The sweetest commute…to a garden office

We at the Open Living Living Company believe in practising what we preach (or rather working in what we build!), so we operate from a garden studio in leafy Hampton.

And, being members of that growing band of people who have a garden office, we are great advocates for the use and ease of working from home. The sheer joy of walking to the office through the garden, smelling the flowers and freshly mown grass, is simply priceless and guaranteed to get the garden design ideas streaming. No need for the cramped rush-hour train home, no need to destroy the planet.

And although the concept of garden offices seems to be a modern one, it has actually been around for centuries!

Our favourite historical garden office has to be that belonging to writer George Bernard Shaw. It was built on a circular track to follow the sun and to constantly change the view – a novel way of making sure that boredom could never set in.

Revolving huts were actually quite fashionable in the early 20th century and, with an updated twist on the idea, they could also look fantastic in a 21st century garden setting. Constructed largely from glass and using all the latest green technologies, such as photovoltaic panels and with sedum roofing and green walls, the rotating room could slowly and quietly follow the sun and enable you to enjoy all its natural light.

And static rooms have their fans too. Many famous innovators have tailor-made their own outdoor rooms to let their creative juices flow. The artist Damien Hirst, currently enjoying his first major retrospective at Tate Modern in London, spent almost three years working out of his garden studio in Devon on oil paintings on canvas according to the website

Singer Annie Lennox recorded her album, A Christmas Cornucopia, in her co-producer’s garden studio in 2009. The collection of seasonal songs was her sixth solo album, with all proceeds going towards AIDS/HIV sufferers in Africa.

Many writers have also enjoyed the comfort of a garden office. Phillip Pullman wrote three pages a day in longhand at his Oxford home before he moved and donated his office to a friend.  Mark Twain wrote in an octagonal ‘shed’ his sister-in-law built for him in 1874. Virginia Woolf had a small writing room constructed in her Sussex garden out of a wooden toolshed below a loft. It had picturesque views of the Downs across to Mount Caburn, but the nearby school and church bells meant she was prone to distraction. So, after some time, it was moved to the bottom of the garden under a chestnut tree where a brick patio was added for visitors to come sit out on in the summer evenings. Woolf wrote many of her famous works here, including Mrs Dalloway, The Waves and Between the Acts.

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