Shed vs. Summerhouse

The garden shed was, until recently, a standard feature of any garden worth its salt. Larger gardens may have featured a greenhouse as well, but the shed was the workhorse that we all needed. It can function as a workspace for DIY, a space to store the lawnmower and as a place to grow seedlings for spring and summer. Some are even used to house model railway sets or miniature pubs. Most seem to be the domain of men (as evidenced by a number of books and TV programmes about what men get up to in their wooden domain) but fashion and tastes change over time, as can the way that we use our houses and gardens. More of us are now realising the value of having a space that functions somewhere between inside and outside – a beach hut for our own homes, if you will. Somewhere to sit and wait for a shower to pass. Somewhere to store the sun lounger. Somewhere to store the Pimms.


Image source: Mount Pleasant Granary

The summerhouse rivals the humble garden shed

The summerhouse has never been so popular and it is now starting to offer serious competition for the humble garden shed. More likely to be strewn with bunting than extension cables, the summerhouse is even attracting men, who are happy to store the Workmate and the drills under the stairs in return for an outdoor room that improves the value of a home and prolongs the period of time that you can use the garden as a dining or leisure space each year. The home away from home can be used to dine in, read in or even as a casual office, with doors shut or open.


Deciding on whether you need a summerhouse or a shed will largely come down to how you use your garden (or how you want to) and the cost. If you are a keen DIY enthusiast then you may simply want somewhere to store your tools, set up a vice and be able to use a saw without bothering too much about cleaning up afterwards. If this is the case, then one of the larger sheds is definitely what you need. Basic sheds for storage start shy of £100, but you will find that something large enough to swing your power tools in will be at least double that.

basic garden shed

Image source: Steve Block, retouched by Thryduulf

Prices go up in line with size and sturdiness, with most needing a shallow foundation to be laid before installation. A shed is useful if you really do need storage space for things you don’t want in the house, whether that is bicycles or gardening equipment. But do remember that you can also buy secure storage boxes or mini-sheds from many DIY superstores, which are compact and can do away with the need for a full size shed.

Many summerhouses have more glass than the average shed, as well as more opening areas. They can open up the front entirely and may even have a small porch or balconied area at the front for sitting or dining. They tend to start at around the £350 mark but prices can go as high as you can afford, with custom-made models easily reaching five figures. The basic models will be a slightly spruced-up shed and will need some decoration, whereas top of the range models may include a green roof, modernist design and interior décor.

summerhouse with character

Image source: Daniel Arnold

As with any home investment, you should balance out your potential usage with how much (if anything) the summerhouse will add to the value of your home and what you will be using it for. If you have a summerhouse that can be used as an office, party space, relaxation zone and spare bedroom come summer then it is hard to argue against investing £2,000 or more.

If however, you just want somewhere to escape from the rain during a barbecue or somewhere to have your supper once or twice a year, then opt for a cheaper model. You can always add some inexpensive decoration to make it look like more of a status purchase than it really was. Some bright garden furniture and cushions will do wonders.

And remember, if you really can’t decide, then some larger summerhouses come with a storage shed attached. 
Find a local carpenter near you to discuss your garden dreams and have your project started.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. Hubby has been longing for a storage shed for a couple of years now but I’d love a warm building which could cope with storage and allow any or all of us an escape from the TV in the through lounge. Roll on a Lottery win.

  2. The instructions that come with this shed are prttey vague and horrible. They need to at least have a minimum amount of written instruction, the pictures arent usually helpful. Just do yourself a favor and go out to buy some lumber and build a real shed lol.

  3. The pictures looks awesome. I guess the Windows sort of make the difference between the summer house and shed. I wanted to have a shed last year but lack off window option put me off from doing it. These days metal sheds are getting popular as you can do lots of customization with it. This year I built one metal shed to put the window we just cut the metal wall and drill the window straight to it. Well for the small projects recycling could be good.

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