Look what’s at the bottom of my garden
It used to be about the main house, its rooms and period features. But no more. Now it’s all about the outbuildings. Rupert Bates takes a peek at what’s going on in the wood shed
Outside in? Inside out? do the Hokey Cokey and before you turn around property particulars will say: “If you want more conventional living and eating space, there is a five-bedroom Georgian rectory at the top of the garden.”
that’s what it is all about these days. It is no longer just the main house and location but what’s at the bottom of the garden. Cold Comfort Farm can’t get away with “something nasty in the wood shed” for the “wood shed” has to be fit for a king – or at least a homeworker or gym monkey – and preferably with the sheltered space around it to spit-roast a suckling pig, with the most recent ice machine to chill the Pimm’s lake.
It doesn’t matter if you have the latest celebrity chef designed kitchen with marble worktops hewn from Mount Olympus inside. the must-have is a fire pit outside to toast marshmallows – preferably pink and gininfused. You can even now go on barbecue cooking courses if tong-tied. Cordon black rather than bleu, given my culinary skills.
A gazebo just doesn’t cut it; arbour ardour has cooled and a bower is just for period drama swoon effect. even summer houses, which we feature this month, are a misnomer as they now need year-round functionality.
“Bringing the outside in” and outdoor cooking are all the rage as the British finally work out that despite the weather they can still entertain alfresco as if on the south African highveld or in the Australian outback. Well, sort of.
If you don’t buy a property with the requisite external stuff, you can add value by having some put in – witness former prime minister david Cameron’s “shepherd’s hut” to pen his memoirs but already surrendered to his children for sleepovers.
A home office, especially if it doesn’t require planning permission or building regulations, is a popular purchase and justified as a business necessity rather than a lifestyle choice to escape the bickering family – the modern equivalent of the allotment.
Cabin construction specialist Norwegian Log Buildings has been supplying to the uk for 30 years and its cabins can be used as offices, guest lodges, gyms or music rooms.
“We have definitely noticed a recent spike in customers looking for high-end, chill-out spaces at home. We’ve had lots of our customers making significant changes to their work/life balance by ditching the long commute and buying one of our buildings for the bottom of their garden,” says managing director Nick Forrester.
the key is not just the quality of build, insulation and acoustics but security, to protect you from the family. Or before you know it, your ego altar, with maybe a horseshoe bar to entertain clients, will be hi-jacked by a yoga mat, a toy box and a drum kit. “Just go home. Can’t you see I’m working?”