New-style rustic cabins provide just the right mix of elegance and simplicity – and make for the perfect rural retreat
An open-plan kitchen-diner-living-space in one of the cabins. For a similar sofa, try Soho Home
THE COOL CABIN: SOHO FARMHOUSE
Founder of the Soho House empire Nick Jones opened this private members’ club and hotel, set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, late last summer to much fanfare. Forty timber cabins ranging from one-bed studios to three-bedroom suites are dotted throughout the estate, each with interiors painstakingly designed by the in-house team led by Vicky Charles. Inspired by American log cabins, the result is a luxury shack: think Little House On the Prairie meets English country house hotel – via Scandinavia.
The cabins are lined with reclaimed timber and corrugated sheet metal that have been left to weather. The roofs are made with shingles and ridged bitumen. Most of the cabins have a kitchen with custom-made cupboards, shelving and a butler sink
For a similar bed upholstered in ticking fabric, try Sofas & Stuff (sofasandstuff.com). The rug and wall lights are from Soho Home (sohohome.com)
A wood-burning stove, rug and armchairs add comfort to the cabins. The armchairs are from Soho Home (as before)
The success of the look lies in the contrast of rustic elements, such as wooden walls, with the high-end luxury of a freestanding bath. For similar floral fabrics, try Jean Monro (jeanmonro.com)
by James Waterworth, design director of Soho House & co
- Add character by using reclaimed materials – they tell a story.
- Don’t feel you have to buy all the pieces in one go. Collect items as and when you see them, so that the look evolves into what you want it to be. Don’t be afraid to mismatch – it will come together in the end.
- Add elements of luxury and creature comforts. We wanted the cabins to be an escape, an experience that you can’t have anywhere else. You’re in the middle of the countryside, but sleeping on the highest-quality linen in the biggest bed you could hope for, with everything you might need at your fingertips.
THE POSH PREFAB: BERT’S BOX AT THE PIG
Deep in the Hampshire countryside, nestled among long grass and a newly planted orchard, sits the ultimate garden retreat. Designed by interiors company Bert & May in collaboration with architects Box 9 Design, it’s a prefab with a difference. The super-stylish garden pod – clad in salvaged wood with steel-framed windows and doors – was snapped up by husband-and-wife hoteliers Robin and Judy Hutson at a trade show. Reworked and decorated by Judy, they turned it into an additional luxury suite within the grounds of their boutique hotel The Pig in Brockenhurst.
A Bert & May geometric tile feature wall creates a backdrop for the wood-burning stove in the open-plan living room. A textured rug anchors the seating area; for similar, try Ikea (ikea.com). The armchairs are upholstered in Kashmir fabric in India from Raoul Textiles (raoultextiles.com). For a similar pouffe, try George Smith (georgesmith.com)
Steel-framed french windows open on to a private garden. Judy designed and commissioned the bespoke four-poster bed; for similar, try Oka (oka.com). For early 19th-century French chairs, try Pimpernel & Partners (pimpernelandpartners.co.uk). The walls are covered in reclaimed black oak by Bert & May (bertandmay.com). Expect to pay upwards of £150 per sq m for similar
Carrara marble-topped galley kitchen runs along the length of the open-plan kitchen, living and dining area beneath steel-framed windows. The kitchen was designed by Bert & May to include solid brass taps and oak rustic cabinets
The bathroom was designed and fitted with geometric tiles (£139.80 per sq m, excluding VAT) and solid brass Brooklyn taps by Bert & May (bertandmay.com). The sink is from The Water Monopoly (thewatermonopoly.com)
Lift the vista
by Judy Hutson, Creative director of home grown hotels
- Take the view from the windows into account when designing the interior of your garden retreat. Lay the room out with this in mind so that chairs, desks and beds get the full impact.
- It’s important not to ‘stop’ the view. Think about texture and colour. Rustic, weathered woods and natural fabrics such as linen, wool and cotton – in a palette based on the surroundings – will blend with the view rather than overpower it.
- Go with what feels right for the location. A natural earthy palette, such as the burnt ochres, moss greens and mustards used here, echo the pod’s surroundings and help to ground the space.
- I always start by choosing the window fabric first, then fabrics for upholstery, cushions and throws – everything else hangs off that. Choose the paint colour last – it’s much easier to find a paint to match everything else.
GET THE LOOK
WALLPAPER, £12.99 for a 10m roll, Henderson Interiors, hendersoninteriors.co.uk; CHAIR, £398, Anthropologie, anthropologie.com
LAMP, £85, Rose & Grey, roseandgrey.co.uk
SHEEPSKIN RUG (180cm x 60cm), £150, Cox & Cox, coxandcox.co.uk; WOOD-BURNING STOVE, £1,399, Esse, esse.com
THROW, £49, John lewis, johnlewis.com; CUSHION, £75, Donna Wilson, donnawilson.com
BENCH, £379, Bloomingville, bloomingville.com
COPPER BATEAU BATH, £5,500, Catchpole & Rye, catchpoleandrye.com
BERT’S BOX AT THE PIG
WALLPAPER, £199 for a 9m roll, NLXL, from Amara, amara.com; CUSHION, £90, Niki Jones, niki-jones.co.uk
CHAIR, £445, Oliver Bonas, oliverbonas.com; THROW, £100, House of Fraser, houseoffraser.co.uk
RUG (152cm x 244cm), £449, West Elm, westelm.co.uk
LIGHTBULB, £12, Dyke & Dean, dykeanddean.com; COPPER TAP, £449.99, The Copper Tap Company, thecoppertapcompany.com
THE UPSCALE UPCYCLE: SHACKADELIC
Chris Hodge started Shackadelic, a company specialising in original, one-of-a-kind garden buildings, in 2011, after he built an allotment shed for a friend out of materials found in skips around Hampstead, North London. ‘The next one I built was in my own garden, after my wife and I had a baby and I found I could no longer work at the kitchen table without her pulling at my trousers!’
PROJECTS Everything from shed hacks – customising an off-the-shelf design with additional insulation, double glazing, electrics and styling – to underground sound studios and large-scale rustic house extensions.
PRICES Small storage sheds start at around £1,500; office pods from around £10,000, and larger cabins and studios upwards of £20,000, depending on size, specification and how much landscaping or other works are involved (all plus VAT).
This two-storey shack was made with old roofing boards and pallets, with doors salvaged from the British Library, found at Retrouvius (retrouvius.com). The sedum roof helps to insulate the cabin. ‘It’s good for the environment and helps keep the neighbours happy!’ says Chris
Reclaim or renew?
- Reclaimed materials are full of character and it is rewarding breathing new life into old – but you need to be practical. For example, old windows are not double-glazed and therefore may leave rooms cold in winter. If you are investing a lot of money in a garden building, you want it to last a lifetime – so choose hard-wearing materials.
- Have fun with the style because, let’s face it, you wouldn’t build a turret on your kitchen extension. I find all my clients get inspired and excited, because it brings back childhood memories of building tree houses or going on holidays to remote country cabins.
- It’s surprising how small a space you can get away with when you are strict about what you fill it with. We built one at 2m x 2m for an illustrator and it managed to fit a desk and a chair. That was all he needed.
THE CREATIVE RETREAT: DAVE COOTE DESIGN
This artist’s studio features a wall paved with salvaged wooden boards and a vintage wood-burning stove
Designer Dave Coote and interiors stylist Atlanta Bartlett know a thing or two about creating the perfect space. As well as designing and building bespoke garden retreats for clients, this husband-and-wife duo run a successful interiors photography and film location agency, The Beach Studios (thebeachstudios.co.uk). Inspired by their love of all things outdoors and simple, honest design and construction, their cabins often incorporate reclaimed elements to add character and interest, along with an air of romance. They also ‘meet the growing need to get away and retreat from today’s busy, technology-driven life,’ says Dave.
PROJECTS Everything from office spaces, creative retreats for artists and writers and summerhouses, to guest accommodation with en-suite bathrooms and kitchenettes.
PRICES From £25,000 for a basic build.
The small print
- Think hard about how you’re going to use the space. If it’s just for summer, then the expense of full insulation may not be necessary. But if you plan to use it all year round it might be an essential addition.
- If you are commissioning a bespoke design, spend the time to consider details such as where you’ll position the lighting, what kind of fittings you’ll use and how to maximise the usable space.