Going to Work from Home in 2020? Avoid the Pitfalls by Creating a Dedicated Space

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In our recent post ‘New Year, New Project’ we spoke about making life changes in 2020. One of these changes might be to achieve a better work/life balance. Working from home can be a dream come true, so why not let Summerwood make it a reality?

Cutting out the daily commute can free up 10+ hours a week, so it’s not surprising that many people consider working from home as a blessing. In fact, working from home is a trend that is here to stay according to labour market research. The New York Times reported last year that 43% of employed Americans spent time working remotely, while CNN reports a 115% increase in telecommuting workers in the decade between 2005 and 2015.

Ambitions to work from home could be one or two days a week, or full time if you have the flexibility or have started your own business from home. Regardless, a home office can be the perfect solution to achieving that greater work/life balance you desire. But how do you do it right?

A shared space where you’re contained within the same four walls, days or weeks on end, can cause cabin fever, where maybe your dining table doubles as your office desk or your couch is the most comfortable office chair. It can mean having to clear away your laptop and work documents so dinner can be served, or family trailing in and out to chat while you’re on the phone. Maybe you can’t fully relax, because rather than the age-old problem of taking work home with you, work literally surrounds you 24/7.

Are we painting an idyllic picture? Probably not, because we know you need a dedicated working space, away from the distractions and interruptions, but also a place where you can close the door and say that it’s the end of the work day.


A separate backyard prefabricated build may be the answer. Here at Summerwood, we’ve noticed a growing demand for backyard offices and studios, and worked with hundreds of customers to help make their dream a viable reality. We support you in your goals to work from home – to be productive, be comfortable, and be happy while you work.

Working meters from your home has all the advantages you imagined; no more early rises to beat the morning traffic, no more humdrum commutes, and no more comprises to convert your work station back into a dining room. Instead, you have your own devoted office, a place in which you know you are there to work, away from the main house, and personalized to your liking. You can add features to keep the space organized, like module shelves, or livable spaces to gather your thoughts and be creative, like a lounge chair or reading nook. Many of our customers also add a stylish dormer window to create a little more natural light. And best of all, your family gives you space so you can work effectively and efficiently without being disturbed.

Spend time browsing through our home office studio styles and our photo galleries of customer favorites. We have a number of designs that other Summerwood customers have designed, or you can use our Custom Design Center to make the perfect office space for you. Don’t forget: all of our builds, including home studios, include easy-to-follow instructions, diagrams, and assembly videos to help you through the process and we’re always here to answer any of your questions.


New Year, New Build: Five Important Practical Questions

It’s January – a time for new beginnings, setting plans for the year ahead, and making improvements to your lifestyle.

If your new year resolutions include taking more time for yourself, to rediscover a hobby, or pursue a favourite pastime, then extra space may be what you need. Determined to make this year a great one, having a dedicated space to follow your passion will likely make all the difference. Adding an outdoor lifestyle building like a studio, exercise room or workshop may be the answer to achieve your goals in 2018!

However, before you begin to even think about personalizing the interior and selecting materials for your new space, there are some important practical considerations to consider.

As experts in designing and constructing lifestyle buildings, here are five of the first questions to help guide you.

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Build it yourself or not?

The decision on whether to take on the project yourself or hire someone to do it for you should be your first consideration. Deciding factors include your dedicated free time, your budget, and level of DIY experience and competency.

Even if you are an accomplished ‘do-it yourselfer’, consider the size of the building and the complexity of the design you have in mind. Do you have the time and the energy required for the task at hand?

Whether you’re a DIY aficionado or plan to get all the help you can, our building kits are designed with ease of assembly in mind. Detailed easy-to-follow instructions, an assembly video, and all the essential parts you will need are included. As a reliable building partner, our Summerwood team is available online or by telephone to help guide you through it all.

Choose Pre-assembled or Pre-cut?

To help you decide if you are going to self-build or not, consider the two types of building kits we offer. There’s either “pre-assembled” format (think parts) or a “pre-cut” format (think pieces).

If you have limited time or simply want to enjoy your Summerwood design as soon as possible, consider purchasing one of our pre-assembled kits. “Pre-assembled” means that major structural components such as walls, trusses and floors are built and framed for you allowing quick and convenient assembly.  Depending on the size and complexity of your design, pre-assembled kits can be built by two minimally skilled people in a day or two.

With the Pre-cut Format, we’ve designed the product to be purchased so the materials fit together perfectly, and can be easily handed over to you. Pre-cut buildings require about 50% more assembly time than pre-assembled structures, but are less expensive and will offer greater job satisfaction and sense of accomplishment to the do-it-yourselfer.

Installation and Contracting

If DIY projects aren’t your thing, or you’re short on time, then a Summerwood installation may be right for you. Summerwood offers the option to install your new studio, workshop, gazebo or whatever your new outdoor addition may be, if you live within a few hours of our Toronto HQ. Our team of experienced carpenters and craftsman know Summerwood products inside and out, making the build quick, easy, and always done right.

Even if you are outside of our installation area, we are here to offer advice on employing a contractor. It is important to enlist the services of a qualified contractor who understands your expectations for the project. Rates can vary significantly, and you should request a quote before any assembly work begins. We have a long list of experienced contractors from across the United States and Canada that we’d be happy to refer to you. See our guide of how to hire a contractor’.


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Style is a personal issue, that comes down to which design best suits you, your life, and the space available. We have a wide and varied choice of cabana, shed, spa room and many more design options to select from. Take a colourful 3D video tour of our most popular designs, and search over 1,000 photos of customers finished projects to discover the building styles that appeal to you.

If you can’t find your dream building on our site, our expert design staff will create it for you. All our buildings can be customized to your own personal requirements. Get creative in our Custom Design Center and make something unique for your space. We are here to help – simply pick up the phone or send us a sketch and we’ll help nurture the budding architect inside, so your vision comes to life.


While letting your creative juices flow to create a perfect outdoor building, pause to consider how large or complex a design you want to proceed with is. Decisions on the size, location, and style of your outdoor building are not entirely up to you, as a permit may be required.  While most Summerwood buildings don’t require a permit, buildings exceeding 100 square feet might. There also might be restrictions such as a two or three-foot setbacks from a property line to contend with. Before you build, be sure to check with your municipality to ensure you are meeting the local requirements. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

If you require a permit, rest assured we’ll help make it as easy as possible to slice through all that red tape, as we can design our buildings to conform to the most rigid building codes. If you require permit drawings, our in-house designers can provide custom drawings to your exact specifications. Here is a list of municipal offices by state and other useful information on our permits and zoning page.

Here to help

There you have it – five of the first things you need to consider this new year before getting down to the fun stuff. We’re here to guide you through each step, so contact us at any point in the planning process. Before you know it, you will be enjoying the freedom of extra space and achieving your lifestyle goals. 2018 will be a year to remember!

How To Choose A Cabin

Whether you enjoy alone time or spending time with others, prefer mountains or oceans, seek thrills or relaxation, there’s a cabin lifestyle for you.


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Start with the spot for the cabin

First consider which natural setting appeals to you and why. Is it near a riverbank, farmland, lakeshore, deeply wooded area, or the mountains or valleys? How far are you willing to venture? If you are considering entire summers away, the distance from home to cabin can be less than year-round weekend jaunts.

Does proximity to amenities matter or are you okay with being far off the beaten path? Some of us crave seclusion while others like the comfort of a community nearby.

What’s your leisurely pleasure? While cabin life can satisfy many lifestyles — artsy, sporty, foodie, crafty, romantic or relaxing — the way you want to use your space most often will help you narrow down the options of where you want to build.

Once you have an ideal location or cabin lifestyle in mind, be sure to scout the area, view open houses, or rent a similar place for a night to ensure that your romantic notions are in line with reality. While you may imagine the idea of waking up to distant sweeping views of a lake or mountain range is heavenly, you might realize you prefer to be on the water or closer to the action. Long for life amid the woods with the fresh aroma of crushed pine needles? In reality, a bright open sky may feel more uplifting long term. Much like eating foreign foods, you won’t know what you like until you try.

Remember to consider safety, zoning and permits, price and taxes, and plumbing and electrical access  just as you would consider the view, foliage, weather or temperature. All of these are equally important.




Picture the build and put yourself in the picture

Much like choosing the location, deciding on the size, features, layout and structural elements of your cabin come from combining the fun fantasy with the reality of cabin life.

Beyond the essentials — like water, power and waste treatment — consider the size of the cabin and position on the lot. Ensure the cabin fits the space, maximizes the outlook and orients to the sun patterns. Consider how time outside of the cabin will be spent when picking a location. Do you want a firepit, an accessible driveway, a garden or hot tub, and other add ons? Remember the big picture and how elements will flow together.

It’s also helpful to think about the number of people likely to stay, visit or be entertained in your cabin.  Are you eager to host a party or prefer enough room for yourself and your thoughts? We offer options for both camps. Loft-beds are a great way to maximize vertical space for storage or sleeping.



Design the cabin for life

Style and function come together in every Summerwood cabin. How that looks is up to you.

Our cabin styles vary by unique design with distinct advantages and personalities. Explore the features that feel right for you and we will customize from there.

The classic cabin with a peaked loft and generous porch — like our Canmore Cabin — is a perennial favourite. Tremendous natural light year-round and ample space for storage defines the Kepler Creek Cabin. Feel better with basic? Check out the 10 x 10 Bala Bunkie Cabin for its compact minimalism that delivers big personality. Still uncertain? Visit our cabin favourites for inspiration and take a 3D tour through some of our popular designs.

Now for the really fun part. Consider the details to make your cabin your own. Roofing, siding, paints or stains, skylights and trims – the options are endless on our material choices list.

Regardless of design nuances, be assured Summerwood only uses the finest materials on the market. Most of our cabin kits are constructed from premium grade western red cedar while offering durable and attractive Canexel maintenance-free wood fiber siding. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed! Simply take your time and consider how these details will make this build feel like your own personal space.


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Construction commentary

Summerwood cabin kits are a DIY dream come true. Each cabin comes with detailed, step-by-step instructions and live help is available, only an email or toll-free phone call away. Carve the time, build the energy and organize the tools needed to complete the project. Learn more about its assembly and required tools here. Prefer help? View our how to hire a contractor package for more information.


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Summerwood is here to help

From cozy rustic to minimalist contemporary, Summerwood can help bring your vision to reality and perfect your cabin in no time. Our pre-cut designs are easy to customize. Our process takes the stress out of what can be a daunting notion: creating the cabin of your dreams. The Summerwood team is always happy to help.

Whether it’s questions about materials, sizing, styles or customizing any of our builds, no question is too small nor idea too big. We welcome you to be in touch through email or by phone here.  

How To Make Your Small Space Instantly Cozy

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Let’s agree there is no better time than winter to enjoy the great indoors!


When the weather outside is less than delightful, the search for warm surroundings is universal.


The Danish have a word for it —hygge (pronounced hue-guh)—which roughly translates to that feeling of familiarity and welcoming coziness that has been adapted into decor and design inspiration, particularly during the colder months out of the year.


Scandinavian or not, making favourite places a little cozier encourages creative wintertime use of our Summerwood spaces, whether it’s a back garden studio, workshop, she-shed, pool house or cabin.


From prized spaces of solitude to social hubs, winter-time comfort is never far off in a smaller dwelling.


Here are some of our favourite ways to make your place warm retreat from bitter weather and early dark nights.




Winter is no time for bare surfaces. When the temperature drops, we pull out the knits. Blankets, carpets and throw-pillows are all great additions to making a space feel comfortable and intimate, and can easily be introduced or removed based on the season and changing decor preferences. Drape the layers over benches, toss them over couches, and nestle them on your favourite chair for a a warmer, softer, and more welcoming vibe on crisp day and chilly nights.


Touch and texture

Eliminate starkness from your space by including different textures across your furnishings. The difference in textures will contribute to overall hominess of your dwelling, where variations in pattern, fabric and even types of art can add depth to your decor.


This mix-and-match of textures will make for a unique coziness. For example, an old leather chair, a worn wooden table, sheepskin throw or a knit blanket all provide different tactile experiences that together add visual interest and a welcoming softness to a space.





An easy way to influence the mood of any room is through lighting. For a simple way to make your space more peaceful, swap out cooler lighting for yellow-toned bulbs that cast a warming glow. Consider additional lighting beyond a single overhead bulb to usher in warmth and offer a sense of scale—think dedicated reading nooks, shelf lights and any other features you’d like to bring focus to.





 Nearly every colour has a mood, and can offer both warmer and cooler hues across different shades. Cooler colours make a space feel larger and airier, while warm colours make a space feel more intimate and are generally more welcoming.


For friendlier, warming influences in your space, choose options with yellow, red and gold undertones. For example, opt beige or cream instead of stark white, or deeper, more richly pigmented shades of your favourite colours for the walls.



Personal pieces

Warmth in decor is often related to a sense of comfort and inviting hominess. A great way to conjure this feeling is to include our personal items in our spaces.


Whether it is a set of vintage skis hung off the wall of a cabin, a stack of favorite books, an old framed poster, or even a chair that no longer matches a remodeled living room, personal pieces offer our spaces familiarity—an essential for lasting comfort.



Do you use your Summerwood build during the winter? What are your favourite ways for adding cold-weather pleasures to your space? Let us know by joining the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!



5 Reasons Why Man Caves Should Be On Top of Your Christmas List

Movember has come to a close, and even though the month might be past us, it’s a great reminder to celebrate the positive impacts that the month has every year on men’s health. In keeping with this, we have taken a closer look at the importance of a man cave and the benefits these masculine spaces offer.


Elvis had Graceland, Tony Soprano had his Bada Bing room, and Al Bundy had his garage – men carving out their own places is nothing new in popular culture. Even before TV, men have found peace in a number of male-oriented spots, whether in a pub, workshop or den. Places away from the stresses and demands of everyday life aren’t a distant dream; they’re just going by a new name– the man cave.


The benefits that come with a dedicated, males-only space make a great case for why a ‘mantuary’ is the perfect Christmas present to yourself or the special man in your life—here’s why.




1. Decompress and de-stress


Stress relief is the basic reason that every man needs a man cave. There’s no arguing that sometimes you need to escape the everyday grind of life, but vacations aren’t always an option. After the demands and challenges of a long day or workweek, we all seek a place to unwind, where we can surround ourselves with creature comforts to relax. Can you think of a better way to do this than in a space of your own making?


2. Rediscover how to “fire-gaze”, reflect and refuel


This point really does pay homage to the ‘cave’ in man cave.


The act of gathering around a fire dates to prehistoric times. At the end of a long day’s hunt, man would sit and rest in front of the fire, watching the flames. He needed time to recharge his energy for the next day’s hunt. Today, the natural instinct of a man after a long period of work or intense activity, is still to ‘fire-gaze’, or to ‘zone-out’ in another way, like simply watching Netflix or reading a newspaper.


Both physical space and headspace are needed for us to decompress and prepare ourselves to jump back into the grind. A man cave offers a space free of demands, where a man has the freedom to completely turn off from the world and prepare for the next hunt, sales meeting, or family dinner.


3. Embrace individuality, creativity and masculine expression


Female-led decorating and interior design is common in many homes, sometimes leaving male-tastes unfilled. This can be disheartening to men, as their favourite sports paraphernalia, video games, or large-screen television from bachelor days are relegated to the attic or not-so-accidently sold at last week’s garage sale.


A man cave is the perfect spot for a man to carve out his own domain, allowing for more masculine items, that may not be suited to the main house, items like a pool table, exercise equipment, game station, reclining chairs, or a bar.


Men can style their man cave’s interior to fit the vibe they want, whether this is minimalist and spartan, a traditional pub scene, or an inspired workshop for dreaming, planning and building. Decorating the man cave to reflect personal taste and individuality can be satisfying. While each man cave can be as different as the men who inhabit them, there are no right or wrong ways to decorate. If the space is filled with things that make him happy, how could it be wrong?




4. Explore your interests


As we go through life, and face more demands on our time, we can lose touch with earlier life passions – where hobbies fall by the wayside or we forget to explore new interests.


Whatever your interests might be, having a space to maintain a lifelong passion or discover a new pursuit and spending time on our hobbies helps our mental health and mood balance. From constructing model planes and miniature railway sets, to fixing motorbikes or household items, many men find working on logical or practical projects is both mentally stimulating and therapeutic.


As well as having this mental health benefit for men, a dedicated outdoor building as a hobby or workspace carries the added benefit of keeping the home and garage clutter free!


5. Personal space for better relationships


Less tense, more inspired— this is how most men feel after an hour spent in their man cave. A man who feels recharged is able to be his very best self, allowing him to bring more to his everyday, including his relationships, especially with friends and family.


Personal spaces are important in maintaining overall happiness and a sense of self—and have proved themselves as helpful outlets for those with significant others. What’s more, in some cases they’ve inspired partners to seek out a space of their own, like She Sheds.


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Let Summerwood help


The benefits of a man cave are numerous, and far-reaching, but the process of setting up your own is easy. The assembly process for Summerwood buildings is safe, simple and fun, as our pre-cut and pre-assembled kits allow you to do-it-yourself, or to hire a contractor for extra help, while our Custom Design Center lets you personalize a building to fit your home, landscape, and lifestyle.


We cover the whole spectrum of design choices, and ship our products throughout North America and beyond. For inspiration, browse our cabins and studios or search here among over 1,000 finished project photos submitted by delighted Summerwood customers.


Whether you need a little or a lot of help, contacting our experienced design specialist team here can help you get the ball rolling on the man cave of your dreams, and build the foundation for a great year ahead.


6 Questions About Insulation You Don’t Have Answers To (yet!)

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Now that the winter is settling in you want to start thinking about insulating that home studio you spent so much time designing. The crown jewel of your backyard needs protection to keep warmth in and moisture out. The truth is that you will need it whether you leave in a heat summer climate and in cold winters.

We go through this process daily and can assure you that we have the answers you’ve been looking for. With help for our designers early on in the process, you can avoid many pitfalls later. If you’re the do-it-yourself sort, this guide will help you to convince everyone that you knew what you were doing all along.

Do I need to insulate the floor in my cabin?

In short, yes. Even if you are not using your Cabin year round you will want to prevent the moisture from the ground coming up through your floor. Waking up in a warm dry damp free environment is a great way to start your day.
  • The insulation we use is 3 1/2″ and 5 1/2″ styrofoam, with the R-value of 14 & 22 respectively, installed between the floor joists.  
  • Also included in our floor insulation package is a layer of P.T. plywood on the bottom side of the floor framing.  This prevents any unwanted rodents from making their way into the insulation. Its important you take care of this during the construction of the floor when you still have access to the floor framing of your structure. 

How about insulating the ceiling or roof areas?

Its also important to insulate the roof of your building as this will help keep it cool in the summer and warm in the chilly seasons.  Below are  three common options:
  1. Styrofoam insulation that is installed on top of your roof boards does not require venting. When insulating this way its recommended you upgrade to Pine or Cedar roof boards to create a very rustic look inside, leaving the rafters exposed.
  2. The Installation of insulation in-between your roof rafters also requires you to create a clear air way from Soffit to Ridge and will require both Soffit and Ridge vets to be installed.
  3. The most common option is to create attic space by insulating between your ceiling joist and adding roof and gable end vents. This is very similar to how homes are vented and allows for attic storage as well as a nice finished ceiling using our Pine or Cedar interior boards, or even drywall if you wish.
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What are my options as far as insulating my walls?

We offer an Enhanced Siding Upgrade package  that is available with  7/16 inch OSB + Homeslicker/Typar or 1/2 inch plywood + Homeslicker/Typar,  this option  goes on the outside of your wall studs and between the studs and the siding. It can be used in conjunction with traditional fiberglass Batts or Sprayfoam insulation.

Does my yoga studio / workshop / pottery studio / bike maintenance shed need to be insulated in a special way? 

Absolutely! If you want to turn your structure into something rather than storage, your building needs to be customized for your specific needs and hobbies. Summerwood buildings can be designed and built to be fully insulated, giving you unlimited options in terms of usage. Try our Custom Design Centre to see more. 
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What are my options when it comes to heating & cooling? 

If you frequently  use your building year round, installing a wood stove or furnace as well as an air conditioner is a great idea for quick and easy heating & cooling in larger full-size buildings.  However, for your average backyard studio, a small plugin Micro Furnace is more than enough. Some may even choose to install radiant heating in the floor when using a concrete slab.
  • While we do not sell the heating elements that is something best purchased locally to comply with various building codes (if any). We will accommodate a heating element if you tell us how large it’s going to be. If you require a concrete pad to place it on we can customize the floor to accommodate your local bylaws will guide you through this process.
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How do I insulate my shed if we live in a hot summer climate? 

If you live in areas with very hot summers or very cold winters your building should be insulated the same way. Consider adding insulation to your floor, walls and roof area.  Drywall, or other finishing material of your choice, is a nice way to finish off the interior of your building. This will keep both hot and cold air outside and normalize the internal temperature.