. The flexible 10m2 BBQ cabin is priced from £8,950, Scotia Cabins.
- Find our pick of the best BBQs in our guide
20. A shell-decorated interior
Just a stone’s throw from shell artist Linda Fenwick’s house, this atmospheric folly is used for lunches and dinners, and in the evenings candlelight reflects off the iridescent forms covering every surface. ‘People find it very peaceful sitting in a room full of shells,’ Linda says. ‘You just imagine where the shells have travelled to and come from.’
Even if you don't have a garden room as grand as this one, find out how to create an outdoor dining area in your garden.
This stunning summer house was a purpose built hexagonal folly in her garden, the interior of which is entirely decorated in shells. ‘I worked with my joiner, Colin Thomas, and it took about four years to get the building finished, grabbing free days as and when. It took me a year altogether to finish the interior, creating and putting up each panel separately, and I added the last shell in 2010, the night before we opened the garden for the NGS,’ Linda explains. ‘I have always collected shells and wanted to do something with them, and I love architecture and art, so all of these things have fed in to each other and go hand in hand.’