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Image Credit: Revell Landscaping

Solitude is Bliss

Articles From Issue 16

Whether your house is bursting at the seams or you’re simply looking to work from home, a backyard room is a wonderful investment that can completely revolutionise your lifestyle. Here, Cloé Timperley explores the many uses of a backyard room, and how you can get the most out of every square inch!

Everyone needs a minute of solitude every now and again. However, if you live in a small home or have a rambunctious household, stealing away for a moment’s peace can often be exceedingly difficult. If you happen to have an under-utilised backyard, installing an extra room in your outdoor area could be the perfect solution. A backyard room provides additional space that you may not be able to squeeze into your home, and can suit a wide range of purposes. Whether it’s an art studio, a man cave or a home office, a backyard room offers a quiet and private space with enormous potential.

Many older homes have an outdoor laundry or bathroom that can be converted to suit a new purpose, and several Australian companies now specialise in prefabricated backyard rooms, which can be easily and affordably installed on your property. To help you unlock the true potential of your backyard, Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design explores the many ways you can utilise a backyard room, and the key things to consider before breaking ground.

Key Considerations

The beauty of a prefabricated backyard room is that it can be easily installed on any kind of property, whether it’s a single-fronted terrace or a rambling suburban block. However, before

you take the plunge, there are some important things to consider.

Rules And Regulations

As with any building project or extension, you will need to make sure your backyard room adheres to council rules. Keep in mind that if
the structure is over a certain size or positioned close to a boundary or fence, you may have to apply for a planning permit.
However in Victoria, backyard studios that are smaller than 20m² and less than 3m in height don’t require council approval. If your prefabricated backyard room fits this criteria, it can simply be dropped into place without any time-consuming administrative wrangling. Seamless Connection When shopping for your new backyard room, one of the first things you will need to determine is your home’s fundamental architectural style. Whether you live in a Federation bungalow or a traditional Queenslander, the design you settle on should complement the existing aesthetic of your home, as this will encourage a harmonious connection between your indoor and outdoor spaces. Prefabricated backyard rooms come in a wide variety of shapes and designs to suit any architectural style, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that’s a perfect match for your home.

Rain or Shine

The outside elements will have considerable bearing on the comfort levels of your backyard room, so it’s important to think carefully before you commit to a location. If you choose a spot that’s in direct sunlight, you run the risk of turning your backyard room into a stifling sauna rather than a relaxing retreat. Similarly, if you opt for a shady location, your room will likely require some form of auxiliary heating during winter, as well as good electrical lighting to make up for the lack of natural ambient light. Ideally, your backyard room should be sited according to the principles of passive design, which will ensure a comfortable temperature is maintained year-round. If possible, position the room so that it faces north, as this will ensure it receives more solar exposure in winter. Also, siting your backyard room beneath a deciduous tree will help block the sun’s harsh rays during summer, while providing welcome sunshine during the cooler months.

A Thousand Uses

A backyard room is a clean slate; its uses are limited only by your imagination! When it comes to creating the perfect private retreat, it’s wise to seriously consider your family’s lifestyle, as this will determine how best to use the space.

Creative Outlet

If you have a musically inclined family member, consider turning your backyard room into a musician’s studio. This will ensure any noisy instrument practice is confined to a private space – just make sure you site the room far enough away from the main house and neighbouring properties to avoid disturbing others. The isolated and peaceful atmosphere of a backyard room also makes it ideal for other creative hobbies, such as painting, writing or craftwork.

Backyard Boss

With commute times increasing year-on-year, a growing number of Australians are now choosing to work from home. While many modern dwellings include an office space or study, a backyard room is an appealing alternative, as it provides a tranquil working environment that’s separate from the distractions and interruptions that one typically encounters in the home. With a backyard room, you can get dressed, have breakfast, say goodbye to the dog and march out the door just like any other rat-race commuter – except your workspace will be just a few short steps away! Unlike the regimented structure of a commercial office, a backyard room affords you full control over your working environment. Whether you’re more productive sitting at a desk, standing tall or even lying on the floor, you can determine the

rules when you’re the boss of your own backyard! Moreover, as your private office will be located just a short stroll from your backdoor, you’ll save a significant amount of money on petrol or public transport.

Be Our Guest

If you find that your home is a bit pressed for space when visitors come to stay, consider trading in that old pull-out sofa bed for a cosy backyard guest room. While some prefabricated backyard rooms feature space-saving sleeping platforms that are suspended from cables, many models are large enough to house a comfortable sized bed, plus much more! The right furniture and décor can turn your
backyard room into a truly warm and inviting space. A stylish rug, vase or bedside lamp are inexpensive accents that will make your guests feel right at home. Similarly, wall art takes up virtually no room at all, and can instantly create a bright and cheery atmosphere.
If you want a self-contained guest room, connecting the structure to a water tank will allow your visitors to enjoy the conveniences of a
sink, toilet or even a small shower. Just be careful – by incorporating all the creature comforts of a home into your cosy little backyard room, your guests may just be inclined to overstay their welcome!

Cut The Clutter

There’s no such thing as too much storage space, and most family homes would benefit from a few extra square metres in which to house furniture, knick knacks and miscellaneous belongings. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible or practical to create more space where you need it, which is where the benefits of a backyard room can be extremely useful. It’s amazing just how much can be housed in
a backyard room. Further, as a backyard room is weatherproof and typically well-insulated, it provides an ideal space in which to store things that you wouldn’t want to get damp, such as photo albums, books or electrical equipment. While most prefabricated backyard rooms come complete with built-in shelving or cabinetry, there are some clever organisational tips you can implement to ensure you make the most of every square inch. Perfect for hanging garden hoses, clothes or buckets, large all-purpose hooks are an inexpensive storage solution that takes up very little wall space while freeing up valuable floorage. Similarly, a few hanging ledges can hold many small items that don’t really fit anywhere else, such as folders, jars or boxes. Heavy-duty shelves are another great storage solution, as their height can be adjusted according to the size of your backyard room. They’re capable of storing a substantial amount of weight, and you can set nearly anything upon them without having to worry about overloading them. Take your organisation project one step

further by using plastic or metal tubs to stash your stuff. If you’ll be storing gardening or building tools in your backyard room, then a peg board or a magnetic toolbar is essential. These handy devices are incredibly easy to install, and make it so much easier to stow away your tools once you’ve finished with them.

Blending In

A prefabricated backyard room is largely appealing due to its simplicity; it can be dropped into your outdoor area with very little preparation. However, you certainly don’t want the structure to stick out like a sore thumb, so it’s wise to undertake a little landscaping in its immediate vicinity to ensure it blends in with your outdoor space. Creating a connecting pathway between your home and your backyard room is a charming and relatively easy way to create synergy between the two spaces. Whether you choose flagstone, interlocking pavers, or gravel, a garden path will instantly make your backyard room look well and truly settled in its spot. Consider illuminating your pathway with spike lights or hanging lanterns to ensure no one suffers any nasty scrapes or falls at night time. Some carefully positioned greenery will go a long way in helping your backyard room blend in with the natural setting. Shrubs, flowers, hanging pot plants or trellises with creeping vines will simultaneously soften the façade of your backyard room and foster an inviting ambience.

Similarly, scattering a few decorative garden pieces around the exterior of your backyard room will transform it into a tranquil paradise. Wind chimes, birdhouses and planter wheelbarrows provide a lovely finishing touch, while a garden bench, loveseat or your favourite piece of weathered furniture will ensure the structure’s exterior is just as appealing as its interior. Nothing relaxes the mind or covers up distracting noises quite like the sound of running water. If your backyard room is intended as a zen retreat or a place of concentration, then installing a garden pond or a water feature just outside a window is a wonderful idea. Additional elements like fish or water lilies will transform the surroundings of your backyard room into a veritable Shangri-La. If your family includes small children, just be sure the pond is protected or positioned in an area with restricted access. Backyard rooms have proven to be a popular investment for many Australian families, and it’s not hard to understand why. Requiring no lengthy design process or need for council approval, a prefabricated backyard room is a cost-effective way to add much-needed living space to your property in a short amount of time. Offering somewhere to work, relax, entertain or create, you simply cannot put a price on the precious space that a backyard room provides. With a little forethought and some careful landscaping, you can create a backyard room that’s perfect for your family, and – once it’s set up – you’ll be left wondering how you ever got along without it!

Top Image Credit: michael mobb’s desktop’ by Nicolas Boullosa, flic.kr/p/4hFCVY, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Second Right Side Image Credit: Design Milk, www.instagram.com/p/BARIlIcM80V, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Third Right Side Image Credit: ‘steel-storage-shed’ by SteelMaster Buildings, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0, flic.kr/p/cN9ZJh

Fourth Centre Image Credit: ‘Bamboo Pole Garden Screening’ by House of Bamboo, houseofbamboo.com.au

Fifth Centre Image Credit: ‘Shed Tidy – Grey, lifestyle’ by Annabel James, www.annabeljames.co.uk/shed-tidy-grey-c2x16101859