Elegantly Simple Garden Studio Expands One Family's Small Cottage

Built with economical materials, this flexible backyard addition adds more space to a small home.

Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects exterior

 Paul McCredie


Growing families often find themselves needing more space at home, especially as children mature into teenagers and young adults. Some may find that the best solution is to move into a larger house, but that would mean uprooting everyone from friends and the rest of the extended family, as well as having to adjust to a new school or job.

Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects exterior
Rather than tack on an ungainly extension to the small family home, the chosen remedy was to construct a freestanding 183-square-foot structure at the end of the backyard.
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects view to house

Nestled against a background of tall trees, the designers say that the Herald Garden Studio serves a number of different functions:

"The new Studio is designed to provide flexible additional space such as catering for children’s play, as a place for a peaceful retreat, study or overflow accommodation. Whilst it is separate from the house at the end of the rear yard, it is visually connected and linked by sheltered outdoor space."
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects exterior
The interior incorporates an office space toward the front of the studio, a bathroom, and storage space at the rear, and the play area and guest bed in the loft up the ladder.
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects interior
The loft is a cozy space, made more secure with the installation of netting at the edge.
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects loft
There are a number of windows on the upper level to let in natural light and bring in a view of the valley outside.
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects interior
To keep costs low, a range of simple materials was chosen. Wooden beams, set in a triangular arrangement, form the supporting structural framework, while the walls are clad with zero-formaldehyde oriented strand board (OSB), and the roof and the rear and side walls covered with green, corrugated Colorsteel, a low-cost option that matches the surrounding garden.
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects details

In addition, there is a pergola covered with durable but inexpensive polycarbonate and a wooden deck that extends around most of the studio. A hole has been cut into the deck to accommodate an existing olive tree.

The architects explain:

"Both the deck, pergola, and the main interior space have been conceived as one triangulated structure, stitching together the spaces and reinforcing the interior-exterior connection, while relating to the delicacy of the surrounding vegetation. Materials are unadorned, raw and but carefully assembled."
Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects deck details

Besides the walls, the interior sliding doors and bathroom counter are made from OSB as well, all finished with natural WOCA oil. Some people may understandably balk at the idea of having wall-to-wall coverage of raw OSB, but it's an economical choice that is both easy to maintain, and also helps to emphasize the openness and minimalism of the space.

Nevertheless, there are pops of color here and there in the sea of honey-colored OSB, most notably in the bathroom at the rear of the studio, which features a shower stall clad with a red Invibe panel board. There's also a custom-designed lighting sconce, again made with the red Invibe panel board.

 Herald Garden Studio Parsonson Architects bathroom


Created with simple and cost-effective materials, this award-winning garden studio is a great example of urban infill on a small scale, a well-built solution that allows one family to continue living on a compact property closer to the city, without having to move further afield.

To see more, visit Parsonson Architects.