The Into the Garden Room story started long before the company was created. Back in 2017, my family and I were looking to move house. Like many families, we needed more space for day-to-day living, and as sales director of a Canadian technology company, I needed a home office for my work. Trying to work from the dining room table with a sizeable time zone difference was becoming challenging to say the least, and it was not only affecting our family dynamic, it was also starting to have a detrimental effect on my health.
It wasn’t just about space and noise; with my ‘office’ spread out across the dining table, I could never seem to switch off from work.
Something had to change.
We agreed that a move was on the cards, so the search for a bigger house in the countryside began. We were delighted to find the perfect house, one we felt could be our forever home. It had all the space we needed, including a separate room for my home office so it was all systems go! Just as we were making exciting plans for our future, everything crumbled. We were devastated to be gazumped as we approached the closing stages of the purchase. In that moment, we decided to stay where we were and remodel and redesign the space we had to fit our needs.
I knew from the outset that I wanted to be actively involved in the redevelopment of our home. Being a keen gardener and having worked with architects in my previous businesses, I was inspired to design and build a garden room that felt completely different from our house and sat well within its surroundings. I have always been fascinated and inspired by mid-century design, especially the Californian homes that featured in my childhood and in many movies, so that was my starting point.
Making the dream a reality
I started my pursuit of the perfect garden room by exploring ideas on Pinterest and looking at all the garden room companies I could find. I visited trade fairs and showrooms, but I couldn’t find anyone who could create a garden room that matched the requirements I had in mind, from the overall design to the quality materials I had envisaged using.
It soon became obvious that there was no-one on the market who could build a truly bespoke garden room, so I reached out to a couple of architects I had previously worked with and started compiling prices and a brief to create my perfect garden room myself.
With several weeks of research under my belt, I agreed to proceed with the architect’s plans and we moved into several weeks of design work, going through a number of iterations to get to the final design, which we then worked up into a 3D model with the help of a company specialising in 3D architectural rendering. This really helped me get a good feel for the design so I could start looking at how the room would work.
A steep learning curve
The whole process was a huge learning curve, but it was exciting to see what had started as an idea in my mind’s eye taking shape.
I took the plans and the 3D design to a few local builders, which included my now partner Andy Toogood, who was a long-standing friend and who I eventually commissioned to build the room. After going through the planning process and deciding on a full planning application, the build went smoothly, and the room was finished in three months, allowing us to get moved in by Christmas Eve 2017.
A lot had been learned in all the months we worked on the garden room. We had to make compromises on the design to keep the costs within budget. We also went through a range of thoughts, feelings and emotions throughout the design and build process.
‘Will the room be big enough?’
‘Wow, the room looks huge; will it dominate the garden?’
‘Will we use it enough to justify the expense?’
Initially the room felt bigger than we’d expected. We had already bought a desk and a sofa to create a casual working space but as we started using the room, we realised it had the potential to be so much more than just a home office. It was a versatile space that lent itself to relaxing and entertaining, as well as working. We soon decided to retro-fit a beautiful solid oak bar, complete with fridges and floating shelves to store drinks and glasses and (as a huge music enthusiast) I brought my turntable and record collection out of storage, where they had been squirrelled away since 1993. That year we enjoyed using the space with friends and family over the whole Christmas and new year period.
The experience was life changing.
We discovered that being in the garden room gave us more than extra space; it gave us a totally unexpected sense of calm and wellbeing. Being physically removed from the distractions of everyday life in the house felt like being on holiday, even if it was just for a few hours. Our garden room had rapidly become a space where the whole family could unwind and relax at different times and in different ways (yes, you guessed it, playing my old vinyls as much as I wanted with no-one telling me to turn the volume down was my idea of heaven).
Part of the beauty of a garden room is that it gives you an entirely different perspective on your home. Whether you’re looking back at your house and garden in a completely new way, or watching the sun set from a different position, being able to step away from normality whenever you want is truly life-enhancing. The daylight and sunshine hours feel extended when we spend time in our garden room and it gives us the most tremendous sense of wellbeing.
Our new sanctuary
I love seeing the seasons change from the garden room. Gardens are living, breathing places and a garden room really brings you closer to nature in every way, enabling you to watch plants and grass come back to life as you move from winter to spring and summer, with the changing weather and changing light. We purposefully designed our original garden room to have a low threshold, with grass coming right to the door, so we could feel as though there was no boundary between indoors and outdoors. It was while sitting there one sunny afternoon in March 2018 that I had my epiphany, what I call my ‘Victor Kiam moment’. Back in the 1980’s, American entrepreneur Victor Kiam famously enjoyed the shave he got from his Remington shavers so much that he bought the company.
Well, I didn’t decide to buy a garden room company, but this was the beginning of something new and exciting. If a garden room could transform our lives do dramatically, surely it could surely change others’ lives too?
Having been a salesman for many years I knew the most important part of selling a dream is being able to deliver on that dream, so I convinced Andy and his partners to join me in exploring the possibility of creating our own range of luxury, architect-designed garden rooms.
I shared my learnings with the team and together we embarked on the journey of building Into the Garden Room, creating unique spaces for unique individuals. Our first priority was developing a client-focused approach to navigating the complex world of local planning and design, space planning and product sourcing. We’ve always believed that listening to what our clients want and how they intend to use their garden rooms is the crucial first step in designing the perfect garden room, because it has to be perfect for you.
With our combined knowledge, skills, creativity and craftsmanship, we set out to create something that no other garden room company was offering; bespoke, high-quality timber-constructed garden rooms exquisitely designed for modern, multifunctional living. We knew in our heart of hearts that we could build a business that felt different to all the others; one centred around a truly personal way of working with our clients and a creative, design-led approach.
The seed began to grow
We started slowly and built our first rooms for friends and family, but we rapidly saw interest in what we were offering start to blossom and grow. It seems I wasn’t the only person looking for a bespoke approach to garden room design and construction.
Today we love meeting and talking to those who share our vision for contemporary outdoor living, be they potential clients or other companies who work in collaboration with us to provide state-of-the-art materials that help bring our imaginative designs to life. Creating adaptable spaces that have the potential to meet your needs for today and change along with your evolving family life is what makes us tick.
I feel so proud of what we have achieved in less than two years, and the acid test is that we do just doesn’t feel like work. Everyone in the Into the Garden Room team loves working closely with clients and helping them create truly bespoke and visionary garden rooms that are entirely unique to them.
It warms my heart to hear stories of how our garden rooms have changed the way our clients live.
This post was written by our Co-Founder Paul Ransom