Creating a winter garden room
Insight Bowled over by Maggie Calmel’s winter room? These days, outdoor spaces work year-round All-weather friend Softly, softly profe ssional a dvice
Garden rooms were once thought to be the preserve of the sunny season, providing an informal link between inside and out. But these days, rooms such as these do much more than cultivate plants that need protection from winter frosts. They are now integral to a living space and often provide a natural extension to the kitchen. Maggie Calmel’s garden room comes into its own in winter with its magical glass dome, particularly elegant when lit from within. If you are going to opt for this look, remember that insulation is key, especially if the structure is mostly glass.
The insulation for a window, as with any other building, is measured by its U value, which should be as low as possible, This will vary depending on the glass type, number of glass layers and the width between them, plus gas used to fill the gap.
‘Choose double-glazed units with a low emissivity coating,’ adds Jane Hindmarch of Vale Garden Houses. ‘This helps to reduce heat transfer.’ Also, consider the direction of sunlight to avoid overheating and glare, but add a primary heat source – underfloor heating is popular. Most rooms can be built under permitted development as long as they don’t cover more than half the garden – check with the planning office. Winter rooms work best when they evoke a cosy atmosphere, as swathes of glass can feel unwelcoming. Counter this with a comfortable sofa, throws and a chunky rug. ‘I like to use Oyuna cashmere throws,’ says interior designer Roselind Wilson (roselindwilsondesign.com). ‘And the Necker rug from Tim Page Carpets is ideal. It resembles a chunky cable knit jumper, only with more structure.’
In winter, think about scent, too. Dr Vranjes, Diptyque, The White Company and Oka all offer an enticing selection of candles and reed diffusers. As for lighting, table lamps and uplighters work best, but for impact, add a big chandelier, especially in a domed glass roof like the Calmels’. ‘A garden room provides a bright and airy extension that can be enjoyed in autumn and winter. It should be a room that you can use all year, especially as gardens can be just as beautiful throughout the seasons.
It’s vital to choose a structure that will stand the test of time, and that complies with building regulations. Ensure the room is well insulated, even when open-plan to your home. Using the latest technology in glass will minimise winter heat loss and reduce heat gain in summer. Ventilation is important and adding opening windows and roof vents will allow a through breeze.
Incorporate a primary heat source. Underfloor heating is a reliable choice, and it doesn’t take up wall or floor space. Woodburning stoves are a good secondary heat source, plus they’re cosy.
Timber structures are more in keeping with nature and are suitable for period properties, particularly listed buildings. These also provide softer acoustics compared to metal-framed extensions.
Oak-framed garden rooms are increasingly popular due to their simplicity. But, at the other end of the spectrum, an ultra-contemporary curved glass dome has timeless appeal.’