George Clarke, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and The Restoration Man, shares his latest tips and ideas on garden studios.
For series three of Amazing Spaces, I set out to build the ultimate garden studio for my kids: their own space to draw, make and create whatever they want. A garden structure is a great way of adding a fun space away from the main house where you don’t have to be so precious about children making a mess, but for the children it is much more powerful than that. A garden studio is their space, which provides them with a sense of freedom and an escape away from the parents – so much so that they are hardly ever in the main house any more.
However, I didn’t just build the garden studio for the sake of it; there was actually an area of my garden that was going to waste. It was a narrow patch of space that you walked through to get from the main outdoor area to the small garage located at the very end of the garden. This redundant strip of land was a bit like an unused corridor.
We set ourselves the challenge of building the studio under permitted development rights, so that no planning permission was required, and we wanted to build it out of readily available and affordable materials that anyone could pick up from their local builder’s merchants. I also planned to convert the garage at the same time, and put it to better use.
The result is a simple timber-framed studio (pictured top), in which we created a multifunctional space where the kids have individual work desks, lots of storage, a dining table that doubles up as a table tennis table and a drinks cabinet – plus the entire space can be opened up, with sliding polycarbonate walls and roof. Between the new studio and the garage conversion, we built a small butterfly house for the kids. Yes, a butterfly house – it is absolutely incredible!
Finally, the old garage was turned into a felt-lined TV room, mini cinema and planetarium. It’s the most life-changing of projects in the smallest of garden spaces. If you have kids and don’t have a garden studio, get building.
Credit: Thomas Stewart