With teenage boys in the house things can be a bit chaotic, so the Valk family decided that the answer was to give them their own place at the end of the garden. An initial architect-inspired scheme failed in the planning permission stages but fortunately a perfect, very green but also hi-tech alternative was found from Rooms Outdoor.
'We already knew that we wanted an extra room in the garden and had a perfect spot where the boys already had a basketball court but which was really very little used. As a result we had approached an architect with some first ideas. Although he was brilliant, we are in a conservation area and his large, glass design didn't meet with planning approval so it was back to the drawing board.
'At that point we came across Rooms Outdoor at the Grand Designs Live Exhibition 2006 and were impressed with its range of designs and the fact that they would also manage the whole project. We also thought that it seemed good value for money and was less expensive than our original scheme. They would also handle another planning application which was a great bonus. The footprint of the building was greater than 30 square metres which also meant we needed to get building regulation approval. Rooms Outdoor took on all this work including liaising directly with Camden Council to make sure that the building was fully compliant with current housing standards. Rooms Outdoor's experience was really helpful in making this a smooth process and this time there was no problem with the application.
'Although our initial intention was for the boys to have a space of their own, we were also aware that we wanted the building to be flexible so that when they have gone off to university or left home altogether we could use it for something else - a study, gym or a guest room. We decided to take up the Rooms Outdoor options of including a kitchenette and bathroom as well as creating living and dining spaces.
To blend the building into the landscape, especially important given the property is in a conservation area and the roof can be viewed from the public park behind our garden, Rooms Outdoor suggested a living Sedum planted green roof for us which is a great unusual feature but also was a bonus when we came to ask for planning permission. The neighbours also like it as it means they still have a green view from their house.
'We were pleasantly surprised that once the work began, although the Rooms Outdoor crew needed to gain access through the house to access the site, there was minimal disruption and no mess. The team did everything for us leaving us to just make the decisions on final decoration and interior design.
'It would be wrong to describe it just as a playroom, we really have succeeded in achieving the multi-purpose room we wanted. Rooms Outdoor were able to install an inbuilt sound system with iPod dock station, and with the addition of a plasma screen and Wii console, it's been a massive hit with the boys and their friends. But it's not just for the kids. Rooms Outdoor also installed a range of lighting for us - we have separate circuits with dimmer switches so that we can create a romantic and peaceful interior or have some accent lighting for working when the mood takes us.
'And it's not only about hi-tech solutions either. Having the sliding/folding doors means we've been able to hang a hammock across the threshold of the living area going out onto the deck. We really love the indoor/outdoor life that the new room has been able to give us. It's so relaxing to escape from the house, it's almost like having a holiday at the end of the garden.
'Our first intention was just to make use of the unused garden space but Rooms Outdoor were able to create so much more than we had expected. Our garden room was recently featured in Move or Improve magazine and they estimated that it had added around £70,000 to the value of our property, which is just a fantastic bonus'.