How to choose a summer house

A contemporary summer house is an attractive and useful addition to any garden or terrace. Perfect as a hobby room or a place for relaxation, summerhouses come in a wide variety of innovative designs to complement the size and style of different outdoor spaces.

Wooden log cabins, smart garden sheds and other garden buildings provide a work space, quiet hideaway, or a social hub for entertaining. Available in high quality materials and extensive layouts to go with your garden décor, you can also buy simple, practical tongue and groove options to suit your budget. So to make the most of the warmer weather, read our Tesco Direct guide to learn which summer houses would suit you and your garden space.

What is a summer house?

A summer house is a roofed shelter used for spending more time in the garden. They provide a durable base and most are useable all year-round, extending your home’s living space.

Typically the structure is a single space with one entrance, doors, solid sheet roof and floor, wooden walls and glazed windows. Some summer houses have porch steps, a veranda or canopies that extend to the front. Larger designs are styled like traditional log cabins and are ideal as an extra dining room or lounge.

Uses for a garden summer house

Along with being a visually striking centrepiece to any garden or outdoor space, a summer house is extremely versatile and useful. They can be positioned on any flat surface which supports their weight, including terraces, roof gardens, driveways or lawns.

As a functional space, they can be adapted for commercial use as an outdoor extension to a business or venue. Smaller models can be easily constructed and used at local markets, trade shows or community festivals. Once you have selected the right style for you, there are many practical ways to use the summerhouse:

Workshop or tool shed

The open plan space in larger summer houses is ideal for working on DIY projects or craft hobbies. A summer house can easily be modified to provide a safe and comfortable environment for using and storing tools – add a workbench and some tool racks to keep everything tidy. If you want use a summer house/shed combination to cultivate your garden, make sure there’s plenty of shelving for plant pots and think about other accessories like fabric garden tidies for seed storage.


Summer houses make excellent home offices away from household distractions. Link up your summer house to your electricity supply and WiFi internet access, install a roomy desk, wall art and some file storage and you have a quiet hideaway for creativity.

Garden storage

An outdoor cabin will provide space to take the pressure off your living areas within the house and give you additional winter storage. Ready-waterproofed models or those which have been painted with a waterproof top coat have the ideal conditions for long-term storage of things like bikes, children’s toys and garden seating.

Outdoor dining

A summerhouse is an ideal venue for dining in the summer sunshine or as the focus for a celebration. Look for models with large, opening windows and plenty of space for a dinner table. Partner with a barbecue set and you have all you need for summer entertaining.

Children’s outdoor play

Young children will be happy playing in the garden with shade provided on a sunny day and somewhere on-hand to store their balls and outdoor play sets. Fun summer houses can be well-stocked with equipment like trampolines, picnic sets and table-tennis tables to bring out when the weather is fine.

Size and design

Summer houses are almost all wooden structures with different designs of floor, roof and windows. Compact styles start at 4ft x 4ft (base dimensions) for a smaller garden or back yard. Mid-range sizes can be 10ft x 8ft. The larger cabins are around 12ft x 10ft and provide a multi-purpose enclosed space.

The standard design is a pent style roof overhang (sloped), tongue and groove woodwork and a small porch, though you can opt for smart garden sheds with a flat front and more space inside for garden tools, or something more open, with one solid wall and a pavilion style front. Those more interested in garden décor might want to look at more unusual designs like octagonal summer houses.

Summer houses are usually made of cladding wood. Most come pre-treated for dealing with the weather, though you may want to check with the manufacturer whether you will need to apply a water-proofing treatment after a few years to maintain the finish.

The windows can be glazed with styrene or plexiglass and vary in styles, from purely decorative windows which don’t open, to casement styles which allow you to spend longer in the summer house in warmer weather.

Position and planning

When choosing the spot for your summer house consider how much space you will need around the structure for access. Ensure you will be able to stand comfortably in the cabin when choosing the dimensions.

It is important that you avoid places where water is likely to collect during heavy rain. Ensure that the new garden room will not be too close to neighbour’s property and consider whether it will shade your house or affect the selling prospects of your property in the future – you want a position and style that complements the existing buildings.

Ideal positions for a summer house are usually south-facing, but observe how the sun moves through your garden during the daylight hours, and think about what time of day you are likely to want to use a garden building.

Summer houses are classed as temporary structures so planning permission is not required except with older buildings, conservation areas or in a small number of other circumstances. Look at your local council website for details before you make your purchase.

When it comes to putting together your summer house, make sure you are building on a good solid foundation so you can enjoy your outdoor room for years to come.

Decorating your summer house

An outdoor cabin is a blank canvas that can be decorated to fit in with the style of your home or to compliment your garden. Adding other products can allow you to start enjoying your new space.

Curtains or blinds will help with shade during the summer months to keep your room cool. Tables and chairs can transform the summer house into a venue for entertaining. If you choose a suitable model that can be wired for electricity then a flat-screen television and a couch can be added to create a home cinema space. Musicians may want to add audio equipment to make it into their own studio.

Some garden lights, flower boxes, family pictures and storage chests provide a homely setting, while rugs and portable heaters are all you need to ensure you can enjoy your summer house every month of the year.