This Suffolk garden is an exotic woodland where you can escape into a completely different world. So when we came to design a summer house/studio for it we decided that a ‘fairy-tale’ theme would best suit the building. We used a traditional old English style of timber cladding called ‘Waney Lap’ where the edges of the boards retain the natural shape of the tree they came from. We made the pitch of the roof steep and pointed, a bit like a Scandinavian church, and covered it in cedar shingles. It is surrounded by a large veranda which allows our client to sit out in the shade during hot summer weather, or whilst sheltering from a spring shower.
Fully insulated with double glazed windows and doors, and with electricity for lighting and music, this summerhouse can be a venue for gathering during the night. Being able to experience the garden after dark is something that this building has made possible, as it allows for bot hosts and guests alike to stay for a complete garden fantasy escape!
This building is fully bespoke, as it was designed and built specifically for its setting within the garden. Because of its uniqueness, the building has a strong identity and atmosphere of its own, reflecting the personality of its owner and adding to the mysterious journey one embarks on by simply visiting the garden. In these photos, you can see the frame taking shape as we formed the complex steep pitch of the roof extending on one side to form the veranda roof.
This Gazebo can provide the perfect shelter in a small suburban garden. Inspired by Japanese architecture, this gazebo can add a touch of the orient to any garden. Made from bamboo and pine (or whichever material you’d prefer) we’d be happy to build this for your garden, though if you would like something that is bespoke to your requirements we can do that also.
Our second Waney Lap summerhouse was commissioned after our clients visited the one at the ‘Tropic Of Henstead’. This building was to be used as a studio and extra living space specifically to accommodate extra family guests when the house was full. The cladding on this version was ‘Sweet Chestnut’ with cedar shingles for the roof.
We built the frame for this building to be very sturdy as it was in an exposed position, here you can see the Douglas fir main timbers with softwood studwork which was then fitted with insulation. The building straddled a drop in the ground levels of the garden so consequently had a deck on stilts built onto the back of it.
The second gazebo design presented here offers our clients a stately home from home; this building has a strong architectural presence, commanding impressive views across the garden offering solitude and peacefulness next to the water features.
From what began as a lifeless garden plot was eventually transformed into a retreat that was ideally tailored to our client’s expectations. Small urban gardens can often prove difficult to design; hard landscaping and architectural features come to dominate the garden as a client often wishes to have a low maintenance garden that requires little tending too. This Gazebo coupled with an outdoor kitchen provides an ideal solution to this dilemma.
We repeated the sweet chestnut Waney Lap used to clad the outside of the building inside, with exposed tie beams and a work bench all made from the same timber. The floor was laid in oak because of its more durable quality. We treated all of the wood with linseed oil to protect it and bring out the decorative grain. We double layered the buildings insulation to prevent any cold bridging from the timber frame, and installed double glazed doors and windows.
Gazebos and pavilions
Gazebos can increase the amount of usage you get from your garden by providing you with a comfortable outdoor living space. New infrared patio heaters make it safer to heat the inside of a wooden structure, meaning that barbeques are no longer ruined by rain and gatherings can extend long into the night. A dry play space is always available and it is possible to bring an oriental, modern or traditional style to your garden.
All our small garden design experience was required to make this clients request for a covered outdoor sitting space work in such a confined space. This new build garden space was situated just outside Norwich and was only 7m long. It has an unusual fence line giving the garden an irregular shape. Our solution to this was to set all the features of this new design at an offset angle so that they did not relate to the house or garden at all. This detracted from the size and shape of the garden and created different shapes of planting areas throughout the garden.
We used the proportions of the timber to create much of this gazebos character; with heavy 150mm sq posts supporting the roof which has exposed rafters projecting beyond its wall plate. We made bamboo strip sarking to line the inside of the roof and the back wall to create a soft interior style finish and laid the floor in slip-resistant decking boards. The roof is built in a very cost-effective way using felt, as used on garden shed roofs, this is not visible from the garden as the roof is angled backwards out of the garden and the front edge of it is lined with a timber facia strip.
These summerhouses can offer extra space for when visitors come to stay; they can act as an office during the day or simply the perfect spot to enjoy tea. Much of our work is inspired by oriental and Middle Eastern design as you can see from the drawings on the left, though we are equally happy to take inspiration from cultures around the world.
This garden, in particular, has a strong appearance because we were able to design every detail of it; all its parts are integrated and composed to work around one structural layout. The strong angles of the garden allow the transition between the different materials of the patio and deck to interlock, seamlessly creating two different seating areas. The dominance of the subtly oriental gazebo is tempered by this angular relationship and its setting in the evergreen planting. Eventually, the planting will be dominated by tall bamboo and become lush and jungly. With the neighbour’s windows and cold winds screened out this garden will be set apart from its surroundings, making it a luxuriant retreat.
Our thatched gazebo in Norwich – shown at different times of the season. This small four or five seater building is at the end of a long garden and plays an important role psychologically in creating a destination, making a reason to walk to the back of the garden necessary in order to appreciate the views from there. The sun streams into it during early spring and autumn under the edge of the thatched roof, making a warm place to sit at each end of the summer season.
We used grasses as the main plant in the area around the gazebo. They do not appear in the rest of the garden and so make a different character for its environs, in sympathy with the roofs material and the Norfolk reed cutting trade and vernacular. The oak used throughout is also locally sourced and milled.
In order to make the seating space intimate for just 3 or 4 people at the most, we used a hexagonal shape for the building, with integral seats on 3 sides. The complex geometry required to build the roof and seats was a great challenge and we used many original design features to achieve this, such as the compound oak bracket seen here which is used to support the reclining backrests between the angled posts.
We used a jig to position the posts at exactly the right angles before extending the floor joists to the outer edges of the hexagon. Benches were then added and wall plates were added to tie in the posts which formed the core structure. The oak chosen for the seats had the most interesting burr details and grain character from the considerable batch used, this was then enhanced with linseed oil.
Built as a viewing platform with Elm board seats and a Cedar ‘shingle’ (tiled) roof. The decking platforms ascending to the pavilion lead through dense jungle on a curve that is part of a 25m wide circular walk around this part of the garden.