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How To Turn Your Summerhouse Into the Perfect Winter Escape In 2024

As the temperature drops and the cold nights draw in, we often find ourselves spending more and more time indoors with the central heating on high. While this might not be an issue for some, it’s easy to start experiencing cabin fever. It often leads us to find new and dynamic ways to get the most out of our spaces at home.  


Since 2020, interest in summer homes has exploded. As their name suggests, these incredibly versatile spaces can be an absolute boon in summer, providing a great space to hang out and enjoy the garden during the warm summer months. Unfortunately, many of them are not set up for winter, which means they often get less use in the colder months.  

However, with just a few key changes, a summerhouse can be changed into the perfect winter escape. We spoke to Robin Antill, Senior Partner at 1st Choice Leisure Buildings to explore his top tips, both little and large, to turn a summerhouse or annexe into the perfect winter escape this season. 


“Despite what their name suggests, summerhouses can become a year-round feature in your garden,” says Robin. “Today, modern summerhouse designs are changing to reflect this change already, with new features such as pre-installed insulation, windows and flooring options.”

“While it may seem like a big task, there are a number of small but incredibly effective ways to make a summerhouse feel welcoming in the winter. Here are just a few that I would recommend to really get the most out of your space.”


Let There Be Light


With shorter days, light sources become even more important during the winter months. Adding lighting options means you’ll be able to enjoy the summerhouse space well into the evening and beyond.


Lighting can also play a significant role in creating a warm and cosy feel. Choose warm-toned lights, such as soft white or warm white LEDs, to add a welcoming and comforting feel to the space. If possible, consider adding smart bulbs - they can allow you to change the colour of the lights so you’ll be able to create the atmosphere you want most.  


It’s not just inside; consider adding lighting options outside to lighten up your garden during cold dark nights. Decorative lights like string, festooned and fairy lights can be strung up to create a whimsical feel, while stake and pillar lights can be used to light pathways. 

Lay Down Rugs and Carpets


Walking on a cold floor can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially in wintertime. Carpets and rugs add a soft and comfortable surface making the space feel more inviting and cosy.


They’re also another interior element that you can play with to bring the aesthetic of the room together. They come in a variety of colours, patterns, and textures, allowing you to create a space that has a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Carpets and rugs also provide an extra layer of insulation, helping to keep it warmer for longer. This improved insulation can also cut down energy usage which can help save money in the long run. 

Invest in Heating Options


Some modern summerhouse designs may come with heating options included, but some older designs may not. Adding a heating source can be one of the most effective ways to make your summerhouse more comfortable in the winter. 


There are several options to choose from. Electric heaters, gas heaters, ceramic heaters, and wood-burning stoves are just a few of the options you can explore. This will depend on a few factors like the size of your space, your budget, and the availability of power sources. The key thing to remember is that your heating method is safe and suitable for the size of your summerhouse.


Make sure your heat source is correctly installed and adheres to any building requirements. Additionally, make sure your summerhouse has adequate ventilation and safety equipment such as smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors to ensure safety during use.  


Explore Storage and Shelving to Maximise Space


When it comes to building an annexe, space is everything. Investing in storage and shelving furnishing can help you to optimise the amount of space to make the most of what you have to work with.   

Shelves are an excellent space saver and can be used either for practical use or for decoration. Consider adding bookshelves to store books or DVDs for entertainment. If decor is more your thing, add picture frames, hardy houseplants or knick-knacks to make the space feel cosier and lived in.   


If you have the space, add vertical storage options to keep items off the floor. Ottomans and storage stools not only act as storage but can also double as additional seating options, which could hold everything from blankets and throws to board games and more. 


Buy Some Cosy Furnishings 


Cosy hard and soft furnishings can be an absolute game-changer when it comes to making a space feel warm and welcoming. If you’re short on space, rattan and woven furniture is a good choice, especially when they’re combined with big soft furnishings.


If you’ve already fallen down the DIY rabbit hole, why not make your own? Pallet furniture is very popular, easy to make and can add a rustic feel to your new space. For something a bit more sturdy, metal frames and warm wooden furnishings can add some weight to the space.    


Soft furnishings are a must-have when it comes to creating a warm cosy space. Add big plush pillows, throws and blankets to your summerhouse - they will definitely come in handy during the winter months. If the weather is cold but fair, you can use them outside to enjoy hot drinks with friends and family - especially if there’s a fire pit on offer. 

Install a Retractable Awning


While it’s easy to just focus on the inside of a summerhouse when it comes to making a winter escape, small changes to the outside will ensure you’re getting the absolute most out of your space. 


Awnings are a great way to enjoy your garden in a way that perfectly blends your indoor and outdoor spaces. With an awning in place, you’ll be able to enjoy cool, crisp days and evenings under a nice dry cover. Pair with a fire pit to create the perfect place to sit and enjoy the warmth, maybe with a warm cup of tea or a hot chocolate. 


Determine the ideal location for your retractable awning. Consider factors such as the angle of the sun, prevailing winds, and the overall design of your summerhouse. Some may be placed directly over doorways, while some may be better suited to the side of the building. 

Put Up Some Curtains and/or Blinds


There are 3 compelling reasons for adding curtains and blinds to your summerhouse during winter: heat; privacy and pure aesthetic. Windows are often one of the biggest sources of heat loss in a room. Adding curtains and blinds can provide an additional layer to help keep the heat in, making your space more energy efficient.


If you want to make your summerhouse a perfect escape, curtains and blinds can add an extra layer of privacy to help you relax.  They can also help block out natural sunlight, and the rest of the world; perfect for when you want to watch a film, games or a cosy nap. 


From chunky materials to lovely patterns, curtains and blinds can also add to the overall aesthetic of the space. Pair them with soft furnishings to help tie them into the space and bring them together. Play with colours, materials, textures and designs to find something that really works for you. 

Add a Fire Pit or Chiminea


Pairing a fire pit or chiminea with a winter-ready summerhouse is definitely a recipe for success. A fire pit creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in your garden, making it an ideal spot to spend time with family and friends. 


From rustic and traditional to modern and contemporary, fire pits and chimineas come in various styles and designs, which means there will always be an option that blends well with the aesthetic of your garden and summerhouse. 


While they are definitely worthwhile in winter, fire pits can also be enjoyed year-round making them a very versatile investment. Permanent options made out of metal and stone are great options, but if you’re after something more affordable (and adaptable) portable options like small chimineas and bonfires are also available.    

Make a Tea Nook


Hot drinks are an absolute delight during the colder months of the year. Drinks like tea, coffee, hot chocolate - and even a hot toddy - can provide a much-needed boost during cold evenings and can be a great treat to offer visiting friends and family. 


Setting up a tea nook eliminates the need to go back and forth to the main house for refreshments, so whether you’re hanging out inside or out, you can easily get a hot drink to warm up.


All you really need is a small surface where you can add a kettle, and potentially some storage for things like tea, coffee, sugar and instant hot chocolate. Don’t forget to stock up on water and UHT milk so you always have what you need on hand.

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