Alternative summer house ideas


Are you looking to add a little private or social space to your garden? Whether you want somewhere to relax and unwind on those cool summer days, or a private sanctuary you can retreat to when you need some personal time, a summer house can be a great addition to any home that has the space.

But if you’ve never owned a summer house before, where do you begin? Is a summer house just for personal use or can it be transformed into the ideal social space for when the sun comes out?

To help you come up with some ideas for what your new summer house could look like, and what important things you might want to consider when planning your design, here are our top garden summer house ideas to get you started.

What is a summer house?

Traditionally, a summer house is a small wooden structure that sits in your garden, often hidden away in a nook or towards the far end of your lawn. But while the name implies that a summer house is only useful for one part of the year, when built right, you can use this little building all year round.

And best of all, because of this flexibility, you can get as creative as you like with your summer house design ideas. From relaxing on external decking with a good book to sheltering from the setting sun on a cloudless evening with friends, what you choose to use your summer house for is entirely up to you.


Our top garden summer house ideas

When it comes to planning out your summer house, you might already have some ideas in mind of what you want to use it for. But if you’re still unsure exactly what you want this new space to be, here are our favourite garden summer house ideas for you to browse through – including our favourite product highlights from our downloadable brochure:

Stunning garden social space complete with bar and bifold casement windows

1. Garden bar

There are few things more annoying on a sunny day than heading down to your local bar and finding out there are no spaces left in the beer garden – which is what makes turning your summer house into a garden bar so brilliant.

With the addition of a set of bi-folding doors, a small serving bar, a fridge for cooling drinks, and a selection of choice spirits on the shelf behind, you and your guests can whip out the deck chairs and enjoy your favourite drinks in quiet comfort.

And you can even go the extra mile with this idea by investing in some decking around the edge of your cabin for tables and chairs, and you may also want to include indoor furniture as well so that, when it gets chilly, you can continue the evening inside.

Check out our full article on garden bar ideas if you want more suggestions for this type of summer home.

2. Play den

Ideal if you have a family bursting with endless energy, a play den gives you an outside space where your children can tire themselves out playing while you relax tending to different areas of your garden.

Storage benches in particular are a great furniture choice for this kind of space, giving you plenty of room to put away abandoned toys while also leaving space for a table, chairs, and maybe even a small TV.

And, naturally, when the kids have gone to bed, there’s no reason that the adults can’t use this space as a casual hangout spot for some quiet conversation.

3. Your personal sanctuary

While a summer house certainly has the potential to be an active social space, if you’ve already decided that you want to use it as your own private area to relax in, then you should go right ahead and design it to match your favourite aesthetic.

Grab some comfy seating, install some curtains and blinds for your windows, and fill it with all the things you need to help you relax after a long day in the office. Cosy is the name of the game when it comes to this sort of space, so don’t forget to pick out some appropriate interior lighting as well to really set the mood you’re looking for.

Of course, this is just one suggestion for how to make your summer home into a personal space, and if you want to be more luxurious, then there’s no harm in turning this spot into your very own spa, hot tub, or hobby zone.

Wooden garden room with bespoke grey bifold doors

4. Home office

If you’re reading this and you’re after a more modern summer house design, then a small home office in the middle of your garden might be exactly what you’re looking for.

An excellent solution for keeping distractions to a minimum, a summer house turned office is the perfect way to give yourself a little privacy as you work through the important tasks of the day.

It may require a little more effort to set up, but once you have your Wi-Fi and electricity installed, you’ll be good to go. And when the workday is done, there’s no reason you can’t grab a drink and admire your garden from a comfortable indoor seat.

In fact, if this idea has really caught your attention, then why not read our article on garden office shed ideas?

5. Planting hut

Is your garden too small for both a full-sized shed and a greenhouse? Don’t worry, the compact nature of a summer house means that it’s perfectly sized to act as a small planting hut for when you need a prep space.

Set up a table where you can look after any flowers that have just germinated, and with the addition of several raised beds, you could even start growing your own garden vegetables for the kitchen table. And when you’re all finished for the day, you can easily store your garden tools safely inside.

6. Guest room

Last, but not least, if you’re lacking space for guests to stay over in your house, then a great solution is to convert your summer house into a guest room that’s easily accessed from your home.

Only needing electricity and Wi-Fi to be added alongside its bedding, an external guest room gives anyone staying over plenty of privacy in the morning and evening while also making it easy to head out and do things during the day. Just remember to insulate your summer house properly so people can stay over in the winter!

Where should you build your summer house?

As a rule of thumb, most summer houses are constructed at the end of the garden in a secluded spot. This helps give them an air of privacy while also helping to make smaller gardens feel longer.

Of course, if you want your summer house to be a prominent feature in your garden, then there’s no reason you can’t build it in plain view of your home, adding some striking decking or paving features to go with it.

What materials should you use in your summer house?

Traditional summer houses are often made of timber and styled to mimic that of a beach house. However, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from designing your summer house to match the aesthetic of your home.

For example, if you want a modern summer house design, then a brick and metal exterior with a wooden interior can easily capture a contemporary aesthetic while retaining the summer house feel.

What colour should I paint my summer house?

If you are going for a typical summer house design, then you might be curious as to what colour it should be painted.

Generally speaking, most summer houses are painted in light and neutral tones to help express the calming nature of the area, though there is no harm in picking bright pastel colours if you want your relaxation spot to stand out.


Do you need planning permission for a summer house?

In most cases, you will not need to seek planning permission to construct your summer house, even if you decide to go large and include a summer house with bi-fold doors. However, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to get in touch with a professional and ask.


These are just some of our summer house ideas that you might want to choose from, and there are plenty more out there for you to experiment with. Of course, if you are building a summer house, then you’re going to need a set of windows and doors to go with it.

That’s where we can help. Here at Express, we have over a decade of experience making bespoke doors and windows. Contact our team today to see how we can help bring your next home project to life, and don’t forget to visit our showrooms in person to see our full product range.

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