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The garden house - a highly efficient use of space

When you read articles about people living in their garden houses, it's striking how efficient everything is, in terms of the available space. Each thing has its own specific place and even though the house is small, it doesn't feel crowded or cramped. The key is that each surface is cleverly planned out. 

This applies to not only what is visible but also what isn't. There might be a sleeping loft (doubling the amount of space available), seating space with built-in storage and shelves and cabinets on the walls so that all the space is utilised, perhaps more so than in a larger home where you might not be as careful as you have more space to play with.

Being able to spread out your stuff isn’t necessarily better. A hall isn’t improved when you can put your shoes in lots of different places and a kitchen isn’t more stylish just because you can spread your washing up over an entire worktop.

Consider the caravan, for example, where with efficient use of all surfaces you can house an entire family in only a few square metres. This is because the tables can be moved out of the way to increase the sleeping space. The bunks, which are beds at night, become seats during the day. Under the bunks there's storage for both batteries and clothes, and all the walls are covered in cupboards for food and personal belongings.

The same goes for garden houses, but with larger margins of space. They can be about twice as tall as a caravan so you also have height to work with. It might seem like a waste to have over three metres of ceiling height in parts of your cottage, but the extra volume makes the house feel bigger. Add to that lots of large windows that let in the light and provide a view and you'll never feel claustrophobic.

Unlike a caravan, a garden house can also be furnished in a flexible way. A house that won't be driven around the country doesn’t need to have wall-mounted cabinets or seats that are screwed to the floor. Folding chairs and tables allow a room to be changed around several times a day if necessary.

You don't even have to find these solutions yourself, although it can be fun. There are companies that spend all day designing chairs that can be folded and stored under the bed or unfolded to make an extra table, stairs with a built-in bookshelf, beds that can be hoisted up to the ceiling with an electric winch and the usual, space-saving sofa beds.