After totally renovating their three-bedroom, Victorian terrace house in London’s East End, Annie Tidyman and her husband, Rich Robinson, turned their attention to the garden. The couple had stretched themselves to buy the property in Clapton five years ago and had just about managed to complete the renovation work before sons, Cooper, three, and baby Woody came along.
‘We love what the house had become, but there was plenty of wasted space in the garden,’ admits Annie, an artist specialising in pressed-flower designs (@columbia_road_press). ‘It’s a long, fairly narrow area and we never used the patio at the back, so we started obsessing about building a garden room.’ Annie and Rich, a music executive, wanted to use the space for a guest suite with a wet room and shower, but one that could also double as a home office for Annie and be a place where she could to do photoshoots.
After making careful measurements, the couple started looking at garden room designs in magazines and online. ‘We wanted something contemporary, with plenty of wood and big doors that we could open right out in summer.’ They were drawn to a company called CGM Trading and came up with a design that would give them one large open-plan room and a separate shower room.
‘We didn’t want three small rooms. To us, it made sense to have just the two.’ It was agreed to locate the garden room right at the back of the garden to minimise its impact and create a new paved area in front of it. ‘We already had the garden furniture stored away from our old house so we knew that would go with it.’
With a few breaks for the weather, the build took four months and was finished in summer 2019. Annie and Rich were left with a timber-clad space that had unpainted walls, a wooden floor and an internal wall that gave them a long thin slice at the side for the shower room.
Now it was time for Annie to bring in her flair for interiors and give the room character. ‘It was all looking a bit bland, so we had to think about how we could make it interesting and practical at the same time.’
The solution the couple came up with was to put vintage floorboards in varying colours and textures on the back wall and in the shower room. The rest of the walls were painted in a pale grey.
The next task was to find a top-quality sofa bed. ‘We didn’t want an actual bed in the room, but we were aware that, as people would be sleeping in there, it had to be comfortable. So, we did what everyone always suggests and went to see the sofa beds we liked.
We sat on them, pulled out the mechanisms and laid on them to make sure.’ The couple splashed out a big chunk of their budget on a large sofa bed in a duck egg velvet.
‘The sofa bed also takes centre stage and you can see it from the house, so it was important to get it right.’ Annie had always wanted a 1960s-style, hanging wicker chair as well, so this was her opportunity. ‘I also thought it would be fun for guests.’
Next, the couple concentrated on the shower room and, having decided on grey as the main colour for the scheme, had a stroke of luck and found a grey toilet and sink unit on eBay for a great price. ‘They were brand new, so obviously someone had changed their mind.’
The couple also chose tiles for the walls with a pop of pattern to tie them in with the scheme. ‘The way it was laid out, it made sense to put the shower in the middle, with the toilet at the back.’ With a new shelf up in the main room and a jungle wall hanging brightening up one of the other walls, Annie couldn’t wait to buy accessories and bring in bits and pieces she’d collected on travels to India and Morocco. ‘Now it’s got lamps, cushions and vases, and we love spending time in there.
Boarding on walls, £68 per sq m, Rugged London. Churchill Chesterfield three seater sofa bed in Duck Egg velvet, £2,364, Love Your Home. Royal Craft Wentworth Hanging Pod, £378; Trio Natural Tripod floor lamp, £109; Marble and copper lamp, £40; sheepskin rug, £35, all Dunelm. Walls painted in French Grey Intelligent Matt Emulsion, £51.50 for 2.5l, Little Greene. Mirror, £75 in sale, Cox & Cox. Jungle wall chart, £79; pink cushion, £60, both Graham and Green. Toilet, £150; grey sink unit, £190, both eBay. Shower screen, £209; bathroom Oracle backlit mirror, £293, both Hudson Reed. Azora electric shower in frosted glass, £285, Mira Showers. Oyster Shell wall tiles, £16.95 per sq m; Oakham Grey Pattern floor tiles, £19.95 per sq m, both Walls and Floors. Towel, £19, Zara Home.