UNIQUE LOG CABINS BLOG

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10 Superb Ways to Maximise Space in Your Home Office

10 Superb Ways to Maximise Space in Your Home Office

It's part of human nature that we feel the urge to fill space with objects we don't really need or use. A bit like a third rate website where the designer (usually at the insistence of the website owner) has tried to cram every single piece of information about a product or service onto one page. The page looks busy, cluttered and nothing stands out. As in so many things in life, less is often more!

Along with the urge to 'fill space' people also like to hoard things, usually with the excuse that they might need to use them one day. I know I do! I have at least 15 tins of paint in a cupboard under the stairs – probably once every five years I might need to touch up the paint on part of a wall or something, and when I go to my extensive paint collection I find the paint I need has dried out or no longer matches the wall colour. Yet I'll always keep the tins of paint just in case...

A home office is a kind of small 'version' of your house, so you're idiosyncrasies will probably follow you there, but you really need to ensure that you are maximising the limited space available.

De-clutter

This has to be top of the list. If you have loads of files and documents that very rarely see the light of day, you could probably store them somewhere else. If there are other things that hardly ever get used then consider moving them out. Try and make a point of removing anything that hasn't been used in the last couple of months. This could include seasonal items as well – so if it is summer do you still need the portable electric radiator? Make a point of having a regular de-clutter.

Clever Storage

A room tends to look neater if there are not a large number of objects on show. So a desktop, stationery organiser will make a desk look tidier than if there are lots of things lying around on the desk. Similarly, a filing cabinet with drawers and dividers will tend to look neater (with documents out of sight) than shelves with files and papers on display.

Does it Fold?

Assuming you don't get frequent visitors to you home office, then a folding visitor chair or chairs will take up much less space when not in use. I have quite a large office desk with extendable sides, so when I haven't got paper strewn all over it, the desk can become half the size!

Make the Most of Walls

Folding wall table for a garden office Folding wall table for a garden office

Vertical height storage systems and shelves 'over-hanging' your desk are a very effective use of space as this doesn't limit the area in the office where you are likely to stand or walk. Shelves that are positioned high up a wall will tend to be a bit more out of sight and unlikely to restrict movement. If you don't have an extendable desk then you could make temporary desk space with a wall-mounted, drop leaf table like the one pictured – when not in use, simply fold away.

Appropriate Furniture

You'll probably want a contemporary style desk and chair if you have a modern-looking home office. The size needs to be very carefully considered – too big and it will take up too much space and too small and it may not be fit for purpose. As mentioned before, an extendable-leaf table is a really good compromise. You might also want a coffee table and, as with the guest chairs, a foldable one will normally do a the job well enough!

Furniture positioning

It is unlikely that anyone is going to position the desk and chair in the middle of the room but you may want to arrange it nearer to a corner and certainly ensure that the work area doesn't block any 'pathway'. If there are a few bits of clutter remaining then if anything it should be in a corner and as far away as possible from the entrance.

Light and Mirrors

It is no obscure magic magic trick that a medium to large mirror will bring more natural light to a room as well as making the space seem slightly bigger. No need to go mad and have mirrors on every wall, but one well-positioned mirror will make a positive difference. Probably the best position is directly opposite the main natural light source for the office.

Art and Pictures

Attractive 'living' or dining rooms in a house will have a good focal point like a fireplace or even a big TV screen. This isn't going to be the case in a log cabin home office but you can create a tasteful focal point with a nice, large 'oil on canvas' picture like the kind of work by Magggie Banks as featured on bigart.co.uk. You'll also find that lighter colours will work better in terms of giving the illusion of more space.

If you really want to make an impact you could consider commissioning a mural – these can be amazing! Using the technique known as ‘Trompe L’oeil’ you could have one wall painted exactly like you garden so that your office looks like it only has three walls – or you could paint 'fake' doors or windows! An artist who is available for commissions and has done a lot of work like this for businesses is Julian Kirk.

Max headroom!

A garden office will unlikely have the ceiling height of a room in a house so it is best not to have hanging lights or in fact anything hanging from the ceiling! The ceiling is another possible candidate for some Trompe L’oeil.

Floor Space and a Clean Floor

A nice clear floor space always gives the impression of a bigger room so any unnecessary floor clutter needs to be hidden and removed. A clean, warm wooden floor does not require a rug! Assuming your log cabin office has some form of outdoor space or over-hang, then it is always going to be better to position a door mat outside rather than indoor. Making a point of avoiding wearing shoes indoors will help keep the floor spotless!

As you can tell from the ideas above, a very 'minimalist' approach will give your home office the appearance of a bigger space. If you have any other space saving ideas or clever tips to make a room feel bigger, then please share your ideas with us.


This entry was posted in Garden Offices on 26th August 2016.


Planning Permission for Garden Buildings - Quick Guide

Planning Permission for Garden Buildings - Quick Guide

In most cases our log cabins & garden offices will not require planning permission although you should alweays check - for example, there will be stricter rules in conservation areas.

If a log cabin is 2.5m or less in height, it is exempt from planning conditions and is therefore permitted development, even if it is close to a neighbours fence!

If a cabin is over 2.5m (8.25ft) in height and less than 2m (6.6ft) away from any boundary, you will most likely need permission although this is likely to be granted as the law says you are entitled to go up to 4m in height.

A cabin 4m high against a neighbours fence might "adversely affect the neighbour’s use of his/her garden, block their sun or even intimidates them in any way" so permission might be declined although lowering the height or moving 2m or more from the boundary would most likely lead to the permission being approved.

There are a few cabins on our site which are just over 2.5m in height and can be lowered at not further cost if you had concerns over permitted development.

Quick Planning Guide

Please use the following guide to help decide if your new garden building will be considered 'Permitted Development':

  1. Is your garden building to the rear or side of your house?
    Yes - See Q2
    No - You may need planning permission if it is towards the front of your property - contact your local planning office and they will help you with the process.
  2. Are you in a designated area?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - See Q3
  3. Will your new building go in the grounds of a listed building?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - Note that a single pitched roof must have an eaves height under 2.5m and be no higher than 3m. See Q4
  4. Will your building be closer than 2m to a fence, hedge or boundary?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - Outbuildings (or extensions, greenhouses etc) cannot exceed 50% of the land around the original house as it was first built. See Q5
  5. Will the base of your garden building be above 30cm?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - See Q6
  6. Will people be permanently sleeping in your building?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - See Q7
  7. Will your garden building have a TV aerial or similar?
    Yes - You may need planning permission*
    No - Good news! Your new garden building will be a permitted development

* Contact your local planning office and they will help you with the process.

We would recommend you also check the Government's Planning Portal website for more details on planning and building regulations - www.planningportal.gov.uk/buildingregulations


This entry was posted in Build on 13th March 2016.


What you need for a Log Cabin Base

What you need for a Log Cabin Base

The most important thing about a log cabin base is that it needs to be level and able to take the weight placed on it over a prolonged period of time. Most log cabins, unlike a typical shed, will have the majority of their weight taken at their perimeter. Generally the base should have a footprint slightly larger than the cabin going on it.

There are four main designs of cabin bases: concrete, gravel foundations, paving slabs and timber frame supported by stilts.

Concrete

The simplest way to do this is to use timber edges and fill the base to a depth of 8 10cm. For a large cabin you might want to have steel reinforcing. The critical issue with the timber perimeter is that it is level so that you can fill the excavation to the level of the top of the timbers.
This is not a job to do the day before the cabin arrives as the concrete may take several days to cure. The surface doesnt have to be level to the exact millimetre but the more you keep working the surface with a blank across the timber perimeters the better it will be assuming the edges were completely flat.
See our simple guide to making a base - concrete-base guide (PDF)

Gravel foundations

Better suited to small cabins, you can find a explanation of this technique here

Paving slabs

A quick and cost-effective method of making a base just requires a sand/cement mix (1 part cement to 8 parts sand) or gravel base to a depth (depending on weight) of 510 cm and is relatively simple to get level. Recommend to use a plain concrete slab approx 4cm thickness

Timber frame supported by stilts

The timber frame that you use can simply be supported by paving slabs positioned at intervals which has the advantage that you can move it around. It is a good solution for areas where the ground is sloping or very uneven (because it is relatively easy to adjust the height of the stilts) or where access is poor making pouring concrete a difficult option.

The main criteria for a long lasting and stable base is therefore:

  • It should be just over the footprint size of the cabin
  • It should cope with the majority of weight being at the edges
  • The depth of the based relative to the weight it will have to take
  • Completely level in all directions
  • Use of a good damp proof membrane (if it is not supported by stilts)

Finally, remember not to place the base too close to any walls or fences as the log cabin may have a slight overhang on the roof. Also, placing the base next to trees or large plants could also cause problems with root damage or branch overhang. Fast growing trees like sycamore, pines, leylandi etc could become a headache in 5 to 10 years time.


This entry was posted in Build on 5th December 2015.


Log Cabin Winter Heating

Log Cabin Winter Heating

How best to heat your log cabin depends on its size and use you will probably not want to bother with a wood burner if you are using your cabin as a home office. Perhaps the most important factor is whether you have power sources available but as with everything the amount you can afford to spend will probably make the decision for you.

The first three suggestions below will require a mains power source but if you are using the cabin as a garden office this shouldnt be much of an issue:

Air conditioners

This is the ideal solution in many ways as air conditioners can give you warmth in winter as well and cooling if required in summer. They are also a good idea if you are using your cabin for storing items as you can easily regulate temperature and humidity. You do have to be aware however than they can produce some noise and also require a little space for an outside mounted heat exchanger.

Electric radiators and convection heaters

Electric radiators can be wall mounted or stand alone and linked to thermostats and timers so they switch on if the temperature drops below a certain level or if you have programmed them to go on at a particular time. So if you have a home office you might decide to time the radiators to switch on 20 to 30 minutes before you use the room. Convection heaters tend to warm a room much quicker than radiators and can also be linked with timers or thermostats. They are quite a cost effective solution and can simply be used with a regular power supply.

Oil-filled electric radiators

As above, but oil-filled electric radiators have the advantage that they retain heat longer and can usually be put anywhere in the cabin.

The following suggestions can be used in conjunction with electrical solutions or simply by themselves:

Solar heating

This is a fantastic idea and panels can be mounted on the roof or south facing wall. Although they will only work when the sun is out, this is not as bad as it sounds as even in winter there is a fair amount of sun. If the primary objective is to reduce damp and have some warmth in the cabin then the running costs are basically nothing and they can be left unattended for long periods. Solar heating units can be quite expensive to buy but there are also various DIY versions that can be made from plastic piping and drinks cans! Some may require a small battery to power a fan, but basically they can be left to run all winter and simply unattached when not required in summer. If you have good floor and roof insulation plus dark floor tiles and some form of heat sink (see demo here) the results can be very effective.

Wood burners

These must be professionally installed by a HETAS engineer and along with flue installation they can be quite expensive. However for cool points they are amazing and probably what everyone expects to see in a log cabin (not so much a home office though!). They can also be a little be messy with the accumulation of ash etc and are relatively slow to get going and quite high maintenance in terms of time. They are of course carbon neutral and if you have a supply of wood then very cheap to run.

Propane heaters

Bottle gas heaters can be installed outside the cabin to feed a heater or be free-standing with an enclosed bottle. These are not an ideal solution as they require ventilation which partly defeats what you are trying to do as well as issues of vapour and toxic fumes.

Verdict

When making a decision of how to best heat your log cabin in winter you can of course opt for a combination of the above for a home office we would recommend oil-filled electric radiators alongside a basic solar panel unit.


This entry was posted in Heating on 15th November 2015.


Six Tips for Autumn Log Cabin Maintenance

Six Tips for Autumn Log Cabin Maintenance

As temperatures drop in autumn it is well worth doing maintenance tasks that will help extend the life of your unique log cabin.

Heating System

If you have heating systems like a solar water heater or a electric heater controlled by a thermostat then check the settings to ensure they are working correctly. Also clean any filters plus the heating unit itself of dust and ensure there is nothing directly in front of them that will block airflow etc

Walls and roof

Check for any signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged tiles and seal cracks or holes that may have appeared

Doors and windows

Cracks in or near doors and windows can widen when the temperature begins to drop so maintenance now with a flexible wood sealant will prevent problems over the winter-time.

Guttering

Clear guttering of any leaves and other blockages so that the water will drain away smoothly. It may be worth using gutter guards if you are not able to check this regularly

Painting and wood treatment

Appropriate painting and wood treatment with the cabin manufacturers recommended products before the weather becomes too cold or damp will extend the life of your unique log cabin.

Nearby plants

Tree saplings and ivy growing near the cabin can do damage if they are left uncontrolled. Ivy can grow into the roof or find its way into any holes in the wall and tree saplings as they grow older and stronger can effect foundations. It is a much easier task to root these out when they first appear rather than when the plants get older and more invasive.


This entry was posted in Maintenance on 8th October 2015.


7 Good Reasons why Garden Offices are the Future of Home-working

7 Good Reasons why Garden Offices are the Future of Home-working

It has been estimated that 1 in 6 people in the UK are running some form of online business from home! Many traditionally office-based activities can be run from home with the Internet making virtual meanings and general online communication as easy as a click on aSkype button. Theres also evidence that a good way to raise productivity is to let more employees work from home.

Working from home is not so much a thing of the future but a current reality for most commercial businesses.Investing in a good garden office is becoming a bit of a no-brainer for many home workers, but if you need any further convincing here are several good reasons to take the plunge:

Work life Balance

The saving in time and money is the most obvious benefit of not having a daily commute, but having agarden office also means that you are far enough away from home and family distractions.

Low Cost

Relative to converting a loft or building a house extension, a good home garden office will not bevery expensive. There are also low running costs as you can share the electric, wifi/Internet and sometimes heating from your house. You might in fact save money by not having to heat as many rooms as if you were using you home for an office
If you are self-employed you can get some tax allowance for fixtures and fittings. If VAT registered you can claim back the VAT on some of costs and fittings. A garden office will quickly pay for itself if you are no longer having the expense of a rented office somewhere else.

Quick Construction

Compared to a loft conversion which requires building regs and are becoming increasingly costly due to things like fire doors, double glazing, wiring etc or planning permission for a house extension, a garden office can be a very quick and painless solution.

Betterhealth

Many commercial offices are often sick offices in that a combination of poor cleanliness, dirty air filtering and air conditioners and poor combinations of building materials like plaster, brick and concrete will make for a poor working environment. There can also be high concentrations of electrical equipment and magnetic fields that are not very healthy in the long term. How much better to have a timber building set in your garden closer to nature?

Quiet and Stress-free

Assuming your home office has some sound insulation you will have a very quiet working environment. No noisy co-workers chatting and laughing, people on phones, noisy photo-copiers etc
You could even have your pet dog or cat with you in most cases they are better than work colleagues and they will always agree with you!

Multi -purpose Space

When not using your garden office for employment, you also have a hobby room, or a leisure space, man (or woman) cave, a summer garden retreat or simply a room for a bit of extra storage.

Added value to your Property

Garden and home offices are what property developers describe as bonus rooms. You have a three bedroom house for sale but when people view the property they see you have effectively an extra room in the garden what they thought might just have been a shed is a great addition to the property. There is certainly evidence from estate agents that bonus rooms help sell properties!


This entry was posted in Garden Offices on 22nd September 2015.