Category Archives: Benefits

Garden Room Plans and Plants

garden room planning for herbs

garden rooms for gardeners and cooks

May is the perfect time to plant a herb pot or corner in the garden room.  Growing your own, rather than finding the culinary kind in the supermarkets, can cut your carbon footprint and discourage the crazy air-freighting of plants.  Try planting what you know will be useful to you.  As you experience them through the seasons, they’ll teach you where they do best just as the garden in general will show you what works in it and what doesn’t.

Basil tends to do better on a windowsill inside for me but you might have the benefit of a sheltered sunny spot for it outside.  I’ve watched it thrive in southern England, although potted, outside. Parsley is easier to grow as the curly variety and will do well in a shaded area.  My flat leaved one is preferable for cooking and for salads but would rather sit inside with the basil in my house.  Both these specimens can be germinated from seed in Feb/March or plug planted at this time of year.

Tarragon, dill and fennel – the aniseeds – are hardier and can tolerate sun and shade.  Fennel will need a bit of space all to itself to develop and reach its full height – taller than me!  The bronze variety adds colour contrast to an otherwise green garden bed and will regenerate every spring.

Chives are a delightful confined, short and compact plant– keep them watered and they will always be ready for use.  They will die down overwinter but return every year.

Thyme and Rosemary like it hot, sunny and well drained and will accept being clipped regularly for the kitchen as long as you keep the scissors back from the woody stems!  Just take the new green growth and the plant will keep producing it.

garden room plans and planting

garden room plans and planting

Sage is a constant showman and easy to grow from seed.  Great with onion and chicken and the fresh leaf tea makes an excellent gargle for sore throats – an instant anaesthetic to the tonsills with antimicrobial action.  Also a magnet for pollinators.

Then there’s mint – fragrant, fresh, rampant and in many varieties.  Suitable for adding to drinks, deserts, salads, meat dishes, soups.  If you want to introduce more than one variety of mint, keep them well apart.  Folklore has it that planting them within reach of each other causes a revertion or merging of the varieties.  I keep mine in large pots to prevent the vesuvial rambling.   The one pictured below is part of my grandfather’s old mint plant which must be at least 100 years old now.  He used it in a remedy for his neighbours, friends and family.

garden room planting and planning

garden rooms planting and planning

Herbs are a most wonderful collection of plants, for not only do they look good, smell good and do you good, but they can transform a meal into a tasty feast. Anyone, with just the smallest space, can grow them.  Care, generally, is easy – well drained soil with enough nutrients to sustain growth and water after the sun has left the plant!  Watering in direct sun can burn the leaves – so an evening watering can trip with soft water gives them all the best chance.

May has turned with the rain into a blooming time for herbs: my lemon geranium is not only scenting the way to the studio as the leaves are brushed past but has produced award-worthy numbers of flowers.  It’s fresh, comforting smell soothes the nerves and encourages a relaxed, clear state of mind. 

It’s got to be Lily of the Valley for the prize this year.  Mine has naturalized beneath Japanese Acers and spread magnificently to cover the shady area.  An ancient indiginous remedy for slow heart rate and a tonic for the circulatory system, it also heralds a really heady scent which can perfume the house for weeks.


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Garden Studios Save Crowded Houses in Britain.

The Daily Mail rarely comment on garden studios but their recent story seems to pointedly ignore the obvious solution, claiming that a third of us don’t have enough space to live but can’t afford to move.

‘Twenty-nine per cent say ‘their property is too small to accommodate the size of their family’ – rising to 40 per cent for those 34 and under’.

Many families will resonate with the randomly strewn children’s toys on the floor scene in the living area. Or the bantering of the children doing homework at the kitchen table. Nothing wrong with that. When combined with the need to work from home, things can get confused and stressful.

Property analyst Samantha Baden reports ‘Affordability remains a key issue for families, with the average cost of a three-bedroom home around £193,000. Very few can afford to buy – or to rent – a property of the size they want and in the area they desire to live. As a result, they are often forced to compromise on one or the other.’

Grown-up offspring who cannot afford to leave the family home are also adding to the problem facing families in this unusual squeeze.

These factors combine, perhaps explaining another element to the growing garden studios market. Those who cannot afford to move can remortgage or invest to improve with a rapid build home extension or detached garden studio suite.

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The Right Way for Garden Rooms?

I watched graceful Richard Moore, charity founder, businessman and peace ambassador illuminate a Dublin university stage to a standing ovation as he entered with the Dalai Lama. Amongst jibes and jokes, the message was eloquently woven to encourage kindness, forgiveness, compassion. Taking basic Buddhist principles further, corporate responsibility by business leaders is the focus of years of research by the spiritual leader.

In terms of business, one has a certain power in decision-making and with experience, the ripples of consequence become predictable. For instance, in our industry the latest vat rise was impressed by suppliers with an extra added price rise. Indeed, very lately, one supplier has increased their base price still further in response to their inflated costs. Such is the way as the supply chain of raw materials and manufacturers catches up with fuel cost increases and knocks on the impact.

Ultimately, if this cost rise is reflected in price increases to the consumer, this means fewer people will be able to afford the best quality product. So there is one consequence, directing the consumer towards a poor imitation garden room, which may show structural defects after 10 years and may fail to produce a return on the investment it represented to its owner. So by taking price changes and other decisions mindfully, one can keep value and quality as high as possible and prices lean and fair.

All people are heavily inter-dependent, with our global economy and environmental matters being obvious examples. Working with a conscious sense of responsibility in practice, means good waste management, anti-paper office and general waste management and digital media promotion. In this industry, it also means encouraging the excellent and very slick remote site-survey above travelling to visit clients.

With intelligence and a warm heart, working towards taking care of the well-being of others brings tremendous trust and friendship. Openly communicating with the consumer also aids co-operation and trust: transparent pricing, clear specification, nothing hidden, nothing underhand, no empty intimations of latest technology or high quality. So, with renewed determination, confidence and hard work we will collectively work through our country’s economic difficulties.

Garden rooms give families more opportunity to spend time together and with their valued friends. As garden offices, they succinctly help business owners consolidate and survive through hard times and with the new vat-free scheme* can prove to be business assets which keep on giving, year after year. My hope is that more and more business leaders will take this wholesome line rather than continuing their focus on their profit alone.

*Contact Julie for details at  Studioni Ltd: 02890 425538.

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Happiness Is … My Garden Room!

Rooms in Your GardenThis month, our office for national statistics will spend a considerable amount of time, money and effort assessing the happiness of 200,000 UK families.  However, Professor Martin Seligman, inspiration for a new commodity – gross domestic happiness, has changed his mind.

Searching for a better, more meaningful index the psychologist believes his original ideas have been watered down, devalued, and left bereft of the intended integrity by polititians. “Flourishing”, his new buzz word, consists of five components: positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

Not alone, many scientists are now showing genuine interest in the training of the mind, becoming more sensible people, putting value in the utilization of human intelligence to transform emotion.  They emphasize the achievement of inner peace for a better world and recognise its dependence upon giving happiness to get happiness. Following the banking crisis and subsequent fall-out, it is perhaps the time to challenge the major proportion of humanity that follows material values only.

In all our efforts, our charitable giving, our work time and family time, perhaps the easiest thing is to listen to each other, give loved ones our time and attention.  Helping them along the road to a healthy inner mental state; human happiness and genuine satisfaction cannot be bought with money or taken by force.  No wonder polititians are attempting to package it in these austere times.

I genuinely believe by providing a responsive service and high quality product to our clients, we are inducing positive emotion, encouraging engagement, space for positive relationships and well-being, a sense of meaning and accomplishment. How many other product based businesses out there have refined the balance between customer satisfaction / high quality products with the bottom line profit margin?    By and large, the effect reflects a happier and more satisfactory experience all round.

Tomorrow, His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama (by invitation from Children in Crossfire, Afri and will attract thousands of people together in Dublin for the POSSIBILITIES 2011 civic summit. It aims to inspire people, young and old, to become vocal and active in transforming our country and our planet for the better.

Honoured guest, His Holiness, said,“One can be very rich, materially, but deep inside: stressed, worried, insecure, lonely.  Not in a religious way, just share with your friends the value of an inner healthy mental state. Scientists emphasize achievement of inner peace and a better world is dependant upon giving happiness.  Everyone has the right to achieve a happy life.” Learn more about the NI charity, patroned by the Dalai Lama.

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Which garden studio is most cost effective?

Comparing the quality of garden studio buildings is a tricky process, especially when companies withhold their u-values or only publish some of their better ratings. Studios that are cost effective to run have lowest u-values. In other words, they keep warm with ease in winter and stay cool in summer, costing you less money and energy to heat and cool the space. If you want a garden room without the need for planning permission, it needs to be less than 30m2 and under 2.5m high. (There are other parameters but for the sake of argument, let’s keep it reasonably simple to reflect the bulk of our clientelle).
The height limit is where the panel size becomes important. Many other companies expand their roof and floor panels to offer a reasonable U-value but then encounter a height problem because their panels are too bulky to comply with the 2.5m maximum height rule. This problem is regularly tackled by imposing extra ground works on clients: digging the building into the ground at extra expense, effort and mess or removing the design finesse of recessed ceiling lights and recessed window blind systems.

Needless to say, we never have those problems as our panels are slim and extremely thermally efficient. As you can see from the comparison table, we can out-perform building regulation standards, between our excellent glazing and high performance structures, even though we do not have to comply with most detached garden studio projects. In the circumstance where the standards must be met, we easily exceed them.  All projects have the option of upgrading their insulation to the maximum.  So your Studioni garden studio actually is better than a new build home after all. For comparison with other companies, check out the independent survey by the garden room guide.

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How Just Working from a Garden Office can Make Money.

Home working in your garden room

Studioni garden rooms for home working

The benefit system is being burned, thousands of public sector jobs axed and the fall out into the private sector is yet to be realised.  No wonder that more and more UK firms are searching for cost cuts, ditching their expensive offices and promoting working from home.  Garden offices support many home-workers by providing professional, dedicated office space – rent free, tax allowable and suitable for flexible working hours.

Having already reported this shift by IBM and BT, we now see that Vodafone, Microsoft, the AA and Unilever have joined in.  Current home-workers constitute 4.3 million of us in the UK and that figure is expected to increase to 6.2 million of us, working from home, in 2012.  After BT’s report on their own working practises, stating that their home-workers were 20% more productive and had 60% less absenteeism than their central office based staff, it is no surprise that other corporations are implementing this change.

The concept brings with it an additional glow of personal savings; the annual commute can cost £2000 for many employees, some incurring more costs in lost wages by failing to reach the office due to winter storms, train strikes and other travel disruptions.  As an employee, working from home makes sense on many level: time saved, money saved and the increased option of flexible hours.  As an employer, BT has shown that productivity definitely increases and absenteeism dramatically reduces, keeping your business well ahead of your competitors and improving profit margins.
This remote-control earning will not suit every job description, clearly the likes of bakers, carpenters and factory operatives still need to travel to a specialised place of work.  Although it is not only suited to the reclusive painter or author as was once thought.  One is just as likely to find accountants, architects, doctors and solicitors working from their gardens these days.

What about the extra home heating bill incurred by home workers through winter months? As allowable expenses, the costs of running a home office can be negotiated with employers and the cost of installing a garden office can be shared, loaned or offset against tax, depending on your employment status.  Using a garden office reduces winter bills because only one small, easy to heat, room is used – not the whole house.
In summary, garden offices represent the bright recession-busting solution for many UK businesses today.  Unaffected by travel disruption and severe weather, productivity can continue to rise. Saving on rent and rates and slashing travel costs and the time taken to commute allows businesses to survive the downturn.  With a government endorsement for remote working now in place, perhaps more tax incentives will follow.

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How Working from a Garden Office Revolutionised Profit Margins.

Money’s tight; hard to come by and harder to hold onto.  Here’s the story of a small business owner who completely changed his business model and successfully did what we are all being prompted to do:  work smarter, not harder!

Alec rented a car lot with a sales office in a fast, busy, lucrative area of Belfast.  His rent was £2000 per month, with business rates and service expenses on top.  He needed to sell 3 to 4 car a week to break even and the pressure became intense as the recession took hold.  In this high visibility area, he found that many people stopped to browse but very few actually purchased.  Another problem, which ate into his diminishing profits, concerned customers returning for services after their warranties expired.  It seemed that more and more was expected of him, beyond any contracted agreement.  His position became untenable and he shut down.

After a much needed respite, Alec began to consider how he could use his skills and experience to earn money.  He re-organised his business model, starting from scratch.  Basing his new business at his home, he advertised the retail cars on a well known internet site and traded off unsuitable models.  The cars were viewed and collected from his home and sales consultations took place in his garden office.  The separate work office in his garden became the focal point for his success.  Customers did not have to be dragged through his home, disturbing his wife and young children, but were directed to the sales office through his side access gate.  Alec found solace in the professional space and gained a healthy work/life balance.

Alec found that he had very few overheads to cover and needed to sell only 2 to 3 vehicles a month to cover his bills and make a healthy wage.  The pressure he had once felt had dissipated and he was no longer bothered by browsing time wasters.  He chose his own work hours, rather than the former 7am – 7pm shift.  When customers bought from his home, they did not return with out of warranty complaints.  It would seem the public have high expectations of a high street presence.  Alec was able to accurately calculate and keep all his profit and happily finds himself with more free time.

Studioni support small business owners in simplifying their work, enjoying their lives and propelling their profits.

Home Offices

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