An oak framed summerhouse: essentially a very large den…
Building a den at the bottom of the garden is every kid’s dream, isn’t it? Having somewhere to escape to that you’ve made yourself, that’s tucked away from the rest of the family – what could be better? So when the shed at the bottom of our garden finally fell apart, we jumped at the chance to replace it with this little oak cabin.
A level base
The first stage was already complete: a level earth base. The large garden shed that had sat here previously, had been laid on concrete blocks. So we saved these and reused them for the base of the new structure.
Light touch foundations
As we were building a lightweight timber structure with a tin roof, there was no need for ‘proper’ foundations. We wanted the structure to be as light touch as possible, so it just rests on flat concrete blocks, to lift it slightly off the ground and ensure it doesn’t sit on the wet earth.
The skeletal oak structure
The six oak posts went up pretty quickly, as timber frames tend to do! To keep costs down, we decided just to have a feature truss at the front, and to do the rest of the structure at the back in ordinary stud-work. A little bit of oak goes a long way and often you don’t need to build your entire structure out of it to give the feel and aesthetic of an oak frame.
The oak came from Whitney Sawmills in Herefordshire. We always use oak from the UK as we know it will be able to cope with the British climate! The key to long lasting materials is choosing natural products that are grown in a similar climate to that in which they will be used.
Natural larch cladding
Once the structure was up and the roof was on we got going with the cladding. The summerhouse is clad in larch, which doesn’t need any treatment or preservatives as it silvers down to a lovely natural silver.
A good overhang
Depending on your location and aspect, having an overhanging roof can be really handy. The summerhouse is in Cumbria and faces south, across open fields, so gets a lot of weather! This overhanging roof provides just a little bit more shelter, and also gives the cabin a nice traditional proportioned look.
The final step is the glazing, which is mounted on the outside of the oak framed summerhouse, and then ‘sandwiched’ behind oak face plates. This makes the structure completely water tight, and also allows you to have the glazed oak aesthetic uninterrupted by window frames.
Natural colour change
You can see the difference here between the brand new oak face plates and larch cladding, and the oak door which has been out in the weather for a while! Soon the whole thing will fade down to the same lovely natural silver grey as the door, and this will help it sit quietly against the background of trees beyond.
For more cabin-related reading, see our post on Betts Cabin – a magical house in the woods.
You might also like to browse our landscape structures page, for more bothies, follies and garden structures.
If you have a project in mind we’d love to talk it through with you. Jonny is on 07985 410 476.