Summer House Interior Ideas to Create an Outdoor Retreat

oak frame summer house with arm chairs
(Image credit: Carpenter Oak)

The search for summer house interior ideas is on, with warmer weather and sunnier days waiting just around the corner. Whatever style of summer house you have decided upon, it's important to ensure the new space is useable all year round and is perfectly planned to suit your individual requirements.  

There are many garden room ideas on offer nowadays. Summer houses come in all shapes and sizes, from modular structures that come complete with lighting, electrics and flooring all built in, to simple timber structures that are delivered flatpack to be assembled on a DIY basis. Many of the top timber and oak frame companies now offer summer houses and outbuildings too. 

We've been busy pulling together some of our favourites to share with you — from tranquil spaces to while away Sunday mornings to snug spots for cosying up in once the sun goes down. 

Summer House Interior Ideas: Defining Use

Garden summer houses can be tailored for all kinds of uses, from productive home offices to fun games rooms for the young and old alike. They can be designed as sociable spaces for hosting guests or as peaceful places to retreat to at the end of a long day. 

Perhaps you are interested in taking your garden room ideas to the next level and using your summer house as extra guest accommodation or an outdoor kitchen.

Defining how you will use your new summer house will inform the design and build, so it's important to consider at the outset.

Whatever summer house interior ideas you are mulling over, our glorious gathering of inspiration is here to help. 

1. Create a Restful Reading Retreat

garden room summer house with blue painted interior and seating

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

It is amazing what a lick of the right shade of paint can do for even the simplest summer house. While a fresh neutral or white shade is perfect for creating breezy interior schemes, a more moody blue, grey or forest green will conjure up an intimate, cosy feel. This is perfect for snug reading rooms when paired with squashy seating and the right garden room lighting ideas.

The Cavepool Grey and Bishop Blue Wood Paint shown here is from Thorndown Paints

2. Have Fun With a Garden Games Room

games room with pool table in garden room

(Image credit: Green Retreats)

Summer houses make ideal games rooms, meaning you can keep noisier pursuits away from the house. 

Choose practical flooring – as shown in this This garden entertainment room is from Green Retreats – to ensure easy cleaning and consider fitting bifold or sliding patio doors to flood the space with light and give easy access to the garden if the activities should need to spill out beyond the internal spaces. 

3. Enhance Productiveness with a Garden Office

garden office with blue chair

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Summer houses make perfect garden offices — away from the everyday distraction and hustle and bustle of the main house and ideal for creating a distinction between home and work.

Include plenty of practical storage and furniture, but don't forget to incorporate features that make the work day more pleasant too, such as plants and break out areas. 

You'll also need to plan in lighting and socket points, as well as some form of heating (perhaps an electric radiator or infrared heating panel), to make this space work for you. 

4. Conjure Up a Backyard Bar

home bar in the garden

(Image credit: Green Retreats)

Understandably, it is not always possible to find the space for a full-blown home bar in the house — however desirable it might seem! And whilst an outdoor bar is an alternative, it's not always a practical solution with the British weather. A summer house home bar on the other hand is the perfect solution for those after a sheltered but fun entertaining space for family and friends. 

This space from Green Retreats ticks all the essential boxes — funky lighting, feature furniture and even a retro arcade game. 

5. Inject Character with an Oak Frame Summer House

oak frame garden room

(Image credit: Carpenter Oak)

Oak framed homes are always packed full of character and charm — so it is no surprise that timber frame summer houses are too. The good news is that many oak frame suppliers now offer outbuildings and garden rooms.

Complement the rich tones of the wood with bold shades on the walls and include a log burning stove too for the ultimate in creature comforts. 

This gorgeous oak frame project from Carpenter Oak is a 2-bay oak frame design with bi-fold glazed doors.

6. Get Cosy in a Cabin-Style Guest Bedroom

cabin style bedroom in summer house

(Image credit: Green Retreats)

Summer houses make great guest accommodation (although you may well require planning permission if you decide to include a bedroom or bathroom in your summer house so do check this out). 

Remember to bear privacy in mind when designing a summer house bedroom interior — high-level windows and good blackout curtains are a must.

The fresh white scheme and pale wood floor in this summer house from Green Retreats would have guests queuing up for an invite. 

7. Ensure Small Summer House Interiors Make a Big Impact

white wooden summer house with fairy lights

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Even small summer house interiors need careful thought and planning. However, there is no need to spend a fortune on getting your look right and in fact some of the most successful schemes are the result of a need to be creative with space and budget.

This pretty garden cabin is simply furnished with a rustic homespun seat and a simple wall shelf, while dainty fairy lights from Lights4Fun finish the whole thing off. 

8. Find Your Creative Side With a Hobby Room

artists studio in summer house

(Image credit: Green Retreats)

Create space for your hobby, whatever that might be, in your summer house. At the planning stage, calculate the amount of space you need and then think about the kind of storage you will require and the lighting (both artificial and natural) — and don't forget details like curtains and blinds. 

This artist's studio summer house has been planned out to ensure the space feels tranquil and bright yet there is a place for everything. 

9. Provide Shelter For Your Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen with table

(Image credit: Satara Australia)

An outdoor kitchen allows you to enjoy cooking and dining alfresco all year round — providing the weather holds that is...

Using a summer house as an outdoor kitchen means that even when the heavens open, you can remain in your garden space to cook. Good ventilation and proper safety measures are a must, obviously. 

Opt for a swathe of sliding doors or bifolds to connect the kitchen with the garden and provide plenty of undercover seating too. 

10. Make a Snug Spot From Which to Enjoy The Views

oak frame outbuilding with arm chairs

(Image credit: Carpenter Oak)

Make sure your summer house interiors feel safe, snug and secure so that no matter what the weather outdoors, you can still enjoy spending time there. Include comfortable furniture, heavy curtains, a heat source and good lighting — and if your budget allows, double glazing too.

This beautiful space is by Carpenter Oak and allows its owners to feel very much part of their garden yet cosseted within. 

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.